Re: Life after the oil crash

From: Mervin Bitikofer <>
Date: Sat Oct 29 2005 - 18:04:23 EDT

Glenn, please educate me on what the phrase "move peak oil back ...."

I think one of the issues here is pragmatism vs. idealism. Glenn, I
don't think any of us have grand pretensions that our personal choice to
ride bike is going to turn the world around. But as Iain has
articulated well such initiatives make a "HUGE" difference to the person
doing it. I echo his sentiment that (at least for some of us) the
bicycle is not chosen as some kind of last resort. I have a car (and a
truck) I could choose to use every time I need something. But aside
from getting caught in cold weather (I'm a wimp about that), I'm usually
glad to be on my bike and feeling sorry for everyone else forced to
spend so much time in their 'steel coffins'. And too often I am one of
that crowd also.

But on the idealism side of the equation, where is the sanction for
throwing our hands in the air and saying it won't make any difference
anyway? I'm glad peaceful revolutionaries who have gone before us
didn't think that way. They were too busy starting revolutions that
changed entire cultures. I don't know if you are a Christian, but this
being that kind of forum, I'll presume to go 'Biblical' for just a bit here.

We're never promised in scripture that our work at social reform is
going to be the golden bullet that banishes suffering. The believer is
asked to be faithful in caring for the poor - the widows, and
fatherless. Never is the suggestion made that because of this, poverty
will soon go away. In fact we are rather told it will always be with
us. (pragmatist kind of comment). But this is never to be taken as a
rationalization to stop fighting poverty. Of course we should be
helping the poor (and the pragmatist can give good guidance on which
ways are more effective.) But the idealism (or maybe faithful obedience
is the better term) should never be abandoned. So the train is
careening towards various dooms - yes, we know that! So how can I do my
bit to apply some brakes, or slow it down in some way or another? We're
called to do our best (and science would ideally be providing good
guidance in this), and then not get bent out of shape if we don't get to
personally see great fruition from our labors. Make a small 'good'
choice somewhere today. Let the idealist in you live a little.

--merv bitikofer

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know
they shall never sit in. -- Greek Proverb wrote:

> No less you than I. We are all involved in this. I surely do my share
> of requiring oil (maybe more than my share given all the traveling I
> do). We all use energy like it is going out of style. I for one have
> no guilt over it. The energy we have allows us to live long lives, do
> things we couldn't otherwise do. Given that saving 1 billion barrels
> of energy will only move peak oil back by 1 week in time, it almost
> seems hopeless to even bother trying to conserve. Today we use 30
> billion barrels and if we were to cut our use in half we might move
> peak oil back by 3 months to one year.
> Consider this:
> "The oil consumed directly and indirectly by the average American is
> equivalent to the
> work output of 135 slaves, unfed, unclothed, unhoused, and paid $2 a day
> between them." Richard Miller, "Time to Debunk," Oil and Gas Journal,
> Jan. 12, 2004, p. 12
> The alternative is to go back to the life our forebears lead, eating
> rotten meat (that is why pepper was such a prized commodity), and
> dying young. One of the Goths who beseiged Rome in the 4th century
> demanded more weight in pepper than he did in gold. Pepper made rotten
> meat taste better.
> I for one think my profession has benefitted humanity more than just
> about any other profession. We have more trees today in North America
> than we had when Columbus came because we quit burning them (yes,
> those ecologically sensitive Native Americans were really busy
> stripping North America of its forests). My sad realization 5 years
> ago was that it would not be enough, that soon we would come to the
> end of the ride and high energy use might have been a technological
> trap. 5% of all humans who have ever lived (from 50 kyr ago) are alive
> today! That is what energy has done for us.
> We are all on a train ride--the entire society is on this train. No
> one knows how to stop the train which goes faster and faster each year
> but everyone can see what will happen in the end. If the train keeps
> going faster and faster, it will eventually derail. Jumping off the
> train means experiencing lots of pain (no medicines, inadequate
> housing, poor sanitation, no potable water, high infant
> mortality etc). Being on the train has benefited millions of humans
> who now can drink fresh water because of energy, live in
> airconditioned comfort (I remember as a child not having
> airconditioning and being miserable in the summer at night). But,on
> this train are many who think the train is the problem but they don't
> want to leave the comfort of the train. I am one of those.
> The ultimate winners in this game of ultimate survival may be the
> Amazonian tribes who never came into the 21th century and who still
> live off the land in squallor. No one will send a nuke their direction
> as the rest of the world fights over the last scraps of oil.
Received on Sat Oct 29 18:08:37 2005

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