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Peak Oil: Start With Reality Pt 4

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The essential problem is not just that we are tapping the wrong energy sources (though we are), or that we are wasteful and inefficient (though we are), but that we are overpowered, and we are overpowering nature - Richard Heinberg, from the Introduction to ENERGY

We're a long way off from a world without fossil fuels, but we're not so far away from a world where the plentiful and affordable and accessible supplies stop being plentiful and affordable and accessible. Given all that we must contend with nowadays, adding another potentially society-wide, life-altering change to the pile is among no one's first hundred choices.

Much easier to ignore, with lots of built-in excuses and justifications and plausible rationales at the ready should anyone seriously consider why we aren't planning for a transition away from a society long-powered by fossil fuels--the finite kind.

The inclination to avoid or otherwise treat major looming challenges dismissively is a trait common to almost all of us in varying degrees. The plate is more than full today, so an issue which might affect us somewhere down the road doesn't require much thought to set aside. Hard to argue that this is unreasonable or irrational.

For those challenges not immediately evident--even though they already are making their way into our way of life--it's even less likely that even a slight amount of attention will be paid to them. Those still-full plates....

The obvious outcome--making matters worse--is generally understood, but ... you know, there's this thing that I have to do today, and we have ... you know....Human nature is what it is, and since we've all engaged in exactly the same behaviors for our own issues and challenges, this has to be accounted for and accepted. But still....

The simple math is that the finite resource once available to us in nearly-inconceivable abundance and affordability nonetheless has now passed its tipping point. We're certainly not running out of it--fervent attempts by deniers to falsely paint proponents with that assertion--but "nearly-inconceivable abundance and affordability" have left the building. What's left isn't as abundant, easy to access, inexpensive, or always available no matter what the circumstances. It's a problem that will not go away.

It's here now, however insignificant its impact may be right now.

Finite resources will remain finite, and extracting more of that finite resource means less tomorrow. Inferior quality, costlier, more technologically challenging, etc., etc. substitutes are just that. Wonderful to have an as option, but the drawbacks will not make up for the disadvantages, and still our finite resources are trickling away.

We have a lot of time left before the impact of peak oil is obvious to all, but not nearly enough time to seamlessly move our entire energy infrastructure, products, manufacturing processes, transportation needs, industrial components, and general lifestyles to alternatives absent some serious attention being paid to this issue. Just how few the opportunities available to us at that future point will be when the inevitable becomes the "here it is" will depend on the decisions we make today; the willingness of those who know to begin to spell out all the issues--not just the preferred ones of benefit to them--and the public's cooperation in adapting our modern society to a different future.

All choices we own. Not necessarily pleasant ones, but at least we have choices ... for now.

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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)

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