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When is the Revolution Coming? - Matt Savinar LATOC article

 
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Does PO campaigning and activism offer good 'personal EROEI'?
Yes
57%
 57%  [ 4 ]
No
42%
 42%  [ 3 ]
Total Votes : 7

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Adam1



Joined: 01 Sep 2006
Posts: 2707

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:05 pm    Post subject: When is the Revolution Coming? - Matt Savinar LATOC article Reply with quote

I wondered what others thought about this article by Matt Savinar on the Life After the Oil Crash site?

I've copied it here (minus links - I'm too lazy to re-insert them all manually, I'm afraid!)

Quote:

When is the Revolution Coming?

by Matt Savinar

There's lots of talk in sustainability circles about a coming "revolution", sometimes referred to as "The Great Turning" or "The Great Change." Whatever it's called, the basic idea is that once the current system breaks down people are going to voluntarily consume less energy and walk with a lighter footprint. The question is "when is this Great Turning going to happen?"

I think the most likely answer is "never." I can best illustrate why this is the case with some examples of human nature at work:

Example A: Attendees at Your Relocalization Meeting

Let's pretend you are at a meeting of your local relocalization group. The topic for the night's meeting is "how do we get people to voluntarily lower their consumption of energy?" The group consensus going into the meeting is that we need to make consuming less energy a "hip" and "cool" thing to do, sort of the way doing the Macarena was the hip and cool thing to do a few years back.

Four members of the group (males for the point of illustration), equal in all ways except their preferred form of transportation, arrive at the meeting as follows:

Man #1 pulls up in a brand new, shiny black Toyota Prius
that cost him $30,000.

Man #2 pulls up in a brand new, shiny silver electric scooter
that cost him $3,000.

Man #3 pulls up on a brand new shiny bicycle that cost him
$300.

Man #4 pulls up on a used bicycle that cost him $30.

In terms of energy-intensity and embodied energy of their respective forms of transport, the man who arrived in a Prius consumed far more energy than did the man who arrived on the scooter than did the man who arrived on the new bicycle than did the man who arrived on the used bicycle. Yet which of these men is going to get the most attention from the fellow members of the relocalization group? Nine out of ten times it's going to be Man #1, the man who arrived via the most energy-intensive and environmentally destructive form of transport which in this case is the shiny new $30,000 Prius.

Example B: Speakers at a Peak Oil Conference

Four speakers, equal in all ways except the number of books they've sold, are scheduled to speak at a Peak Oil conference:

Speaker A has sold 1,000,000 copies of "How to Get People to
Use Less Energy." He's flown all over the world to talk about
his book and is known world wide in sustainability circles.

Speaker B has sold 100,000 copies of "Using Less Energy and
Being Happy About It." He's flown all over North America to talk
about his book and is known relatively well in sustainability
circles.

Speaker C has sold 10,000 copies of "Make Using Less Energy
Fun and Easy." He's given talks regionally about his book. His
name rings a few bells when mentioned in sustainability circles.

Speaker D has sold 1,000 copies of his self-published pamphlet
"Less Energy is More Fun!" He's given a few talks to local
chapters of the Green Party. His name isn't know beyond his
local town.

In terms of the amount of energy each man's publishing endeavors have consumed, Speaker A's endeavors have consumed the most, followed by Speaker B, followed by Speaker C, followed by Speaker D. (Each book takes a certain number of BTU's and an amount of C02 to produce while each speaking engagement requires him to travel a certain distance.)

Yet which of these speakers is going to get the most attention from the attendees of the conference? Which speaker is going to be responsible for more attendees flying or driving out to the conference? Nine out of ten times the answer to both questions is going to be Speaker A, the speaker who (not coincidentally) has managed to expend the most energy and expel the most C02 & toxic chemicals into the environment during his/her career publishing books about using less energy and spewing fewer toxic chemicals into the environment.

So what's your point?

The point is that in most instances, all other things being equal, we humans tend to be most attracted to other humans based on how much energy they've consumed/procured or appear capable of consuming/procuring. This is true even among peer groups who pride themselves on consuming less energy or advocate living with a smaller footprint.

Why is this?

The reason for this tendency goes back tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years or longer. To illustrate: let's imagine you and I are back in the hunter-gatherer days. Four groups of men (Groups #1, #2, #3, #4) from our tribe leave the campsite to go hunt mastodon. Four groups of women (Groups A, B, C, D) leave the campsite to go gather nuts. They come back as follows:

The Men:

Group #1 comes back with a month supply of mastodon.

Group #2 comes back with a two week supply of mastodon.

Group #3 comes back with a one week supply of mastodon.

Group #4 comes back with a 4 day supply of mastodon.

Which group is going to get the most attention and accrue the
most social capital with other members of the tribe? The
answer to both questions is "Group #1", the group that
procured the greatest amount of energy.

These men will also:

A. be the most popular with the ladies of the tribe because:

B. they appear best able to feed and clothe their children and,

C. the iron in the meat the men procured will replenish the
iron the women might lose from blood loss during labor.

The Women:

Group A comes back with a month supply of nuts.

Group B comes back with a two week supply of nuts.

Group C comes back with a one week supply of nuts.

Group D comes back with a 4 day supply of nuts.

Which group is going to get the most attention and accrue the
most social capital with other members of the tribe? The
answer is "Group A", the group that procured the greatest
amount of energy.

These women will also:

A. be the most popular with the men of the tribe because:

B. they will accrue more bodymass on their hips/thighs as
a result of their increased caloric intake. Women's
hips/thighs act as the human equivalent of a camel's hump.
This is why men across all cultures are attracted to women
with a hip-to-waist ratio of 70-30. This ratio is correlated
with survival during famine, childbirth, etc. If you've ever
wondered why Jennifer Lopez is so freakishly popular, now
you have your answer!





Posted for educational purposes only.

If some women of the tribe decide to voluntarily consume
less energy, they will not have as great a hip-to-waist
ratio and will then be less attractive to the men of the
tribe. They will also be less equipped to survive a famine,
particularly if that famine hits during pregnancy.

Evolution favored the women who consumed more
energy and who went for the men who procured more
energy. A modern day "waif model", as an example, would
have been dead as a doornail back in the environment in
which we evolved despite consuming a diet with a much
smaller ecological footprint than her more "Lopezian"
cousin. Nature does not give you bonus points for
conserving resources. If anything, it appears to penalize
you, at least in comparison to your more consumptive
neighbors. Who survives the famine better? The person who
overconsumed during the good times or the person who
stayed lean? The answer is obvious: the person who got
fat while he/she had the chance.

It's worth noting that this dynamic is already (obviously)
present within Peak Oil circles. Who is best prepared to deal
with these issues: the person who got economically fat
during the good years (the 50s through the 90s) or the
person who voluntarily stayed financially lean? Nine out of
ten times the person who got economically fat during the
good years is better positioned to respond to the coming
energy famine. Those of us with assets who live in the
West are looking into things like renewable energy,
alternative forms of transportation, etc. For the three billion
members of the human race who live on less than $2.00 a
day, these options simply don't exist. What "revolution" do
they have to look forward to? Going from living on $2.00 a
day to a buck fifty?

You're wrong, this tendency is only due to capitalism and modern mass media or civilization! Tribal peoples don't have these tendencies!

Then explain to me this picture. I can't post the picture here on the site, that would be going beyond the limits of good taste even for me. (I realize that's saying a lot.) The picture is explained over at Pilot Guides.com:

In remote regions of Papua New Guinea, the tribes people still
lead a simple, subsistence existence, using the stone tools in
the same style they've used for centuries. In these tropical
climes the men wear a garment (of sorts) known as a penis
gourd or 'horim', which is fashioned out of an orchid chord.
The gourd, which is often decorated with tassels and shells, is
fastened around the waist with bilum string and worn over the
penis at a jaunty angle.

The gourd is not actually unique to Papua New Guinea - similar
accessories have also been the fashion in parts of South
America and Africa - but in parts of PNG they are still
considered everyday dress and tribesmen may have several
different ones which they'll wear on special occasions and
during ceremonies.

In other words, the tribesman living a simple existence in Papua New Guinea is engaging in the same type of behavior (albeit on a smaller scale) that the guy with the Prius or your kool-aid drinking, hummer-driving brother-in-law is engaging in: uncessarily overconsuming resources in order to show off to other members of their tribe!

Again, What's the Point?

The point is asking people to consume less energy is not likely to succeed on any *large* scale because it goes against tendencies that go back tens of thousands of years or longer. Those of us alive today are, for the most part, descendants of the tribes that (one way or another) managed to do the following:

1. outproduce or militarily defeat their rivals

2. overconsume during times of plenty thus insuring a little was
socked away for the lean times.

It's no coincidence that your stomach does not notify your brain it is full until about 20 minutes after the fact. This mechanism evolved because people who failed to overconsume during the times of plenty did not pack away a little extra for the days of famine. (This is just one example of how the humans are wired to overconsume when given the chance.)

Aren't you justifying over consumption?

No, not at all. There is a difference between recognizing something and advocating or being pleased with it.

I personally have never owned a car, a rarity among members of the American upper middle class. I have stepped on an airplane less than half-a-dozen times in my whole life, again a rarity for members of my social class. I consume far less energy than the average American (that's not saying much of course) and less than even most Peak Oilers. So before you accuse me of "justifying overconsumption", realize I am almost certainly consuming a lot less energy then those would accuse me of justifying the overconsumption of energy. (Self-righteous rant mode turned off.)

So what's this mean for those of us concerned about Peak Oil?

Two things:

#1 There will not be a revolution:

There is never going to be a "revolution" because the tendencies that got us into this mess are, to a large degree, hard wired into our biology. I think it was Reg Morrison who said something along the lines of "the degree to which we detest an aspect of human nature is the degree to which we are ignorant of its role in our evolution." As I pointed out up top, overconsumption of resources is a good example of this: doing so back in the environment in which we evolved actually helped us survive. The tendency has been with us ever since and thus is not likely to go away anytime soon.

In this way, overconsumption of resources is not unlike infidelity if you think about it:

1. you can preach against it all you want, that ain't going to
stop anybody from doing it

2. it played a big role in getting us to where we are today as
a species and thus is unlikely to go a away anytime soon.

As both tendencies go way back in human history, preaching against your neighbors' tendency to overconsume resources is about as likely to be successful as preaching against their marital infidelity.

#2 Evangelizing to others may not be the best use of your energy:

You'll save yourself a lot of angst by accepting things that you can't change. The human tendency to overconsume resources and delete, deny, or rationalize out of existence information threatening that tendency are two of those things. By accepting this, you'll also free up a lot of energy and mental "space" you've expended banging your head against the wall or expecting a revolution. This can then be invested into endeavors that might actually benefit you. (Like making money so you can pay off your debt, buy land, or start a business likely to employ some of the unemployed young men in your community.)

In *most* cases, the most judicious use of your limited energy and resources is going to be towards personal and family preparation, not spreading the word to others. Reason being others are unlikely to listen for reasons that go back a lot further then advent of suburbia, capitalism, and even civilization itself. I think you're better off marshalling your resources towards finding ways to benefit from these trends in ways that do not conflict with your tribal norms than you are informing others or advocating they change their behavior.

Inevitably somebody will ask, "why then do you maintain the site?" I don't really see the site as an evangelical tool. It just sort of sits here online and attracts people who, for the most part, already believed the current way of doing business is terminally screwed with or without being aware of Peak Oil. In essence, I run a news service for people who hold (more or less) the same beliefs as I do regarding the long term viability of the current system and a bookstore for people looking for information on how to get out of that system. I'm not actively out in the public "spreading the word", expecting a revolution of any sorts, advocating any particular social agenda or even asking my neighbors to change their behavior or lifestyle. (They seem content to watch football and eat fast food all day.)

But I want to yell into the wind!

This also means I feel you're free to waste your time yelling into the wind if you see fit to do so. It's your time, you're free to piss it away if that's your perogative. When you come back in six months or six years time frustrated and angry because there's been no revolution don't say you weren't warned! As Ibon, a moderator over at Peak Oil.com recently wrote (quite eloquently):

The power of peak oil as an external force, a geologically
driven catalyst, to act as a wedge to force sustainability and
conservation on a world hell bent on exponential growth and
energy consumption is what caught my imagination and gave
me a sense of hope several years ago when I first
investigated this issue. Seeing how the ideologically driven
environmental movement of the 70's and 80's fell to the
wayside to be replaced by conspicuous consumption I even
had illusions that peak oil was the beginning of what could
break the status quo and eventually lead to a radical
transformation of our cultural values and reign in an era of
ecological sustainability imposed by the geologic reality of
resource depletion.

I have to confess that after years of at times obsessed
immersion into this subject that lead me down investigative
pathways of economics, geopolitics, religion, human group
psychology etc. I have lost much of this initial hope that the
transformative powers of peak oil, global warming or other
environmental stresses are very likely to act on or threaten
the status quo for a long time to come.

I have naively hoped that if the resource, energy, that drives
the global culture of consumption starts depleting, then
stresses will build up in the status quo to force political or
economic change toward sustainability. I was looking for
ruptures or the threat of collapse in our global infrastructure
to force awareness and change. There have been so many
threads on this website discussing the US dollar, our debt
based economic system, the housing market, Katrina type
climate events, political and religious conflicts in oil rich
nations, population dynamics, geopolitical resource wars
amongst world powers etc. We look for evidence in these
topics that the status quo is under enough threat to allow
policy makers and world leaders to question the underlying
systemic causes in the hopes that there emerges the
beginnings of intelligent ecological and sustainable responses.

There is the assumption that we have been going along
mindless of the consequences of resource depletion and that
we are collectively heading toward the cliff.

What I have underestimated is the resiliency and the level of
cooperation that goes on at the highest levels of our global
poltical and economic systems to maintain the status quo.

Instead of chaos and transformation I see the global elite
preserving the status quo at all costs to prevent revolution.
The real geological consequences of peak oil and related
resource depletion and environmental stresses will only result
in an increase of a two tiered class culture where the elites
and wealthy will preserve their status and wealth and a
growing underclass will be socialized to accept their decline
and serve the interest of the elites. This will all occur in a
backdrop of increasing environmental degradation as
consumption levels will stay at the maximum level the
available resources will allow.

I don't see revolution anywhere near the horizon.

I agree with Ibon although I think she is ignoring the role of us non-elite members of the human race. Most of us proles have no more desire to alter our behavior than do the elites. This should come as little surprise since all 6.5 billion people alive today evolved from a relatively small gene pool consisting of less than a few million humans. Elite or prole, royalty or peasantry, we are all operating with the same basic biological and psychological wiring.

I don't know how old Ibon is but I'm going to guess he/she is over 50 years old. Had she seen human nature for what it is (tribalistic, short-term, overconsumptive, violent when violence is expedient) she would have realized 30 years ago there would never be a revolution. I supsect much of the pain she is feeling is a result of realzing the ideals which she based much of her life around have turned out to be fantasies. Imho, she would have been better off realizing these things 30 years ago as she could have invested the last three deaceds of her life in something much more likely to have a positive personal EROEI than chasing phantoms. But if you want to chase those same phantoms, like I said, feel free to do so.

Discuss this article over at The LATOC Forum.
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Pippa
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Joined: 27 Apr 2006
Posts: 687
Location: Cambridgeshire

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ta dar!

Humungous aplause.

I have a feeling rather like when, after the longest time, you realise that all you have to do to relieve the pins and needles you are suffering in your feet is unfurl and stop sitting on them!!!!! (dummy).

Peace...........at last.
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Keela



Joined: 05 Sep 2006
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Location: N.Ireland

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good one.

I do think it is prudent for all of us to take advantage of the remaining availablity of fossil fuels and their products to ease our descent however we can. Anything we can do on a local basis is also an investment for the future.

So - there are some things I will not worry about now, because I cannot change them. Bird 'flu and global warming being 2 I think I cannot influence - except perhaps by trying to ensure my family's survival if it happens. I cannot stop them hitting however. Sad

Like you Pippa it feels like a weight off my shoulders to state this out loud.
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GD



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 1099
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does PO Campaigning offer a good personal EROEI?

YES!

Because what's neglected in the article is the Books that would otherwise be read, not related to raising awareness of PO, taking action in reducing personal eco footprint etc. (EDIT - personally I have not read fiction in 2 years because of PO - Oh, and I've used the library more!)

What about attending events? How much energy would you have spent in socialising otherwise.

What about the energy you save through everyday reductions that you otherwise might not have done.

And what about the influence that the Million selling book author has had in all those people's lives?

From reading this it appears Savinar doesn't understand opportunity cost.
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Adam1



Joined: 01 Sep 2006
Posts: 2707

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it difficult to say Yes or No to the question. Probably, which way each of us leans depends on what our individual personal strengths are. If you are a seasoned campaigner or public speaker, maybe it's worth putting more of your energy into that. If you are a practical person and enjoy, say, gardening, then get into the permaculture big time!

I find it difficult to say that we should not devote any of our time to telling others. Probably, most of us would not know much if anything about peak oil, EROEI or any of the other spin off subjects, had someone not told us about it.

Adam
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aliwood



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 392

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting and thought provoking. Thanks for posting Adam1
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isenhand



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, in summary we can say that we have ended up in this mess because people are people Question
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Pippa
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

isenhand wrote:
So, in summary we can say that we have ended up in this mess because people are people Question


IMHO, we can pin point the time when things started to go expanentially wrong when instead of interperating spirituality to come from the earth, sky and planets around us and worshipping those things as our God, some bright spark in a desert somewhere decided that God was Man, shaped like man and spoke though man.....

IMHO it is no wonder we have muslins and christians pitted against each other....like in the playground,

"I said it first!",....

"no I did"

No, its mine"

"You're wrong, its mine" fisticuffs ensue.
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snow hope



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right that's it! (said in a John Cleese style)

I give up.

We are all fecked and we can do nothing about it.

Lets all go back to watching EastEnders (insert favourite meaningless drivvle here) and consuming and buying whatever TPTB want us to buy.

We can all rest easy and be ignorant of what is happening around us and just be like the rest of the lemmings that are happy go lucky until the final foot goes over the cliff.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, that sounds easier than my last 18 months of worry and concern....

Now what shall I do - laugh or cry?
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PowerSwitchJames



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my more dictatorial states of mind, I feel that a strong enough state/government can suppress the 'hard-wired' demands of our biology, through force and culture change. I'm not saying it is ideal. I'm not saying it should be done. But it could be done. It will cause conflict for the generations used to having everything and wanting more, but maybe you can pretty much programme people to not be so consuming during their formative years.
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GD



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Devon

PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This article is a load of Social Darwinist claptrap. Savinar is no expert. His apparent lack of understanding a simple thing like opportunity cost ought to ring enough alarm bells.

Colin Mason (2030 spike) was able to show that there's ways out despite his 2 axioms:

Quote:
* Useful change is likely to come only if it can provide as demonstrable, equal and general benefit as possible to the community in which it is planned.

* If proposed solutions don?t take the lowest common denominators of human nature realistically into account,they will not work.


Not only is Savinar unable to think out of the box a little, he seems to wallow in glee at the "fact" that we're screwed and there's nothing we can do about it.
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isenhand



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pippa wrote:
isenhand wrote:
So, in summary we can say that we have ended up in this mess because people are people Question


IMHO, we can pin point the time when things started to go expanentially wrong when instead of interperating spirituality to come from the earth, sky and planets around us and worshipping those things as our God, some bright spark in a desert somewhere decided that God was Man, shaped like man and spoke though man.....

IMHO it is no wonder we have muslins and christians pitted against each other....like in the playground,

"I said it first!",....

"no I did"

No, its mine"

"You're wrong, its mine" fisticuffs ensue.


I would disagree, although ?spirituality? and other dilutions does have a part to play they exemplify just one aspect of human nature. Religions with one god and those with many gods have much more in common than not. They both represent attempts to understand the world through anthromorphism and to control others. The both offer deluded views of the world and they both distract people from reality. Therefore, moving from many gods to one doesn?t make much of a difference.

However, segregating people out and getting them to compete, whether you use religion or not, does increase hostility, discrimination and violence between people. However, team work and cooperation has the effect of reducing confrontation.


Smile
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http://www.lulu.com/technocracy

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isenhand



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PowerSwitchJames wrote:
In my more dictatorial states of mind, I feel that a strong enough state/government can suppress the 'hard-wired' demands of our biology, through force and culture change. I'm not saying it is ideal. I'm not saying it should be done. But it could be done. It will cause conflict for the generations used to having everything and wanting more, but maybe you can pretty much programme people to not be so consuming during their formative years.


People are actually capable of a number of different modes of behaviour. The environment can determine to some degree what type of behaviour becomes dominant. If we were to change our socioeconomic structure we could build a different society that does not need suppression from the government.

Smile
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