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the present is pregnant with the future

barry stoll

“the present is pregnant with the future.”

so maybe you’ve come to realize that we just can’t keep going on like this.

cheap, abundant oil will eventually be a thing of the past, and alternatives to oil won’t keep us anywhere near our current levels of energy consumption. all systems dependent on cheap oil will have to be redesigned or they will fail.

these are the articles of faith for peakniks, and once you’ve gotten your brain around them (which may take some time), the next question is – what can we do?

what moves do we make? should we move from the suburbs to the city and prepare to stand in breadlines? move to the country and become farmers? should we get our own unabomber shacks and stock up on ammo?

and are asian pirates really coming to plunder cascadia??

spend some time googling and you’ll find there’s no shortage of advice out there based on no shortage of bleak predictions. we can at least take some small comfort in the knowledge that everyone who has made these predictions will turn out to be a little bit wrong, while others will be very wrong. (that’s about the only safe prediction there is.)

having said that, i can’t help but check my own personal crystal ball and report what i see there…
(6 June 2007)
barry stoll is a “humble musician, computer geek, father of 3, vegan, bike rider.”

Consumerism Is Dead – Long Live Self-Sufficiency!

Randy White, Lawns To Gardens
Money keeps people and institutions in power. When most money is based on oil and energy (as it is now), it has value that lets you buy things like food and private corporate jets. When oil runs out like it is doing right now, that money loses value, and that money becomes worthless.

I am surprised to see how many people understand this already. I went to a rock show the other night and this topic was buzzing off many people’s tongues, and I didn’t even instigate the conversation! So it seems to me what we are seeing right now is a wide recognition of money losing it’s grip on power, and money is *NOT* happy about it at all.

…self sufficiency takes hard work. If the leaders of the world that are so fearful of us “little people” would realize that we are willing to still work, so long as we get time off to spend with family and such, then labor will continue.

I LOVE farming my little yard. I wish I could steal away from the chains at my desk to go work in the dirt. I would gladly hop on a bus with other laid off workers and ship out to a farm and help grow the food we need, since fertilizer and other oil-based inputs are going to run out and be too expensive for farmers to keep using.

I would like to think that the wealthy people of the world can still keep their “Stuff”, but that we would read stories about Paris Hilton working side by side with regular folk now and then. Or the CEO of Coca-Cola working two days a week on a farm… if they would just show some backbone the elite and the common folk could work it out.

But I’m just a dreamer. I highly doubt that families with blue blood and so many generations of wealthy living will go down without killing off us folks that don’t matter. We’re fungible, nothing more than fuel for corporate machinery. I guess I accept that and realize that I have no power.

That’s why I’ll just keep on farming my little plot of land and watch it all go down. Food grown at home tastes better anyway.
(6 June 2007)
A previous post re-interprets a familiar American legend for the peak oil era: Benjamin Franklin Needs To Rescue America Again

Contributor Randy White writes:
Utopia is like Atlantis – it may have existed, but we’ll probably never know.

Movie review: What a Way to Go (Life at the End of Empire)

Dan Armstrong, Mud City Press
Mud City Press was fortunate enough to get a chance to view the documentary WHAT A WAY TO GO (Life at the End of Empire) by Sally Erickson and T.S. Bennett prior to its national release later this summer. A personal commentary on the direction of modern society in the twenty-first century, WHAT A WAY TO GO is described on the back of its DVD package as “a middle-class white guy coming to grips with peak oil, climate change, mass extinction, population overshoot, and the demise of the American lifestyle.” It might also be described as the non-Hollywood version of Al Gore’s documentary on climate change. This is not meant to be dismissive. Not at all. It’s an accolade. If what Gore offered was an “inconvenient truth,” WHAT A WAY TO GO gives us the “whole truth.” That is, Gore’s story with peak oil, unsustainable agriculture, and our mass assault on the community of life added in to fill out the picture of climbing atmospheric carbon concentrations and melting ice caps.

WHAT A WAY TO GO is a grim documentary about a situation many of us are already too familiar with. But it opens an aspect of the fossil fuel quandary that I quite frankly have neglected to acknowledge in others and perhaps in myself. To scientists and researchers, there is a certain dry geologic acceptance to peak oil and climate change. Like one day, five billion years from now, the sun will burn out. To parents, concerned young adults, and ordinary folks, however, there is a growing fear and a resultant personal grief connected to these looming economic and environmental unknowns. This, among other things, is what WHAT A WAY TO GO confronts with meaningful honesty.

I had some idea what this documentary was about when I got the DVD in the mail, a rather edgy and personal account of a middle-aged man confronting the collapse of our way of life. The petroleum empire is going down. We’ve been too reckless with the planet’s natural resources, particularly fossil fuels, and the biosphere is suffering badly. Global warming will wrap a thousand mile-wide band of desert around the equator of planet Earth. The migrating millions will go north and south looking for water. At the same time, the skyrocketing cost of petroleum products, and all they mean to the economy, will bring on an extended recession in the affluent societies of the West. We are likely to face some kind of extended catastrophe. Famine. Pestilence. War. A mass die-off. I believed too much of this scenario and mostly just wondered if my life would last long enough to see it play out. For me, taking any kind of serious appraisal of the condition of human civilization on the wet planet usually involved writing frantic rants or drinking.

I put the DVD in the machine with a bit of trepidation
(4 June 2007)

Recreating “An Inconvenient Truth”s Manhattan Flooding In Google Earth

Leszek Pawlowicz, Free Geography Tools
In the movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore shows animations of how Manhattan would be flooded by a rise in sea level. This blogpost shows how you can re-create the same flooding effect in Google Earth. if you turn on the 3D Buildings layer, you can even watch from an oblique angle and see water climb up the sides of buildings, and even submerge them completely in some cases. You can watch videos of the animation, or download the Google Earth file for Manhattan itself and watch it in full resolution on your own computer. The full process is described, so you could create a similar high-resolution animation for anywhere in the world (requires some knowledge of geo-geekery).
(25 May 2007)