[NOTE: This is the latest installment in a new PeakOilMatters series (which started here). It’s about finding a new and better vision to get to, through, and beyond Peak Oil and its widespread impact on what we produce, how we produce, and how we live. We won’t be falling off a cliff tomorrow, and the full brunt of Peak Oil’s effects won’t be experienced all at once, either. Gas and oil do not have to disappear entirely, nor do gas prices have to rise into the stratosphere before Peak Oil’s impact is felt.
Gradually, but inexorably, changes will be in the offing, however. We need to come to a better understanding of this, and start preparing ourselves now for the lengthy transition and just as lengthy ongoing impact of Peak Oil on all of us. Many issues must of necessity be considered, and I hope to make a contribution to the public dialogue we need to have. I hope you’ll find these objectives enjoyable as well as beneficial. We have more of a voice than we think we do. Finding that voice just might be our best hope.]

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I have such good news for everyone! It appears that not only has an elected Republican official discovered the solution to Peak Oil and other resource depletion concerns, we may not have to worry about global warming either! Isn’t that fantastic?

“GOP Lawmaker Mike Beard Claims God Will Provide Unlimited Natural Resources”
“Mike Beard, a Republican state representative from Minnesota, recently argued that coal mining should resume in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, in part because he believes God has created an earth that will provide unlimited natural resources….
“‘God is not capricious. He’s given us a creation that is dynamically stable,’ Beard told MinnPost. ‘We are not going to run out of anything.’” [1]

“Montana Legislator Introduces Bill To Declare Global Warming ‘Natural’ And ‘Beneficial’”
“A bill has been introduced in the Montana state legislature to declare global warming a ‘natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it,’ and that it is ‘beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana.’ State Rep. Joe Read (R-MT), a farmer and emergency firefighter.” [2]

Wow! That’s all I can say about these two news items. (Yet “Wow” says so much nonetheless, doesn’t it?)

I have no doubt that each of these presumably well-meaning officials are fine citizens and all, but given the challenges we face—not just with the evolving problems which both Peak Oil and global warming will impose, but certainly the more pressing employment and financial difficulties we all face—exactly how much cluelessness (a nicer ring to it than delusional) are we supposed to admit into public discourse by leaders we hope are actually intending to make beneficial contributions?

I wish I could say that these two examples of witless, mind-bogglingly dumb legislative beliefs were isolated incidents, but every day brings more examples that many of our presumed leaders (except when they are protecting the interests of the few terribly disadvantaged rich, old, white guys) have become completely disengaged from Planet Earth’s realities. And they continue merrily along (passing right past the “brazen” and “hypocritical” stop signs) because we let them. This is a problem that affects all of us.

What kind of a nation do we want to be in the days ahead? What kind of a future do we want for ourselves, our children, and those generations beyond?

Are we prepared or even capable of accepting truth and facts and reality? Are too many of us so baffled, overwhelmed, or even frightened by the changes and challenges of these times that we must resort to these kinds of responses and “solutions”? While those strategies may offer some curious short-term levels of appeasement, they are slowly but surely dragging down the rest of us. We cannot afford to get bogged down in debates about utter nonsense or legislative efforts that seek to alter reality.

All too often it seems that we are planning for our future by ignoring it, and the factors with which we must now contend. I’ve repeatedly urged that all of us need to take some time to become at least a bit more knowledgeable about the problems we’ll all soon be confronting. And if these two legislators are any indication of what some are considering discussion-worthy, we need to get more informed in a hurry.

Now, all of a sudden, there’s a God who’s apparently been a bit slow on the uptake and has suddenly realized we’ve got some resource problems, so poof! all of our needs are going to be taken care of? For the companies digging their way through the tar sands and shale deposits in the western portion of North America and spending all that time and money and energy and effort to convert tar sands in oil for us, there’s a new message:

“Pack it up and enjoy the spring! God is gonna get us some oil right quick and we are all set, but thanks for your help. Would you mind re-planting those forests on your way out? Be nice if you could drain away all those tailings ponds too … safely of course.”

Then again, maybe God has that one covered, too, although … this kinda has me wondering why He didn’t supply us with all these extra natural resources a bit sooner, before we started spilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico or poisoned and degraded a good chunk of Alberta, Canada, or went off to fight wars in the Middle East and spent zillions of dollars to protect our oil interests out there … but again, I know He’s busy.

I just hope Mr. Beard’s God doesn’t sidetracked again with all those other prayers and what-nots. He can get Himself tied up with so much else so easily and so quickly. Can we count on Rep. Beard to keep this whole natural resource replenishment high up on His “to-do” list?

Then again, if God is gonna take care of our resource issues, perhaps the good congressman might ask Him about … oh, I don’t know .. taking a look-see at child abuse? Homelessness? Child poverty? How about a cure for cancer? Perhaps some jobs? Lowering college tuition? How about some extra food for a couple hundred million poor people around the world? Might be good to end a war or two. Let’s see … what else? I’d love it if the Red Sox win the World Series again this year, and would be thrilled if the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup, ‘cuz I’ve been waiting almost 40 years for that. Maybe God is Sox and hockey fan? He certainly seems to have a lot of other teams covered.

By all means, worship however, Whoever, Whatever you choose. It remains one of our founding, steadfast principles. But in these oft-troubled times, injecting what amounts to not much more than fanciful nonsense into the meaningful planning and discussions that need to occur is simply inexcusable. We have enough burdens to deal with without devoting precious time and energy and thought to the daft and delusional.

And as for our Montana farmer/firefighter/representative: Global warming is now beneficial to business? Seriously? What business is he talking about? This gentleman admittedly consulted no experts, and instead “relied on his own experience and understanding of the issues.” Ummm … okay. I know a lot of people who could use some extra cash right about now, so perhaps some legislation to make bank robbing “beneficial”, Mr. Read? And while you are on a roll, putting cinnamon donuts on the food pyramid chart as a daily staple would be greatly appreciated.

I’ll admit that the approaches suggested by these two legislators are certainly novel ones to employ in trying to solve our budding (already-budded and in full bloom?) energy and environmental challenges. I guess it’s at least doing something, rather than ignoring or pretending we don’t have issues. I imagine that denying facts takes a fair amount of work, so if we can instead just count on God to fix all of this (any day now, would be good, by the way) or instead just simply decide that all the melting and flooding and extreme weather and gradually rising temperatures are actually good for us, then I guess that’s a “solution.” Who knew you could use legislation to defy the physical laws of the universe?

Or … how about, instead, we bring a group of rational, intelligent, well-meaning, visionary adults in the room who are at last willing to admit that there are any number of unpleasant, disturbing, unwelcome facts (remember the days when they mattered?) that must be addressed; that we’ve got some problems that need attending to before they become catastrophes; who will stop insisting that if it’s not a perfect solution that meets with the approval of all 645 of their various constituencies with all of their varied interest and demands then it simply cannot be considered, and then finally figure out that we might need to be just a bit more intelligent and coherent about what we do—collectively—going forward.

It would be a welcome change if ideologies were left out in the hall, and integrity was restored to problem-solving (which of course means that cherry-picking facts, misrepresentations, misleading and/or disingenuous distractions, and related strategies are likewise left outside.) Sure wish it was that simple….

I’ll continue this theme in my next post.

Sources:

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/mike-beard-natural-resources-god_n_824312.html; GOP Lawmaker Mike Beard Claims God Will Provide Unlimited Natural Resources by Nick Wing. February 16, 2011

[2] http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/17/montana-global-warming-bill/; Montana Legislator Introduces Bill To Declare Global Warming ‘Natural’ And ‘Beneficial’ by Brad Johnson. February 17, 2011