Strike one … you’re out?

Bad Company’s Shooting Star blares over the PA system.

Don’t you know, yeah, yeah

The hour is late as the game enters the top of the ninth inning. The home team has held the Industrialists scoreless, and leads by a single run. If the Industrialists score, the home team will bring out the bats.

Don’t you know that you are a shooting star

The lead-off batter for the Industrialists reaches base on a bunt down the third-base line. A sacrifice fly to deep right follows a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runner to third with two outs.

And all the world will love you just as long
As long as you are

Nature’s pitcher checks the runner at third before smoking a fastball low and away. The Industrialist’s best hitter swings and misses.

“Strike one,” cries the umpire behind home plate. “You’re out.”

Johnny’s life passed him by like a warm summer day

Incredulous, the batter turns and stares at the umpire. The Industrialist’s manager storms from the dugout to argue the call. But it’s game over for the Industrialists. Nature wins again. All the appeals will be for naught.

If you listen to the wind, you can still hear him play

Stunned by the outcome, the few fans of the visiting Industrialists file out the exits as the fans of Nature collectively exhale a sigh of relief. A few angry Industrialists lash out, injuring Nature’s players for a final time. But everybody knows it’s over. Nature didn’t even need to use its last turn at bat to win this one.


Perhaps Osama bin Laden was correct when he said, twelve years ago, oil should be priced at $144 per barrel. Perhaps this price will suffice to bring down the empire. Perhaps the first post-peak spike in the price of oil will yet do the trick.

President Obama and his lead lackey Ben Bernanke have managed to paper over the gaping holes in the industrial economy for 18 months, largely because the clueless fans of empire have been watching reality television instead of paying attention to reality. As managers of the industrial age, Obama and crew have effectively argued against economic collapse. Among the many costs to industrial humans, which admittedly pale relative to the costs to non-industrial humans and non-human species: criminal banks and ongoing erosion of the freedoms we once took for granted.

All that arguing could have been spent preparing an unprepared citizenry instead of creating a diversion from the central issue of our time. But that’s water under the proverbial bridge. Instead of a recovery, we’re witnessing an economic death spiral. Although it seemed absurdly unlikely as little as a few months ago, it is becoming evident that the economic impacts of passing the world oil peak are still running full-out. We might not need a second spike to bring the shooting star of industry down to Earth.

Johnny died one night, died in his bed
Bottle of whiskey, sleepin’ tablets by his head

Woah …
Don’t you know that you are a shooting star

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. The industrialized world was supposed to have time to prepare alternatives to oil. Or so goes the mainstream story.

The ongoing story runs contrary to conventional wisdom. This version of the traditional narrative includes a twist, completely unexpected by most readers (and especially by economists). Just when it appears Nature is down for the count, even as Nature is gasping for life through the many assaults of industry, even as the living planet is turning belly-up and taking our species with her, a light flickers.

At first distant and dim, the light grows until it obscures the darkness of industry. Plants grow through the asphalt and then cloak the highways and bridges. Cities give way to small towns. Machines give way to nature’s bounty. The global horde of humankind gives way to a compassionate host of humanity.

This version of the story includes a Hollywood ending and a feel-good, bumper-sticker mantra: Nature Bats Last.


This essay is permalinked at Energy Bulletin and Island B.reath

Comments 9

  • Ciao Guy,

    Great Post:-) I have a feeling that you’re right about the outcome of this game. All it would take is one triple or even double play and Wall Street, Obama, the banks and the oil giants would have nowhere to run:-)


  • Guy,

    Oh, I love cornucopia for breakfast!

    Michael Irving

  • Consumerism is crazy.The worst is the mobilization of ignorant barbarians with cars,so they can destroy nature to live in ugly
    ticky tacky houses in the sloburbs.Again it’s all about the VEG–
    vanity,envy,greed.Such a society must and will self destruct.

    Double D

  • matt:

    I took your advice and listened to Blanchet and Kidman.To me the sound is similiar to the high class English accent.

    And you are saying that your PM is a lesbian,living with what we call a
    “beard”–her hairdresser boyfriend is also gay,who provides cover for
    the PM’s lesbian reality.

    Double D

  • hi Guy,
    long time no comment. Not because I have not been reading or paying attention. I love the fact that you are such an optimist! I really mean that. I wanted to comment on your last blog about your trip to the big island. My daughter lives over there in Captain Cook and she is right on track about everything you write about. You would find her conversation interesting. Oh well, maybe next time-if there is a next time.
    I went down to Dauphin Island this weekend to see the tar balls for myself. The island was a pristine wildlife refuge off the coast of Alabama. I live in Mobile for the record. Anyway, it was sad. The beach was blocked off by bulldozed mounds of sand. Porto potties( pots o’ gold) were everywhere along with hand washing stations including paper towels (but no where to dispose of them) and lots of gaters, you know those little tractor things.Also in abundance were people wandering around, going in tents and buses, but not a single person was on the beach picking up the macondo patties.
    I went to this same preserve in April and saw schools of manta rays and horse shoe crabs mating. Now, all I saw in the water was dead sea plants and floating piles of sticky oil which I had to scrape off my feet.
    How would you score this one?
    Aloha, Carol

  • Baseball metaphor, eh? Here’s an alternative one if only loosely sports related: the Donner Party combination pie and hotdog eating contest. Had to be called off with a few contestants still eating because the food was sadly all gone. But no worries, the weather’s changing and it looks like there’ll be plenty of snow to eat.

  • The world is about to give up Bad Company for a Chopin Nocturne.

  • “Strike one,” cries the umpire behind home plate. “You’re out.”

    Just who is the umpire in this metaphor? Can I fill out an application?

  • I want the bumper sticker.