Here’s some interesting reading; several articles I’ve culled over the last week or so from various sources. Paul and I had a really intense conversation last night about what’s coming in the next few years, and these are the main articles I’ve cited while we were talking.
If you guys think I’m a total downer, check out this guy.
If you want some actual hope, check out what those wacky Danes are up to.
If you want something in between, here’s an article from Harper’s, A collection of arguments for and against hydrogen (I recommend both “Twenty Myths about Hydrogen” and “The Hydrogen Hallucination” for both ends of the spectrum), a Treehugger roundup of green power articles, and a hilarious Onion article about gas prices.
In a brief summation of what I told Paul last night, I see things along a sliding scale. Kunstler’s at one end of the spectrum, next to the shrill, survivalist types who are buying gold and building bunkers, along with all those guys who say that the government and big business are not talking about peak oil because they want to keep the public complacent and distracted so they can amass as much wealth as possible while bringing around the end of the fossil fuel age as quickly as possible, rather than drawing it out over a number of slowly-declining decades.
On the other end of the scale are the Pollyanna types who say we won’t need to cut our energy intake at all and that hydrogen or nuclear’s gonna step in and save everyone and the world will be bright and clean forever (*jazz hands*).
I’m about 65% of the way towards Kunstler’s end. Maybe a little more.
I think we’re heading for some serious trouble over the next couple decades, as we make our way from complete and total dependence on fossil fuels to a more hybridized grid of various sources — some renewable and some not. I think there are going to be some very painful years during this transition, made all the more difficult by the fact that no one seems willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make the transition go more smoothly. I don’t think the world, or our economy, is gonna collapse in the next calendar year, and for the record, my idea of hell is an isolated, gun-bristling subsistence farm somewhere outside of Iron Mountain. I’ve done the hardcore farming in the middle of nowhere, and I’d rather have my friends near and be within walking distance of the Farmer’s market, thanks.
I also believe that our days of boundless luxury and cheap utility are nearly at an end, and that if Paul and I are going to have a life of reasonable comfort, we’d better start incorporating some forms of “inconvenience” into our lives ahead of time: in other words, we need to get used to doing without every single convenience exactly when we want it. I’m encouraging Paul to walk to work on a few days, in case we wind up with only one car, and I walk or bike everywhere I can. The fireplace is a backup heating source, if the cost of natural gas quadruples, and I’m getting myself back into the habit of building a fire every morning, something I did through a significant part of my childhood. I’m going crazy with the garden this year, even planting an auxilliary garden with my mother-in-law, and probably putting in some fruit and nut trees at their farm. There’s a storage freezer in our future, and I’m going to really try to fill it full of food this summer.
I’m not doing this because the end is nigh. I’m doing this because it’s second nature. And peak oil or not, fresh peppers are an insane $3 per pound right now. If I’d grown more and frozen them, we could be eating them for free right now. I think that between inflation and the insane cost of fuel, pretty soon food’s going to get a heck of a lot more expensive, and growing our own will make real sense, not to mention the taste and nutrition benefits.
When I was growing up, the term “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” wasn’t some highfalutin’ concept we had to be taught. It wasn’t even a hippy-dippy term. It was just what you did. It was common sense. Now that I’ve got my own home, and I’m spending a lot of time in it, I’m gravitating back to the ways I was raised with: frugality, self-sufficiency, and growing our own food. The fact that there’s a storm a-brewin’ just gives me all that much more incentive.
So yeah. I’m gettin’ ready for the future by bein’ old-fashioned. Want some cheese dip?