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Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: The Environment Crisis Requires Overhauling Our Corporate Industrial Civilization


Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: The Environment Crisis Requires Overhauling Our Corporate Industrial Civilization

Kristine Mattis

We’re an egoistical, delusional lot, us humans. We’re the only species on the planet who despoils its own life support system and who does not live within biological limits. Does that make us the most intelligent or least intelligent species?

Charlatan academics, ecomodernists, and tech giants would have you believe that we are living in the greatest era known to man and that our human intelligence and innovation—particularly of the technological sort—will carry us through these perilous ecological times.


This is really an excellent piece, though it overemphasizes the consumption role in the suicidal over-production/over-consumption cycle that envelops the biosphere. Consumption is not mainly voluntary and certainly not a totally individual thing.

The problem is the piece does not offer a critique of the central problem: the capitalist political-economy. Demand does not determine production. In fact, demand is a false word. In capitalism, consumption is either imposed or false demand is created through the brainwashing known as “marketing,” media control, and control of governments and all other social and cultural institutions.

Until we clarify exactly how the capitalist political economy works and build enough power to slow it down enough to replace it with sustainable forms of political-economies and ways of living, we are doomed – as Ms. Mattis so ably describes.


The goal of comfort, longevity and health have long been subplnated by greed as the motive for innovation.

It is not just the third world arrivals to America that find revulsion in the excess, but those truly connected to mother everywhere that have been retching for the past one hundred and fifty years.

Those who had been around the original kerosene lamp and have suffered profoundly from the fumes, had been marginalized for being the canaries in the coal mine. That is where the descent began.

The psyche that cannot see our privileged position in the universe and uses any innate intelligence for narcissistic self enrichment is the true genocidal maniac. This malaise is not limited by culture, race or gender. The media has done a supernova- esque job of reducing the amygdala and ensuring the demise of civilization.


We won’t change. We will get worse as we tear each other apart each of us trying to get our “piece” of what is left. Done deal…we are doomed. Enjoy your day.


I support the writer’s contention that a major shift in values must occur to remedy our problems. That is a no-brainer, as it is undeniable that the ‘values’ in power for many decades are well documented to be the major cause of many serious issues. These corrupted values pervade the capitalist economic/political order, and, they pervade the society that successfully teaches so many to blindly follow traditions of unexamined, socially dysfunctional conformity. Connect the dots!
Let us make great efforts to point out that structural system change is a necessity, because the values in our dominating system cannot be slightly modified and resolve our problems.
Key targets - justice system (made by Romans, inherited and weaponized by wealthy elites), monetary/economic system (a secretive, all-powerful weapon against equality, living wages and democracy), political structures (inherently anti democratic, secretive and unaccountable), and the MIC, with its vast power and unrestrained tendencies to fraudulent aggression.
Yup, dying of consumption and ignorance of the actual nature of our predicament leads to endless misdirected ‘fixes’ that do not cure the illness at all. Isn’t that cultured superstition?


Another root cause is planned obsolesence and designed in failure. Time was TV shops used to be everywhere where one could take in a Television to get repaired. My parents first Television was used for 18 years before it was no longer worth fixing and that final failure was due to a lightning strike coming down the rooftop attennae and frying the insides.

Today companies that make these things will not even issue schematics let alone sell the parts and the things are designed so as to make it next to impossible to remove a failing component. When they fail they are tossed and failure is built into the design. Added to that legislation allows them to stop supporting older product earlier and earlier meaning something more then a handful of years old will not even have parts made available should someone want to repair it.

Henry Ford had the concept of the Model T where all the models would be the same making them easy to repair and fix as a part from one would work on the other. Chevrolet came on the scene and saw there more money in making vehicles that had unique parts and that were always replaced with “newer models” so as to encourage more purchases.


Exactly. Planned obsolesce, like “productivity” – which is based on quantity of production, NOT quality – are central to capitalist practices, if not theory. As is the false notion (four gas stations at a single intersection).All of these practices encourage highly toxic waste and instill habits of wastefulness into people. Another means of conditioning to consume, consume, consume…


Pretty much what i logged in to write, thanks Tom. Great article, connects a lot of dots, but Mattis entirely omits a critique of capitalists and their exercise of power. Capital will escalate the exercise of power stupendously to protect its position, if we begin to effectively withdraw en masse as “consumers.” Which we should certainly do, but with awareness of the powerful social and economic forces that will oppose us.


i’m still using the decades-old Vitamixer Maxi-4000 blender i inherited from my mother. Have had it repaired twice, contacted the company and they still proudly support all their old products. A total anomaly as a for-profit corporation. The toaster i grew up with lasted for decades. Today’s toasters last a couple years. Planned obsolescence should be a crime.


Exactly.The criminality really shows itself when things like cars, transpo equipment, and factory/construction equipment break down at dangerous times. Of course, we all know the negative results are because of “human error.”


When books about murder by chemicals where immensely popular, millions of chemicals were being created by humans. Many of these were created for no other reason than that they could be.

Many were created with the full knowledge of their toxicity, and many were created without full knowledge about the extent of the possible damage even if their toxicity was known.

Those of us who protested in any fashion were immediately sidelined and mushroomed.


I try to make things last a minimum of five years, with full knowledge about how the objects I buy are designed.

My car has 225 000 miles on it,It is easily capable of another 200k. I am now able to afford an electric car which I will purchase within a month. I have offered my car to many of my karaoke buddies who are without a vehicle when they have needed one. I donot intend to dispense of it.


for those of us who have labored for years with a heavy conscience under the system that barely lets us breathe, this article, although welcome, may give rise to the told you so anger.

Legitimization of this view point is critical. I am afraid of such items being relegated to the echo chamber.


But the worst is that this planned obsolescence doesn’t stop with products… evil Disneyland was blocked for their awfulness. The IT people in Florida Disney were told they had to train people from other nations to do their Disney jobs. They were told not to tell or they could lose pensions…who knew that Cruella Da Ville had taken over Disney. Fortunately, employees did talk and the Disney plot was foiled … but isn’t this the worst sadness ----when Employees are subject to Planned Obsolescence just like products are too : (


The biggest crime disney commits is the number of items it creates for its parks and merchandise that do not last even a year. These are bound for the landfill even before they are out of the manufacturing plant.


“We need to take things away”, but only from rich white people. You can’t give too much to black and brown people. And of course self appointed Progressives get to decide what and how much stuff I need. Fortunately I am part of several protected classes, old and disabled.


Exactly! I really think this is an important enough issue it needs to be built into a progressive platform as much as some of the other major planks (peace, health care, education, etc.). What we really need is an entire rethink on what is possible in terms of regulation and taxation to get to a different consumer world. I desperately want the type of world where if my toaster breaks (as it did recently), I can do some basic diagnostics and replace parts as needed. I want as many parts as possible standardized and available at the hardware store, I want electronics to be slightly bulkier but filled with daughter boards that can be shown to be at fault and replaced (I’m not looking to solder an individual capacitor though I know many who will go that far). There is so much improvement we can do to make life SO much better for the typical consumer, it really isn’t funny. Yet we rarely hear from our politicians on this issue.

Also with regard to composting mentioned in the story, this is another area we need regulation. We need EVERY single disposable fork, plate, napkin, fast food container, etc. to be biodegradable and you can always throw it all in the “green” bin along with yard waste. For something not to go in the green bin, it needs to be painfully obvious (no recyclables, no e-waste, etc.).

I understand that consumer drive - I have some of it myself, sometimes I want the new better thing in a particular area. But more often then not, I just want to keep all the stuff I have working, and not have to go to through some heroics just to fix a basic item like a toilet or a bad battery in a phone. More regulation!


Unfortunately few if any cons or other ignorant people will read this, the ones who need to. She is preaching to the choir.

Polls show that most people would pay more for a healthy environment. Politicians and a conservative money-power minority stand in the way. Only democracy, direct and decentralized, can devolve the power to the 99%.


Just imagine if you had access to information from a more evolved society who lived on a planet similar to Earth and they went through exactly the same prediciments as we do .How did they survive and thrive with all the asscociated problems stated above in this excellent article .

We are not without HELP …In the book Awaken The Species ,we have been given 16 differences between Highly Evolved Being’s and our primitive race called humanity,the toddlers of the universe really. This is not an excuse for us we have to take resonsibility for where we are ,this is our burninig building moment.


The beings that create all this hazerdous stuff the stuff of nightmares are still asleep. They have to WAKE UP.