Thursday, July 13, 2006

Peak Oil: Bring it on! The sooner the better!

Oil is a finite resource, and many believe that the production of oil has peaked or will soon peak. From that point on, higher costs and shortages are to be expected. There are those who believe that the chaos caused by the sharp decline of oil production will result in the end of the world. Books have been written, and websites created, specifically dealing with the effects of peak oil. Sadly, most fail to recognize the positive effects of the end of cheap oil.

If we are to believe what we read, the industrial age is about to end, and we’re on the verge of returning to an agrarian society. So what’s wrong with that? If you’ve ever tasted fresh produce you know that it sure beats what you buy in the grocery store. Highly processed food lacks the nutritional value of the fresh variety, and often contains harmful preservatives and additives. HFCS, an additive in soft drinks and many other food products, is a major contributor to childhood obesity. In addition, genetically modified food products that line the shelves of grocery stores present a health risk. On the other hand, produce that’s grown locally, and perhaps organically, tastes better and is better for you. Organic methods will replace chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the result will be greater yields and healthier food. As a bonus, the soil will be replenished instead of being used up as it currently is.

If the industrial age is to end abruptly, you may no longer have to commute to work each day. Can you imagine how that will improve your life? No more rush hour traffic. No more road rage. No more breathing exhaust fumes. You’ll have more time to spend with your family.

As less fossil-fuels are burned, the ozone layer will begin to heal, and the global warming trend will start to reverse itself. Some scientists believe that this is already hapenning due to a variety of steps that have already been implemented. The planet is, or will soon be, on-the-mend. However, if we substitute coal for oil, we might just erase all of the gains we've already made. This must not be allowed to happen.

When we stop buying oil, we stop sending money to countries that export hate and terrorism. I can hardly wait for that to happen.

This, of course, is an oversimplification. The transition will be difficult. However, it is possible to live a good life without petroleum-based products. Everything we currently do that involves oil can be done another way, and often in a much better way. The transition will open up new career opportunities, and not just in agriculture. Technically savvy folks will find interesting work in energy production, construction, service, and transportation. Those who are the quickest to accept post-oil technologies will be the most successful.

Cuba made a quick transition from a budding industrial power to an agrarian society when the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the loss of oil imports. We can learn a lot from their experience. Perhaps the most important lesson is that every individual needs to prepare, rather than to wait for the government to take care of them. Without food on the table, government programs are useless. Cubans who had never worked in agriculture before learned to grow food crops, and other survival skills.

The sooner we start to look beyond petroleum, the better. And, since our elected leaders don't seem to grasp the urgency of the current siuation, it is up to each individual to prepare for the future. Fortunately, there are those such as Al Gore and Arnold Schwartzanegger who do understand the urgency and are doing something about it now. Hopefully, others will follow. Please remember them at election time.

Solar John

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