An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Tom Murphy.

I like the characterization that what we face here is a predicament, rather than a problem. Problems call for solutions. Predicaments must settle for responses. Our predicament is that we rode the fossil fuel bonanza to the highest possible heights, without a plan for what to do when the inheritance tapers off. Surely we mustn’t entertain the notion of getting a job when the inheritance wanes!
So imagine a world where we responded to these challenges: not by technology fixes, but by altering our expectations and behaviors.
When we reflect on the fact that we are at a special place in history approaching the peak rate of our one-time fossil fuel inheritance, it is hard to swallow overconfident statements about how our amazing ingenuity will propel us into a spectacular high-tech future beyond our dreams. The narrative is an attractive one, I’ll admit. The fact that we cannot plot an assured map along this route even for the rest of this century could either tell us that we lack faith, lack foresight, lack imagination, or that perhaps we should call for a timeout and regroup. I’m gonna vote for the timeout. But enough of us need to heed the call to make it effective.

I know, I know: fracking tight shale gas oil tar sands = energy independence in a week or two.

But let’s assume for the moment that the costs of extracting and producing these zillions of barrels of unconventional fossil fuel sources (to say nothing of the time, effort, energy expended, etc.) prove to be a bit of a challenge. What if our fabulous ingenuity and technological marvels run head-first into that wall of reality?

What then?

Does it really make sense for all of us—leaders, businesses, citizens—to pay no attention to the possibility that the Magic Technology Fairy just might not be up to the challenge of producing enough quality energy resources at affordable prices in sufficient quantities in timely fashion and readily available for all of us so that we can just continue merrily along and satisfy our own demands and the growing ones of several billion other inhabitants of this planet?

Might it be worthwhile to engage in more serious dialogue with facts and reality as the basis for discussion? Would some planning be a decent enough idea, given how much we rely upon crude oil for just about everything we consume and use and need and demand?

What if we harness our remarkable talents and assets to collectively address the reality that a finite resource used by mankind for nearly two centuries is … finite, necessitating at least a Plan B?

Calling timeout and regrouping now will be a lot less painful and challenging, and much more beneficial, than waiting until even the most ardent deniers of facts come to the inevitable conclusion that our finite fossil fuels resources are … finite.

~ My Photo: Gloucester, MA 07.05.10

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