Thursday, January 1, 2009

Good New Years Tidings!

I saw a documentary tonight (I know, I know, I should be doing school work around finals time. And if not finals I should at least be talking about the events unfolding in and around Gaza City..but my mother gets movies from "Netflix", so it's, like, my "chance" to see some stuff I wouldn't otherwise watch). Anyway, it was probably one of the most important documentaries I've seen; not so much for myself, but for the grandchildren I might have.

The Documentary was "A Crude Awakening". There is, in my opinion, one great difference between the Drama of the ancient Greeks and the modern Americans. In Greece one of the most beloved genres of theatre, if not the most beloved, was the "tragedy"; the story of the sorrow that can ensue from human frailty, even when consumed by motions of self-invincibility. The Americans, though, love the "happy ending"; there is nary an American film without one. Even critical Documentaries in America always end with some kind of notion of hope, and grass-roots change. Not so this documentary. For there is no viable solution to the predicament posed; the world has either already reached, or will soon reach peak oil production.

I must say, I see the "peak oil theory" as much more logical than the theories proposed by its opponents; now, they didn't spell this out, but I was looking at some charts on Wikipedia, and it seems like oil production peaked around the beginning of the century (and our whole history of oil-production at this level only started a little more than a hundred years ago). On the other hand the population (due to current oil availability) has been growing exponentially since the 50's.

The reason there is no happy ending is that all this "alternative energy" which is spoken so much of cannot even start to replace the amounts of crude oil we use (especially considering developing countries are just starting to drastically raise their demand). Even nuclear energy wouldn't suffice, being that there isn't all that much uranium in the world either. At that rate by the time our grandchildren will be our age, gasoline reserves will almost be completely emptied, and will therefore will rise drastically in value and price.

There is no end to the technological luxuries that we've been able to take advantage of in our generation which our fathers did not know, and which our children may not either: electric lights, refrigerators, air-conditioning, Internet, mass book production, computers, cars, air plains, space shuttles, paved roads, electric toothbrushes. I myself never owned a personal-transportation vehicle till this past summer, and I'll be honest with you, the transportation capabilities of such a vehicle are mind-blowing. The only reason most Americans don't see it as that is because they have always had it, just as I have always had the other electricity-powered devices I mentioned. By around 2050-2100 though (perhaps a little later) they will all be a thing of the past for the average man, reserved only for the very wealthy.
Personally I actually consider it to be a bit sad though; that "my grandchildren" will probably never fly in an airplane, never drive a car and perhaps even never use the Internet! I don't me it's a bit shocking that after all this innovation the world might just have to go back to how things were before "free energy".
The same is true for suburbia -American cities the past hundred years were foolishly built taking the fact that individual automotive transport will always be available. Without their automobiles to transport them large distances to and from their places of employment though, today's upper-class might revert back to living in city-center areas, while the today's suburbs revert to being where the poor reside.

Also, the past couple of days I was pondering the lost possibilities of space travel, and of our possible future ability, upon further investment in research and innovation, to colonize outside of our planet. The truth is, though, that those notions are based on ill-founded, oil-based twentieth century fantasies, which supposed that the new outpouring of American oil production would be eternal. American production itself has all but ended, as has that of many other reserves. The truth therefore, is that our futures might-well look like "Mad-Max". We will, almost undoubtedly, be much less technologically advanced than we are to-day. The "Jetsons" is only the product of oil-intoxicated dreamers.
There was never really a situation quite like this in worlds history, though something slightly similar which comes to mind is the prohibition of using slave labor in the South under Lincoln’s abolitionist laws. The only thing is when there were less workers the industrial revolution kicked in and produced more than the plantations ever did with free labor.
Not to sound too doomsday-like, but there is another nonrenewable liquid which is being depleted too quickly- water. It too is diminishing faster than can be sustained by our resources. With these two liquids becoming scarcer I believe that some sort of violent social uprisings might be caused when they become reduced well below the demand level, probably within the next 100-150 years.
To me, though, the only happy ending to this bi-centennial oil story is that the way we use oil and water, and the population booms which ensue as a result, are extremely tolling to the planet. If worldwide violence does become the product of an oil-lack, it (and a new found poverty) would at least stop population growth, and perhaps even decrease it to a level which is more sustainable, which would, therefore, give the earth and the atmosphere time to replenish their resources.

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