I’ve just finished reading “The Long Emergency” by James Howard Kunstler. Thanks to Tim Schlitzer for recommending it. It has changed the way I view the world. I used to think our very comfortable standard of living (when compared to our ancestors and most of our contemporaries) was based on the efforts and achievements of our predecessors, the result of linear human progress which would continue well into the future barring nuclear war or environmental degradation. This gave me hope that humans would overcome the challenges of war, terrorism, climate change, etc.
I now realize that most of the comforts we take for granted, electric lighting, central heating and air conditioning, foods from around the world at our local supermarket, automobiles and roads allowing us to travel independently, commercial air travel, etc, are based almost exclusively on the availability of cheap fossil fuels. These cheap fossil fuels are an ‘endowment’ created by the sun over millions of years that we will burn up in 200 years.
We have created a world that can’t survive without cheap energy, a world with billions more people than the planet can sustain using only the sun, a world of suburbs, roads and shopping malls laid out for the automobile.
We are at or very near what is called peak oil, the year in which oil production peaks and begins a steady decline. The second half of the oil in the ground will be much more expensive to pump out. This comes at a time when the third world wants its share of these riches.
What can we do? It’s impossible for any individual to change the world on their own. We can only change ourselves. Reduce our consumption of gasoline, natural gas, and electricity. There are no viable alternatives to fossil fuels at this time. Save some for your kids and their kids! Postpone the long emergency!