These are interesting
times. With oil trading above $100/barrel, a larger portion of our
national wealth is being spent on energy.
We are very near or
already at what geologists call peak oil.
Peak oil is the point at which the maximum rate that
oil can be extracted from the earthís crust has been
reached. From that point forward extraction rates can only relentlessly
decline due to geological
and technological realities.
Prior to peak oil it was usually possible to extract as
much oil as we needed to meet growing demand while keeping
prices relatively low. After
peak oil it will be impossible to do that.
From now on, oil will become increasingly scarce.
The black gold will still be allocated according to
price, but as supplies dwindle and prices increase, more and more people will become
less affluent, i.e., poorer than they used to be.
The age of cheap energy is over.
Unfortunately, soon this will be true for all non-renewable
This means that our
economy, which runs on oil, will not be able to sustain
current rates of growth indefinitely, if at all.
Pundits on TV are discussing how long itís going to
take before the current recession will turn around and we come
out the other side ready for the next round of growth.
In my view, this recession is not going to end any time
soon and without appropriate leadership it might not end in
our lifetimes. The
result might easily look like an economy in the throws of a
long lasting slow motion train wreck.
If this sounds like a
dire prediction, it doesn't have to be... but it very well
Americans, in general, seem averse to contemplating
reality. Up until
now itís been easy to ignore unpleasant facts. As long as energy was
cheap we've been able to pursue personal interests and put
most everything else out of our minds.
But soon reality is going to confront us at every
turn. For some, it's already happening.
For example, without cheap oil our food supply will
begin to contract. American
corporate agriculture runs on oil.
It takes oil to prepare the earth, it takes oil to
fertilize the fields, it takes oil to harvest the crops, it
takes oil to kill the bugs, it takes oil to ship the produce,
it takes oil to keep things cold, and it takes oil to cook our
bees are dying, bats are dying, while our oceans are being
over-fished, polluted with non-biodegradable plastics, and poisoned with PCBs and other
Now consider, the cost
of fuel is not going to go down except for short-term market
energy efficient cars will help, but our oil based, combustion
engine based economy, is coming to a close.
Replacement technologies are not in place and it takes
time to build infrastructure.
The longer we delay the development of enlightened
energy and transportation strategies, the longer and deeper
economic dislocations will be.
A lot of people
donít have much money now and they have less credit and are
less credit worthy than they used to be.
We are the only industrialized nation with a zero to
negative savings rate. Very
few industries do not in some way depend on energy and at the
same time nearly every corporation in America is committed to
growing their profits at double-digit rates.
There is not going to be double-digit growth in
significant growth occurs it will probably take place in emerging
markets but only to the extent that energy allows.
In the US, where citizens, government, and corporate
executives are somewhat delusional, without society reinventing itself, the
economy will decline or stagnate.
You can argue these points with me, and I'm always open
to it, but in the end, reality will settle the argument.
executives confront this reality, one can only imagine what
kinds of strategies they will use to try to insure their
double-digit goals. Their
strategies have been evolving for a long time.
Look how much effort and money they expend
corrupting government policy and officials with their teams of
lawyers and lobbyists. Why
do they do that? Because
they donít know how to earn double-digit growth
only way they can do it is to dip into our pockets and extract
our wealth through deceit, corruption and back door government
oil has been kept a corporate and government secret since 1956. We could
have been planning for it all along had not a cadre
of corporate and government power brokers diverted our public wealth into
their self serving strategies.
So now we have some
very severe problems facing us.
From government we get lies, secrecy, and obfuscation
to prevent what citizens might do if
we only understood how weíve all been cheated.
Officials are not
stupid or uninformedÖ They know and accept that we are in Iraq to control
knew if they had told us what they were up to in the beginning, we wouldnít
have let them get away with defacing
the Constitution, murdering a million people and
injuring and displacing millions more to take control of the
oil. They sugar
coat and lie now about almost everything they do.
No matter what the politicians tell you, we are not
leaving Iraq, at least not until we are sure that we will have
certain unfettered access to the oilÖ or until we have some
Itís important to
understand this: If we approach these problems with anger, fear, and knee jerk
responses, we will surely make things much worse. And yet for an awful lot of people, that will be the initial
response to being confronted with, and being awakened by--
problems we face are solvable.
Human beings are capable of great creativity,
compassion, and sacrifice.
But we canít solve problems if we are afraid to talk
about them, and we canít manifest a creative environment for
developing solutions if we are afraid to tell the truth.
The truth about what?
In this case, the truth about everything!
It should be obvious by now, that you canít lie about
some things and expect that those lies will not eventually
poison or corrupt most everything else. The health and well being of every human soul is in some way
dependent, interconnected and related to every other.
We canít arrive at
optimum solutions if we are so afraid to think for ourselves
and examine our preconceived ideas and accepted myths.
I donít think we will be able to find meaningful
solutions to the problems we face, unless the great majority of us become
willing to change our interests, our
habits, and our
is not going to be easy.
At first, very few
politicians, corporate executives, or religious leaders will
look kindly on the prospect of examining the delusions and myths
we grew up with. In fact they will probably go to any extreme to tell you what Iím
saying is just a lot of nonsense.
No one who has influence and power over others will want to
give it up. But
make no mistakeÖ as Dr.
Barlett1 says, the problems are all going to get solvedÖ
the only question is how painful is it going to be and will
these problems get solved with any semblance of compassion,
justice and fairness?
If we attempt to look
out only for ourselves, we can be pretty sure thatís what
others will do too. And
if we do that, I can assure you, the suffering will be
are all members of one family.
We need to remember that and realize that every one of
us has a stake in finding viable solutions, where no one is
left out, and where no one will be asked or be required to
sacrifice their basic rights or dignity.
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