18 August 2012
by Guest blogger
Humanity, in the western developed context, has got used to a certain mode of life, stupid maybe, but there it is. We will not surrender it without struggle and denial, and until the inevitable is forced upon us. Collectively, we want to believe that there’s an energy ‘breakthrough’ about to come on the market that will allow our lives to continue as ‘normal’, ie we can go on hauling 2 tons of steel around and use wheels instead of legs; or the other line of thinking, that a conspiracy is preventing that from happening right now. Hence you had loony presidential candidates promising $2 gas, and millions chorusing in belief. Come 2016, and certainly 2020, the promises will be wilder and wackier, and more and more desperate voters will want it to be true. But of course it won’t be.
They need to believe in a ‘normality’ that has only existed for about a century, much less for many people, and that is the danger, a collective insistence that normality can go on into infinity, when common sense says it can’t.
We need fuel energy to live, and relatively few have the means to opt out of that economic system. Think of all the people who we depend on to do jobs that enable society to function. They cannot opt to downsize. Those jobs have grown in tandem with our ‘civilized’ fuel burning society.
Russia still functions because it exports oil and gas, in the same way that Saudi does. Saudi had a pre-oil population of 1 million in 1900. There’s now 29 million. when the oil runs out we will all be faced with the arithmetic of catastrophe, but when the Saudis try to feed 30 or 40 million people in a desert that can only accommodate 1 million, the result will be horrific.