Friday, June 9, 2023

Engineering Our Energy Future

Our current configuration as humans on the planet is almost purely a function of fossil fuel and chemistry. It should already be obvious to everyone that no combination of nuclear, solar, wind, tide, geothermal whatever, combined with any storage technology can sustain the planet with our current configuration. The only transformation that can work is a reconfiguration of us humans. 

Of course, social engineering is pretty synonymous with evil in these United States. So we won't call it engineering. Just now it still feels "natural" for us to love travel and want such luxuries as digital electrification affords us. We can't even imagine ourselves as other than individualistic, though that also requires that we numb ourselves to death's inevitability. 

So, how shall we make the transition to loving company on the trolley and not really caring so much about mobility?

Well, for one thing, destinations all start to look alike and feel alike, while getting there is so commodified that I, for one, don't care ever again to board an airplane. The distance between the digital simulation and the reality shrinks as well. I'm sure you nor I will ever quite get over the lust for those multi-millionaire multi-abodes - floating or flying or just planted - although . . . do you really wish to spend your life administering them?

And then there's population size, although that may also be relative to how readily we might share our kids; nevermind our partners.

At root of what feels natural is the "social engineering" of capitalism, which wants us each to value our individual selfie-self. It should be equally obvious that it also generates a new kind of evil where to the extent that a service worker must support the profitability of the health insurance, internet provider, cellular service, manufacturer, builder, whatever, that service worker must also sever commonalities with whomever they are screwing. 

And really, isn't it just ironic that Christianity so often morphs into hatred of others? Immigrants, blacks, trans-people, homosexuals. Jesus would have none of ANY of that!

So, we will get our sustainable future one way or another, but it won't be the result of merited individuals engineering the technologies to make that possible. That's just us now projecting our hopes and fears onto our precarious collective future. Still, I would like that the transition not be cataclysmic.

I simply maintain that to make it so is a social and not a technological problem. Ever been in a room full of computer engineers? I have, plenty of times. There isn't much sense of social intelligence there.

And now that we can witness true artificial intelligence, it's time to recognize that this is what we've always meant by IQ, and that fuzzy concept of "merit." The more detached and machine like your enactment of intelligence is, the more you are worth.

Walk, ride bikes, take trolleys. Get to know your neighbors and decrease friendships down to a number you can actually know and want to see often. Tribal? Well, I don't really think we have to let go of what we've learned, and the capacity to troubleshoot our futures that we've developed.

We are learning about hate and injustice and racism and xenophobia. It's just that the reactionaries still carry the day. But that won't last any longer than our automobile culture will.

And that, my friends, is the actual law of nature.

Now, I would like to go for a sail . . .

But first I must purchase new shoes. I have no shoes suitable for deck-wear anymore. The last I owned lasted forever, so I'll get them again. Sperry Topsiders. On my way to Lowes to purchase a cheap table saw so that I can rebuild the companionway boards on my oh-so-recently completed boat restoration project. I decided to check out the nearby shopping mall which is nearly out of business.

Of the three shoe places still listed on the mall directory, only one apparently remains. The ring road around the mall and indeed the entire "structure" would make a fine set for a post-apocalyptic film. That would be its highest and best use but for the fact that the country is littered with such places.

Among a scattering of strange shops there is indeed a shoe store, which had a pair of Sperry Topsiders just my size for approximately the same price I paid back in the early '80s. This pair was made in the Dominican Republic. It felt lucky.

The clerk was nice, even through his mandatory spiel, and the motions required to make the sale, so I asked him what he thought had destroyed the mall. Last I had been there it was thriving, though that might have been ten years ago. Sure online, he said, but no, really it's Amazon. I quipped that we were all making it possible for Bezos to go to Mars. He quipped back that Bezos should go and stay there and take Musk and Zukerberg with him.

There are indeed intelligent people left on earth

No comments: