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    The Correspondent | Rob Wijnberg | 11/7/19 | 18 min
    14 reads10 comments
    The Correspondent
    14 reads
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    • jbuchana6 months ago

      This is something I've never seen examined well:

      History has shown us that nothing plays a greater role in shaping human society than the energy sources on which it is built.

      I would be quite interested in reading an essay on this alone. I'll have to Google it as well, but I'm running out of reading time tonight.

      The pencil story reminds me of how even intelligent people can miss the current and historic web of technology (and people) which is needed to make almost any modern item. Think of Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" One man, Hank Morgan, from the future brings an area of England hundreds of years into the future of technology without an existing infrastructure to back him up? I may be taking the story a little too literally here though... Think of Verne's "Mysterious Island" Cyrus Harding does the same on a (thought to be) deserted island with even fewer people or infrastructure than our Connecticut Yankee had.

      "If I have seen far, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants."

    • Jessica6 months ago

      Knowledge is peculiar in that it grows when it’s shared (as does love, as the romantics would likely point out). And luckily, we humans are ridiculously good at sharing.

      Really loved that line. The back and forth in this article (the paradox!) kept throwing me between feelings of despair and hope. If we can get ourselves into this fossil economy, we have the brains to get out of it. Just not alone, but as a collective.

    • jeff
      Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
      6 months ago

      Leonard Read's pencil question is my favorite thought experiment ever. Perhaps mostly for that reason I enjoyed this article overall, though I still found it a bit handwavy, especially concerning the history of energy revolutions.

      Government policy and public opinion have always been and will continue to be huge factors in determining how we produce and consume energy. If not for those two factors, we might have found ourselves currently in the midst of a nuclear revolution with no worries of runaway greenhouse gas emissions to speak of.

      • Alexa
        6 months ago

        I might have to adopt the term "handwavy", that is so concise and made me chuckle.

        Smart point on the nuclear stuff, you're always my favorite contrarian on Readup. I mean that as an awesome thing, it makes me check my assumptions before just rah-rah-ing an article.

        • Plum6 months ago

          Sobering article with openings for hope. It seems to me we need a way to zoom out and describe what is going on in order to begin to “fix” it. I am going to start using the term homo cooperans because cooperation is our hope Please someone tell me what handwavy means!

      • Symmetria6 months ago

        I agree with jeff on the "handwavy" stuff... The "cooperation" (Like the author said) is very hierarchical, and involves a lot of coercion, especially in developing countries. He manages to speak on Africa in an effort to ignore the fact that the west knows very little about the region, and the unique challenges to renewables that are specific to the region. A worldwide transition will take more that "cooperation" in the abstract to work, and will be very messy.

    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
      6 months ago

      Excellent. A worthy topic to meditate on. I'm a big fan of The Correspondent.

    • Alexa
      6 months ago

      Excellent read on how far we’ve come as a species and why that is a problem for our continued survival. Some ‘mildly optimistic’ thoughts towards the end.

      The source of our progress has become the source of our downfall. Things are too good for us to change it all, yet too bad for us to leave anything as it is.

      • TinaCamera6 months ago

        This extreme disconnect between those most responsible for climate change and those most affected by it reveals the flip side to the progress we’ve made over the past two centuries: while humanity as a whole is better off than ever before, the gains have been exceptionally unevenly distributed.

        Uneven distribution is what accounts for most of our social and climate related global issues. Read sums it up so well!

        I thought it was interesting that he didn't make mention of social media and correlations to modern society's decline in mental health. We too often compare our lives to people who have more. I watched a humanitarian worker in Africa being interviewed, and after decades of work he stated something along the lines of, 'If people compared down instead of up, we'd be a lot happier.'

        People often ask, are we better off than our grandparents? This article would assert, in most ways, yes. But when I think about my grandparents, Nana and Pop Pop lived simpler lives and weren't burdened by the same level of financial stress and could afford to feed a family of 7 on a butcher's wage.

        I think most people have dealt with some level of depression or anxiety, and it seems to be on the rise. Some reports have shown that, increasingly, younger groups who are users of forums like Instagram and Twitter suffer from severe anxiety and depression.

        So how do we compare down when we're constantly bombarded with everyone else's things, and stuff, and whereabouts and successes as we scroll and scroll and scroll on our phones?

        I think Readup offers a break from social media. An increased sense of awareness. A more intentional and better read audience and commentary etc.

        Any level of thoughtfulness illicits a more balanced sense of perception and opportunity for action.

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
          6 months ago

          Amazing article. Really amazing comment.

          There's no way to compare past human experiences with what we're going through right now, for the simple reason that humans and culture are constantly changing. Likewise, future people (born, say, in 2100) won't be able to understand how we think and feel, except to the extent that they're willing to read what we've written, and try. But they'll be totally different people, with totally different technology, different brains, different lives, on a planet that will look nothing like the one we live on now.

          When we talk about inequality, we're not just talking about how good things are for people (GDP, etc.) - we're talking about how people feel about themselves, and life, and the world. Massive inequality doesn't bum me out personally, but I do see it as a society-wide moral failure.