In a few short years, the United States will have virtually no access to oil and its derivatives, which include coal, natural gas, uranium, solar panels, and wind turbines. The last time that happened in this country, fewer than 30 million people populated the United States; about 10 percent of them were slaves. Life expectancy was 46 years; if you were black, you could expect to live to the ripe old age of 23. Surface water was abundant and clean enough to drink.
My talk to archaeologists focused on peak oil and the associated collapse of civilization. Turns out archaeologists love to study the collapse of civilization, with a minor exception: They aren’t particularly keen on hearing about the collapse of their own civilization.
The only people in attendance unwilling to discuss the most important events in human history were the siblings and spouses of my wife. Ah, the irony: these Baby Boomers are the biggest contributors to the twin crises we face.
Religious believers like to believe weâ€™re special, that Somebody is watching over us. And they use the most stunning logic to explain the notion of Somebody: Science only explains our universe back to the Big Bang. What about before then? And what caused the Bang, and all the matter associated with it? It must have come from something. By which they mean Somebody.
Reason is the basis for understanding the material world. Mysticism has proven an insufficient foundation for dealing with peak oil and runaway greenhouse. As such, I suspect it will prove inadequate for saving humanity. Whether or not we’re worth saving is a separate issue.
In my opinion, which echoes Lovelock’s, habitat for our species will be gone by century’s end. I strongly suspect this outlook, like most prior predictions associated with global climate change, is hopelessly optimistic. It would not surprise me if our exit from the planetary stage were complete within three decades. Will we make it to 2100? I’d give us about a zero percent chance.
I’m starting to understand the many peak-oil deniers out there. It’s tough to wrap our hummingbird-sized intellects around these pterodactyl-sized numbers. Our ability to power down with all the peace and tranquility of Buddhist monks seems a little far-fetched (we are, as pointed out by Nietzsche, “all too human”). It’s easier to deny the impending collapse of empire than to deal with facts. On the other hand, as Matt Savinar points out, you’d better “Deal With Reality or Reality Will Deal With You.”