the irony of hubris: on human control issues

human control of world

Just as humans are gaining significant control over our environment, we're starting to lose it, says Richard Heinberg in a marvelous essay (via postcarbon).

“Humankind has control issues, and they’re about to get a lot worse.”

"Even our great grandparents were relatively powerless against the cold, the heat, famine, insects, diseases, and the rest of nature’s inconveniences when compared to ourselves," notes Heinberg.

Yet, "with the end of cheap fossil fuels, and therefore the end of cheap energy, our ability to control our environment begins to wane", says Heinberg. This has “abundant practical implications, but also a collective psychological, even spiritual impact.”

Sure, "we enjoy climate-controlled living and shopping areas; our physicians cure previously fatal illnesses; we conquer problems of distance and time without a thought or care."

Yet, here comes "a sense of frustration at finding many expectations dashed", says Heinberg.

Of course, as Heinberg notes, "there are plenty of people in the world today who are still relatively powerless."

That's us all over again.

Think Icarus or Prometheus, says Heinberg.

"Many of us will find mythological lessons in this historic transformation."

...which is not a bad thang.

Published by Ken on August 18th, 2008 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking

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