Sunday, October 23, 2011


I have always been a bit of a doomer. Worried about peak oil, national debt, the aging population, the depletion of resources, etc. Well, this past week I have been stuck in bed due to an injury keeping me mostly off of my feet, and going on the internet. And it is much worse than I feared. There is no way that we can easily make the switch to alternatives. Yes, they could provide some of the energy that we use now, but not all of it- and it would take so much energy to build the infrastructure to start them up and get everything electrified. By the time that it make economic sense to do so, society will not have the money or energy to do so.

We are living in the petroleum age, and we think that it will last forever. All civilizations rise and fall. This one is going to fall. OK, it has happened before. Life will go on, for those who survive. Maybe we won't lose everything. And maybe some things will be gained.

But I think that a lot of people are going to die in the next 2-3 generations. And that is really awful. But I don't think that we can support this level of population without a lot of energy for farming and distribution that we just won't have- and we will have depleted our soils and deforested the environment, and old places will no longer be habitable due to global warming.

Everything is temporary. Nothing lasts.

And perhaps this insight is what is giving me some solace with my depression, despite my fears for my future and my society. I don't know how fast this is going to happen- people who predict the future tend to do so too early, so that they can be ridiculed by those who are clinging to the status quo because the sky hasn't fallen yet.

I would like the space program to continue, because that is our only hope to protect us from the next asteroid or comet that is headed towards earth. But I really don't know that is will. It is pretty damn energy intensive. But that is something that I think that we should try to save.

I wonder how many people know how bad the situation is? How many politicians? We are such optimists, especially in America, that whenever I try to bring up the subject, people just say something like solar, or wind can save us. They don't understand the scale of the problem. Geothermal can't do it either. Nuclear could do it for a while, but with a lot of start up costs. If fusion is going to save the day, it had better come fast.

You would think that we would make this another Manhattan Project. Where is our future energy going to come from? The problem is, so many people think that we already have it solved- a little solar, a little hydro, a little wind, and maybe a few nuclear reactors. If only. And we would still have to build the electrical grid to use it, and better batteries.

Some people think that private enterprise will get us there. But I think that the problems are too big, and the start up costs too high.

I think we are in big trouble.

1 comment: said...

your posts have made interesting reads. i've been blogging for years but just decided to start a "self help" blog for coping with my husbands bipolar and you've helped me see things anew. now i'm just tryin to spread the word! let me know if you wanna trade links!