Reading Pepe Escobar’s beautiful memory of Jean-Paul Sartre reignited a thought process which I had previously set aside on several occasions because of my tendency to submit to a sense of futility in the face of the seemingly ever expanding human proclivity for degradation. My interpretation/analysis stems from a consistently chronic sense that I have, for most of my life, been as much an outside observer of human social pursuits as I have been a participant. In the face of what appears to be an ongoing expansion of planetary domination by humanity, I cannot help but strongly suspect (I dare not believe) that humanity is not capable of transcending its own seeming essential characteristics which, in themselves, negate any possible belief in freedom.
Human nature has us longing for inclusion while we simultaneously desire rising above the banality of our social structures. These desires seems to underlie the majority of our precepts and the necessity of laws for guiding what might be called our fragmented global social body.
The belief in different strokes for different folks is consistently clashing with authoritarian limits, while both are portrayed as necessary for maximizing human potential. This is where I tend to wander into the vicinity of B.F. Skinner – even as I know that that piece of property is not where I want to be.
The great problem of the unending repetition of leap-frogging from the desire for liberation to the implementation of another authoritarian tyranny as the all too typical solutions to the seemingly never-ending cycles of a survivalist game usually has the exact same result. It is a result which is always based within a singular belief. The belief that the dominant humans at any given time are the most exceptional of THE exceptional species. Any and all aspects of a society are used as mirrors by whichever society has risen at whatever time to vainly convince us that we are the promise of a new future. This desperate religiosity repeatedly fails to bring about the necessary rise in consciousness which sees beyond the prosaic gimmickry of the limited time in which we live. Shortsightedness is worshiped as if it is visionary and the same shortsightedness depends upon a devout avoidance of any clear comprehension of the most consistently salient characteristics of our species.
Phantasmagorical gods are created as fig leaves to shame us into continuing the absurd denial of our inescapable insecurity and as a way of denying our genetic predispositions which might, by way of consciousness, raise other life forms to a realistic and equitable level.
In short, there is nothing which humankind has created which is much more than a crutch and most of these crutches, from religions to economic theories to pathetically enormous skyscrapers and methods of transport, are dependent upon continued degradation of this planet.
There is one characteristic of humans which is our greatest danger. It is as central to our existence as the air we breathe. In fact, it is within the very air we breathe. Like all other animals, we depend upon taking in oxygen and we exhale carbon. In reality, it is the plants of the world which are what makes our lives possible. We are no more superior to any plant than any plant is superior to any animal which feeds upon it. This condition in which we need oxygen and its complementary release of carbon in order to survive is merely the base of our character which makes us similar to other animal life. There is something else about humans which sets us apart from other lifeforms. It is the extraordinary amounts of carbon we release which is way, way beyond what any other animal releases as they attempt to survive.
Up until now, our self-given title of Homo sapiens could not be further from the truth. The term “sapiens” means wise. It is a fantasy. Yes, we are at times clever, but, as a species, we are desperate and foolishly impressionable. Often, we are our own worst enemies.
Throughout the history of mankind, as the population increase went from a long, gradual rise over thousands of years to where it has more and more rapidly escalated from 1 billion in the early 19th Century to where we now add another billion people to the planet every 12 to 15 years, the carbon released through our cultural practices has also escalated.
We are an extraordinary agent of carbon releasing behaviors. From our earliest existence as humans, we have used the carbon releasing agency of fire for comfort and protection.
As we grew in numbers and cultural desires, the burning of plants was superseded by the burning of various plant and animal oils, peat, and coal until we realized the possibilities for mobility of ourselves and most of our cultural accoutrements which are dependent upon an addiction to petroleum and natural gas. Now we have reached the grossest combined amounts of carbon releasing toxicity we never imagined possible. It seems that the vast majority of people can’t even imagine their own lifestyles might be part of a problem. The main concern for huge numbers of people seems to be managing a way to get enough money so that they can expand the amounts of carbon they release and this is inextricably tied to the belief that the activities involving increased carbon release are the reassuring proofs of their freedom. Through our misguided behavior, the devouring deforestation and the spewing of carbon is heading toward being beyond the inconsistent volcanic eruptions which may have triggered the demise of dinosaurs.
It seems we just can’t stop ourselves. We obsess over identity politics while we argue for greater access for more people to the very lifestyles which will inevitably lead us all into the same, shared nightmare of global environmental collapse. We postpone the necessary responsible behavior and while some limited measures toward changing our behavior have been appearing, they are often portrayed as infringing upon our freedom.
It seems most of us haven’t a clue about the limits of petroleum reserves and what effect the future shortages are going to entail when they drastically decline.
We spout vapid pablum about “freedom” while we present our wastefully reckless addiction to carbon releasing excesses as if they are the proofs of our proximity to some god. If the fires of some hell is the abode of demons, then we appear to have an outline of where we are headed.
Forget about the idea of a “carbon footprint” because that awareness is too limited.
How large are your carbon tire-tracks and how many lifeforms are you running over in your delusions of freedom?