Fixing the environment is not just an technological problem, though everyone would prefer it is.
It is also a political, psychological, sociological, economic system, and spiritual problem.
But let’s keep it simple.
How we think about the planet is killing us.
We think we are separate. Humans here, nature over there.
This goes back to some of our original myths. The Bible and all that yammering about being the boss of the beasts.
We are one node on the network of life. A very successful node. A node crowding out the others even while it depends on them for its success. Eight billion of us on the way to 10 billion.
Maybe we got to those population numbers because of the odd delusions our brains are able to generate. That story-making magic.
If we were fish, we’d be the type that poisons and wastes their water to make fish bucks to buy a nice little fish castle in the corner, telling stories about winning as they gasp for air.
That god-level, well-crafted, virtual-world-building ignorance has let us plunder nature without restraint.
Without restraint, we consume our land, water, air, and fellow beings in order to convert them into an imaginary construct called money, which is a tool of indirect violence that we invented to control, tame, kill, reward, and inspire other humans.
The planet has stopped supporting this story. We tapped it. We destroyed our aquarium. It is a poisoned desert full of toy castles.
Gasping for air, we persist in thinking our health is independent of the health of our environment. We still think we can go on without changing a thing.
Businesses really like this. After all, it is the mindset that will keep the money flowing. They’ll say the right things to keep you thinking that way. They’ll assure you they’re here to help you save the world and you don’t have to change a thing.
This is a good time to remind you that anytime anyone tells you they want to save the world, ask them which world they’re talking about.
Companies want to save a certain type of world: one where profit remains emperor of all.
Companies are fighting for a world where they can continue turning any and every human need, desire, and activity into a profit-generation machine. Of course. That’s what they’re built to do.
To that end, they’ll simply change one type of industrial input for another. One with some small percent difference in the loss going between trophic levels. Or none at all. It just needs to seem different.
They do nothing about the underlying problems, which are not technological.
They do nothing about our collective delusion that the planet’s only purpose is to be converted into money, which we use to convert the energy of other humans into things and experiences we want.
Look at Tesla.
It is the new version of the exact same problem. The only difference? It uses electrons, not gas. We still need to generate the electrons. Are those a better fuel? In many ways, sure.
But it’s still a box on four wheels that furthers our delusion that every single person can, shall, and will become a king, a ruler who gets what they want, regardless of the collective cost. That’s what sells, right? Control? Power? Delusions of grandeur? You go where you want to go, when you want to go, and damn everything else, right? People pay to feel like the boss, right?
Of course. That’s what a good capitalist responds to.
The funniest part of all our hyper-independent trinkets of planetary destruction is how useless they are without the fruits of our collective goodwill.
A car needs roads, built and maintained by governments. The roads need rules, enforced by public officials. Creating electrons doesn’t magically happen — we still need to convert something into that flow of current using other fuels and tools built with other fuels and tools and on and on and on. We give companies the rights to the lands holding those chunks of unconverted fuel (or steal them from others and hand them over).
Does that mean you shouldn’t buy a Tesla? It’s good, right, that you’re not spewing exhaust from your car itself, even if you’re still creating exhaust via the construction of the car itself and the increased load on power plants (many of which still burn fossil fuels) to provide you the electrons?
Don’t buy a Tesla.
Ride your bike.
Ride the bus.
I know, that’s just not realistic for many people. People need cars because the whole system is designed to require it. Homes dozens of miles from workplaces. Mad assumptions that we build wherever and connect centers of activity with roadways.
And there we are: the true nature of the problem.
We have decided to build a way of life that requires death.
We must build a way of human life that supports other forms of life. That sees them as collaborators and companions, not wheat for our scythes, kindling for our fires, meat for our hunger.
We cannot buy this way of life. We must imagine it. We must inspire it. We must believe in it.
We are not going to buy our way out of the crisis we’ve created.
You all know this. You feel this. It is behind the rage in the public sphere.
We have hit a wall. Rather than attack that problem — truly and deeply — we are fighting each other over who gets to drive the car to keep on ramming it into the same wall.
The world will change before we do. That may be too late.