Exiting the Halcyon Holocene

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are now exiting the halcyon Holocene, and are now entering…”

Well, that’s not really true. The election of Reagan proved the tissue of American social reality was necrotic, and we are still in the age of cheap fossil fuels powering ultra-extreme economic inequality across the globe, but hey, luckily we have establishment savants like Professor Vaclav Smil and blogger Richard Seymour to guide us through this next downward heading turbulence.

Smil, a soulless engineer type favored by Jeffery Epstein play Bill Gates, is interviewed by a NY Times staffer for an abbreviated forum called “Talk” in this age’s weekly intellectual record, the Sunday Magazine of the New York Times, Smil has jut issued a book humbly titled “How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got here and Where we’re Going.” Yeah, sure, I’m sure Mr. Energy Scientist knows everything about sociology, political science, psychology, macro-futilism – ah, that would be “no” to the ambitious effort, Smil is a Get-Off-MY-Lawn Gates/Epstein charlatan, though conflicted about his these views.

Smil starts out the grouchy interview by feigning knowledge of the Human Predicament, but then swerves into techo-poppycock:

But at the same time we are constantly transitioning and innovating. We went from coal to oil to natural gas, and then as we were moving into natural gas we moved into nuclear electricity, and we started building lots of large hydro, and they do not emit any carbon dioxide directly. So we’ve been transitioning to lower-carbon or noncarbon sources for decades. The world is constantly improving.”

Vaclav Smil;, “Talk,” Sunday NY Times Magazine, May 1, 2022, pg. 14

Hey, Pinkerton Professor, that “we” you are alleging is doing this is the global transnational corporate supersystemic order, and this is not “improvement” in any sense, just more and different kinds of ecological and socio-political destruction. You want to commend Elon Musk and Putin and Trump and Amory Lovins for ultra-economic inequality-based “large hydro”? And what qualifies” as “improvement” when an MIT professor looks out his door – some supplemental profit-deriving fig leaves?

Smil makes a nod to genuine supersystemic issues like epic malnourishment in the world, and then smothers this tepid social criticism with puerile objections to a proffered notion of “imminent catastrophe in climate change.”

What is “imminent”? In science you have to be careful with your words.”

Thanks, professor, forgiving us such Solomonic wisdom – only it’s bullshit. “Imminent? means happening now, Sherlock. The Climatastrophe, along with the other social catastrophes are happening now. Is that too hard to understand, Smil, or just too hard to accept?

We, the great unwashed, are always ripe for getting a talking-to by our enfranchised Name-holding betters. Here’s the crux of the problem, according to Smil:

People have to realize that this problem is unprecedented because of the numbers – billions of everything – and the pressure of acting rapidly as we never acted before. This doesn’t make it hopeless, but it makes it excruciatingly more difficult.

Oh, so that’s been our problem as humanity? We just need to get into “billions” thinking, and everything we be forward- and retro-managed by the Powers-that-Be to get back to the halcyon Holocene? OK, if that’s your view, and it is not “hopeless,” would you mind detailing a few concrete steps that billion-numbered humanity can take to Keep Hope Alive? These airy abstractions of “hope” and “solutions” need even the beginnings of a plan, a movement, a scenario, and structure?

The further, deeper level Problem with Humanity, according to Smil, is that “everything’s politics. No it is not!” Yes, from any engineering perspective there’s way too much politics, let the engineers handle everything, they’ll put the gizmos in working order and MIT this Human Predicament to an orderly, spit-shined solution, but that’s insane.

We need to look at the realities of life and to see how we can practically affect them.

Vaclav Smil

Gee, thanks! What if the “realities of life” are massed to a non-affectable degree? Humanity is dealing with universalized forms of mass stupidity, everywhere you can possibly turn, but, as even Smil states at the end, arguing against himself:

You have to recognize the realities of the world, and the realities of the world tend to be unpleasant, discouraging, and depressing.

That’s your big help for us macro-futilists? That’s your “what we do about it” windup? Well then, why not just join our MF club, and stop with the hopium preamble pretense?


  1. Nailed! Damn!
    Of course there is the micro-part to each of our worlds, and while the sights ‘n sounds of the immediate locale may not rival those gaudy interiors of belle époque (to use a probably wildly incorrect architecture term) Mazamet, ’round here there’s more beauty than I could ever have imagined in my strained adolescence.
    As for the US Supreme Court, and Macron and Le Pen and Trump and Putin, if I’m showing hope, I better go back to the bile supply.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s