The End of Cheap Oil will bring unprecedented and mostly unwanted change to the industrialized world. No known combination of alternative energy sources, with the possible exception of nuclear reactors, will produce more than a small percentage of the energy currently used in countries like the USA, Canada, Japan and most of Europe. Nor would such alternate sources of energy allow China, India and other emerging industrial nations to develop to the extent that they are presently expecting to achieve. This raises the spectre of rich nation-states fighting over the remaining stocks in what they see as a last chance to 'save' their way of life; a number of these possess nuclear weapons and the chance of them being deployed in an attempted preemptive strike will be very high.
But, does it have to be this way or is there a possibility of avoiding this 'Last One Standing' option through planning and co-operation? Would it still be possible to make changes that might slow the runaway nature of Global Climate Change or to reverse the growth of world population?
Petrogeologist Colin J. Campbell has developed a possible way of trasitioning peacefully away from dependency on oil and this is expanded on and presented by Richard Heinberg in his book The Oil Depletion Protocol. However this book was written in 2006 and governments around the world have predictably ignored both the warning and the starting of a conversation around the possibilities. Likewise, efforts to start meaningful action on Global Climate Change have faltered or, as in the case of the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, been dismal failures. Slowing of population growth has been somewhat more successful but, mainly as an inverse relationship to increase in Standard of Living for under-developed countries. While this is hopeful in the short term, return to an agrarian lifestyle in many parts of the world might restart the "Many hands make light work" approach to family planning. Financial chaos continues to be brought about by the almost unbelievable excesses of those in a position to make trillions of essentially worthless dollars out of thin air. A good book to read about this and possible solutions to it is David C. Korten's book, Agenda for a New Economy.
Even if governments can summon the will to accept the problems, which seems very unlikely in democratic countries where the people's representatives spend much of their effort presenting options which will appeal to the electorate, there will be massive resistance from business interests and citizens to any measures which appear to cut profits or challenge the insanity of perpetual economic growth. I wish I could be more positive but I cannot, based on my own observation of human nature as well as historical reaction to change and apparent hardship. I will agree with all the authors I have read on these subjects that a pro-active approach would result in hugely better outcomes and like them, I will continue to attempt to spread this message but, I don't see many people listening yet.
There will be one, last chance to turn Spaceship Earth around when it becomes painfully clear that there is simply no alternative. With luck and a lot of skill, we may still be able to navigate the asteroid fields and other critical dangers but every day that goes by before consulting the chart and beginning to plot a course will make it harder.
In the meantime, the good news is that there are things we can do as individuals or small communities which will help us to prepare our families, friends and those around us for the coming Century of Declines. My website (below) presents some ideas which I have found, collected and hatched myself and will continue to expand as I find or think up more. If you have comments you would like to share which might help us all to survive the up-coming challenges, please pass them on.
MY WEBSITE — ANewHumanity.CA
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