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Metaconsciousness: Mythology for a Post-Civilized World
I.8 | Contents | I.10

I.9. The Future of the Future

I believe R. Buckminster Fuller, or someone closely associated with him, once remarked, "The future of the past is the present. The future of the present is the future. The future of the future is the present."

Well spoken. From a purely "nuts & bolts" perspective, the most salient impact upon the future by a feature in the present seems to be the matter of Peak Oil – the evidently uncompromising fact that the world's oil production has now, or shortly will have, reached its peak; after which the steady year-by-year increase in oil production will be irrevocably reversed. To the extent the world's industrial energy is supplied by oil – which is to say, almost entirely – this development alone bears far-reaching implications for the "progress" of civilization, and for "the future of the future."

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Perpetual Growth and Expansion
The most "disturbing" implication of this development, depending upon how one looks at it, has to do with the fact that the most fundamental cornerstone of civilization, laid five thousand years ago, and never moved, is the unyielding principle of perpetual growth and expansion. This is most fundamentally what civilization has been doing for the past five millennia – essentially, one way or another, by means of war. If you read Ruppert,1 you will be given abundant evidence in support of the proposition that the actions of the American Corporate Empire in the Middle East are motivated almost entirely by this matter of Peak Oil.

So what happens when the unyielding principle of perpetual expansion comes up against the unyielding fact that available energy can do nothing from here on out but decline? Expansion requires more energy, there's no getting around that. Is this a case of "an irresistible force meeting an immovable object?" Well... in a word, no. Because the "irresistible force" in this case isn't really irresistible. It is only as irresistible as its armies, and a modern mechanized army, as everyone knows, runs on oil. The way they've got things rigged, everything runs on oil, and if there isn't any oil, then nothing runs.

Actually, the situation isn't quite as stark or simple as that. I suggest you read Power Down: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World 2 for a more detailed analysis of the Peak Oil issue than I am going to reproduce here. If I haven't convinced you already, I believe that between Ruppert and Heinberg, you will have difficulty evading the conclusion that the days of dominator civilization are definitely numbered.

Looking at it a little closer, it emerges that oil is not the only available source of energy, and that Peak Oil doesn't mean the tank is empty. What it means is that it is no longer possible to increase oil production: that global oil discoveries peaked in 1964,3 that global oil production is peaking about now, and that therefore the oil that remains in the ground will be increasingly costly to pump out of the ground, and its availability will steadily decline. Until now, oil has been the most convenient and "cost-effective" source of energy on the planet – in the sense that it has been immediately cheaper to produce than any other energy source. The fact that oil is a non-renewable resource, and that every barrel of oil burned for energy, from day one, has been one more barrel of oil irretrievably lost from the planet's inventory, attaches a rather formidable caveat to the actual "cost-effectiveness" of oil as an energy resource.

As to alternative energy sources, well... there's still a lot of coal. Naturally, this isn't a particularly attractive solution, because coal is notoriously dirty in many ways, and if we were to replace oil with coal for our present and anticipated energy needs, we would have a much bigger mess on our hands than we do already. Then too, coal, like oil, is a non-renewable resource, and even if there's a mighty lot of it, still, the same principle applies: every carload of coal burned up, and turned into heat, ash, soot, and greenhouse gases, is a carload of coal irreplaceably subtracted from Earth's inventory. So coal, in addition to creating numerous problems of its own, doesn't really solve the problem of Peak Oil. At best, it only postpones it.

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The Myth of Free Energy
Well then... what about free energy? Ah, yes, one of my favorite myths. Here are some reasons for taking it seriously.

  1. The Universe itself is believed alike by scientists, theologians, and philosophers to have originated "out of the vacuum," either through a the mythical "Big Bang," or as a continuous process called the "Steady State," or by fiat of a Deity. All these are myths, yet they are given very serious and widespread consideration, and it is difficult to imagine theoretical or mythical alternatives to them.4 If the entire content of a Universe can credibly emerge "from nothing," or simply exist perpetually, without beginning or end, then why is it so difficult to believe that useful energy can emerge in the same way?

  2. The most widely known mathematical formula on Earth, particularly outside mathematical circles, is Einstein's formula for the equivalence of matter and energy, "E = mc2." In application, this formula means that a physical mass (expressed in grams) contains a quantity of energy (expressed in energy units called "ergs") equal to the number of grams in the mass multiplied by the speed of light (expressed in centimeters per second) "squared," or multiplied by itself. The math is not complicated, and works out like this: That is, by the E = mc2 formula, one kilogram, or 2.2 pounds of atoms, contain 24,970,000,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. Quite a package! At the rate I pay for electricity, $0.073 per kWh, that works out to $1,822,810,000 USD worth of energy: 2.2 pounds of atoms.

    The "E = mc2" formula has come to be associated in most people's minds with "atomic energy," the arcane field involving fission and fusion nuclear and thermonuclear reactions in uranium, plutonium, and other rare earth radioactive isotopes – which are decidedly not readily accessible to "Gyro Gearloose" home-shop experimentalists. But Einstein's formula is applicable to "atoms" – any atoms, all atoms; and atoms are accessible to everyone, everywhere, all the time. So too, presumably, given the appropriate technology, or know-how, is the energy they contain.

    And not only the energy contained in atoms. I understand that Einstein has remarked to the effect that there is enough energy in a teacup of hard vacuum to boil all the oceans on Earth. This energy has since been given the designation, "zero point," because it refers to the limitless energy that exists even in a vacuum, at "absolute zero," the lowest theoretically possible energy state.

  3. There are numerous reports in circulation of credible experiments and laboratory devices which demonstrate, or are claimed to demonstrate in various ways, the viability of free energy. This domain is murky, and the arguments of detractors and skeptics are often as difficult to penetrate or confirm as are the claims they endeavor to "debunk." The jury is still out on this speculation, yet some of the arguments for free energy are quite persuasive.

  4. The culture that has dominated human affairs for the past five thousand years has had the single agenda of control, specifically of the "pyramid builders" by the "pharaohs," in every form and manifestation they have assumed throughout civilized history. During the past century or so, energy has become an increasingly critical factor to the "pharaonic agenda," and as new and innovative energy technologies have been discovered, the pharaohs have without exception taken whatever measures have been necessary to maintain an energy monopoly throughout the planet.

    Under this regime, the only energy technologies that have ever been developed for widespread use have been technologies that share the property of making energy valvable and meterable for sale in the marketplace. Vital Question: Is this so because existing developed energy technologies are the only energy technologies possible? Or are these the only developed energy technologies because of the incalculably powerful lever of control put thereby into the hands of the pharaohs?

    The widespread availability of free energy would irrevocably eliminate the pharaohs' energy monopoly and its associated lever of control. Therefore, it is not an entirely far-fetched speculation that the pharaohs may have exercised limitless pains to retain their energy monopoly, and may have suppressed by any and all means every free energy technology that has ever emerged – even to the extent of teaching everyone who goes to school, from kindergarten to graduate school, that such technologies are theoretically and absolutely impossible.

I rest my case. I find the free energy myth credible, for the reason, among others, that a refrigerator magnet never wears out, and does not eventually drop to the floor after the energy that keeps it attached to the refrigerator is "used up." The energy in a permanent magnet is never used up, and has a perpetual capacity for attracting or repelling other magnets – i.e. doing work.

Now; having said all that, it still remains a fact, evidently, that no free energy device has emerged into the marketplace – either because all such technologies have been effectively suppressed, or as claimed by the "authorities," because no such technologies are possible. Yet even if the free energy myth were 100% valid, and the supposed "hidden energy technologies" were to be publicly disclosed tomorrow morning, it is doubtful that the probable effects of Peak Oil could be entirely averted. Today, right now, "the world runs on oil." The infrastructure is in place, having accumulated and matured for the past century and more. Any free energy technologies – assuming they exist – are at best right now in the laboratory development stage. Maybe there are some prototype units somewhere that are able to "prove the concept."

Between "proving the concept," however, and going into actual production to take up the slack left in the wake of Peak Oil, there lies a formidable lead time. In the year 2000, Tom Bearden was advocating a crash "Manhattan Project" to get existing free energy prototypes into full-scale production and into the market by January 2004, in order to avert a catastrophic energy crisis by 2008.5 At that time, Bearden placed January 2004 as "the point of no return," beyond which a catastrophic energy crisis cannot be avoided, no matter what anyone tries to do about it. Bearden's "Manhattan Project" didn't happen, and doesn't appear to be on the horizon, and it remains to be seen what consequences unfold. Heinberg doesn't seem to be very optimistic either. Nevertheless,

There is much [Heinberg writes] that individuals and communities can do to prepare for the energy crunch. Anything that promotes individual self-reliance (gardening, energy conservation, and voluntary simplicity) will help. But the strategy of individualist survivalism will offer only temporary and uncertain refuge during the energy down-slope. True individual and family security will come only with community solidarity and interdependence. Living in a community that is weathering the downslope well will enhance personal chances of surviving and prospering far more than will individual efforts at stockpiling tools or growing food.6

I believe what Heinberg is talking about, although I doubt this is exactly the construction he might put upon it, is walking away from civilization and joining or creating a post-civilized culture. This we can do, not as isolated individuals, but rather as tribes in which, and among which we can deliberately, persistently foment metaconsciousness, and return the human race to the path of metaconscious brilliance whose progress has been interrupted by the past five thousand years of dominator civilization.

If such recommendations were taken seriously [Heinberg continues], they could lead to a world a century from now with fewer people using less energy per capita, all of it from renewable sources, while enjoying a quality of life perhaps enviable by the typical industrial urbanite of today. Human inventiveness could be put to the task, not of making ways to use more resources, but of expanding artistic satisfaction, finding just and convivial social arrangements, and deepening the spiritual experience of being human. Living in smaller communities, people would enjoy having more control over their lives. Traveling less, they would have more of a sense of rootedness, and more of a feeling of being at home in the natural world. Renewable energy sources would provide some conveniences, but not nearly on the scale of fossil-fueled industrialism.7

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The Down Side of Free Energy
By way of closing the loop on the free energy issue, it occurs to me, as it has occurred to others, that the immediate disclosure of such technologies under present circumstances might well turn out to be much more a curse than a blessing; because it wouldn't solve the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem on planet Earth is not Peak Oil; that is only one of a great many symptoms. The problem is, and has been for the past five thousand years, that dominator civilization doesn't work. Dominator civilization has never worked. Right now, civilization is on the ropes, and failing fast; and it may be that Peak Oil is playing a vital role in its self-destruction. If civilized industry were actually to mount Bearden's proposed "Manhattan Project" to put into production and widespread use a genuinely operational free energy device, and thereby bail civilization out of its immediate "problem," then the pressure might be off – for awhile – and the five-thousand-year program of perpetual expansion would then have a new lease on life. Wouldn't that be jolly?

Yet it still remains that civilization doesn't work, and it isn't for lack of energy that it doesn't work. Given a new lease on life, civilization would predictably continue its program of pillage and rapine – until at some future date it would run into some other unyielding obstacle, such as no water that isn't contaminated by lethal levels of pollutants. Meanwhile, with essentially limitless energy at its disposal, the human population would continue to grow, and would continue to convert everything it touches into one enormous planetary landfill of indigestible garbage and toxic waste. Does this sound like a good idea to you?

Therefore, even though I think it may be possible, I'm not so keen right now as I once was on the idea of free energy; and I have a hunch the global metaconsciousness is working out a better solution. The time for free energy has not yet arrived, and may not arrive until after dominator civilization has been laid permanently to rest. Watch the film, Independence Day, if you want a vivid image of where dominator civilization would go with limitless energy, never mind the little monsters from outer space. That film accurately represented us – costumed as "aliens from outer space," not them.

Meanwhile, whether or not an over unity device that produces more energy than it consumes is possible, it is at least clear that there are far more efficient means of harnessing energy than has been the practice until now in civilized industry; and individuals can make choices, and can mold our lives in many ways to minimize our energy use, and maximize the efficiency of the uses we make of it.

From where I stand, however, it looks like most people are positioned instead to carry on "business as usual" until the very moment the entire system comes crashing down, around, and on top of them – just as we might imagine the dinosaurs did at the end of the Cretaceous Period, until the day the asteroid struck – if that is "in fact" what "really" happened. (It's all mythology, you know, even what's going on "right here, right now.") Anyway; so then...?

Well, then "the future of the future" plays out on the basis of the choices each of us make right now; and now, and now, and now. Some of us will "survive." Some of us will "perish." Each of us will deal, as best we can, just as we have always done, with whatever circumstances in which we find ourselves. And with "a little bit o' luck," or with "the blessing of the gods," or with the guidance of the "universal metaconsciousness," and "a little help from our friends," with body and soul still united, those of us who remain will venture forth for the first time into a post-civilized world – just as the little mouse-like mammals did 66.4 million years ago, after the Cretaceous Period had at last come to an end. In that moment, it must have felt incredible, just to be alive!

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1. Ruppert, 2004.

2. Heinberg, 2004.

3. Ruppert, 2004, p. 30.

4. See also Cosmological Scale Expansion in section II.5 for yet another plausible alternative cosmology.

5. T. E. Bearden, LTC, U.S. Army (Retired), The Unnecessary Energy Crisis: How to Solve It Quickly Final Draft, June 24, 2000.

6. Heinberg, Synopsis: The Party's Over, boldface emphasis added.

7. Ibid.

Metaconsciousness: Mythology for a Post-Civilized World
I.8 | Contents | I.10