Not Just Disillusionment

SUBHEAD: Our next leader will likely continue not telling the people the truth about energy and resource reality.

 By George Mobus on 7 July 2011 for Question Everything -  

Image above: Illustration by Victor Juhasz for Rolling Stone Magazine. Found at (
This goes beyond just being disappointed in Obama's choices and performance. I don't think I ever had any illusions that he would somehow ‘fix’ things. I have written plenty about how we are faced with unfixable situations. But, when he was elected I had a weak hope that he would at least tell the American people the truth about our economic situation. When he appointed Steven Chu, a real physicist (Nobellist no less), to Energy Secretary my hopes raised a little higher still.

But then he appointed his ‘Chicago School’ contingent as economic advisors and I realized all was lost for even the prospect of reality entering the political discourse of this nation. Even Chu has turned on reality as he continues to voice the politically-expedient party line about clean coal and green energy. I know the man knows the laws of thermodynamics. I know he has some concept of conversion efficiencies. I know he understands the physical limitations of real-time solar energy availability. He's a physicist damn it. He has to know these things.

On top of that he has to have a pretty good idea of the limits of scaling what works in the lab to what works in the field. Surely he comprehends the rates at which large-scale conversion projects are going to be slow given the rate of conventional energy depletion and the limitations on our financial resources. He has to have a pretty good idea about the physical limits of resources needed to build out alternative energy infrastructure. I know, from personal communication with someone who talks to the man, that he definitely knows about peak oil and energy return on energy invested, at least conceptually. So what is going on in Washington that we can't see?

The question that keeps haunting me is this. If Chu knows these things, why doesn't Obama, the president he advises? And more insidious, if Obama has been briefed why does he continue to fail to tell the American people and the world what the real situation is with respect to why the economy is so bad?

I suspect, in my darker thoughts, that he does know. But maybe he also knows how futile all the green talk really is. Maybe he understands the situation far better than I gave him credit for. Maybe the reason he hasn't turned toward some kind of jobs creation program rather than focusing on and giving credence to the Republican myopic focus on debt reduction, is that he knows it is futile. But then I have to wonder. If he does know, why on earth would he want to get re-elected? Does he really want to go down in history (should any history be preserved through the future turmoil) as the president who oversaw the collapse of the American culture/society?
My deepest problem with Obama is that if he knows he should tell the story and help get the people in this country and others around the world ready for the coming collapse. There are things that people can do to ready themselves. It won't be pretty, but it will be gawdawful ugly if people are caught by surprise. People don't react well to losing their beliefs overnight.
Of course, if he doesn't know then perhaps we can be a little lenient in our assessments. But that doesn't help the situation at all. Either way he is proving not to be the leader we need at this juncture of human history.

The Republican Side????

This is a joke, right? Are the Republicans serious? These are the candidates they offer?
Honestly I have become mildly convinced that we have been witnessing a case of sympatric speciation as three major ‘races’ of Homo sapiens differentiate. The races? Conservative (with a sub-species called libertarian), liberals (sub-species progressive), and independent (or also known as unable-to-compete). Sympatric speciation takes place without a physical barrier to separate races subsequently allowing them to then diverge independently (allopatric speciation — the form most people know about).

Usually there is some behavioral differentiation, perhaps accompanied by a weak morphological marking, within a single population that causes a rift, followed by strengthening of that rift by a form of sexual selection (assortative mating), and an eventual strong separation between breeding populations even in the same range (for humans that is the whole Earth). The new species, even in incipient form, occupy different econiches. In most cases this has to do with food types that select for differentiation in feeding behaviors. But in humans this appears to be mental attitudes and behaviors such as degree of altruism inherent.

Homo conservatist incipient is certainly a lot less altruistic and seems to build its behaviors around the concept of maximizing personal profit. Right at a time in mankind's history when a maximum of cooperation and sharing might be needed to minimize the damage to the genus, this doesn't seem like a winning strategy. Perhaps in a world that really could provide ever expanding sources of ever higher powered energy that strategy would prove positively selective and that eventual species would rule the world.

It is no wonder that their mantra is “Drill-baby-drill” They need a continually growing supply of energy to further expand the economy, turning nature into human wealth that they can accumulate personally. This regardless of what damage it does to the environment that is the ultimate source of their sustenance!

This is the platform of the political right. The transformation from merely being a political ideology to becoming an embedded way of thinking is nearly complete. We can only wonder in horror at the damage Homo conservatist incipient would do to the world if given any kind of power. Crap! We don't have to imagine it. Look at what is happening in the Congress right now. Look at the Tea Party.

This incipient species depends on instincts more than actual evidence-based reasoning, even as they fool themselves into thinking they are using logic based on not-to-be-questioned axioms. They have a herd mentality approach to survival coupled with a ‘What's mine is mine - go get your own’ mentality. Very dangerous, I think.

The Independents/Third Party Side???

As the human mental ecosystem breaks into pieces there are several miscellaneous sub-species that are feeding at the margins but not finding particularly fruitful grounds. Independents are sometimes characterized as unable to make up their minds (undecideds) or look for a middle-of-the-road, or centrist, position (the averagests). Then there are a very small few who base their decisions on the details of the situation or proposition, recognizing that sometimes a problem needs a conservative approach, at other times different problems require a liberal approach, while at yet other times still different problems require a middle approach.

In other words, they like to figure out what needs to be done based on the facts in the case and not some ideological belief that guides all decisions. These latter are, in number, like the tiny insignificant mammals that scurried about at the feet of the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago, just before the comet hit the Yucatan peninsula. Many of this sub-species are correctly altruistic under general circumstances. That is, even if a problem demands a conservative approach the point is that the maximum number of people will benefit from the solution (e.g. as in conserving our park lands — the original meaning of conservative!)

The problem for all in this category is that there isn't enough mental food for them to feed on. These mental econiches are simply not big enough to gain any advantages. So most of these variants are bound to go the way of the Dodo.

This, of course, translates into the fact that no one in this group could hope to gain enough votes in the political battle to get elected (selected for!) And even if that happened, say by a miracle, the electorate is not likely to follow the lead or listen to the story.

The Democrat Side????

Homo liberalis incipient is just as fraught with problems in terms of their overall strategy for survival. They are literally too altruistic without actually having the requisite understanding of how to translate their urges into effective actions. They will literally give away the wealth, especially the accumulated wealth of others, without a clue as to where that wealth actually comes from. In fact, their instincts misinform them in that they believe that wealth will always grow greater so that everyone can grow in benefits.

They have a vague notion that some forms of wealth creation, if not properly regulated, are causing damage to the environment and want to stop that. But they honestly believe that wealth growth is inherent in the system and as long as we don't let bad greediness lead to excesses, we should all achieve Nirvana.

So this sub-species is similarly bound to the notion of growth of energy even if they don't understand that that is what they need. They assume that either growth doesn't depend on energy per se, or that all of these so-called green technologies will provide what we need. They suffer from delusional thinking.

Which may bring us back to Mr. Obama, a supposed liberal who may, as it turns out very much be the archetype for this sub-species. I had hoped that Mr. Obama was in that little sub-species that behaved either conservatively or liberally only when appropriate to the nature of the problem. I do think he has basic altruistic motivations. But his approach to governing suggests he may be in the averagist sub-species. Or maybe he really can't make up his own mind and is just taking directions from those who influence him the most (he did come from Chicago after all).


Are there any alternatives? If my only half-serious hypothesis about sympatric evolution having proceeded to the incipient species stage (where separation of mental econiches in nearly complete) then sadly there are not. The left will be represented by Obama seeking a second term. In all likelihood, if he wins, he will continue to fail at truth telling (or even truth knowing). If he loses it will be to a conservative, possibly of the Tea Party ilk. No independent looks even feasible at this point. So it is likely that the leader will not, or cannot tell the people the truth about energy and resource reality.

In all likelihood the entrenched, moneyed interests in this world would snuff any leader that broke the news to the public. The rich, who are members of the Homo conservativist incipient sub-species, are accumulating all the gold they can carry thinking that will save them if worse comes to worst. I believe we are witnessing their hoarding strategy that is motivated by an instinctive sense that what is happening in the world now is prelude to the end. The people who hold the 80% of the virtual wealth (money) in this world are not totally dumb, just terribly unwise. They actually do sense that the end is near and they are turning to the only source of comfort they have ever understood in their lives - more money.

I suspect they imagine they will buy safety in gated communities or hideaways in Honduras. They will be able to buy security in a world gone haywire. So, of course, they contribute disproportionately to making it go even more haywire, or hastening the coming of the end. Wait until they find out just what security money will be able to buy when the poor hoards realize they've been had.
So, here we are. A new grand leader election cycle is upon us. And these are the candidate choices we have to consider. To be very honest, I suspect I will sit this one out. At this stage my only thoughts about joining the electorate would be to vote for a Homo conservativist incipient under the theory that we should just get it over with and such a president would help accelerate that process. Sad thought, huh?


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