Many explanations are given for the reason why we haven’t returned to the moon, ranging from general apathy to extraterrestrials warning us off.
I believe what we’re really seeing is a symptom of having reached peak society. July 20, 1969 represents peak society. That’s the real peak that should concern us, not peak oil.
The reason we made it then and can’t make it back now is that the coherence of society has decreased since that time.
In my view, society is a living thing, and like anything it reaches a peak and then declines. We’ve hit the peak, just barely made it to the moon during that peak, and now we’re on the downside.
I, in my mid-50′s, have come to realize that most of my decline has been more from apathy than from physiology, and so it is also with our society.
Right now we’ve got some serious illnesses in our society, ever increasing prison populations, a loss of civil rights, privacy, individual autonomy, unsustainable energy production methods, unsustainable agriculture, unsustainable water usage patterns, unsustainable mineral extraction and usage, unsustainable disposal of waste products.
All of these are these things are solvable with current technology, only the will to solve them is lacking.
Take prison populations, science tells us that longer sentences actually result in higher recidivism rates, and this shouldn’t be surprising. You take someone away from living in society for a period, they forget how, they lose access to the resources necessary to do so, so what alternative do they have except to return to what they know to survive?
Science tells us that for every dollar spent in genuine rehabilitation programs, job training, chemical dependence treatment, sex offender treatment, schooling, providing the resources needed for felons to get back on their feet, three dollars in future prison costs are saved. The savings aren’t just economic though, the social benefits of helping to keep families intact, the human savings, are enormous.
What to do about crime then? One thing that influences crime significantly is the distribution of incomes. The greater the economic diversity, the greater the crime rate.
Another thing that doesn’t seem to get much note, is mental health. Having spent time at Airway Heights correctional facility, it is obvious that a large percentage of the inmates there are either bipolar or schizophrenic, not in a subtle way that might be difficult to diagnose but in a blatant “these people are just plain not functional” way.
One person I was with there was a Vietnam veteran who has been hit with a mortar or some form of explosive and it was estimated flew some 250 feet in the air. He suffered severe brain damage which left him in a coma for six months. After coming out of the coma he joined the Hells Angles where while drunk he shot and killed someone and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He had been there for 27 years when I was there.
Now maybe my thinking is distorted, but he didn’t volunteer to go to Vietnam, he was drafted and sent there against his will, severely damaged as a result, and then punished with life imprisonment for his damage. Maybe it’s just me but that’s screwed up.
Lacking treatment, they will still be non-functional when returned to society. It costs approximately $46,000 a year to house an inmate in prison, I have to think treatment would be less expensive economically, and certain less expensive socially.
Take the issue of civil rights, those are being eroded because we allow them to be, we decide it’s okay to silence our opponents through the law, it’s okay to spy on everyone in the name of “safety”, it’s okay to take half of what we produce and do what mostly benefits the powerful elite. We have to disarm ourselves from any weapons that might be effective in fighting a totalitarian regime.
Energy production, a decade ago we were told that solar and wind would never be economically competitive with fossil fuels, today solar and wind are both competitive with the cheapest and most environmentally damaging fossil fuel, coal. They keep telling us that neither wind nor solar can contribute more than 20% to our power grid because of their unreliability but both Germany and the Netherlands have been able to exceed a 30% contribution largely through geographical diversity, and yet the United States which has the potential for much greater geographical diversity only gets about 2% of it’s electrical energy needs from solar.
The argument is made that wind and solar can’t provide baseload capacity and thus have to be backed up by an equal amount of conventional generation. This would only be true if there were no diversity and there were no relationship between peak production and peak load. With both there is very much diversity available in the United States and with Solar the generation closely matches electrical load.
Then there is Geo-thermal, we have ample resources in this area although the most ample, those in Yellowstone, aren’t allowed to be tapped. In terms of overall environment, we should not only allow but encourage geothermal resources in Yellowstone to be tapped.
Unsustainable water usage is another problem, there are two big things we can do to greatly improve this situation. The bulk of our water usage is for agriculture. The first thing we need to do is plant crops that are suitable to their environment. The second, is switch from aerial sprayers for irrigation to drip irrigation with soil sensors that shut off water when it reaches appropriate depths. This will not only reduce wasted water but it will also stop leaching valuable minerals out of the soil.
I could go on but the bottom line is all of these problems we are experiencing, there are social and technological fixes, the one problem we don’t seem to get over, is the same one that is keeping an extra fifty pounds around my mid-section, and that’s apathy.