Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Z-Day 2012: A Review

Post Z-day 2012. 

So I've had some time to let the speakers words sink in. I didn't stay for the main event as I had my brother-in-laws B-Day to attend to and to be frank I had more fun at because I found talking to normal people about the worlds events refreshing. 

Regular joes, like my brother-in-law, do not, in fact, have their heads buried in the sand. They are usually fairly knowledgeable about politics and economics and the environment and are open to hearing different perspectives. 

But I digress, I saw most of the speakers with the exception of dear leader. I figured I could catch that later on YouTube. Actually I could have caught the whole thing on YouTube and saved myself the venue money and parking/transit.  But I felt I should at least see them in person once. 

So where to begin?  I'll start with a list of offenses:

1. Material abundance = misnomer

Let's call a spade a spade. Stop sugar coating this. What you are referring to is material sufficiency not material abundance. Enough to feed everyone? Yes, only if the Earth is managed carefully and at present rates of depletion and regeneration, but most importantly reduces levels of consumption. You allude that no one can have a 40 room mansion, but in truth no one can have a 2500sq ft house either. They are both unsustainable. I know why you frame it like this, because it is scary. But scarier is what happens if we don't rein it in. 

2. Technology, although cool, is not energy. 

It takes energy to make and energy to maintain. 

3.  Energy is certainly abundant but...it has to be available to do useful work. 

I get into this more later. 

4. Complexity

Refer to the Law of Diminishing Returns or as I like to call it the Law of Getting Thoroughly Crushed by Complexity.  It trumps the Law of Accelerating Change. 

As societies become more complex more energy is required to sustain that complexity. The reason why most great civilizations of the past collapsed?  Too much complexity and insufficient energy. 

5. Population

Let's have a frank conversation about the population.  You've glossed this over with the twin tenets of abundant energy and technology, when that is really not the case. There are three ways to reduce the impact of the human ecological footprint, one is to vastly increase the land, energy and resources available, this is one of the least likely scenarios. Another option is to let the population crash, not a great solution, but doesn't require much planning. The third is to reduce individual consumption, this choice is by far the hardest and the second most unlikely because it requires that people understand the global ecology and that every choice they make has an impact. 

So unless Doug manages to find us another handful of planets and truly doesn't believe in annihilation, then the third option is the way to go.  Is it a tough sell? Sure it is, but do it consistently and do it softly. Live it if you can. 

6. Wealth. (the resources/currency)

Also while we are at it let's have a frank conversation about wealth redistribution.  It's not going to be voluntary.  See point 7. 

7. The rich. (people)

You can rarely educate away privilege and entitlements. Maybe try peer pressure.  But seriously how are you going to deal with the gatekeepers who currently control the majority of the resources?  Guilt? Puppy dog eyes? The current system works for them. If we enter collapse, it won't be them or their children dying. They don't have a dog in this fight. 

8. The Viking. 

Whom I thought might have been VTV with dyed hair. 

9. PJ's vocabulary. (CFOX)

I get it, you need to project the intelligence, literally oozing out of your orifices, but let's be honest, it comes off sounding a wee bit douchey. 

You want to be accessible, dipshit, not wall yourself off with words.  You can say profound things using words of just a few syllables.  

I am well read. This is not me bragging, I have a 4 fucking hour commute daily so I have time to kill by attempting to make myself smarter.  It hasn't worked yet, but I am hoping for an osmosis type reaction. 

But I digress, you will not hear me talking like I'm smarter than I am for the following reasons:

   1. No one likes a smartass. 
   2. For fear I would trip myself up
   trying to enunciate some of that 
   shit.  For example, I avoid saying the 
   word "enunciate". I also avoid the 
   word "Kunstler" but for different 

Mark my words, this word salad will come back to bite you. Perhaps it already has in the legions who attempt to emulate you and piss people off with some regularity I.e. VOR.  You've got nothing to prove, just be yourself.  Unless of course that is "yourself" in which case just pretend I didn't say anything. 

10.  Freemasons. 

If you have a conflict of interest allegation then make it.  Something I've learned in my travels is that you don't need a nefarious conspiracy if everyones goal happens to be the same. Your movements premise is that there are systematic irregularities that generate scarcity and inequality, so WHERE exactly do Freemasons play into that analysis?

11.  End of work. 

Quit selling the "no more work" angle. You will be working, not for money, but because you want to and your community expects you to contribute. And you will be working damn hard at what you do. 

When you say no more work or end of work as you know it, it makes the hard core anti-welfare, Ayn Randians and libertarians hate you a little bit.  Instead focus on the hard work that volunteers do and just how rewarding it feels. 

12.  No more cars. 

Holy Jesus you might as well say no more hockey. I get it, cars are big resource hogs that sit around 80% of the day, but in people's minds they see endless waiting at bus stops, crowding into a smelly cramped bus (which I currently do so I know). Lead with a palpable alternative first, if you can. Cars epitomize freedom and the first world living. You need to do a better sell job on this. 

13.  EROEI. Nuff said. 

Ok maybe not...because the concept of abundant energy seems to be a non sequitur for your movement.  "We can build wonderful things, don't worry, energy is plentiful". Yes, logically you can build wonderful things and yes logically energy is all around. But one does not follow the other logically because you need energy accessible to do the work and you need energy and material inputs to build the toys, neither of which is plentiful or accessible.  

You are constrained by the laws of thermodynamics, and thus constrained by EROEI, when it take 1 barrel of oil to extract 1 barrel of oil (or whatever energy equivalent you'd like to use) it is game over.  

Oil is the most flexible, energy dense substance we've ever discovered.  There is not another energy source that has all three attributes that made our current society possible, scalability, energy density, and flexibility.  Some may have one element or two but not all three. 

14. Playing to the singularitarians. 

Yes technology is growing exponentially, but so is everything else, resource depletion, population, ecological destruction, extinction. Seems to me we are putting our foot on the gas, headed for a cliff, with the hopes of catching the singularity as we fall off, like in an action movie, and rise like the Phoenix.
15. You call us techno skeptics but you haven't given us skeptics anything other than to poo-poo our apparent lack of common sense. You have shiny new toys, but these have to come from  somewhere and that takes energy. 

You got boundless enthusiasm in your hand, I see that and raise you some realism. 

16. Marahall (even my iPhone autocorrects to Marshall)

Take some time with your editing. I was sitting watching Moritz's speech and he had on the big screen spelled "Marshall" as "Marahall" not once but twice. It is one thing to have something spelled wrong but when it is a name it is worse.  Of course the irony is not lost on me that this was during the "Competent Communications" section. It comes off as lazy and sloppy. 

17. Canadian stereotypes.

I realize this was played for humor, but the underlying subtext is that people are generally fearful and ignorant, and are fearful because they are ignorant. True or not, this approach lacks tact. If you are going to use humor, self-deprecation holds the audience and those external to your tenets, harmless. If you are going to hold the system accountable, don't make fun of people's ignorance. These are the people you want to reach. 


In the final analysis I was heartened that people showed up, even if not in overwhelming numbers, because it shows that these people are looking for a better way. I suspect, however, there are far more people out there like myself, who have grown disillusioned with magical thinking and have move on, looking for more realistic solutions. 


No comments: