A moth flying into a flame probably doesn't see it any more in the last moments before being consumed. Too much brightness creates blindness. Too much evidence is blinding us from seeing the threats we are facing: catastrophic climate change and resource depletion. (image from goodgrieflinus)
Plundering the Planet" was published in German and not in English (even though I wrote it in English). The reason is simple: it was relatively easy to find a German publisher, much more difficult to find one who would publish the English version (*). When contacted, American and British publishers simply shook their head. They felt that there was zero interest for a book about resource depletion and catastrophic climate change - which form the basic thread of the book. These are both unthinkable and unspeakable subjects in the present debate in the English speaking world except as a fringe opinion held by small groups of contrarians.
I can't fault these editors: they know their market. Right now, the general feeling seems to be that a few years of increasing oil production in the US (and in a specific region of the US) have been enough to completely destroy the very concept of "peak oil" and - additionally - to completely discredit any claim that we have a general depletion problem with all mineral resources. At the same time, catastrophic climate change remains a subject of interest only for polar bears.
The situation is better in Germany, where it is still possible to carry on a serious debate on these subjects and where the press has been highly responsive to the publication of the book. Even in Germany, though, there are signs that the debate may be evolving in the wrong direction; that is closing to all options except to the one involving drilling more and drilling deeper for oil and gas.
Think about this situation for a moment: what the hell is going on? The problems of climate change and oil depletion have never been so clear as they are now. Just look at the Arctic ice cap: would you deny that it is melting, and melting fast? And look at the market prices of all mineral resources: can you deny that everything costs now three times more than it used to cost just ten years ago. And you know that depletion is forcing us to use more coal, and that more coal is bringing more climate change. Come on, dammit: how can you ignore the evidence so blatantly? All this is happening for real!
And yet, the English speaking world seems to be nearly completely oblivious to evidence. I think there is no other explanation that to invoke the concept of the "moth blinded by light". I imagine that, in the last moments, a moth doesn't even see the flame it is flying into. It is totally blinded by it. We must be subjected to something similar. We are flying into total disaster willingly, perfectly aiming at maximizing damage to ourselves, and totally blind.
They say that moths fly into bright lights because their brains are geared for seeking faint lights; maybe for orienting their flying - they simply are not equipped for managing very bright lights. Our decisional system seems to suffer the same problem: it is geared to seek for short term economic profit and it was never conceived for anything else. The evidence of incoming disaster is incomprehensible to it, so it just shuts it off. The more the evidence grows, the more actively the system operates to shut it off. And it flies into the flame.
(*) Eventually, we were able to find a publisher who will take care of the English version of "Plundering the Planet". If everything goes well, it should appear this fall.