The essential problem is not just that we are tapping the wrong energy sources (though we are), or that we are wasteful and inefficient (though we are), but that we are overpowered, and we are overpowering nature – Richard Heinberg, from the Introduction to ENERGY
We’re a long way off from a world without fossil fuels, but we’re not so far away from a world where the plentiful and affordable and accessible supplies stop being plentiful and affordable and accessible.
The problem—common to almost all of us in varying degrees—is that we tend to avoid dealing with unfolding challenges in favor of what’s before us today. Hard to argue that this is unreasonable or irrational. For those challenges not immediately evident—even though they already are making their way into our way of life—it’s even less likely that even a slight amount of attention will be paid to them. We do, after all, have plates full enough and then some as it is.
The obvious outcome—making matters worse—is generally understood, but … you know, there’s this thing that I have to do today, and we have … you know….Human nature is what it is, and since we’ve all engaged in exactly the same behaviors for our own issues and challenges, this has to be accounted for and accepted. But still….
THE BASIC FACTS: UNCHANGED
The simple math is that the finite resource once available to us in nearly-inconceivable abundance and affordability nonetheless has now passed its tipping point. We’re not running out of it, but “nearly-inconceivable abundance and affordability” have left the building. What’s left isn’t as abundant, easy to access, inexpensive, or always available no matter what the circumstances. It’s a problem that will not go away.
It’s here now, however insignificant its impact may be right now.
Finite resources will remain finite, and extracting more of that finite resource means less tomorrow. Inferior quality, costlier, more technologically challenging, etc., etc. substitutes are just that. Wonderful to have an as option, but the drawbacks will overcome the advantages, and still our finite resources are trickling away.
We have a lot of time left before the impact of peak oil is obvious to all, but not nearly enough time to seamlessly move our entire energy infrastructure, products, manufacturing processes, transportation needs, industrial components, and general lifestyles to alternatives. Just how few the opportunities available to us at that future point will be when the inevitable becomes the “here it is” will depend on the decisions we make today; the willingness of those who know to begin to spell out all the issues—not just the preferred ones of benefit to them—and the public’s cooperation in adapting our modern society to a different future.
All choices we own. Not necessarily pleasant ones, but at least we have choices … for now.
~ ~ ~
Note to readers: In addition to my other blogs and writings at richardturcotte.com, I invite you to enjoy some brief excepts from my eBook political thriller:
The Tretiak Agenda
They began [here] on June 15, and will continue weekly throughout the summer
~ My Photo: Pt. Reyes, CA – 09.15.04
We face a choice going forward. There’s a kind of false dichotomy, a false choice that we’re being presented between policies on the left or policies on the right. It’s not left or right, it’s forward or backward. It’s a choice between investing in the future, leaving a better future for the next generation just like parents and grandparents did for us, or ignoring these hard choices and sentencing the next generation to a lower standard of living, to fewer opportunities, and a future that we could do better by. [With apologies for prior incorrect attribution: former] USDOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas,
Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being