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The problem is really very simple to understand. We have an entire way of life built on extracting using nature's resources and sinks at rates far higher than it can sustain for long. It's not just fossil fuel use, although if we took that away we wouldn't have 99.9% of the stuff around us. It's also water, exploitation of other species, land use, and so on.

Our choices are: stop doing so, or don't stop doing so and wait for the convergence of environmental and economic issues that will force us to stop.

If we stop doing so on our own voluntarily, we will need to be prepared to face a world with much less material wealth, but as has been pointed out here, this is not an option for us. At least, few to no one seriously discusses it. And unfortunately, we are individuals who compete against each other for status, and groups of individuals who compete against other groups, and voluntarily choosing less isn't a winning formula in that competition.

We also have scores of professional liars usually called economists who tell us we can invent our way out of it and maintain that wealth, and most desperately want to believe it.

Additionally, ignoring resource peaks and assuming other environmental issues don't become unbearable before 2050, we're only at the midway point at best for really ramping up our extraction and pollution abilities. The OECD comprises about 1/6th of the world's population, and the other 5/6ths want to be like us.

I read Roberts's article. He's basically asking for faith and interpersonal communion. It's a religious response in the face of the unthinkable. He doesn't want to think about the worst, so he's inventing a way for himself not to think about it. There's also a lot of hero narrative in there, too. We all tell ourselves stories about how we're the noblest of all. A feature I've seen a lot lately is about how faith and hope are a more noble personal trait than despair and its twin, facing reality.

The world summits on climate change should really have an archway at the entrance with the words above it, "MAYBE WE'LL GET LUCKY!", because that's what everyone is thinking. Instead of facing our problem squarely and boldly, we ignore the first option of abandoning (not just tweaking) the practices that are leading us towards the downslope of the rollercoaster. We're hoping there will be some miracle that bends the downslope up. We tell ourselves that that hope is noble, even though it will only ensure we maintain the practices that are the root cause of our worries.

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