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The Big Picture
By Stephen Fitzgerald

19th September 2023

Saving Our Future


In today's world, the news and media often present a narrative shaped by vested interests focused only on money and power. However, the scientific story that unfolds is quite different, encompassing not just energy but also anthropology, human behavior, economics, the environment and crucially our collective future. This article explores the intricate web of connections between energy, money, technology, the environment and exponential economic growth. Also, how our individual and collective behaviors impact our society and the environment. As we face unprecedented challenges in the coming decade, understanding the big picture is essential for taking meaningful action.

In our diverse and resource-rich world, we operate within groups, corporations, and nations, all driven by a common goal – maximizing financial surplus or profit to drive consumerism. Central to this system is our heavy reliance on fossil fuel energy, a finite resource that has historically also been a source of conflict and war. Our economic system is intricately tied to annual GDP growth, typically around 2% or 3% to drive corporate profits, ease the burden on central banks to repay borrowed money and, demands ongoing population expansion.


As pointed out earlier, this translates to a 50% increase in our energy requirements by 2050 and it is anticipated that only 20% of that will to be sourced from renewables primarily for electricity production. We are also headed for a global population increase of 25% to 10 billion over that same time frame. The possibility of reaching net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, on our current trajectory, is about as ethereal as the gas itself. Since we can't rely on our corporates and politicians, what we need is a plan B involving the wider population.

The consequences of this model are evident in the unabated rise in levels of atmospheric CO2 and global temperatures, which contribute to sea-level rise and the increasing frequency of catastrophic extreme weather events worldwide. The driving force behind these issues is the relentless pursuit of perpetual economic growth, presenting humanity with a trifecta of interconnected problems that are unsustainable in the immediate future and something we humans appear to be collectively blinkered to.

We find ourselves at a critical juncture. We can continue to accelerate towards more economic growth, but this path leads to an inevitable crash and burn. Alternatively, we can choose a different trajectory – one that prioritizes a controlled, softer landing. This approach calls for rethinking not only our addiction to growth but also our stance on population expansion and the ongoing CO2 and climate crisis.

To address these challenges, we must raise awareness of the direction humanity is heading. The more people who engage with these issues, the more minds we have working on innovative solutions. The solution, as many experts suggest, lies in a great simplification. This means embracing the idea that we need to let go of the relentless pursuit of growth and over consumption. By doing so, we can benefit not only other species but also the natural world and future generations. The progressive downsizing of current human economies becomes an inevitable step on this path.

Ultimately, it's time to embrace the philosophy of wanting less, buying less, and using less, all within the framework of the wonderful lives that we lead. By focusing on this great simplification, we can work towards a future that ensures the well-being of our planet and future generations. The big picture is clear: It's time for a fundamental shift in our collective consciousness and a paradigm shift in wanton human behavior.

Special thanks to the Institute For The Study Of Energy & Our Future (SEOF)


Go to the next article: Fossil Fuel and War

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