Man’s Conquest of Nature is Only Temporary

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Crux of Terms of Surrender by John Michael Greer:

  • The belief in Progress has a central theme of Man conquering Nature and submitting her to his will: Disease is conquered by medicine, distance by motorized transportation, the soil by fertilizers, and so on.

  • “according to this way of looking at things, Nature is not supposed to put up more than a pro forma struggle or a passive resistance. Above all, once any part of Nature is conquered, it’s supposed to stay conquered—and of course that’s where the trouble creeps in, because a great many of the things we habitually lump together as Nature are refusing to go along with the script.”

  • For example, “A large and growing number of pathogenic microbes these days are already resistant to the antibiotics that used to treat them; new antibiotics brought onto the market start running into problems with resistant bacteria in a fraction of the time that was once necessary for resistance to emerge; and the transfer of antibiotic resistance from one species to another is becoming an increasingly troubling problem.”

  • But most people “respond with an overfamiliar sentence: “Oh, I’m sure they’ll think of something.” The increasingly frantic efforts of researchers to find new antibiotics and stay ahead of the remorselessly rising tide of microbial resistance get no more attention than the equally frantic efforts, say, of drilling companies to find petroleum deposits to make up for the increasingly rapid depletion of existing oil fields.”

  • Another example is The Green Revolution in agriculture: “The barrage of fertilizers and poisons the proponents of that movement turned on agriculture won a temporary advantage over the hard subsistence limits of earlier eras, but it was only temporary. The reckless use of artificial fertilizers turned out to have drastic downsides, while the poisons drove insects and weeds into exactly the same frenzy of intensive natural selection that antibiotics brought to the microbial world.”

  • “Farmers faced by resistant weeds and pests, like physicians faced by resistant microbes, are turning to increasingly desperate measures to get the same results that their equivalents got with much less trouble. That’s exactly the situation that’s driving the current fracking boom and bubble, too. Back in the glory days of petroleum exploration and discovery, drillers could punch a well a few hundred feet into the ground and hit oil; now it takes hugely expensive deepwater drilling, tar sands extraction, or hydrofracturing of shale and other “tight oil” deposits to keep the liquid fuel flowing, and the costs keep rising year after year.”

  • Since in the long term all those efforts will cease to be effective, “the age of petroleum, and everything that unfolded from it, was exactly the same sort of temporary condition as the age of antibiotics and the Green Revolution.”

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Thorium Reactors May Be Better Than Uranium, But Not For Investors

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Crux of The Thing About Thorium: Why The Better Nuclear Fuel May Not Get A Chance by Marin Katusa:

  • Thorium is a better nuclear fuel than uranium, because it’s safer, more abundant, more energy-dense, and produces less radioactive waste.
  • Uranium reactors gained the upper hand because they produce plutonium that can then be used for nuclear bombs, which was desirable during the cold war.
  • Still, “generating the barrage of neutrons needed to kick-start the [thorium] reaction regularly come down to uranium or plutonium, bringing at least part of the problem full circle.”
  • Thorium reactors are planned in India and China, but not in the west. It may be that they are still not economically viable.

how predictions and prophecies turn us into fools

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Crux of Tweedledoom and Tweedledee by John Michael Greer:

  • The belief in 12/21/2012 is not based on any fact, like many previous beliefs in past dates for apocalypses.
  • The belief in shale gas is not based on geophysical and economic facts, like many previous economic bubbles.
  • Both these beliefs free their holders from making any real actions that will improve their future.