You are here

Mother Nature Reveals Her Energy Descent Action Plan

It seems that we are under the impression that Mother Nature will award us points for effort. If we do our best and try living less unsustainably, she will forgive us our sins and let us stay in the game because, well, surely she realizes that we are something special---and should get special treatment. But the truth is, this lady is not for turning. She is one 'hard-ass', a referee that cannot be swayed by our histrionics or our pleading. We have got to understand that she has her own schedule, and will not hold up the train for us.

Mother Nature's Press Release on Earth Day

In the wake of an announcement by Transition Towns College in Pennsylvania to hold a workshop about an "Energy Descent Action Plan" that would outline a model for developing strong sustainable communities and strong local economies less reliant on fossil fuels, Mother Nature issued a press release today announcing her Energy Descent Action Plan, which was apparently formulated without public participation.

Stakeholders take note

Despite her declaration that this plan is non-negotiable, she nevertheless invites all stakeholders to present their amendments and counter-proposals at the upcoming General Meeting on Earth day---if that is what makes people feel good about themselves. But she warned that she will not be attending the meeting---- explaining that she is disinterested in our input, doesn't give a damn about prospects for survival, and doesn't accept our credentials as an exceptional species deserving of special consideration.

Mother Nature outrages Eco-Socialists

As could be predicated, the announcement was met with incredulity and outrage. Eco-socialists complained that her plan was unnecessary, fascist and Malthusian. There was no need for energy descent because there is enough energy to go around, if only the rich were made to pay and share the wealth. Dump capitalism and this phoney energy crisis would be unmasked for what it is, a capitalist plot. Monbiotists argued that the plan was scapegoating the poor for the sins of the rich, and if Canadians stopped hogging energy and learned to freeze in the dark for 5 months a year, then there would be no energy shortage. Feminists from Hampshire college joined in on the swarming, claiming that Mother Nature was blaming women for climate change and peak oil, and if only women were "empowered", they wouldn't demand so many natural non-renewable resources. Finally, human rights advocates demanded that the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, gays, lesbians and transgendered 'people of colour' be exempted from her austerity measures. Apparently, however, these entreaties and demands fell on deaf ears.

When she was told that we are trying our best to live more sustainably or rather, less unsustainably, and that we are determined to build resilient, self-sufficient communities, she appeared unmoved. Sounding like Vince Lombardi, she is reported to have said that "Either you make the cut, or you don't. Living within your resource budget is not everything. It is the ONLY thing."

That statement did not go down well with identity groups. "We won’t accept these cuts !", they exclaimed. "Billions of innocent people will die.... our species may even go extinct. "

It was at that point that, reportedly, Mother Nature shrugged her shoulders and replied, "What the (expletive) do I care?"

It is rumoured that another wave of "Occupy" demonstrations will be planned, modelled on the one that took place on Easter Island in the 17th century, when protesters demanded an end to income disparity and debt slavery as a solution to restore old growth forests. (No mention was made of overpopulation however, because it was thought to be a red herring employed by the rich to blame the poor for their own excess, besides, if women had been empowered, they would have chosen to give birth to fewer loggers.)

Humans vs Mother Nature (again)

It now appears that we are at an impasse. We have bargained in good faith. We have tried to meet Mother Nature half-way, and moderated our demands in the hope that our sacrifices would provoke reciprocal concessions. But Mother Nature doesn't seem to understand that successful negotiations involve give-and-take. We have agreed to cut our consumption of natural capital in half and slow our use of natural resources that cannot be replenished. But we are obviously dealing with an intractable opponent.

Nonetheless, we must remain confident that by our resolute solidarity and determination to secure special treatment, we will convince her to give way. Either that, or thanks to human ingenuity, we will come up with alternatives. After all, we always have before, haven't we?

Now repeat after me, "The People, United, Will Never be Defeated...The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated.....The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated.....etc. etc."

Tim Murray
November 7, 2011

Image icon mother-nature-small.jpg6.59 KB
Image icon mother-nature7-med.jpg79.44 KB


Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret.

You can drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she always returns.

- Horace.

I think that, when the Eco-Socialists said there was "enough energy to go around," they were referring only to energy for humans. I don't think they were including other species. This may be why Mother Nature is not listening to them. They sure aren't listening to her. Is anyone taking odds on the winner here?

Can't this tyrant, masquerading as a mother (who should be exuding unconditional love) be overthrown and replaced?

Tony Boys's picture

Tim: Funny, and you are right that there are no negotiations. But you can talk to her. If you want to know what it takes to do so look at this.

"It seems that we are under the impression that Mother Nature will award us points for effort." Brilliant, Tim. I think you really have got to the anthropocentric heart of the matter where environmentalism is mistaken for religion and human exemptionalism is the principle delusion.

We are but a miniscule factor in an immense equation.
Quite remarkably though, we actually do have some choice toward factoring ourselves in or out of that equation.
Somehow we have come to construe this remarkable capacity as a central power and an inalienable right toward our permanence.
This is a bizarrely petulant, arrogant and profoundly wrong estimation of things. It effectively directs what little choice we do have in the matter toward us being ejected from the play.

If, as an un-attached entity, you'd paid to see this little production over its millennia long development, would you view this cumulative aspect as a highlight of comedy or of tragedy?
I guess that would depend upon how we, collectively, might present as being intrinsically likeable or worthwhile. Are we worthy of being liked, or thought valuable, by an entity that has no attachment to us?

I think that perhaps we once we may have been. However time has come to pass such that few of us even know or like ourselves any more. God knows how we might appear to an alien sensibility.

It's hard to perceive just where the necessary redemption might come from. A lot of baggage needs to stripped away before anything of true value can again be reliably understood. This stripping back will make an endless pulling of bandaids from hair seem like a luxurious experience.

The Greeks called it "irony."
That humans believed they could outwit the gods and inevitably sought to do so and inevitably failed. This could be seen as comic or tragic, but always inevitable, therefore ironic.

But it's not inevitable.
It is only seeing it thus that makes it so. This fatal perspective can be effectively challenged by looking beyond the familiar social form to others that have behaved differently and thereby enjoyed categorically different outcomes over time. The apparent 'irony' is in fact nothing more than a temporally, culturally and politically convenient self-indulgence.

I know you know this but it cannot be stated often enough, lest the systemic avoidance of opportunity be assisted to continue. Collective suicide, or at least serious self harm, due to 'a cosmic irony' inherent within human nature, is an imagined condition. It is not an inevitable consequence of being human.

I wonder why there is so little discourse to be found regarding what might be the essence of being human?

"Oh God," she responded, ironically.
However, you are right. Industrial civilisation looks like having the shortest life of all of them. But it's not the only kind of civilisation or way to survive.
Did you see Tony Boy's article about happiness, here: "The Realisation of human happiness." Quark is also a philosophy grad. Wonder what she would have to say.

Hi Sheila

I just re-read your initial comment with the attention I should have directed to it the first time around.

I do agree with you that when playing against (or as) the gods, our failure is then inevitable.

My narrow angle on the matter, and stated more simply, was that it is not inevitable that we should have to, or need to, play as gods.

It seems quite a simple and obvious consideration really. But such things are hardly ever talked about nowadays so its little wonder that we are getting it all so badly wrong. I think that there should be more considerate talk, and much less action in general.

Mother Nature also gave us a huge inheritance, fossil fuels, hundreds of millions of years worth of solar energy in convenient, easy to use forms. We seem to believe this gift is like the movie "Brewster's Millions" - we have to spend it as quickly as possible with nothing to show at the end, and when its gone we will be rewarded with even greater wealth. Isn't that the basis of modern economics which both capitalists and marxists believe in - that natural resources are infinite, and that substitutes will always be found? Richard Pryor was rewarded for his excesses in the movie, the human race probably won't be as fortunate.

Good choice of film and metaphor, CSI.
Has any other society ever been so far into consumerism? No.
We are true future eaters.

After that earlier comment I had to undertake a long car trip. Along the way you notice the price of petrol, generally $1.50 a litre (I'm sure that figure will seem quaint soon). But at one stop it was $1.60 a litre, which provoked expressions of outrage. I tried to point out that viewed objectivally even at 1000 times that price it would be cheap. One of the most perfect fuels known to man, hundreds of man hours of hard physical labor per litre, priced cheaper than bottled water? Go into the service stations and $3 might buy you a can of cola, $4.50 a small salad sandwich.

Viewed objectivally, can you really say a litre of this marvellous fuel is worth half a can of cola or a third of a salad sandwich? When I mentioned this insight, the topic was turned to the advances in renewable energy. I'm sorry, but from what I've read wind or solar or biofuels won't be enough to power even a small sedan at a price the average Australian could afford, probably ever.

I don't own a car myself, but it hasn't escaped my notice how most people get a car when they turn 18 or 20. Its seen as unremarkable, expected almost. Can you imagine what would happen if private car ownership became the preserve of the rich? I can't, it doesn't bear thinking about given how dependent our culture is on private car ownership (which you'll admit is a great convenience). Of course this is old news to anyone who has read up on peak oil, but the average Australian (or Canadian, or American) hasn't really thought about this at all.