Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This sounds vaguely familiar, too.

The Energy Bulletin
Published Oct 12 2009 by Energy Bulletin, Archived Oct 12 2009
The Speech Obama Needs to Give
(...in which he renounces Industrial Civilization)
by Dan Allen

...Some First Steps

So how do we start down this necessary path? First, let’s start with a few things we cannot do -- some doors that are now closed to us due to our decades of profligate resource destruction.

Firstly, anything requiring significant amounts of energy is out of the question. The era of cheap, abundant fossil energy is behind us -- forever. Despite repeated warnings from our best scientists, we failed to make the transition to renewables in time. Now it’s too late. Every year from now on will afford us less and less energy -- possibly significantly less in the coming years.

Secondly, anything requiring significant amounts of money in the form of credit is out of the question. In a future of a continually-declining resource base, there is simply no such thing as economic growth, and thus no credit. Basically, we play with what material resources we have at this point -- which is a lot less than we used to.

But enough with the negatives -- let’s start with some concrete positive steps that we can accomplish. I can think of three that deserve our immediate attention:

1. I see no more crucial place to start than with food and our country’s food-security. We will change both the way we grow food and the food we eat. We will create more small local farms, more small farmers, more ecologically-sane fertilization methods, more seed saving and exchanging, more farmers markets and CSAs. We will grow food on our city’s rooftops, windowsills, and front stoops. We will grow food in our suburban lawns, parking lots, and golf courses. We will become self-sufficient in food-production with a smarter kind of agriculture that does not waste soil, pollute water, and poison our children. This, my fellow Americans, is true “homeland security.”

2. Next up is transportation. We will need to move ourselves and our products around largely without the aid of fossil fuels, as these will become only more expensive and unavailable in the years ahead. Is transportation with minimal fossil fuels even possible? Of course it is! We did it for centuries before the Industrial Age, and we need only to reclaim those technologies. Bicycles with trailers, hand-carts, and electric scooters will be made available as much as possible. Mules, oxen, and draft horses will be bred as rapidly as possible for distribution to our farms, towns, and cities. These will not allow us the mobility of former years, but that is the price we pay for thoughtlessly squandering our fossil fuels.

3. If we are to be a less-mobile, more-localized people, we will need to start producing most of the necessities of everyday life in the places where we live. Globalized trade was a brief artifact of the now-ended age of cheap fossil energy. We will need to re-learn lost manufacturing skills and regain the proud craftsmanship of our forebearers. This great re-skilling of America will be a high priority in the coming years. The list of self-manufactured goods we’ll need is long. It includes tools, clothes, blankets, furniture, housing materials, bikes...solar cookers, and rainwater collection systems -- among many other items. Trade of these goods will again take place locally -- within and between our regions, rather than across oceans and hemispheres.

Now I know what many of you are thinking: Must we really throw out our 20th century technological gains? Is the reclaiming of 19th century technology really necessary? Aren’t we giving up? I respond by saying this: What choice do we have? Where is the fossil energy to run our...cars, and tractors? I’ll tell you -- it’s gone; squandered by seven generations of tragic excess. Gone forever.

While I believe we can sustain an earlier version of 20th century modernity, and I don't think electricity is going away any time soon, I do recognize that it may be rationed and choices will have to be made as to what are the best uses for it. I don't see computers going away, but we might have to sacrifice electric dryers and some other "modern conveniences" in order to choose to keep some electric technologies running. There will be many such trade offs.

We need to start re-ordering our communities now for the fast approaching day when cars and credit will no longer be affordable for the average family, when the shelves of wally-wort are no longer magically filled by slaves in other countries at cheap prices, when multi-generaltional family homes or communal homes for good friends and their immediate families will become the norm and not the exception, and health care crumbles under the weight of for-profit management.

Or, you can do nothing and hope that your job outlasts the fat cat CEOs who are now purposefully bleeding the economy dry to build a "nest" for themselves at your expense, to weather these disruptions in style while you starve and die on the street. Nobody, no government, no charity, no militia is going to save you and your kids. If we don't make our communities self-sufficient now, not dependent on cars now, and ready for electricity rationing now, then there will be no more opportunity in the future.

The other 95% of the world's population is not waiting to take their fair share of the earth's resources. The other governments of the world are not waiting any longer to throw off American hegemony. The earth cannot take any more abuse. And soon, for most of us who are not ultra-orthodox, there won't be any option to make aliyah, either. Probably, the UN will prohibit Israel from accommodating new residents to appease Arab oil interests or the Chereidi will finally succeed in de-legitimazing all other sects of Judaism, or both. When that happens, we'll be stuck here in this wrecked post-oil economy. This is the new reality and we'd better adapt to it.

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