Posted by: Tony Carson | 20 October, 2009

Human myopia, our fatal flaw

What is it about we humans that makes us so short sighted? Is it a physical or psychic defect? Or is it just that we can’t help ourselves?

Every sentient being in North America sat by in awe as their auto industry kept pumping out elephantine models that no one was going to want. Yes, if the industry advertised the hell out of them some units would sell, and they would make huge profits. But a day of reckoning was nigh. Everyone knew it … except the industry where common sense was trumped by the lure of immediate profits. It was great for the stockholders … until it wasn’t.

That’s a pitifully tiny example of our head in the sand approach to the future compared to the health of our environment. In the face of a rapidly decaying planet, the chances of anything really revolutionary coming out of Copenhagen in December are infinitesimal — we just can’t see a problem until we can feel it. There many be tiny gains but don’t bank on it. In fact, be like the big boys who invest in derivatives, bet against it, really send the planet into a tail spin.

The common denominator to a failed auto industry and a ruined planet is the oil biness. Oil, of course, is the life blood of industry. With it, our smoke-stacks belch wonderfully, without it our machines grind to a haul. It has been this way for a century; our financial pulse and industrial health rise and falls on oil’s availability and cost.

Well guess what. We’ve known for at least a couple of decades that world oil is running out … at a time when demand for it is accelerating. But instead of looking with real and concerted imagination and determination for alternative energy sources we’ve used the depleting amounts of the stuff to fight wars to get more of it.*

Just like with the auto sector, we knew a day of reckoning was coming, and coming soon. But just like the auto sector we are doing nothing about it, certainly in any concerted way. So now, we are seeing more and more articles like this one:

Government failure to acknowledge the looming oil supply crunch threatens the climate and risks international conflict which lists four underlying factors that shows the degree of the supply problem:

  • declining output
  • declining discoveries
  • increasing demand
  • insufficient projects in the pipeline

But we’ve know about these factors for years. Only the shocking new consumptive demands from China and India are new and yet what have we done to mitigate the problem? Little more than the auto industry did to address theirs. We’re waiting for the catastrophe to really hit us before we figure out how to get out of the predictable mess.

And that’s pretty much our approach to dealing with cleaning up our planet.

We just can’t help ourselves. With our head in the sand, we’re just passing the problems on to our children.

Our collective myopia will be our downfall.


* In 2007 alone, the U.S. military in Iraq burned more than 1.1 billion gallons of fuel. About 5,500 tanker trucks are involved in the Iraqi fuel-hauling effort. That fleet of trucks is enormously costly. In November 2006, a study produced by the U.S. Military Academy estimated that delivering one gallon of fuel to U.S. soldiers in Iraq cost American taxpayers $42—and that didn’t include the cost of the fuel itself. At that rate, each U.S. soldier in Iraq is costing $840 per day in fuel delivery costs, and the U.S. is spending $923 million per week on fuel-related logistics in order to keep 157,000 G.I.s in Iraq. Given that the Iraq War is now costing about $2.5 billion per week, petroleum costs alone currently account for about one-third of all U.S. military expenditure in Iraq. — The American Conservative.

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