During the fight against oil extraction in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge I remember thinking that the fight wasn’t really over whether or not to drill, but when to drill. Our lives depend on oil, one particularly insightful economist says that our agricultural system could be described as the process of turning petroleum into people. That being the case, eventually we will drill everywhere there is any possibility of finding oil regardless of the long term environmental impacts. This isn’t because it’s the way I want it, it just appears evident that we will insist on eating and not freezing to death
today even if it means degrading the environment tomorrow.
We seem no more aware of limits to growth than bacteria in a Petri dish.
I hear the criticism that there is a lack of “leadership” and for that reason the people are not responding to the peak energy situation. I think that a cursory analysis of just the 1980 presidential campaign flips that on its head. We get the leaders we deserve. Jimmy Carter, and I would point out that the policy under which the United States’ government justifies military intervention in the Middle East for reasons of energy security is called “The Carter Doctrine”, so no shrinking violet he, said turn down the heat, put on a sweater, and lets learn to prosper within the limits of a finite planet…and was promptly trounced by the imbecile who took the solar panels off the White House roof.
On this blog I’m making the case that living more efficiently is what 21st century reality requires and one of the ways to do that is to live in a walkable place where life can be lived without the need for an automobile. Obviously that choice precludes growing all of my own food, and I still use energy to heat my home, wash my clothes, store my food and on and on, but if more compact living became the norm the benefits would redound to the environment as people used less energy in their everyday lives and more of the landscape was available to grow food or to be left as wilderness.
I’m making what I view as the pragmatic case, but I don’t expect the message to resonate on that level because people want more space, not less, would rather expend all their capital in immediate gratification, not plowing it back for future needs, and would rather continue on in the well worn tracks of sprawl, and not revert to a traditional development pattern. Until it becomes obvious that being more miserly with energy is required, the only hope is to make lifestyles that happen to be more sustainable more fashionable. It’s possible to do, but it seems strange to make an argument for style when the issue boils down to so much in the way of substance.