Friday, September 25, 2009

Can we ever again accept life in a no-energy world?

Hi. Can we talk?

I'm not sure if you've ever given it much thought but..... we are heading for a measurable and persistent decline in available global energy resources that will eventually leave us in a no-energy world. Seriously!

I assume you have heard about peak oil. Well, it's not just oil. It's natural gas, coal, hydro electricity, nuclear power, virtually all forms of energy. Oh, and of course global warming is happening at the same time. Have you ever considered what all that is going to mean to you? To your lifestyle? To the lives of your children and their children?

No? Well think about it. Please!

I don't want to rain on your parade, put a damper on your party. But things are going to change. Hell, they already are. And not for the better. Maybe you just haven't noticed.

I don't mean for you to become a (pick one; peakster, peaknik, peak-oiler, nut job), although that is certainly an option. But it takes years of study to be able to read between the lines of the utter crap politicians and the mainstream media throws at us as they struggle to avoid talking about reality. But won't you at least look at both sides of the debate? And there is a debate, and will continue to be a debate as long as so much effort is being put into keeping you from seeing the reality of the situation.

Just as denial is no way to deal with grief, it is no way to deal with energy decline and climate change. Sooner or later you have to stop trying to avoid reality and face up to it, however painful that may be.

I'm not going to go into a long song and dance here of trying to overwhelm you with the statistics. I'm not even going to try to convince you that peak oil is real. I have written over a hundred articles on this blog already aimed at doing that. And there are so many other sites doing the same. But a thousand articles aren't going to do the job unless you can be convinced to read them, unless you can be convinced to open your mind. And that is what I am trying to do here.

I know peak oil and the thought of terminal energy decline is scary. Very! I remember years ago when I first understood the implications of peak oil. I was paralyzed with fear. It took me well over a year to accept it as reality and to start looking beyond peak oil to what life is going to be like on the other side. I realized that denying it was not going to stop it from happening. There was going to be a peak and there was going to be a life on the other side of it. If I didn't think about it, allow for it, plan for it, prepare for it, then it was going to just happen to me and I would be caught up in a huge flood of unprepared people struggling trying to adjust to the massive changes it will bring. I didn't want to be part of that flood. And I don't think you do either.

Where do we look for an example of what life will be like in a post-carbon, post-oil, post-energy world? We can look to history, study what life was like before the industrial revolution. We can look to the third world, the poor countries where people live without energy and survive on $2.00 a day. We can look to various TV reality programs that place people intentionally in a non-industrial, agrarian lifestyle for a season, a year, several years. We can look to heritage villages like Toronto's Black Creek Pioneer Village, or Eastern Ontario's Upper Canada Village, or Australia's Olde Sydney Towne. In so many ways the post-carbon world will very likely look and function very much like the pre-carbon, pre-industrial world.

I am, in a sense, luckier than most around me. I can look to my own past, my own upbringing and childhood. Yes! I've been around for a few years. I was raised in a home where we heated with wood. We had a large, multi-tentacled wood furnace in the cellar and a large cookstove in the kitchen. Each year from the time I was twelve I would go with my stepfather and a neighbour out to the woodlot to cut our winter's supply of wood. We had no running water and no well, used an outhouse with old newspapers for toilet paper, bathed immodestly in a galvanized tub on the kitchen floor (in a house with five older sisters), carried pails of water from a neighbours pump a couple hundred yards up the street, got up first on cold winter mornings to restart the fire in the furnace and cookstove and break the ice on top of the water bucket. We closed off a major part of the house in winter to save on heat needs. We packed snow against the outside of the house in winter to help with insulation. The outside of my bedroom window, and other windows, was covered in plastic sheeting from fall until spring. We hard a large half-acre garden that produced much of what went into the cellar in mason jars every fall. For protein my step-father would bag a deer most years and that was supplemented with a couple of galvanized garbage cans full of sucker fish caught in the fall, and the odd stolen chicken through the winter.

You will, I am sure, see hardship in that. I see fond memories. But......... could I go back to living like that again? No. My health is deteriorating and I am getting on in age. If I were younger, yes. I could do it.

But what about you? If you've never lived like that it would be a very hard adjustment to make. I don't think most people could. Sooner or later, though, there may not be a choice. I never gave it a second thought as I was growing up. For a time I guess I never imagined that people could live any other way, at least not until a television found it's way into our home. But if you have lived your entire life in what we see as normal society today, how will you ever adopt to a lifestyle like that in which I was raised? Or even more primitive, like the lifestyle my parents and grandparents grew up with?

Think about it. Please!

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