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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/1/14

Waiting "Until" Isn't The Best Plan

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An observation worth noting ... and pondering, from Raymond T. Pierrehumbert:

Oil production technology is giving us ever more expensive oil with ever diminishing returns for the ever increasing effort that needs to be invested. According to the statistics presented by J. David Hughes, "We are now drilling 25,000 wells per year just to bring production back to the levels of the year 2000, when we were drilling only 5,000 wells per year. Worse, the days are long gone when you could stick a pitchfork in the ground and get a gusher that would produce for years. The new wells are expensive (on the order of $10 million each in the Bakken) but give out rapidly."
False hopes for an unending age of oil abundance provide an excuse to put off the hard decisions we need to make in order to smooth the road to a sustainable energy future.

No matter how rosy the scenario portrayed by fossil-fuel industry cheerleaders in order to keep themselves afloat one more day, the limits of geology--reality, actually--will eventually have to be reckoned with. The quote above is a nice capsule summary of what the industry--and consumers--must contend with.

That it's not an especially significant problem today should not be the excuse to do nothing. Soon enough it will be a big problem--and if we're not doing much to plan for and adapt to a world powered with something other than the finite fossil fuels we've relied upon for a century-plus, it will be big problem made much worse by inaction.

The question for all of us is a simple one, with answers of near-infinite complexity and incalculable, unknowable outcomes.

Do we begin dealing with all the facts--not just the carefully-massaged ones that sound good but will do more long-term harm than is justified by the short-term "benefits"--or are we content to listen to more Happy Talk because today it's a more pleasant option?

Human nature is what it is. Given the full plates most of us are contending with on a daily basis, it's completely understandable that adding concerns about a vague and still-poorly understood concept not likely to have direct, personal impacts for some time to come will not be on anyone's priority list.

But there's a problem with the "let's wait until ..." approach.

The process of declining energy supplies is a slow and lengthy one. So too is the process of transition and adaptation to a way of life no longer dependent on finite resources increasingly more expensive and difficult to locate and produce sufficient to meet ongoing demand. Without all the facts, and without a commitment on the part of those who know and who have so far refrained from sharing the bad news along with the good, we will create only more challenges for ourselves in the days to come. They'll also be more costly, with fewer resources and time at our disposal.

Failing to plan and prepare is a choice. Not a good one, but a choice. The alternatives remain available....

In the abstract, delaying the inevitable and hoping for some sort of rescue in the interim is surely preferable. But we should also be asking ourselves if relying on "the abstract" is the best strategy. Choices have outcomes. Better outcomes seem the better options, but maybe that's just me....

Adapted from a blog post of mine

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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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