There is a deep similarity between the way we have used fossil fuels and debt to drive our political and financial economies. And the results of this use are also very similar:
- There are unavoidable limits to both. These limits are not just an amount (quantity in fuels and bubble size in debt), but that both become increasingly difficult to extract as their use increases.
- The habit of their use also makes it increasingly difficult to change their use. This is a kind of addiction.
- Their use is always to allow short-term success and a parallel ignoring of long-term consequences.
- When the consequences become too great to ignore, very significant costs are required to alleviate these consequences.
- In turn, the costs of dealing with the consequences of short-term, non-strategic use further undermines the original advantage of their use.
This cycle of short-term planning in use of resources and the lack of attention to consequences is fractal. That is, the mistake occurs systemically at every level. It is a characteristic of our complex adaptive system, and it has as much to do with the momentum of our ongoing lost control over our future as anything else that we currently believe to be wrong in our society.
We can’t use the way we created and maintain the degradation of our society to change that degradation in anything other than small ways, ways that over time will wash out in the same way that ripples from the splash of a small stone wash out in a river.
We need a strategy, not more short-term operational planning.