Monday, December 13, 2004

The Real Story

Every so often, an entire culture changes within a sweeping concentric circle, a lightning crack of awareness and newly evident knowledge. The change could be considered necessary, (Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have dream" speech) or unnecessary (Hiroshima and Nagasaki). After being so wounded, a new meme lives in the brain of every conscious being who participates in the culture.

The world is about to change. The oil age is almost over. Not everybody knows it yet, and not everyone is going to keep reading. That's fine with me. There won't be room for all of us at the bottom.

A sheaf of formally disparate trends are about to weave into a rope that chokes off the industrial age. The most important is Hubbert's Peak, or the end of cheap oil. Besides quickly killing off half the world's humans, this event should prevent us from clownishly loading up the atmosphere with enough carbon to destroy everything but the single celled and the bottom feeders.
Another thread in the rope: The biggest die off events in the history of the world (such as the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum) are associated with an average global temperature rise of twelve degrees Fahrenheit. We're at about one and a half now and appear to be in a worst case scenario for global warming.
The carbon sinks are failing, no longer absorbing the excess CO2. The Alaskan tundra is belching, not soaking. The oceans are still soaking, but to such an insane degree that the animals that live there are being affected by the levels of acid in the water. The trees would soak, and do, except when we chop them down so we can have bovine jelly sandwiches. We're running out of fish, due to plain old over fishing, and those that are left are absorbing all the industrial pollutants that we piss off the sides of our continental shelves. Fish today are mad as a hatter. Allah help us if the methane hydrates cut loose because the oceans warm too much. God help us if the Gulf Stream, which has been flickering in the last decade, shuts off and turns Europe into a popsicle.
There’s more. Accompanied by an overwhelming amount of supporting data. None of it is a mystery, except to the extent that it spans fields, lives and willful ignorance. What is going to happen?
When oil runs low, population will crash in direct proportion to the amount of food that can be generated. Without petroleum, agriculture efficiencies drop seventy-five percent. Subsequently, fifty years from now the 600 million or so people left on planet earth will have a huge mess to clean up. Occam's Razor.

What can we do? We had better learn from the malaise of mainline glossy environmental groups, self licking ice cream cones that at best make their client members feel good about failure.

We need a holding action to save as much of the world as possible before the post oil years. All I can do right now is collect information and broadcast it. Where to start? Maybe a new idea in our culture, a catch phrase like "Liberal Media" that highlights the danger and focuses attention at the water cooler.

Like, "They are killing us."

(c) Jon S., 2004


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