Sustainability is inevitableI post here a response I gave in a recent discussion about peak oil regarding my position on sustainability and debunking the notion that a mass dieoff of billions of people is inevitable.
Ludi from the peak oil community asks:
Omnitir, can you explain how the transition to sustainability is "inevitable"? I'm not sure what you mean by that. Do you mean it is inevitable we will transition to sustainability before a major die-off?
Yes, I believe so.
Our capabilities of adapting are far more advanced then I suspect many people acknowledge. It comes down to the sometimes overlooked benefits of greater complexity. With today’s unprecedented levels of complexity we have the ability to do what we have always done on a much larger scale, far more quickly, and far more effectively.
What we have always done is adapt. Our species has the unique ability to understand a situation, then create virtual scenarios to experiment and test hypothesis (early this was done in the mind, then in more complex ways with new tools such as writing and mathematics etc., and now in exceedingly complex ways with highly advanced tools such as massive parallel computer networking etc., in each case resulting in ever more effective solutions), and finally we put these solutions into action.
I believe that we already are making a gradual but definite transition towards sustainability, and that this transition is the inevitable result of human progress. We understand the situation far better then ever before, and more and more people are becoming aware of the need for change. We are using hugely more advanced tools to both understand the problem and to calculate and develop various solutions, which give ever more effective results. And the last stage is implementing these solutions, which contrary to doomer positions is something that is occurring in earnest (just not instantaneously).
Thanks to our greater understanding of the problems, a greater number of bodies are striving for solutions. This phenomenon will gain impressive momentum the more the truth of unsustainability is revealed to the world, and the better it is understood.
Long before a great dieoff occurs, to coin a phrase, the ‘symptoms of the greater problem’, will manifest themselves in greater number, causing an increasing amount of effort towards sustainability. There will indeed be a breaking point, but not one in which civilization collapses around us, rather one where the movement for sustainability gains critical mass and can no longer be resisted. Democracy, capitalism, the free market and increasing complexity will then display their inherent benefits as the push towards sustainability overwhelms current paradigms and takes priority in a world where oil is soon to peak. The dieoff will be adverted.
But don’t rest easy guys, there’s still a lot of work to do ;)