Saturday, May 19, 2007

Thoughts IRL about WWO...

For the past few days, I've been talespinning at World Without Oil with more than 1,000 other people. It's made me think...a LOT...about the precariousness of our society.

We are currently having what seems like a brush fire a day. What would we do if there wasn't diesel to fuel the fire trucks, or jet fuel to fuel the tanker planes and helicopters? What would we do if people didn't have the gas to pack the car and drive out of harm's way?

The thing is, the scenario of a short, sharp Oil Shock that we are playing out at WWO is not likely, but a slow-motion version of this dance, played out over a space of years, or at best, decades, is a scientific fact. Aside from a few crackpots who hold to a belief that petroleum can be found which does not originate from dead vegetation or dead critters, (the abiotic oil theorists) our supply of oil comes from a finite amount of sources. Eventually, it will all be gone. However, the period from the end of "cheap" oil to the last drop coming out of the ground is where we are at right now.

It is not like we weren't warned. I lived through the Energy Crisis of the 1970s. Odd/Even gas days, Double Nickels, gas lines, and prices soaring to stratospheric heights that we would see as bargains now. The oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 were warnings that we needed to get off the oil teat.

We needed a Manhattan Project-level commitment to developing alternative fuels, but November, 1980 brought the end of the Carter era, and the beginning of almost 30 years of a "Don't worry, be happy" fuel policy. Yes, Clinton was guilty of blissfully ignoring the same warning signs that Reagan, Bush the Elder, and Bush the Younger also ignored. The mania for SUVs soared during his Presidency, in spite of the environment consciousness of his Vice President, Gore.

There are other reasons to get us weaned off of fossil fuel, and Gore managed to cover most of them in the movie An Inconvenient Truth. It's not an especially deep explanation of the current climate crisis, but it's an easy and entertaining way to get an introduction to it.

We should have started dealing with this in 1973. We really should have started dealing with this in 1979. We're really not doing much of anything substantive about it now. The question is this: are we too late? Between the scylla of costlier and costlier oil, and the charybdis of Global Climate Crisis, we might be too late to do anything about this, short of just waiting for the die-off.

It's been a fun exercise, though. I won't be able to obsessively participate on the level I have been participating in this for the past few days thanks to the upcoming events surrounding Celebration IV, but at least I have been doing well with it, if I say so myself.

You can read my posts at Use the "May 2007 archive" option to see all of them in one swell foop.

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