Richard Heinberg says we're at the crossroads between a low energy sustainable economy or economic and ecological ruin, and we can't even talk about it. Reality will expose our delusion that endless growth is possible, and fearful signs of ecological decline are here now.
Humanity is at a crossroads. Since the Industrial Revolution … The only real discussion among the managerial elite was how to grow the economy…
Now the discussion must center on how to contract. So far, that discussion is radioactive—no one wants to touch it. It’s hard to imagine a more suicidal strategy for a politician than to base his or her election campaign on the promise of economic contraction. Denial runs deep, but sooner or later reality will expose the delusion that endless growth is possible on a finite planet.
Sooner or later we must make conservation the centerpiece of economic and energy policy. The term “conservation” implies efficiency—building cars and appliances that use less energy while delivering the same services. But it also means cutting out nonessential uses of energy. Rather than continuing to increase economic demand by stimulating human wants, we must begin to think about how to meet basic human needs with minimum consumption of resources, while discouraging extravagance.
… we will no longer be able to operate a consumer society.
Sooner or later we must rein in consumption—and since signs of ecological decline are already frighteningly prevalent, sooner is clearly better than later. [emphasis mine]
...the delusion that endless growth is possible on a finite planet...
A lot of the optimistic SF I read as a kid assumed we'd develop routine space travel and keep expanding to many worlds, many planets. Now it's clear that there's no time for that possible escape.