About life in the last third

These are the good old days


Lately, I have been feeling very pessimistic about the future of humanity because we have so many daunting challenges ahead of us. But, generally, the leaders of most countries are only interested in their own power and do not want to take the required actions. 

I suggest you read this thoughtful article by Richard Heinberg, a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, where my son, Asher, is the Executive Director.

While it is right and needed to focus on Climate Change driven by fossil fuels, we also have to understand that we will run out of these fuels way before we have substitutions. This could lead to the total collapse of the world order, and I am not kidding.  

We are wasting fossil fuels and have no way to regenerate them. Alternative energy will not be able to ramp up fast enough with the investments now being made and the weak and selfishness of our leaders.  

The world is like a 20-year old who inherited a lot of money and is now spending it on drugs. We can only speculate if the drugs will kill him before he runs out of money.  

While I doubt that we can take the needed actions to change the inevitable decline in civilization, perhaps we can take some action personally to deal with the effects. Those actions might not be very desirable in the short term but could be life-saving eventually.  

5 thoughts on “These are the good old days

  1. Avram, this is all too true. My father was in oil and gas business. They always talked about depletion though not framed by what Heinberg opined.
    My Dad was very successful and had offices in Beirut, London, and Houston. Worked and socialized with fellow colleagues from all over the globe. Wish he was still with us and could read this and comment. He would agree.
    Yes the good old days!


  2. depletion of resources may become an issue but I suggest political uncertainty is more likely to destabilise energy prices, simply because of the articles point that the bureacrats and politicians are, so far, clueless on costs of developing and installing alternative energy. A few countries like Australia have made the only current reliable source of energy, nuclear, illegal. This despite exporting uranium ores and having deposits of thorium. However, fully agree on this being the good old days. A billion out of poverty in 20 years, no hunger except when manufactured by politicians, life spans extending, even in Africa. Now if only social media would die


  3. Thanks for writing that. We often use the analogy of someone who wins the lottery. Often lottery winners blow through their winnings and wind up worse off than when they started.
    As you know, I’m largely pessimistic about our prospects for taking the kind of collective action to avert the breakdown of our social and environmental systems. We had all the warnings we needed going back to the publishing of Limits to Growth almost 50 years ago. In fact, I think the public was more aware of limits then than they are now. We’ve used that time to make the challenge much bigger. Since 1980, global GDP has grown 194%, human population 75%, energy consumption 98%, and greenhouse gas emissions 40%.
    I think we have to seriously reckon with what it means to navigate the breaking apart of the systems that support us (biodiversity, climate, energy flows, food, and water) and likely the social systems (the economy, governance, politics) that have depended upon their stability.


  4. Thanks for the referral to the article by Mr. Heinberg, I agree that we MUST reduce per capita fossil fuel energy usage. To that end, we actually need to coordinate all industrial production to reduce energy usage – in their products – not just their factories and logistics. We also need to ban to the greatest extent possible the sale of non-recyclable fossil fuel based plastics, biodegradable plastics (and in some instances with positive contributions to Nature) exist and must be mandated wherever usage is possible! Etc… we CAN do MUCH more with fairly little lifestyle impact. My niece tells me that in Sweden it is almost impossible to buy any plastic containers (as an example), and everyone has adapted well! HOWEVER as you pointed out – our politicians who hold the authority to create public policies – are un-interested.
    I DO hope that the ‘these being the good old days’ prediction, does NOT come to be, as it would be horrible for humankind!


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