Peak Oil News: Your children's real future: what future?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Your children's real future: what future?

The Daily Planet

By Reilly Capps

Chuck Burr has written “Culturequake,” a (mostly) secular and environmental version of the Book of Revelation, in which he puts on his oracle’s robe and prophesies his visions of times to come.

The subtitle of the book is “Your Children’s Real Future,” and if I had to summarize, in a single word, what Burr believes to be your children’s real future, that word would be “screwed.”

Burr, a local retired software developer, is riding a recent wave of end-of-times literature, a wonky believer in enviro-apocalypse.

And his basic point is clearly right: eventually, everything’s gonna run out. We can’t keep sledgehammering the Earth.

But the book reads like a horror movie: “Water shortages! … Tropical diseases! Mosquitoes! Global species loss!”

Burr’s pessimism is limitless. “The world is approaching the point of death,” he writes. “Our culture has literally gone mad. … The world has no plan B.”

The book is called “Culturequake,” but Burr doesn’t much believe in culture, and doesn’t pay much attention to it, except for the ways in which it’s destroying things.
He views humans as an infection, and the only way to cure the Earth is to rid it of the human infection, to shake us off.

We are locusts, and hope is scarce: “I would sooner expect a goat to succeed as a gardener than expect humans to become stewards of the earth,” he writes.

Burr offers as his solution abandoning our culture and returning to a tribal or indigenous lifestyle.

He holds up as examples the Olmecs and Maya, who for reasons that remain inexplicable abandoned their cultures and left ruins. “They just walked away from their cities when they lost belief in their culture’s story,” he writes. We should retreat into the forrests, where life is so much more sustainable, if also so much less likely to produce Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 or James Brown’s “Sex Machine.”

Burr brushes past what few positive signs there are: for example, the fact that many developed nations, including the United States, now have more forested land than they did 100 years ago. Or that we fixed the ozone hole. Or that we’re the only species that has ever been able to measure our environment.

He meditates on the tragedy of Peak Oil. But isn’t Peak Oil a good thing for the environment? If half the oil is already gone, doesn’t that mean we’ve only done half as much damage as we can possibly do? Won’t we be forced to use better sources of energy?

And he worries about the Bubble Economy that “threatens to burst.” Well, great, right? The sooner the economy collapses, the sooner semi-trucks stop crisscrossing the country mid-winter carrying genetically modified pesticide ridden cherries from Chile, right?

But Burr can’t see how anything could possibly be good.

“There is no upside,” he says.

You want to ask: Chuck, buddy, everything all right at home? You sleeping okay? Burr admits he doesn’t know what the future holds, (although he knows the future is bleak).
After outlining all the ways we’re going to wither on the vine, he also trots out the old “abrupt ice age” theory, in which climate change comes in the form of cold, and we die the old fashioned way, in an ice age, the way our ancestors did.

Either way, solutions are futile, since climate change and monoculture and erosion are already on an unstoppable path, and we have finally arrived at the scientific version of the doomsday predictions of St. John and Nostradamus. Burr reminds us that change is coming, either when we see the errors of our ways, or when change is forced upon us by catastrophe, scarcity, war, and the seven-headed beasts of Revelation are coming.


At 3:22 PM, January 29, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very good critique. I don't fear the future as Burr seems to. With Peak Oil the sign of lessening supplies, there's more hope than ever that global warming can be halted and an anthropogenic equilibrium reached.

At 3:32 AM, January 30, 2008, Blogger reason said...

As a commentator on another blog thread said...
"I am optimistic as long as there are pessimists about."

At 2:25 PM, February 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? What happens after oil supplies lessen? Where do we get our energy from? Coal. That's where. In the short term, global warming is the least of our concerns with Peak Oil. In the long term, global warming will bite us in the butt.


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