June 17, 2009

Not to worry

Domestically Challenged asked me to write about a conspiracy. As you know, I live to oblige so here it is. Er, sort of. It might be more of a rant.

In previous posts I have invited you to take action to save our environment, so you probably figure I’m some sort of tree hugger in it for the polar bears.

I like polar bears just fine and give money to organizations that try to save endangered species but that's about it. Frankly, I like chickens better. Even though Sara assures me they would immediately poop on our tracter seats if we had a tracter, I am strangely drawn to them.

But there’s another reason I’m so passionate about getting us off petroleum products and onto sustainable energy. A reason that may resonate more strongly with people who think polar bears and clean air and water suck.

Dum dum DUM!!! (That's supposed to be ominous music.)

Our way of life depends on it.

Consider this:

1. Each of us uses an incredible amount of energy in every aspect of our lives. We live like kings of old with the equivalent of thousands of servants that wash our clothes and dishes, light our homes, procure and prepare our food, entertain our children, convey us to our social engagements, and enable us to send and receive communications. Factories require unimaginable amounts of energy to produce cars, toys, household products and plastic water bottles, and then even more energy is used getting these things to places where we can buy them. Just think for a moment about how much ‘easy energy’ we all take for granted.

2. Most of our energy needs are met by oil and/or petroleum products. This both creates pollution (did you know it leaks into our groundwater?) and makes us vulnerable to oil rich countries that loathe and detest us but these are minor details. Here's the kicker: We’re running out of oil. Sure, there's still quite a bit there but within about a generation it’s going to require more energy to get at the remaining oil than we get back.

3. Now imagine a world where energy is not readily available. I don’t just mean that nothing happens when you flick a light switch and you have to hang your laundry to dry, that’s small potatoes. Think about the economic implications of scarce energy. No more rock concerts. No more enormous factories producing plastic junk. No more truck bringing the plastic junk to you and me. No more supermarkets. No more bottled water. OK, you say, we can live without rock concerts and plastic junk. But who's gonna pay you if you have some job like ‘rock concert organizer' or 'fund manager' or ‘HR Director’ for a big manufacturing company? And where will you buy food, water, clothes and plastic junk if easy energy goes away?

4. Then there's inflation. In order to solve the financial crisis and provide affordable health care to children (yay!) and overweight smokers (boo!) our government is planning to print a whopping pile of money that isn't backed by anything except debt. If energy becomes scarce or hideously expensive the production of goods will necessarily slow down a bit, because producing all the crap we buy eats up monstrous amounts of energy. So, we will either have more money in circulation trying to buy fewer goods (INFLATION) or we will revert to the equivalent of slave labor to replace the energy, which could mean less inflation but is much worse than inflation. Either way, expect inflation and possibly indentured servitude.

5. The good news is that there is more than enough solar power to meet our energy needs, not to mention create a lot of new jobs. But it will take a big, expensive, coordinated effort over many years and we need to start now to avoid the crisis later. To put the costs into perspective, Germany's planning a major solar project in Africa for about half of what Al Gore says it would cost the US to follow suit, so the money's there. And at the end of it, we would have something real that produces both energy and livelihoods, instead of just pumping it into toxic financial instruments, where it mysteriously vanishes, or oil companies, who will increasingly have a stranglehold over all our lives.

I'm just saying.

The situation's bad but there's hope if we take this opportunity to start acting like responsible global citizens. A few simple things you can do without a total lifestyle change: Consume less. Don't eat so much meat. Try to do with less energy. Don't buy bottled water - the FDA doesn't check it very carefully so it's a good idea for health reasons, too, unless you like cancer. Send $10 to Sierra Club and skim their excellent magazine, which is full of great information and tips. Register online at wecansolveit.org, which is Al Gore's organization, and sign the petition to repower America. Sign up with the Environmental Defense Fund and get notified about upcoming bills that impact clean energy and petitions you can sign to remind Congress that this matters. Buy some wind credits to help alternative energy providers out.

You can also try praying but God gave us this beautiful world to shepherd, not ravage, and is probably pretty pissed at us right now.

Finally, the smart money's on doing things that make you less dependent on the system, like getting solar panels and starting a garden. You'll be pleased to hear that we'll be starting ours just as soon as we've resolved the duck question.

And our backup plan is to go live with Sara.


  1. Well, even though polar bears aren't your favorite, you have to see them as a link in a long chain of interconnectinv life that includes us. And although the death of the dodo bird didn't bring down the house, for every link that goes missing, our lives become more in danger. Take the sea for example. 90 % of big fish have been depleted compared to levels 100 years ago. This does not bode well. Well, I could keep on for awhile.

    But I agree that things must change. And change starts with me. I've stopped flying, since that creates a demand for an unnatural amount of a petroleum product. Our apartment is powered bt windmills (you probably have that option too, in Germany). But that's not gonna help us when the grid goes down. We must act now, but this unfortunately does not include the "business as usual" model.

  2. Thanks for commenting. I agree with all of that chain of life stuff as well, but sadly, it doesn't seem to motivate most people. My point is that there are underlying economic reasons to do the right thing as well.

  3. My biggie - is birth control!!! I hate the ads to try to feed the world. If folks would cut the number of kids, we could feed the world. And - cut our energy use.

    Let's give the animals back some space.

  4. OK!!! I give up.

    How the heck did you...

    When I click on your name for your comment - it goes straight to your blog without having to click through the damn profile. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??? I looked every where to try to change mine to just click on my blog and not my profile.

  5. I think that sometimes with environmental issues, the problem can seem so big that we feel like we have to make these huge changes and sacrifices in order to make a difference. But there are so many small ways that we can contribute to the "green effort." Like you mentioned: skipping bottled water. Or buying local food. I read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle when it came out, and before then I honestly had never stopped to consider the massive amount of resources that bring my food to the grocery store. There's tons of small changes we can make that will add up to a big difference.

  6. Now I feel bad for not getting my husband the Wattson Energy Counter and instead getting him the "Energy Sucking Ice Machine" for his birthday.

  7. You can touch all the tadpoles you want at my house.
    I want a windmill/solar panel combo so bad. Still workin' on that one. Grist.org is a favorite helpful site 'o mine. Give it a looksee.

    Bottled water makes me furious. Not just because I don't like cancer either. (and not saying I haven't or won't drink it, but I majorly avoid it.) It is the epitome of stupidness, selfishness, and waste. Or at least that's my overly sensitive opinion on it. Just think of all that could be saved if we all just figured out how to do without that one thing. You know, like we did a few years ago. My, how did we ever get by without bottled water?!
    ..ahem. Good post.

  8. Good comment, Sara! If Laura and her brood move in, do you have room for a few more?

    Now I'm feeling a pretty green shade of smug with my Nissan Thermos cup.

    The government is already printing money, sad to say. It just can't admit it. Keep an eye on rising treasury yields! They tell the tale.

  9. I am trying to be green (even though I do have 4 kids - sorry Hit 40). Got my clothes flapping on the line right now and I'm sweating in my house while it is 95 outside and I don't have any air conditioning on.

  10. Yeah, I'm gonna go live with Sara too. She doesn't know it yet though. Man, I hope she likes my kids.

    Have you seen the "Story of Stuff"? It's really compelling if you can manage not to be overcome with huge feelings of despair and hopelessness after watching it. :)

    That's probably just me, though.

  11. Well said, Honeypie Horse! It's about time we all did something about saving the earth. What depresses me most is that we CAN use solar power and wind energy, but it will be expensive and the big companies that stand to lose by not using oil are the ones lobbying to make sure governments do not invest in solar projects...

  12. Well honey, that isn't bad. It is truthful. I often ponder the same. I was waiting for more alien abduction/president/ax murderer stuff!


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