Peak Oil, Climate and the Religion of Progress – Quote of the Day

John Michael Greer (“Archdruid”) explains, why he sees climate change as an accepted subset of our civilization’s narrative, while peak oil continues to be the odd man out. Our energy predicament does not fit at all into the overarching tale of modernity: unstoppable progress.

“The advocates of climate activism are effectively arguing that humanity, as a result of the march of progress, has become so powerful that it can destroy the earth itself, while their opponents insist that if anything goes wrong, humanity is powerful enough to fix it. Both sides of the argument thus amount to a glorification of progress.”

“This may go a long way to explain why worrying about anthropogenic climate change is an acceptable form of deviance in contemporary industrial society, receiving ample attention from the mainstream media, while concern about peak oil is largely excluded from the collective discourse of our time. The narrative of anthropogenic climate change, at bottom, is a story about human power and is thus congenial to believers in the myth of progress. The narrative of peak oil, by contrast, is a story about human limits. Since it argues that what we have called progress was made possible by fossil fuels, and will go away as the ability to extract fossil fuels declines to zero, the peak oil narrative is utterly uncongenial to believers in the myth of progress, and the cognitive dissonance between the hard facts of peak oil and the whole suite of beliefs about the world centred on progress is strong enough that the facts are all but guaranteed to be ignored.”

John Michael Greer, Not the future we ordered. Peak Oil, Psychology, and the Myth of Progress, 2013, p.98



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