The End of Thinking Ahead

Posted:  March 31st, 2011 by:  The Environment Site comments:  0

We, as a species, have definitely lost something. We have lost the ability to plan ahead. All we seem to be able to do anymore is immediate and short term thinking . We have reached the point where five years is an eternity to us and anything farther down the road is a miracle. Do not even pretend to think about something 20 years or 40 years down the road. We are definitely living in the NOW era of human evolution and it is costing us gravely.

In our history we have built some of the greatest projects seen by humanity. In the distant past we find Stonehenge, the pyramids and the Great Wall of China. In the more recent past we find the Panama Canal and the Hoover Damn. All of these projects took long term planning and concentrated effort. Of course, many things such as the Great Wall and the Pyramids cost a lot in terms of life and human suffering but, the immensity of their longevity is incredible.

Things are much different now. If you try to talk to someone about global warming or climate change they simply cannot, or will, not look at something that far into the future.  All you hear is now, now and once again, now. If you try to discuss the phasing out of fossil fuels they will tell you that it cannot work because it will not work now. If you talk to them about the degradation of the aquifers they will tell you that it doesn’t matter because they are not empty today. These kinds of discussions are beyond most people today.
Any discussion you have about energy will run into this problem.

The problems with petroleum products are well known but if you try to suggest alternate methods the answer will always be some version of that will not work because everything we do NOW uses petroleum. Those who will argue against you will insist that any problem with oil is not immediate because there is enough and there has been enough. They cannot look down the road of time and see what will happen with projected usage.

Coal is the current magic bullet of the anti-environmental crowd.  The power is produced immediately and the supply seems plentiful. What they do not see, and will not see, is the pile of toxins and waste left behind. We produce a massive amount of coal ash. In 2009 we produced about 75,000,000 tons of coal ash and guess what we did with it. We dumped it into collection ponds for someone else to deal with later. This means we have produced about two pounds of coal ash for every man, woman and child in the United States for every single day of the year. So much for the solution to all our energy demands.

There is a sad flip-side to this inability to think ahead. The ugly and opposite face is the ability of people to put off dealing with something to later generations. Many people are perfectly willing to keep creating waste and leaving for our descendant to deal with. They are willing to do this with coal by-products, greenhouse gases and nuclear waste. Every landfill is a testament to this ability. Do not worry about it. They want to stick it in the ground somewhere and let someone else deal with it later. We do this with our household trash. We do this with our coal waste and we are willing to do this with our nuclear waste, too. How is that for an ability to delay reality and delay answers for later?


Further References

Great Pyramids
Great Wall of China
Secret Costs Of Coal
Sourcewatch: Existing U.S. Coal Plants


Dee Neely is a freelance writer, avid technologist and a member of The Zeitgeist Movement.

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