Friday, June 26, 2009

Enjoy Yourself - It's Later Than You Think

It's been so beautiful out, it's hard to stay inside to blog (or study for exams I imagine). But James Lovelock and Jeff Rubin are both predicting the end of the world as we know it, so I thought I'd comment.

Rubin's claims all focus on the peak oil theory. I totally bought into peak oil until I read Greg Palast's book Armed Madhouse. He's got some pretty convincing evidence there that we're not nearly at peak oil, including that Hubbert made his claims because he wanted to support nuclear energy, and that the oil companies want it to be believed because if oil's a rare commodity, the prices can be higher. If that's the case, then Rubin is playing right into the oil company's hands. But if we ARE about to run out, that's not such a bad thing for the environment.

If the powers that be believe we'll run out sooner than later, maybe they'll get on the wind/solar bandwagon. I know wind/solar can never work (for our conveniences) without a back-up system, but if wind/solar is widely used and subsidized, and outrageously expensive and rare petroleum products are just used as back-up, then our GHGs will be reduced dramatically.

Lovelock has a more pressing concern. He says we're at the point that we can't decrease climate change through any human innovations. Monbiot said we have until 2040 before we get into a "positive feedback" loop that's inescapable, but maybe the Mayans were on to something after all.

Lovelock believes temperatures aren't going to gradually increase, but will jump four or five degrees in a few years time, making food production difficult everywhere as people try to adjust to new climates worldwide. Most of us will die from starvation and wars leaving only a few million in the wake of it all. There will only be a few habitable places left, and Canada is one of them. And when the US decides to move up here, I don't predict another 1812. This time the Americans are a more formidable force, and we're not so well aligned with the first nation groups as we once were (and we've also ensured they're not the force they once were - good thinking).

In the Globe's article listing off all the doomsayers along with Lovelock, Maude Barlow's not even mentioned, and for decades she's been insisting the next wars will all be about water. Right now about 20% of the world has little or no access to clean drinking water. But they're not the important fifth, so we don't talk about it much. And she's been concerned with the US invading us for our resources for quite a while too.

And in Dark Ages Ahead, Jane Jacobs, the urban design guru also lacking a mention in the article, shows how similar our circumstances are now to life just before the fall of many other civilizations. The difference now is that we have a global civilization. It's not just one part of the world that will fall apart - it's the entire system. And key to this is a culture that is prevented from realising the extent of the deterioration of fundamental resources that we all depend on. If we are running out of oil or polluting enough to make GHGs self-perpetuating, we're not feeling it fast enough. Most the people I know have the A/C on even though, for the most part, it's not necessary, it's just nicer. Give us convenience or give us death.... It's not really a choice anymore now is it.

Ah, but people have predicted the end of the world over and over, and they've been wrong. Things do seem to be on their way to a collapse of some sort, but at the very least, I'm happier with Obama at the helm than Bush. I don't suggest we arm ourselves against a potential invasion, but cottage prices way way up north are looking better every day. Perhaps we should get off the grid before the grid self-destructs. Just in case.

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