12/19/2007 05:49 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Forward to the past

I sometimes watch a program about archeology on television, and it usually includes some people who are involved in re-enacting the culture of the period being excavated - people recreating Iron Age huts, or the colony at Jamestown, or Anglo Saxon farmers, or English civil war soldiers. You know the kind of thing - dress in the right clothes, use only tools available at the time, eat foods available locally and prepared simply, live in houses with only wood fires for heat and light, farm primitive breeds and crops, rely on herbs as medicines. More than slightly obsessive people - pretty funny really.

It suddenly occurred to me when I last saw it (Anglo-Saxon re-enactors grinding up herbs to cure toothache and arthritis) that we may be looking not at the past but the future. That these people, instead of being slightly eccentric individuals who are romantically attached to a lost past, are actually visionaries who have seen the future and are preparing for it.

Think of it this way. Because of the lack of a switch to renewable energy in time, we are rapidly going to be faced with the inevitable consequences of political stupidity, a return to the days before the industrial revolution. The worse the crash the further back society is going to have to go in search of a low energy economy. And these people who dress up in funny costumes have already leant how to live in low energy societies.

And the rest of us? Well, I think we better get started soon on learning to grind herbs, grow food, make our own clothes, and use wood for heating and lighting. They are skills that have been out of fashion, but are about to come back into fashion.

Still laughing?

The Watermelon Blog remembers Thomas Malthus who said "Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence only increases in an arithmetical ratio".