The PallasCeres Report
An energy transformation plan to guide an intelligent biophysical contraction and metaphysical expansion of society away from fossil fuels
Summary Document by Megan K. Seibert
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
This is a web page report, sort of like a book report or article review, but the format is to copy an offering of interest, in part or whole, and then assess/comment on the memetic offerings. In fewer words, stop reading and click The PallasCeres Report.
In this case I don’t need to summarize the book, The PallasCeres Report, as its author has done so. But first up is an overview of the website from 2020 to today to note changes. About two-thirds the way down is the summary [with added text in brackets]. But first, the website.
I had given the website a close look a couple of years ago when the message was focused on science, specifically human ecology and systems ecology. I basically failed to disagree with the claims. Added to the science , however, was a political message and vision of a mass movement, not unlike proponents of the Green New Deal envision, but in this case “REAL.”
Okay, but a foundational, paradigm-shifting change in our form of civilization (a radical New Deal, a New World Order…) is needed, and so I focus on envisioning what a viable form of civilization might look like if we tripped over it (and fell from our hubris heights onto our pug-nosed faces).
But calls to action, mass movements, political solutions (e.g. “ending U.S. empire, restoring democracy, while shifting to new political systems”), are just so business-as-usual and a failure to understand the dynamics of complex socioeconomic-political systems endemic to human societies that vastly exceed our Dunbar’s number limit (and over the last seven thousand years have proven to be spectacularly non-viable long term, i.e. unable to persist) have human denormalization and possible extinction near term (next 50 to 50k years) as outcome.
I was recently asked to reconsider Seibert’s offering, and noted significant changes. To see for yourself, use the Wayback Machine to view the REAL Green New Deal site from 2020, and compare to the 2023 offering. Then consider the summary of the book below.
Or, just because, I’ll avoid having to explain how and offer a view of the website from May 2020 (first version) to today, focusing only on who was involved (Megan and Board of Directors), and Megan’s Overview/Mission Statement.
May 30 2020
Megan is a systems thinker who started REALgnd Project in response to the overwhelmingly short-sighted rhetoric about energy and sustainability, filling a need for sober analysis and bold truth-telling.
Raised in Michigan and now residing in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Megan’s gypsy life has been defined by the transformative tension of opposites. She was raised in a conservative military family yet was deeply influenced by her distant environmentally and progressively oriented relatives. Her eclectic professional path includes horse packing in the wildernesses of Montana and Wyoming, running a small business, and working in the Forest Service and defense sector. She has an M.S. in Systems Science/Environmental Management from Portland State University and a dual engineering and international studies B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy. She bridges the physical and spiritual, the rational and intuitive; is analytical yet artistic, irreverent yet sensitive, skeptical yet hopeful. The influence of a decade-long yoga practice combined with studying Eastern philosophies while writing her master’s thesis propelled Megan, previously agnostic, to begin exploring teacher plants, astrology, shamanism, and animism. These diverse — even seemingly contradictory — experiences and sensibilities have led quite naturally to REALgnd Project. As a Myers-Briggs INFJ, Megan is deeply fulfilled by being involved in this meaningful work.
Board of Directors
Dr. James Ward
Associate Professor at University of South Australia
Population ethicist, attorney, and PhD candidate at University College London
Dr. Paul Sutton
Professor at University of Denver
— — — — — — —
June 17, 2021
Board of Directors
Dr. William Rees
Human ecologist, ecological economist, and Professor Emeritus.
Alice, the granddaughter of two scientists, is not a professor!
Dr. Paul Sutton
Professor at University of Denver
— — — — — — — —
December 8, 2021
Board of Directors
Sutton out, replaced by:
Dr. Ron McCormick, Director
An ecologist for the Bureau of Land Management
— — — — — — — —
May 29, 2022
Board of Directors
Alice out, replaced by:
MA, PGCE, FRSA, is a writer, lecturer, poet, and editor.
— — — — — — — —
November 17, 2023
Board of Directors
McCormich out, replaced by:
Harald Walach, PH.D.
Harald is a clinical psychologist, philosopher of science, and researcher at the interface between medicine, psychology, and consciousness studies.
William Rees and David Lorimer remain.
— — — — — -
May 30 2020
Energy underpins everything, from biological food webs to the human civilizations embedded within them.
As we embark on the transition away from fossil fuels, it’s crucial to understand just how much energy can be supplied from renewables alone.
Renewables simply can’t deliver the same quantity and versatility of energy as fossil fuels, but how much energy can they generate, and what will that mean for what the new world will look like?
REALgnd Project is a U.S.-based non-profit think tank setting out to:
We’re setting out to:
Replace the fantasy narrative of a technological fix with the realistic narrative of scale-back and transformation.
Concretely understand which renewable technologies are viable, how much energy they can supply, and what those supplies will mean for the type of world that’s possible.
All within the context of restoring a thriving, biodiverse habitat for Earth’s non-human creatures and fair, egalitarian social structures for its people.
How We’re Different
We recognize that the climate crisis is but one symptom of our underlying overshoot crisis.
Climate change, biodiversity loss, mass extinction, resource scarcity, ecosystem degradation. All are symptoms of one underlying problem: overshoot. Too many people consuming and polluting too much, enabled by a one-off inheritance of abundant fossil energy.
The laser focus on climate change neglects this systemic nature of the bigger problem. It would have us believe that we can isolate and treat individual symptoms with technological fixes while ignoring the cancer that’s causing the symptoms in the first place.
The only way to address the climate crisis is within the context of our overshoot crisis, which calls for a dramatic contraction of the human enterprise.
We call for a complete abolition of fossil fuels, not “net zero.”
Net zero says that we should reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible, and where we “can’t” (in “hard-to-treat” sectors such as aviation and manufacturing), we can remove CO2 from the atmosphere either through engineered or natural means. Engineered means include carbon capture and storage (CCS), bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), and direct air capture (DAC). Natural means include afforestation, reforestation, and soil sequestration.
Notwithstanding the energetic, resource, and ecological problems with engineered means, we view a total cessation of fossil fuels as a prerequisite for sustainability on the grounds that the environmental impacts of extracting and transporting them and the moral-political consequences of vying for them are too severe to warrant their continued usage. Even these concerns aside, fossil fuels will soon require more energy and money to extract than they return.
As to natural means, reforestation, afforestation, and soil regeneration should be undertaken less to act as utilitarian mitigation banks than as part of a greater normative strategy to begin restoring the integrity of our degraded ecosystems.
We recognize it’s crucially important to understand which renewable technologies are even viable before embarking on the transition.
The renewable energy technologies commonly put forth as solutions (which don’t constitute all possible options) have enormous drawbacks and limitations which, at this point, make them unsustainable and unviable from a basic implementation perspective.
Not the least of these limitations is that the espoused technologies rely on fossil fuels for their entire life cycle, from mining the metals that comprise them to the their manufacturing to their delivery and installation on site.
It’s unfathomably short-sighted to advocate for a wholesale switch-out of energy regimes for all of civilization without understanding the foundational viability of the new regime.
We recognize the inescapable reality of total societal scale-back and transformation.
If overshoot is enabled by the unprecedented energy supply of fossil fuels, then the path back down to the safe territory of living within ecological limits will be, in part, paved by the simple reality that renewables can’t come close to matching the energy supply of fossil fuels.
The energy descent future will entail a total restructuring of life as we know it. The question is whether we ourselves will manage the descent thoughtfully and humanely or Nature will force it upon us more painfully.
We seek to concretely understand the biophysical constraints we’re up against, how those constraints will shape a world without fossil fuels, and how we can get there.
Commitment to the Truth
REALgnd Project is unprecedented not just in scale and breadth, but in facing head-on subject matter that is typically considered taboo, uncomfortable, or outside the scope of energy and sustainability. A commitment to systems thinking and a genuine concern for the Earth and all its inhabitants requires nothing less than a full, honest look at the truth. We’ll address: overpopulation, economic de-growth, what aspects of modern life can be retained in an energy de-intensified world taking action outside the system now.
To borrow from a Shaman’s description of the hard realities of their work, approaching the task before us with new age ideas of light and love will be shredded in moments. The love that motivates us must be a deep, resounding love for all aspects of life. It must require an intimate relationship with the dark, the uncomfortable, the messy. And it must require an understanding of limits and the paradoxical truth that freedom arises out of constraint.
Demanding the Impossible
We are not naive about the predicament in which humanity finds itself. The extent of civilizational complexity and decay, the level of corruption, the lack of widespread understanding about where we are and what we face after fossil fuels, the limited amount of time left in which to act, and the sheer scale and magnitude of action required, all collude to present obstacles so formidable that a managed contraction of the human enterprise seems highly improbable.
As Lawrence Lessig has said about our crisis of democracy, “I’m actually not convinced that there is a happy story to tell here. But…we have to try. Regardless of what we think is possible, we have to act as if success is possible and give this fight everything we can. We must commit every ounce of energy to the battle.”
We share that sentiment and believe in the moral imperative of fighting for what is right, regardless of the odds of success or the seeming impossibility of the task before us.
— — — — — — — — —
[Almost completely rewritten. Notable change: two words featured, ‘metaphysical’ 6x and ‘spiritual’ 5x, up from zero.]
The REAL Green New Deal Project (REALgnd) is an independent think tank based in the United States. Founded in 2020, we push the envelope by speaking bold, wholistic truths about our unsustainability crisis that few others are willing to.
We hone in on both the physical and metaphysical root causes and remedies of unsustainability, in the process bursting the fantasy bubble of the Green New Deal (GND) while bringing into the picture the crucial component of spirituality that is all but ignored in sustainability discourse.
In the physical domain, we highlight that:
Climate change is not the central problem humanity faces. It’s just one symptom of toxic overshoot — too many people consuming and polluting too much, exceeding the bio-generative and assimilative capacities of Earth whilst generating a toxic stew of unprecedented proportions.
The techno-solutions advanced by the mainstream GND narrative are neither renewable nor sustainable and will in fact exacerbate toxic overshoot.
To address the root disease and all of its symptoms, a dramatic contraction and fundamental transformation of the human enterprise is needed.
In the metaphysical domain, we highlight that:
The root cause of our problems on the physical plane is a disconnection from spirituality — the sacred, the divine, the heart, the soul…the broader multi-dimensional aspects of reality that extend beyond materiality and basic sensory perception, where the true richness and meaning of life lie.
The Earth herself is moving into a new evolutionary phase, and only that which is vibrating at her higher frequency of love, understanding, and unity will persist in harmonic resonance.
Our mission is to expose the dangerous illusion of the GND — simply business-as-usual by alternative means — while offering a genuinely hopeful alternative grounded in ecological realism and spiritual reconnection.
HOW WE’RE DIFFERENT
We face head-on a wide range of subject matter, typically considered taboo or outside the scope of sustainability, that paints a truly wholistic picture of what we’re up against. This includes things like taking a radical, universal stance on humane population reduction, calling for an end to war and U.S. empire, acknowledging the unsustainability of modern industrialism and “renewables,” and talking openly about the metaphysical inflection point we find ourselves in.
To best make sense of all this, we like to think about our global predicament in terms of a patient with a disease. No disease can be cured if it’s not accurately diagnosed and treated. But humanity now faces a dual problem: not just the disease itself, but that the commonly accepted diagnosis and treatment are wildly off base, making the disease even worse.
Changing the Diagnosis
Climate change isn’t the underlying problem — toxic overshoot is.
Climate change, biodiversity loss, mass extinction, resource scarcity, ecosystem degradation, and all other environmental crises, are symptoms of one underlying problem: toxic overshoot. Too many people, consuming and polluting too much, has resulted in a vast overreach of the planet’s carrying capacity. But that’s not all — to the normal pollution resulting from overshoot, we’ve added a life-destroying web of toxicity in our techno-industrial wake.
The laser focus on climate neglects this systemic nature of the bigger problem. It would have us believe we can isolate and treat individual symptoms with technological fixes while ignoring the cancer causing them in the first place. The only way to address the climate crisis is to widen our perspective and treat the mind-body-spirit of the whole patient.
Tweaking the system won’t work — techno-industrial civilization is inherently unsustainable.
Life as we know it today is made possible only by a one-off inheritance of fossil energy. Whether we choose to wean ourselves off it as quickly as possible or it eventually becomes too financially and energetically costly to keep using, there are no qualitative or quantitative replacements for fossil fuels. Remove them from the equation and the entire house of cards we’ve foolishly constructed will crumble. Even if there were a replacement for fossil energy, continuing with business-as-usual (toxic overshoot) would seal our fate.
Overshoot and techno-industrial civilization did not arise because humans are inherently greedy, selfish, or incapable of allowing rational foresight to curb the evolutionary impulse to exploit resources — they are the physical manifestations of a diseased collective consciousness, of a disconnection from the metaphysical [or a form of expansionist r-culture].
We’re a people with amnesia, having forgotten our true history [of over six million years of K-strategy living] that reveals a fuller set of potentialities and that cycles of time can either repeat or be risen above. We’ve allowed an overly dominant egoic mind, focused on physical objectification and separation, to lead us astray and hold us captive [or we are the expansionist form of human selected for during 50k to 60k years of expansionist taking]. We’ve become disconnected from the heart, the soul, the sacred; from the vast metaphysical dimensions of reality that give rise to the physical; and from the truth the we’re all one in love and compassion [we’ve become disconnected from, decoupled from Nature viewed as externality].
Changing the Cure
Faux renewables are faux — we have to get real about what actually constitutes renewable energy.
Solar panels, high-tech wind turbines, hydrogen cells, large-scale hydropower, nuclear, and every other you-name-it technology that will supposedly the day, all rely on fossil fuels at every step of their life cycle. Their construction relies on a dwindling supply of non-renewable metals and minerals (that cannot magically be made renewable through endless recycling), on ecological destruction and pollution, and on terrible working conditions that are often offshored to the Global South. At the end of their short lives, faux renewables have to be decommissioned and transported to waste sites (using fossil fuels), only for the entire process to start all over again. Nothing about this is renewable or sustainable.
Sophisticated harnessing of energy is possible but not within today’s primitive techno-industrial context or collective consciousness. This means that the nearest template within reach is an agrarian one, overlaid with brushstrokes of advanced multidimensional knowledge [? — biophysics + metaphysics — meta ta physika (“after the things of nature”), i.e. there are two or more non-overlapping realms of magisteria — ?] that has been surfacing within recent decades [one of many links from realgnd.org].
Forget net zero, decoupling, and the circular economy.
Net zero says that in sectors where we “can’t” reduce emissions, we can remove CO2 from the atmosphere through engineered or natural means. Engineered means include direct air capture and carbon capture and storage. Natural means include afforestation, reforestation, and soil sequestration. The problem with engineered means is that they’re ecologically destructive, rely on yet-to-be scaled, fossil energy-based processes, and ignore the need to stop using fossil fuels altogether. Natural means are good but belie the need to restore ecosystems for planetary health, not just carbon sequestration.
The idea behind decoupling is that we can have economic and material growth that doesn’t negatively impact the planet as long as that growth relies on “green” energy. The non-greenness of “green” energy notwithstanding, this tragically forgets that humans are inextricably embedded within the natural world. Decoupling ourselves from Nature is no more possible than decoupling the Earth from the solar system or a tree from the soil.
The ‘circular economy’ says that we can live within planetary boundaries by recycling more and redesigning products and processes to produce less waste. But we can’t recycle or redesign our way out of overshoot, and no amount of tweaks to a broken system can save it. A truly circular economy would require a fundamentally different relationship with the Earth — abandoning capitalist techno-industrialism in exchange for a more harmonious way of living.
We need to massively reduce our material presence.
If toxic overshoot is the result of too many people consuming and polluting too much, all enabled by fossil fuels, then the remedy is many fewer people consuming far less energy and material resources in a far more harmonious relationship with the Earth, with fossil energy removed from the picture.
We’re being called to reconnect with spiritual reality.
The planetary ascension is compelling us to call back what we’ve forsaken — to reunite with the metaphysical planes and cultivate a healthy balance between the mind and heart [e.g. Xin].
This means moving beyond separation [from physis], self-service [humancentric short-term self interests], conflict and war [in response to real or imagined scarcity or longage of demand], short-termism [e.g next quarter’s profit], and an obsession with the physical [physis, Nature, the nature of things, monist worldview, the Gaian system as one magisterium, e.g. a multiverse], to a greater sense of oneness and love, peace and compassion, long-term well-being for all, and perception beyond the suppressed veil of what has become modern ordinary consciousness [e.g. Xin].
WHAT WE THINK THE FUTURE HOLDs
The questions inevitably arise: do we have enough time? Is there any hope? What can be done?
REALgnd sees two paths before us.
The first is that some governments of the world, with a leader of sufficient intelligence of mind and heart who manages to penetrate The System, might actually embark upon an intelligent physical contraction, while stewarding a metaphysical expansion, of society. [The goal of an ecological civilization is written into China’s constitution.]
The second is that corruption and dominion [human centrism] will continue to reign, resulting in a painful collapse of global society punctuated by pockets of conscious, biophysically aware communities that will survive [prior to marauding hoard phase] and act as [potential] seeders of a new world that slowly rises from the ashes [to repeat the pattern, see last 7k years of history. If expansion/growth continues to reign (as in how could it not?), then the world socioeconomic-political system will collapse globally, as did complex society in the eastern Mediterranean in the late Bronze Age and in the Indus Valley where collapse was to regional extinction, i.e. about 20% of prior collapses involved a Dark Age followed by recovery of a remnant population, and 80% collapsed to regional extinction of the population if not species. Doing a global collapse, for the first and likely last time, carries a significant risk of human extinction. A third outcome is that a remnant population(s) persist but only to repeat the pattern of regional overshoot and collapse, i.e. the history of the last 7k years (a conjecture that we will be the exception is entirely belief-based), until the planet can no longer support humans who then go extinct in 5k or 50+k years of endeavor to persist as an expansionist form of human prior to extinction (a far worse outcome for Gaia that human extinction in the next 50 to 500 years). A fourth outcome would the persistence of a long-term viable form of civilization (i.e. a Borg-like outcome may last long term, but once the galaxy has be taken and resources consumed, expansion ends and the metastatic expansion ends, which in cosmic time, via exponential growth, would not take long, at a mere 2% rate of growth, just 16k years).]
While it seems unlikely that any government of the world, with a mandate from its people, would shift from a GND to a REALgnd response to our unsustainability crisis, we’ve nonetheless developed our own version of an energy transition plan to guide such an intrepid endeavor. Absent government action, we hope our plan can still be a source of guidance and inspiration for those attempting to build life anew [if there is a 20% change of sidestepping extinction and rebuilding, there is one possible exception (the Tairona) of not repeating the pattern after maybe 500 years of partial environmental recovery, i.e. maybe a one percent chance of any rebuilding a viable form of civilization before one of the 99% who repeat the omniscient conqueror pattern come to for their resources for the taking].
While some people think we’re fatally doomed and others see only positivity as the great planetary transition unfolds [and some don’t know enough to know that it is too late], it’s our contention that each perspective misses the other half of the whole. In their focus on darkness and despair, the ‘doomer’ crowd fails to see that not only have massive planetary changes happened throughout the great cycles of time marking untold human history, but a doomed outlook is a self-fulfilling prophecy. And in their focus on the upsides of an [a putative] expanding planetary [human] consciousness, the ‘spiritual’ crowd often fails to see that an inevitable period of ugly biophysical collapse is on track to play out as the new is being ushered in [and utterly underestimate the challenge of mitigating posterity’s ghastly future].
We bring together both yin and yang to present a realistic — pleasant and unpleasant, light and dark — forecast of what we think is on the horizon. Our work seeks to integrate both aspects of this forecast, offering prescriptions for what might be done to navigate an intelligent biophysical contraction of society while engaging with diverse aspects of a heart-based, expanded way of ushering in a New Earth. [If someone put a gun to my head and said, “I don’t care what your religion is, but you’d better have one,” then I’d say, “Taoism” as she likely would never have heard of Xin and would get annoyed. Niels Bohr used the taijitu when he needed a coat of arms, Hubbert’s Technocracy Inc. used it, and I’ve used it at the end of hundreds of web pages. As an extreme cornucopian optimist living on a still abundant (and following human extinction or renormalization and again to be abundant) Earth and fideist I must believe that “eventually we’ll have a human on the planet that really does understand it and can live with it properly. That’s the source of my optimism.” — James Lovelock.]
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
So That’s the Context
Now for the book, The PallasCeres Report
[I copied and commented on the above and pasted in Seiberts summary below before reading any of the summary of the book. I may or may not add comments, or comment only at the end, if at all. I may have nothing to add and so will type nothing.]
About the Organization
The REAL Green New Deal Project (REALgnd) is an independent think tank based in the United States. Founded in 2020, it pushes the envelope by speaking bold, wholistic truths about our unsustainability predicament that few others are willing to. It hones in on both the physical and metaphysical root causes and remedies of unsustainability, in the process bursting the fantasy bubble of the Green New Deal (GND) while bringing into the picture the crucial component of spirituality that is all but ignored in sustainability discourse.
In the physical domain, REALgnd highlights that:
- Climate change is not the central problem humanity faces. It is but one symptom of toxic overshoot: too many people consuming and polluting too much, exceeding the bio-generative and assimilative capacities of the planet whilst generating a toxic stew of unprecedented proportions.
- The techno-solutions advanced by the mainstream GND narrative are neither renewable nor sustainable and will in fact exacerbate toxic overshoot.
- To cure the disease and all of its symptoms, a dramatic contraction and fundamental transformation of the human enterprise is needed.
In the metaphysical domain, it highlights that:
- The root cause of our problems on the physical plane is a disconnection from spirituality [from Nature, the Gaian system]: the sacred, the divine, the heart, the soul…the broader multi-dimensional aspects of reality that extend beyond materiality and basic sensory perception, where the true richness and meaning of life lie [or standing down from our hubris heights to renormalize as K-strategist animals].
- The Earth herself is moving into a new evolutionary phase, and only that which is vibrating at her higher frequency of love, understanding, and unity will persist in harmonic resonance. [Or the Gaian system, for 3.8 billion years, is what selects for what works to persist, and Dao is unkind. Humans — understand or die. Full stop.]
Why This Roadmap
REALgnd sees two paths in front of us. The first is that some governments of the world, with a leader of sufficient intelligence of mind and heart who manages to penetrate The System, will wake up to both the dark and light-filled realities of this pregnant moment and embark upon a planned physical contraction, while stewarding a metaphysical expansion, of society. The second is that corruption and dominion will continue to reign, resulting in a painful collapse of global society punctuated by pockets of conscious, biophysically aware communities that will survive and act as seeders of a new world that slowly rises from the ashes.
While it seems unlikely that any government of the world, with a mandate from its people, would shift from a GND to a REALgnd response to our unsustainability predicament, we nonetheless offer this roadmap as a counterweight to the scores of existing energy transition plans in the hopes of laying out what humanity actually faces and what would actually be required to respond effectively. With its detailed policy recommendations, it can be used by any intrepid group of souls in the political arena who would give voice to its message and attempt to see it through on a societal level. Equally so, it can serve as a guidepost for all, whether by sparking insights or helping to chart life anew from the ground up.
As we are a U.S.-based organization, many of the policy recommendations are geared specifically towards the U.S. but could be adapted to suit other countries. The remainder of the report applies to the world at large.
The Symbolism of Pallas and Ceres
In both Greek mythology and the symbolism of astrology, Pallas and Ceres are embodiments of the type of yin-yang divine feminine energy this moment is calling forth. Pallas is the goddess of courage and just warfare. She represents the high side of the warrior archetype, deliberating to find the truth and possessing creative intelligence and a strong capacity for strategic thinking. Ceres is the Great Mother who rules over the cycles of life and death. She is the goddess of fertility and agriculture who stewards the rhythms of nature, the passage of time, and the mother-child bond. She helps us navigate grief as we move through death and the preparation for re-birth [reincarnation?], walking with us through the lightest of days and darkest of nights.
Paul Schrade, a friend and colleague of Bobby Kennedy’s, described him as possessing this same yin-yang energy. Schrade has said that among certain politicians there “has always appeared to be a lack of toughness, a lack of instinct for the jugular, an inability to match an empathetic and compassionate agenda with the instincts of a street fighter. Bobby Kennedy embodied the ability to do that, to bring scathing political toughness to an agenda of compassion, and empathy, and love.”
This roadmap is written in the spirit of Pallas and Ceres, of Bobby Kennedy [a lawyer/politician], and whoever might bring forth their energies in this pivotal moment.
The Failed Diagnosis and Cures of the Green New Deal
Toxic overshoot is our core social-ecological problem, not climate change.
The exponential growth of techno-industrial civilization, enabled by fossil fuels, has resulted in too many people consuming and polluting too much.
- We’ve dramatically altered the natural composition of the planet.
- We’re using natural resources faster than the Earth can regenerate them and polluting beyond her assimilative capacity.
- To the normal pollution resulting from overshoot, we’ve added a life-destroying web of toxicity — some of which is far less acknowledged, yet perhaps far more consequential, than atmospheric pollution.
Climate change, which is one of many pollution problems, is but one sub-symptom of the underlying problem. This means that we can’t address it in isolation — we have to treat the mind-body-spirit of the whole patient.
Faux renewables are not sustainable and will make the disease even worse.
Solar panels, high-tech wind turbines, hydrogen cells, nuclear, large-scale hydropower, and every other you-name-it technology that will supposedly save the day:
- Are impossible to build and maintain without fossil energy
- Require other non-renewable resources in addition to FF that have been vastly depleted and whose extraction entails significant ecological destruction and social injustices
- Have short life spans, necessitating continual replacement in perpetuity and generating tons of waste in the process (that cannot be waved away by the mythical wand of the industrial circular economy)
- Only generate electricity, leaving a massive, unaccounted-for problem since only one-fifth of global energy consumption is in the form of electricity and no viable alternatives exist to electrify the rest
- Barely generate surplus energy beyond what it takes to build, distribute, and decommission them
Forget “decoupling,” “net zero,” and the “circular economy.”
The idea that humans can sever their relationship with the natural world, thereby granting immunity from the consequences of destructive behavior, is both absurd prima facie and a sad commentary on how we’ve come to view ourselves.
Net zero simply adds to the mix of illusory, confused propositions with its narrow focus on carbon sequestration, failure to recognize the need for total FF cessation, and the faux renewable trait of being a disease-worsening cure.
The circular economy fails to recognize that we cannot recycle or redesign our way out of overshoot or a fundamentally broken system.
The root of all social-ecological problems is spiritual atrophy.
Just as it is impossible to address climate change without addressing overshoot, so too is it impossible to address the physical manifestations of unsustainability without remedying the metaphysical disconnection that drives it [or disconnection, decoupling from Nature that drives our humancentric mindset and worldview, i.e. hubris]. We have been sold the dangerous illusion of not only the separation of these two sides of reality but the nonexistence or foolishness of the one. This moment within the great cycle of time is compelling us to call it back and reintegrate it into our lives once again [it is possible to be a monist living in one magisterium that includes inquiry-based science and no-belief religion, e.g. Xin].
The More Effective Cure of a REAL Green New Deal
The remedy for what’s actually causing our unsustainability disease [expansionist r-culture?] is a dual-pronged treatment of physical contraction and metaphysical expansion [a paradigm shift from humancentric r-culture to naturcentric K-culture focused on living within limits], both of which will entail a radical [paradigm shift] transformation of life as we know it [i.e. the ending of Modern Techno-Industrial society].
Unprecedented global population reduction is needed to respond to the unprecedented population explosion of the FF Industrial Age.
Today’s population sizes have only been made possible by the prodigious energy supply from FF. Two main factors drive the need to reduce our size:
- The inability of a reduced future energy regime to support our current numbers
- The destructive impact our bloated presence is having on the planet, its non-human inhabitants, and us.
This necessitates a one-child policy [rapid birth-off] to reduce population sizes virtually everywhere as rapidly as possible to the one billion or less people that can thrive sustainably in reasonable comfort on an already much damaged Earth.
[Assume a universal one-child policy enacted globally in 2023 and strictly enforced; starting population 8.05 billion. In 77 years (2100) the population will be… 2.96 billion (per free simulator assuming no change in death rate). But what if the carrying capacity of the planet is currently less and by 2100, significantly less on an evermore degraded planet. What if the carrying capacity, one that involves no species extinctions nor prevents new species from evolving to replace those lost and to be lost in the rapidly ongoing Anthropocene extinction event is in the 7 to 35 million range? When will the human population be 2 billion? 2115; 1 billion? 2140; 500 million? 2165; 250 million? 2192; 100 million? 2227; 35 million? 2266; 7 million? 2325. At the beginning of the Neolithic there were maybe 5 million humans on an abundant Earth. By 2200 (population 205 million), even with agriculture (but no fossil fuel inputs), on a severely degraded Earth, 35 million may be an overoptimistic estimate and 205 million is 30 times more than 7 million. Sorry, but a one-child policy is not nearly rapid enough to seek out the condition now that will come anyway. A rapid birth-off policy, if one could optimistically be enacted by 2037, would take 103 years to degrow the human population to 35 million without killing anyone and, in so far as possible, without allowing any premature deaths nor any increase in the death rate. We may not have 103 years. We, assuming a one-child policy enacted this year, may not have 243 years (or longer if not enacted until 2037, i.e. 258 years. If the world socioeconomic-political system could climax by 2050, enacting a one-child policy this year will reduce the number of Malthusian deaths, but being too slow may fail to change the outcome. To significantly mitigate die-off and chaotic descent enough, a birth-off policy should be considered alternative to a natural die-off or a Hail Mary intentional culling, e.g. The Eden Proposition.]
Fortunately, there is a full toolbox of socially just and humane tools for bringing about the necessary population reduction [but not within time limits], such as equal rights for women, education, financial incentives, and free, universal access to contraception and abortion.
Countries exceeding their biocapacities, which is most, need to dramatically reduce energy and material consumption [need to mitigate overshoot/chaotic collapse, which their socioeconomic-political system selects against/disallows, and so they do not and cannot, being trapped in a remorseless dynamic few can understand being products of the modern education (schooling) system].
Reducing per capita consumption must go hand-in-hand with reducing the total number of people doing the consuming. Global humanity uses the equivalent of 1.75 Earth’s worth of resources and assimilative capacity each year, while Americans use more than anyone else at 5 [Earths]. Enabling American-level consumption are 500 FF slaves working around the clock for each person8 [global average is about 48 FF energy slaves].
To descend from overshoot and transition to a way of life without unsustainable FF:
- A plan for the rapid phase-out of FF to gross zero must be implemented
- Bans, rations, and phase-outs for FF and material consumption need to be instituted [ban FF use other than as needed to produce food to avoid mass starvation during a rapid birth-off, or billions will die if FF is not turned into food for a few decades]
- The externalized costs of goods that remain in production need to be internalized
- Unethical interest-bearing debt — an underlying driver of destructive perpetual growth — needs to be eliminated
We must reclaim the spiritual nature of life.
The time has come to call back what we’ve forsaken and step out of the materialist shadows.
Just as overshoot and the sham of fux renewables must be shouted from the rooftops, so too must it be unabashedly spoken that:
- We are spiritual creatures — unique souls part of a loving web of conscious creation — having human experiences on Earth [I’m an animal unable to see what is in front of my pug-nosed face].
- Successful navigation out of today’s crises is contingent upon this recognition and what it implies: a calling to embrace love and unity, to reclaim our divinity and power, and to re-establish contact with the energetic and spiritual planes that give rise to the physical […to persist, renormalize as an adaptive, evolvable K-strategist animal living within limits as a subsystem of the Gaian system].
We need to recalibrate our understanding of sustainable energy.
Sophisticated harnessing of energy is possible but not within today’s primitive techno-industrial context or collective consciousness. This means that the nearest template within reach for an immediate transformation is an agrarian one, overlaid with brushstrokes of advanced multidimensional knowledge that has surfaced within recent decades.
The form and function of society needs to be fundamentally transformed.
The shift away from FF will involve not tweaks to the existing system but a fundamental transformation of unprecedented magnitude. The goal will be to use the existing system to immediately alleviate suffering/right wrongs while springboarding society as rapidly as possible into the seedling phase of a post-FF existence, knowing that the current system will die and be born anew once the transformation is underway in earnest.
Alleviating suffering and righting wrongs:
- Putting an end to the war machine, instead offering international support for the transformation.
- A massive series of domestic reforms to move closer towards equal treatment and opportunity for all.
Springboarding into the seedling phase of a post-FF existence:
- Decentralization/mass migrations away from unsustainable cities, dense suburban areas, and vulnerable coastlines to localized settlements that are embedded resiliently within their supportive ecosystems.
- If not confounded by the resettlement pressures of 330 million people [?], setting aside more undeveloped land for Nature.
- De-commissioning critical infrastructure, cannibalizing as much as possible and handling the hazardous waste left behind from the techno-industrial age.
- Re-learning essential skills and shifting from an exploitative treatment of the natural world to one based on respect and communion.
Policy Recommendation for a REAL Green New Deal
Enact a national one-child policy, encouraging and incentivizing the global community to do the same.
- Make all forms of contraception free and easily accessible.
- Make abortion free and easily accessible.
- Pay women a significant financial incentive to have one child or none.
- Educate the public about the harmful impacts of overpopulation.
- Provide financial assistance to help enact similar policies globally.
Put an end to war and the war machine.
- Close all overseas military bases.
- Close the majority of domestic military bases and dramatically reduce the size of our armed forces.
- Abandon the use of Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs).
- Immediately cease all overseas military operations.
- Stop military aid and arms sales to foreign countries.
- Dissolve NATO.
- End the contracting of military and defense-related products and services to private companies.
Move closer towards equal treatment and opportunity for all.
- Replace the debt slave system with a sustainable monetary system that serves the well-being of all.
- Make corporations pay their taxes by stopping the abuse of tax havens.
- Break up monopolies.
- Limit the CEO pay ratios at S&P 500 companies.
- Increase the minimum wage to $25 per hour.
- Enact a fairer tax code in which regular people pay less and the very wealthy pay more.
- End subsidies to harmful industries.
- Enact Medicare-for-All.
- Make higher education free.
- Establish reparations commissions for African American and Native American peoples.
- End the war on drugs (i.e., the war on black people and the expansion of consciousness).
- Release wealth held by philanthropies to be distributed to charities in need.
Dramatically reduce consumption and pollution.
- Ban the exploration of new FF reserves and the development of new extraction sites.
- Create a national commission to develop a plan for FF phase-out within 25 years’ time.
- Develop a program of bans, rations, and phase-outs for both energy and material consumption at the ecoregional levels.
- Create a commission to devise a scheme of pollution taxes, quotas on natural resource extraction, and incentives that would internalize the externalized costs of goods that remain in production.
- Create a commission to develop a plan for handling the hazardous waste left behind from the techno-industrial age, including communicating to future generations the dangers of disposal and other contaminated areas.
- Install sacred geometrical implements [?] to restore harmony and vitality to our bodies and the planet.
Begin the process of building the new world and dismantling the old.
- Cease all new conventional infrastructure development.
- Assemble a group of land, design, and trades experts to formulate a plan for resettlement, conservation, and decommissioning.
- Invest in sailing ship companies and financially incentivize their use.
What, in short, is the prognosis for the patient?
Some think humanity and the planet are fatally doomed [or that the Modern Techno-Industrial form of civilization is not remotely sustainable/viable]. Others see only positivity as the great planetary transition unfolds. But each perspective misses the other half of the whole. In their focus on darkness and despair, the ‘doomer’ crowd fails to see that catastrophic planetary changes have happened throughout the great cycles of time marking untold human history. And in their focus on the upsides of an expanding planetary consciousness, the ‘spiritual’ crowd fails to see that a period of ugly biophysical collapse is on track to play out as the new is being ushered in.
The future is not set in stone. It is ours to shape, mold, and co-create. But stepping into a positive potentiality will not be easy. It will require a great deal of discomfort. It will require waking up to ecological realities [that K-strategy is for our species the only viable game] and the true spiritual nature of life [and that the Gaian system is what is out there while an imagined individual or collective Self is not]; a willingness to face the shadow and light in equal measure; the grace to transcend the mountains of artificial separation [belief-based cognition] that divide us; the strength to take risks and embody the high-side warrior archetype; the fortitude to leave behind a way of life for the unknown of the frontier; and coming together in an urgent sense of higher purpose [to persist] like never before seen [since humans mutated into an expansionist form of human 50k to 60k years ago].
To reiterate, our hearts and souls [Xin, heart-mind} must now factor into our beingness just as much as our minds. But neither one alone is enough. Rationally understanding the destructive fallacy of bright greenerism is essential but insufficiently resonant with the new frequency that is requiring us to open our hearts in compassion, unity, and spiritual development [or see ourselves as potentially evolvable animals again]. And an embrace of love for all can be misguided, even unintentionally destructive, absent a marriage of love with wisdom and a sober understanding of ecology [i.e. sapience].
What we do in the coming decades will shape the course of evolution on this planet and beyond. It is up to us whether we avert planetary annihilation and reclaim a sustainable path worthy of dignified human beings. Indeed, it is our souls’ entire legacy. [To understand something (e.g. our predicament) is to be delivered from it as the condition of understanding is one of choiceless obedience to the nature of things. To sidestep extinction will require a failure to believe in agency, to believe in belief. We are not Selves but subsystems of Gaia who has all the answers to (selects for) what works to persist as the millennia go by (i.e. humans don’t get a vote, do not determine what works, but can listen. To think is to listen. Listen to Nature who has all the answers).]
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
As Fritjof Capra noted: “Physicists do not need mysticism, and mystics do not need physics, but humanity needs both.” Humans may need both ‘science’ and ‘religion’ in a form that allows them to persist, e.g. systems science and inquiry-based religion.
There are two incompatible worldviews/mindsets: one humancentric and the other naturcentric. Humans and cabbages are subsystems of Gaia, not different in kind (the naturcentric view), or humans are exceptional, different in kind from other animals (the humancentric view). Submitted: human exceptionalism, human expansionist r-culture, is non-viable. Endeavoring to listen to Nature who has all the answers, who determines what works to persist, may have a viable outcome.
You may be a Catholic who reads Laudato Si an encyclical of Pope Francis, and your worldview/mindset may be naturcentric. You could live in a Catholic community that endeavors to listen to Nature and thereby persist. You may realize that patriarchal expansionist culture is not foundationally Catholic and come to iterate towards living viably. Your form of religion could be compatible with what works to persist. Or you could be a Catholic and extreme Anthropocene enthusiast whose expansionist endeavors will have a non-viable outcome.
If some or most humans need both physis and pneuma (nature and spirit), but naturcentric implies one realm of magisteria. The worldview of Spinoza and Descartes are not compatible. One believes in belief and the other doesn’t. One is nature/system centric and the other is human/self centric. Submitted: one has a potentially viable outcome, the other doesn’t.
You can be a Xinist who is good without God, or a Muslim who endeavors to get right with Mother, or a fideist like me. What I think I am or you are doesn’t matter. A worldview/mindset alters behavior. If your worldview is humancentric, you will listen to humans. If naturcentric, you listen to Nature, the nature of things, and perhaps to those humans who endeavor to listen to Nature, who may include poets and scientists and Popes.
If you are a conventional economist, then nature is an externality and may be deeply concerned about human underpopulation. I’ll guess there are no systems ecologist nor population biologists who share their concerns (conjecture, there are not neoclassical economists who are naturcentric).
My conjecture is that a viable form of civilization will have to be naturcentric. If you don’t think so, plan on building a Dyson sphere and on dying without knowing why.
Beyond the eco/ego fork in the road, what form of religion, if any, you “need” is a distraction. An ability to believe in astrology, reincarnation, ensoulment, biofield tuning, hexagonal or structured water is a distraction and should be removed from any endeavor to inform humanity about our one-off, plague-phase overshoot condition and what a viable response might involve to mitigate our chaotic collapse.
Hitting a wall of biophysical and civilizational/complexity limits, foreseeable in the early 1970s, might have had a viable outcome if we moderns had “slammed on the breaks” to expansionistic growth and renounced our r-culture ways. Doing so then (or better, in 1800) might have allowed for a transition to a steady descent via a non-catastrophic descent via a prosperous way down, but we failed to even tap on the brakes and today we continue to kick the growth can down the road with even greater fear-empowered enthusiasm while denying or obfuscating our problematique with talk of political and technological solutions. If modernity is having issues, the solution is more modernity, more development (sustainable of course) and more enlightenment (NOW!).
As a watchman with a mandate to declare what I seeth, I will. No implication that what I see is correct. I am an unpublished (other than self-published) typist who has no expertise in any field of inquiry, has no relevant academic credentials nor employment history, and knows nothing. Sources of claims I make that can be highlighted, right clicked on, and ‘search for…’ clicked tend to not be cited unless below the fold. Alternative opinions are assumed, but not alternative evidence.
All evidence I cite could be wrong and so disconfirming evidence would be of interest. Believe nothing and don’t share any claims that do not check out per your best guess, which is all I endeavor (and often fail) to do. All interpretations, based on fifty years of autodidactic inquiry, should be viewed as having an implied “per my best guess based on possible misinformation” added.
I’m guessing that Megan Seibert is a white mouse, one of the hyperintelligent, pan-dimensional (and shape-shifting) ones who are easily bored without a challenge, and include saving modern humans among their interests. I see Seibert’s summary of our biophysical predicament as being correct (with quibbles not worth mentioning). And that humanity (if not all individuals) needs some naturcentric form of religion is also correct. Rapid population degrowth (more rapid that a one-child policy) and contraction of the economy (per capita consumption reduced to ‘just enough’ to ‘enough’, with all ‘more than enough’ eliminated) is foundational to addressing our condition of ecological overshoot.
In one (way too long) sentence: our condition of complexity/density/civilizational overshoot will involve a vastly more ℞evolutionary change/transition than Seibert envisions, not to a new age, but by first standing down, contracting our hubris, and renormalizing insofar as possible such modern humans as may have that potential to eschew our metastatic, dissipative r-culture worldview/mindset/norms/presuppositions and become evolvable K-strategist animals again (if such is at all possible) to maybe sidestep dissolution on a thousand-year post-climax downslope to extinction of all humans (not a certain, but a significant risk, as an Orwellian “boot stamping on a human face — for ever” by stamping remorselessly on a Gaian face — for ever, while looking beyond Sol’s system to see a galaxy for the taking, and then taking it, an outcome that 99+% of modern humans would celebrate, would be vied as admittedly worse by some modern humans whose Anthropocene enthusiasm is well below average).
In fewer words: underestimating the challenge of persisting will have our extinction (or worse) as outcome — sooner being better if renormalizing is not possible.