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Climate and Environment

Santiago Saez Moreno
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piqer: Santiago Saez Moreno
Friday, 14 September 2018

The Significance Of Living At The End Of The Era Of Fossil Fuels

These last few weeks, I was looking for a decent eco-socialist text to bring to PIQD. It's a theory that is becoming more and more appealing to me, the more I think about what comes next. It seems rather clear at this point that our current system is not sustainable and will eventually lose balance. When that happens, it will be too late to act: We'll be focused on survival. 

What we do with our last remaining carbon budget matters. A lot.

Finding The Trouble was worth the search. I'm glad I can bring you this reflection on the end of the world (as we know it) by Samuel Miller-McDonald. It's a little bit different from The Guardian's and the New York Times' otherwise excellent investigations, but that was also my point.

The whole article stems from a premise: That fossil fuels are what elevated us from the brutal legacy of slavery and murder that populates almost every second of our history since agricultural societies arose. And when the inevitable time to say goodbye to petroleum comes, we better be prepared:

It is not capitalism, or socialism, or the enlightenment, or inevitable moral progress, or the printing press that can account for the arc of history toward our current technological and social changes [...] Most people alive today live lifestyles free from the kingdoms of antiquity thanks largely to the mass politics fueled by fossilized energy.

The author tells this story using Norse mythology (and the bloody and short life Vikings lived) as a backdrop, making the reader feel the weight of living in what he calls "this sliver of history". The essay is long but masterfully written, and it doesn't become burdensome. This is not a theoretical eco-socialist manifesto. It's a call to common sense.

That we live in this sliver of history is remarkable. That we are alive in this moment of dire consequence gives each of us breathing today historical significance.
The Significance Of Living At The End Of The Era Of Fossil Fuels
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Comments 2
  1. User deleted
    User deleted · Created 8 months ago ·

    for whatever reason i cannot connect to this excellent text. but thanks for piqing anyway.

    1. Santiago Saez Moreno
      Santiago Saez Moreno · Created 8 months ago ·

      Thanks for the reply Christoph. I guess it's not for everyone. I do have a couple articles in the oven that I think you'll enjoy, though.