Bad things happen!
Non-renewable resources (e.g., the world’s oil supply) are being depleted.
Population (demand) increases even though unsustainability threatens.
US empire-building (response) attempts to increase our control over supply.
Unaffordable benefits programs (response) are created.
The bearer of bad tidings (reality) is berated, may be thrown out of office.
The real cause of bad times goes widely unrecognized and hence unaddressed.
Our primary source of energy is oil. In the early days following its discovery, one hundred barrels could be produced with the energy contained in only one barrel. Now it is more difficult to find and extract and its lower quality requires more refinement. Now, to produce 100 barrels from one of the newer wells requires the energy of about 20 barrels, and the trend continues.
Ready availability of this energy resource has been the foundation for our growth economy, including our industrialization, suburban sprawl, personal transportation, international commerce, … It has also caused acceleration in the growth rate of the world population.
But now as energy demand continues to grow (population growth compounded by lifestyle improvements, e.g., India and China), the production rate of oil has peaked and the net energy from each barrel is decreasing. Alternative sources of energy can potentially ease the shortage, but none are a viable substitute for oil.
The good ol’ days of our growth economy are gone, never to return. What the future holds I don’t pretend to know, but it will be different. The transition will be an extended one and painful on all levels. The longer we wait to begin this transition, the more it will manifest as a cliff rather than a slope. Locally we can act to produce toeholds and finger holds in this steepening slope, but it is increasingly important to obtain national recognition of the problem, arrive at a decision as to how to best address it, and then to get into action.
Thus we have a MAJOR problem in the perceptions that our national challenge is to turn back the calendar to the glory years of our growth economy, that the primary approach to this (impossible) restoration is for our government to create jobs by spending vast amounts of (borrowed) money, that we can continue to fund extensive care for our elderly and disadvantaged in the absence of a growth economy, and that we as a nation can continue to turn a blind eye to the maxing out of our credit card.
We are trying to find easy short term solutions while totally ignoring the longer term painful consequences. Present efforts cannot succeed and the results could be disastrous.
We need somehow to make it possible for our leadership at all levels to begin a realistic and informed and objective discussion of our present situation and of the various possible approaches to the future. To do this we must provide motivation for them and to somehow reduce the perceived personal vulnerability that comes with being the bearer of bad tidings.
One way that each of us personally can contribute is by working to develop a groundswell of awareness and concern, by working to develop our own toeholds in the slope, and by letting our friends and neighbors know of our new activities and why we’re undertaking them.
Our Energy Independence Community (OEIC) can be a marvelous way for each to contribute to progress, first toward widened recognition of the problem, then to movement toward a solution, beginning locally in neighborhoods and in Transition Networks. www.OEIC.us can provide suggestions to each of us and reinforce our motivation. It can help document what works and why. And its success can provide reassurance to our politicians that this time they might well be able to get away unscathed with being open and objective in considering what’s best for the long term good of our community as a whole.