My wife suggested that I write an article on the Land of the Pharaohs, not Egypt where the Kings of the Nile ruled, but right here and now, in the land of modern day Pharaohs. These modern day Kings are the Pharaohs of Industry, Pharaohs of Finance, Pharaohs of Media, Pharaohs of Education, and Pharaohs of Politics, all ruling over the Land of Denial. All exhibit one common trait….avoidance of giving credibility to existing difficult dilemmas, and a persistent refusal to address them.
Lately it appears I am watching a massive reenactment of the classic tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. All the Pharaohs/Emperors tell us that everything is just fine; all plans are working properly as designed. We are urged to ignore obvious, growing realities, and to go along on our merry way. We are receiving a wide spectrum of optimistic, official sounding reports, assuring us that the Pharaoh’s/Emperor’s New Clothes are as magnificent and genuine as we would wish them to be. The problem is that a portion of the worldwide population is coming to a new realization, that their own perception of reality is not flawed, but indeed, appallingly clear. Underneath their cloaks and credentials, the Pharaohs/Emperors are clearly without a stitch of real clothing, regardless of the presumed credibility official reports portray.
We have all been critical of the Pharaohs ruling over the Land of Denial, remarking to each other “Surely they must know?” and asking “Why don’t they inform us of what is ahead?”. Considering the fact that there are all types of data that show massive problems looming just over the next hill with Energy, Economy, and Environment, what is the information/communication holdup?
But wait a minute; things aren’t always as simple as we wish they were in the Land of Denial. I searched my own thoughts as to how I would proceed as a Pharaoh in the Land of Denial.
Basically I saw three different options:
1. Go open and public with the existing information as we know it about Energy and Economy, including potential disruptions and depravations that will accompany the approaching energy or economic decline. There would follow a necessary appeal for public cooperation.
2. Make the public aware of an energy or economic decline in a general sense, and outline potential steps to deal with the situation as well as what actions are underway to control the impact on the population.
3. Smile into the cameras, remain quiet, deny the existence of the inevitable oncoming change, and hope that some new oil find, scientific discovery or economic miracle will manifest itself in time before the population becomes too impatient or restless with the situation. This option inevitably allows Pharaoh to depart with the golden chariot, leaving the irreconcilable mess behind to be inherited by the next Pharaoh.
As a backdrop to these scenarios, we must realize once again that Energy is married to Economy, and Environment is a close relative. Even more distressing, Economy is on life support, plasma is running low, and diluted saline solution is being substituted in its place.
Now let’s speculate over the possible outcomes the Pharaohs might have with each of these 3 scenarios. With scenario 1, such a move would probably pull the plug on Economy’s life support system, and Economy would expire much sooner than anyone had ever believed possible. The impacts on the population would be swift, and devastating. Cooperation will be the last thing the population would offer to the Pharaohs in the Land of Denial. As with some processes in the real world, the phrase “Results may be unpredictable” may truly describe the public reaction to the Pharaohs becoming openly honest. Although we have heard many times that “honesty is the best policy”, in this case, it may not have the most livable outcome.
Scenario 2 looks to have promise as a possible approach, or does it? Creating public awareness of a truly distressing set of dilemmas will generate a call to action. Action in this case needs more than words, it needs capital, capital that a weakened Economy will be hard pressed to deliver. Uh oh! Yank the saline solution IV to free up capital and replace it with tap water from the restroom. Economy gets weaker. Not a pretty picture. Public frustration with the lack of progress on any front of the Energy/Economy dilemma, and we wind up with “Revolving Door Pharaohs”, coming and going so quickly that we start attaching their names on the Pyramids with Velcro. This scenario, it appears, would only have a chance of working if Economy is in robust health.
Scenario 3, even though by appearance seems a cowardly approach to meeting the coming Energy crisis tied to Economic crisis, is the only scenario that buys precious time to prioritize tasks and projects against available capital. That time may reduce the impacts of coming change, before divulging to the public the magnitude of what looms before us. Unfortunately, the Pharaohs seem to spend this precious preparation time engaged in frivolous pursuits. Does the phrase “Nero fiddling while Rome burns” seem an appropriate description?
Scenario 3 only is workable if you have real leaders serving as Pharaohs, holding key positions, with definite goals and directions for declining Energy, Economy, and Environment.
Meanwhile many Pharaohs continue on transacting “business as usual”, preserving their positions, perks, and extra-curricular activities, and in the meantime paying off the special interests that are truly financing them. Can you imagine what the magnificent structures of the Egyptian Pyramids would look like if the current crop of Pharaohs were trying to build them today? Scary thought.
Although most of us find Scenario 3, the Land of Denial, to be somewhat distasteful and unsatisfying, it appears it does buy us time. The Pharaohs around us may continue to squander this time chasing lollipops and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, you and I do not have to engage in this same folly. Many of us have worked through the denial phase with peak oil already, and developed some acceptance of the dilemma as it unfolds before us. We can now move on.
Undoubtedly, some decisions by the Pharaohs in the Land of Denial will greatly complicate and hinder our personal efforts to prepare for a different world, but we must persevere.
Our tasks are straightforward, Survive, Thrive, and Encourage others to participate with us, even if the thriving part will be less than we are accustomed to today.
Preparing ourselves, we will be miles ahead, while the Pharaohs in the Land of Denial continue insignificant debating over how many sides a pyramid should have.
PS: Thanks DW for the inspiration for this article; I hope I have done it justice.