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Sunday, October 22, 2023

The Decade That Changed Everything

A few years ago, I shared a scary Halloween story about how the entire economy is going to collapse over the course of this decade. This year, I thought I'd share the more positive side of that "collapse"; rebirth. 

Only when looking back, with a few years of perspective, can you really see the things that make a decade stand out. During the decade, when you are living it, it's hard to know the day-to-day things that will define it. Now, it's easy to see that things like water beds, big hair, M-TV, neon leg warmers, shoulder pads, and hammer pants define the decade of the 1980s. What will define the 2020s decade? 

We're less than halfway through this decade, and it's certain that things like the pandemic and the insurrection will cover pages in the future history books, but I'm interested in things that will influence the culture of that future society that's reading that history book. I think it's starting to become clear that the phase-out of fossil fuel usage, is truly underway. It will take a generation for it to come to fruition, but it is making more progress now than it ever has. 

This is the decade that will cross the chasm; this decade will be the tipping point.

EVs, solar, and wind power are not new, but steady efficiency improvements and advances in battery technology have taken these to a new level of performance and grid integration. 

Performance improvements have made them more desirable, increasing demand; allowing production levels to increase; allowing the price to be reduced; thereby further increasing demand. It's a positive feedback loop, a virtuous cycle, and it's gaining momentum.

Phasing out fossil fuels will be a big change. At one time, people smoked cigarettes in nearly every place. They smoked on airplanes, in restaurants, and in workplace offices. Today, looking back on that time, we wonder why that was ever allowed. It just seems dumb that this behavior was tolerated. It didn't matter if you were a non-smoker, a child, or infirmed, you were subjected to secondhand smoke in everyday life. It seems unthinkable that you couldn't sit down in a restaurant and have a meal without being engulfed in carcinogenic fumes. 

Similarly, a few decades from now, people will look back at today with similar incredulity at the days when we were sitting in traffic jams surrounded by tailpipes. They'll look back at parents in cars idling in queues for school drop-off and pick-up, all the while spewing out deadly emissions while little lungs are breathing nearby. They'll wonder why we used fossil fuels for more than a century; especially after the turn of the millennium when the downsides had become painfully obvious.

For fun, let's look at how an academic in 2035 might look back at today in an attempt to understand why our society was so slow to move to the inevitable renewable future.

Term paper, December 2035, The Societal Dissociative Disorder That Allowed Continued Fossil Fuel Usage In The Early 21st Century 


The paper investigates the phenomenon of "Societal Dissociative Disorder" (SDD) and its implications on the continuation of fossil fuel usage during the early 21st century. By the year 2035, the consequences of climate change have become apparent, necessitating a critical analysis of the societal and psychological factors that hindered a timely transition to renewable energy sources.

Drawing from extensive historical records and contemporary research, this study examines the psychosocial mechanisms that facilitated the perpetuation of fossil fuel dependency. We propose that SDD, a collective cognitive and emotional disconnection from the long-term consequences of continued fossil fuel use, played a significant role in prolonging the reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

This paper shows the global energy landscape during the early 21st century, highlighting the dominance of fossil fuels and their pervasive influence on various sectors of society. Subsequently, it explores the cognitive biases and socio-political dynamics that contributed to the denial and minimization of climate change impacts, thereby reinforcing the status quo.

Furthermore, our research identifies the powerful interests and industry lobbying that constructed barriers to comprehensive climate policy reform. By analyzing case studies of historical environmental movements, we demonstrate how entrenched economic interests and disinformation campaigns perpetuated SDD and effectively hindered meaningful climate action.

Moreover, this paper delves into the psychological underpinnings of SDD, examining the mechanisms of psychological distance and temporal discounting that blunted the urgency of transitioning to sustainable energy alternatives. We draw parallels to other societal issues where dissociation from long-term consequences has been observed, providing a broader framework for understanding SDD.

Finally, the paper explores successful initiatives and strategies that ultimately led to the transformative global shift away from fossil fuels. By learning from past mistakes, this study offers valuable insights into overcoming SDD and fostering a collective consciousness that prioritizes sustainability, clean air, clean water, and environmental stewardship.

In conclusion, this paper highlights the relevance of addressing SDD as a key aspect of driving societal change to sustainable energy practices. Only by acknowledging and confronting this psychological phenomenon, can generation alpha be better equipped to navigate complex global challenges and avoid the mistakes of the early 21st century.

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