In the movie, The Matrix, Keanu Reeves’ character, Neo, observes his current life and senses foreboding, a palpable feeling that something else is unfolding around him to which he and everyone else is oblivious. Later, he is contacted by those that “know” and he is offered the choice between gaining knowledge and freedom by understanding the reality of his existence (The Red Pill), or continuing to live a life of security through blissful ignorance (The Blue Pill).
Blue Pill Readers: Click the X at the top right of your screen and go back to business as usual.
Red Pill Readers: Buckle up and keep reading…
This world into which you were born is all you know, and it’s comfortable because it is familiar. Everything around you, the computer or phone you are reading this on, the chair or car you are sitting in, the coffee or bottled water you are drinking, are what you know. It is your reality, but is it real?
I know what you’re thinking, “Terry, what pills are YOU taking?” Stay with me.
For almost 200,000 years, our ancestors depended on catching and gathering food derived from the energy of the sun, and as long as the energy we consumed was greater than the energy we expended in the process of consuming it we survived. For most of this period, we also struggled to grow significantly because the balance of energy expended to hunt and gather food did not deviate greatly from the energy harvested from those efforts. However, 250 years ago we figured out how to exploit fossil energy- coal, oil and gas – and overnight our reality transformed. The sun’s energy that we consumed from eating plants and animals was now suddenly abundant, not as food or us to eat or drink, but as food for machines that could produce 100-1000 times the work of each of us, allowing for prodigious amounts of materials to be extracted, extruded and delivered to our new “reality”.
Everything we touch, feel and see around us are The Xs and O’s of the Matrix that were revealed to Neo when he was “awakened”. The glass I fill with water. The pen I write with. The aspirin I take. The groceries I buy. The diaper I put on my child. The clothes I place in the dryer. The car I drive. The light switch I flick. The music I stream. The elevator that lifts me to my office. The plane that carries my son home from college. EVERYTHING in this paradigm, our Matrix, exists because of fossil energy.
So, what does this have to do with the film 8 Billion Angels?
If taking the Red Pill has awakened you to the reality in which you live, you will now be able to take the journey toward understanding the interconnectedness of fossil energy and the exponential and “unnatural” growth of us as a species; how and why we have caused massive ecological destruction and overshoot of our natural resources; and how better to cope and thrive when confronted with the difficulties that lie ahead in our changing environment.
Our next newsletter will answer: How much fossil energy is there or how long can our current paradigm exist with 8 billion people consuming enormous amounts of energy? Can we replace fossil energy with substitutes before it runs out? And if we do, what does it mean for the habitability of the earth for us and all its creatures?