2.5 Ecological Collapse

Created Tuesday 27 March 2018

To see that the result of our insane concept of perpetual growth has only resulted in ecological collapse is not the complete truth. Below we will examine all the other kinds of health aspects of the planet and our society and our environment that are spiralling down into what we collectively call environment collapse.

To understand this, we have to first change our perception of the Earth significantly from what our industrial mindset has engrained in us. The Earth is not a huge, inanimate hunk of mud, rock, ores, minerals, etc. that can spew out resources at whatever rate we wish for human purpose alone. It is not to be viewed as a storehouse of resources for us to extract, loot and dispose of. That is the classical, rigid and narrow viewpoint of a culture called Industrial Civilization. The same culture that revels in being the most advanced but finds itself mired in a domino effect of crises.

The Earth in fact is a complex organism. It is as living as each of us. We are merely a part of it like everything else on it. Everything is intimately connected to make the whole organism work. The Earth in fact is a body just like our runner. It is living.

This was no great news to the primitive and indigenous people who have walked gently on the Earth for tens and hundreds of thousands of years before civilized man appeared on the scene. The Red Indians, the Pygmies, the Yanomamo, the Eskimo, the Adivasi and innumerable other indigenous cultures all the way back to hunter/gatherers, derisively called primitive, always perceived every part of the Earth as a single living whole – the rivers, the clouds, the wind, the rain, the soil and even the rocks and mountains. And that is the reason why they treated it with humility, reverence and a sense of gratefulness. This, in turn preserved the Earth for so long in its awesome grandeur and beauty – the original and true Garden of Eden.

Then came along a totally different kind of culture called Civilization. This culture proved to be diametrically opposite to all others before it. With its peculiar worldview of ownership, Civilization, starting with agriculture (last 10,000 years) and then building up to the Modern Industrial Civilization (last 150 years), has efficiently destroyed much of the living planet in an ecological blink of the eye. It treated the Earth, our mother organism, as a one-time, exploitable and disposable source of goodies that are needed to run our financial system, meaning to make money grow.

With money growth as our ultimate objective we take all kinds of health capital from the Earth and pass it through our single-minded and destructive industrial system to convert it into financial capital. That is the sole purpose of the Modern Industrial World.

It is only when we perceive the Earth as a single living organism that we get a new insight into the stresses we are putting on the Earth’s Body by our habits and insistences. And this perspective automatically defines LIMITS – something that modern economics does not believe in.

In the same way that everything needed to achieve the Super Coach’s Concept for the Runner came from the Runners body, everything that has to make the Financial System work has to come from the Earth’s Body. And all bodies are limited. Yet Modern Economics, much like the Super Coach, does not believe in limits.

The crazy and impossible concept of Perpetual Exponential Quantitative Growth of money leads to chasing and looting half the planet’s energy and resources, disrupting ecosystems, fraying social structures and corrupting moral integrity. The sum crisis is double edged again – deterioration of Health and finally Wealth.

Inspired by Charles Eisenstein’s book The Ascent of Humanity I have recategorised the Health Capital of the Earth as a living organism. I divide them as follows:

We see Health (all kinds of Body capital) and Wealth (Financial Capital) as two separate entities but they are related in an ironic fashion. Over the span of the Modern Industrial Age, our economic paradigm of perpetual growth has effectively burnt most of this cumulative Health Capital with the sole objective of converting it to Financial Capital.

Natural Capital, like fossil fuels, was extracted to be used to build and run machines that would destroy Ecological Capital such as forests, rivers and eco systems to shape the modern industrial world where the Social Capital of peoples health, peace and habits were changed, from family and community pursuits, to mere round-the-clock production staking claim to common Cultural Capital, all with the intention of converting to a single symbolic form of capital called Money. This constant chasing of money and profits against impossible growth targets in the face of depleting resources built up pressures to burn the Spiritual Capital of honesty, integrity, and loyalty of people.

And the only thing that burning creates is a symbolic token called Money that is nothing but a lubricant and facilitator to perpetuate the creation of more tokens in a system that we call Modern Economics. Money is not value but a catalyst that makes the scheme of perpetual growth possible. And is it really proving useful?
Look at the state of the world around and you get the answer.

But like I said at the beginning of this book, I am not directly addressing morality but “possibility”. Of course it is a bad idea to burn all kinds of capital that is irreplaceable and vital to life to create a worthless token that demands more of the same. Yet in this book, I focus on the fact that much as we may want and decide to run the current economic paradigm, we will simply NOT be able to so. Because the key resource that permitted us to do this happens to be oil. And Peak Oil spells an end to these plans.

The world of Business and Finance particularly needs to be aware of Peak Oil, because the 2008 collapse of the global financial system was the direct consequence of ignoring the peaking of Earth’s key and most precious resource: Oil.

This is the highest point in the Reality Curve. The maximum amount of oil the Earth will give us at a point in time. This is a geological limit and nothing or no one can change it. This is the turning point. From here we start an inverted journey back to Earth because all capital from the Earth is eventually governed by rules of the Reality Curve, which is a Bell Curve. And ironically, even oil, our key industrial resource, religiously follows this curve.

And so no matter how hard we try to feed the Money Curve, the Earth will follow the Bell Curve and cannot be made to fulfill the exponential curve of economic expectation. These are early rumblings of Peak Oil – a phenomenon the world will humbly have to understand and accept.

Economics should therefore be a holistic and sensitive science to manage all the Natural, Ecological, Social, Cultural and Spiritual capital we have inherited. Instead we have morphed the Laws of Economics to transcend and override all these.

To verify what I am saying, please follow any article in the newspapers, or debate on television, on the 2008 financial collapse and the subsequent recession. You will only find complex and erudite arguments, by deluded economic experts, all trying to wrestle with the crisis using a plethora of financial terms: capital, debt, equity, loan, subsidy and so on. All symbolic representations of value but not value in themselves. These are followed by phrases like “slowing growth”, “spiralling inflation”, “a collapsing currency”, “a burgeoning fiscal deficit”, “structural liquidity shortage” and “a hostile external economic environment”.

There is no mention of any real value on which money is based. No mention of the principles of energy or depletion of resources or Peak Oil. They are ever wishing the infinite and denying the finite. That is how deluded we in general, and the financial world in particular, have become.

Much like the Super Coach, our economists arrogantly believe that it is all about their Super Concept of money and growth that runs the world. They both believe that only the rigors of their method will make the Runner/Economy achieve their conceptual but impossible goal of eternal quantitative growth. While the Super Coach was hell bent on killing his Runner for his concept, we are committed to doing the same to Mother Earth with our concept of Perpetual Exponential Quantitative Growth (PEQG).

Once more we are at the same crossroads. We are at the peak of performance and peak of resource consumption. Yet speed and size is no indicator of the stability and security of the future. Much as how an object dropped from a height is fastest just before it hits the ground!
How the future of Money (Concept, Mind) and Earth (Reality, Body) pans out in Phase 3, which is starting now, depends on the changes we make to our paradigm and what choices we make. But if you were to ask me, then this is what I would say once again.

We must do two things, very similar to the Super Coach and the Runner, at this point of time.

  1. Kill the Concept Namely abandon the crazy Concept of Perpetual Exponential Financial Growth. It was impossible anyway and even more hazardous in the light of Peak Oil.

2. Save the Body. Stop pumping the Earth’s body with aggressively desperate measures of Modern Industrial Development that burn all forms of Capital to perpetuate the impossible expectation of Perpetual Money Growth. Or else, we and the living fabric of the Earth will die prematurely and painfully.

Or would you rather have it the other way – Save the Concept of Perpetual Exponential Quantitative Growth and Kill the Earth’s Body?
I know what I would opt for, but this time it is not an individual choice. The choice has to be unanimously ours. It is our collective Body. The Earth is an extension of all our bodies.

The Disease & the Trigger

One last thing before we end this section and go to Part II of this book.

Imagine that the collection of graphs shown above are of the vital signs of the health of a patient who is in an Intensive Care Unit.

The graphs show his heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, blood sugar level, cholesterol level and other vital signs of health. There is an optimum level or a narrow band within which each of these vital signs should be if the patient is to be deemed healthy.

The one thing you notice is that all the vital signs are shooting up exponentially. The patient’s blood pressure is shooting off the chart in an exponential fashion. And so are his heart rate and body temperature and blood sugar level and cholesterol level. All the vital signs are haywire and increasing exponentially. What would you say is happening to the patient?

Well, I don’t need to be an M.D. to tell you that the poor patient is pretty close to dying.

But what if I told you this patient in ICU is actually our planet, Mother Earth? Yes, and these graphs are from ACTUAL figures that represent the vital signs of the Earth’s health.

There are many more such vital signs that are going up exponentially but we cannot mention them all here. What is more important is indeed that they are all going up in an exponential manner.

Hidden amongst all these graphs is one very important graph marked by the arrow ‘The Trigger’.
This graph is the GDP of The World (RED). And that too is going up exponentially.
But that is what we wanted, did we not, when we made the rules of Money?
Remember we said “Money has Time-Value”. Money must Grow. This growth must compound. Year after year. Decade after decade. Century after century. Ad infinitum!!!

That is what we call our economic goal, don’t we?
That is what we call progress and development, don’t we?
That is the yardstick against which we measure anything that is worth doing in life, is it not?
That then is Perpetual Exponential Quantitative Growth.
That is our Economic Law.
THEN that crazy law is in fact THE TRIGGER. That is what is causing all other health signs of our Mother Earth to go up exponentially.
So what would you say is happening to this patient?
The patient is dying for sure. THE EARTH IS DYING!!!!

The Diagnosis:

And all because of our insistence on a false Economic Paradigm called GROWTH.
Perpetual Exponential Quantitative Growth to be exact.
The kind that reaches for the SKY at the cost of the EARTH!
But the Earth has an ace up her sleeve to correct our little delusion.
That ace, which is just about to trump our crazy economic dreams of perpetual growth, is called PEAK OIL.
The next chapter is all about this reality.

To understand the nonnegotiable implications of the insane idea of perpetual exponential quantitative growth on the financial and modern industrial world we will move to the next section of this book.

Welcome to the Reality of Peak Oil.

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”.
Edward Abbey - American writer noted for his advocacy ofenvironmental issues and criticism of public land policies