...at least for another 5 billion years. The survival of humanity as we currently know it will, however, be tested. This is the feedback I received from a stream of collegues to my most recent article on Simple Solutions for 2009. However, interestingly enough, they chose not to comment in the Huffington Post. At the end of this posting, I suggested that my article be shared with their contacts, and it is this "chain-letter" like strategy that stimulated dialogue. The thread of communications particularly focused, not on the economy, but on Peak Oil and Global Warming.
To summarize, a few felt that it is already too late, doomsday is destined to come, and maybe soon. A few more are reconciled to a lower standard of living. Some believed that monumental changes might still be possible, but we need inspired leadership and major structural adjustments to government. My latest response to one such input follows:
You're, of course, absolutely right. In my second Huffington Post article on June 2, entitled, Why Is There No National Energy Policy?, I went so far as to say that we shouldn't blame George Bush, nor the U.S. Congress, and not the oil companies. We have no energy policy because we don't feel it is important enough. The problem is us, as Pogo could have said. There were more than a hundred comments.
It's like education. We grumble and complain, but generally do nothing much about the poor scores of our students in those K-12 international test. Why? Because, as a nation, we are doing fine. We are the greatest nation ever, and the reason why is that we have by far the best higher education system, spending more money than any other country where it does make a difference. You need 5% of the populace to lead the way, but maintain an adequate core of followers, sort of what we are doing. So don't expect any sudden increase in salaries for lower education teachers because that's the smart thing to do for our future. We might, though, look closer at Finland and Singapore, and borrow as necessary.
Essentially, we need a serious crisis. Hitler and the fear that Germany would develop the A-Bomb first was the reason for the Manhattan Project. Sputnik resulted in the Apollo Project, leading to the end of the Cold War. I thought we reached the energy equivalent with $147/barrel oil a few weeks after the above article. Alas, crude oil at less than $50/barrel will make it all but impossible for any drastic and accelerated change. Global Warming? Many millions will need to perish for any real movement.
So, I'll maintain my pontification crusade to continue the education process, awaiting the day when $200/barrel petroleum or that really hot summer arrives so that we are better prepared to make that crucial difference. In the meantime, I still think there is something to the direct methanol fuel cell and the biomethanol economy as a necessary bridge, plus the Hawaiian Hydrogen Clipper. For now, enjoy life as best as you can. The Doomsdayers might turn out to be right, but I'll continue to valiantly plug on hoping for the best.
Is the inability of our leaders to act with decisiveness on a matter of global significance in the absence of a major crisis the fatal flaw of our current society? Are we destined to soon be crushed by the dual hammer of Peak Oil and Global Warming, crippling our civilization forever? Is there anything about the incoming Obama Administration that provides any confidence for Planet Earth and Humanity, especially as that other brushfire known as the economy will almost surely occupy most of their time and political capital? However, as time is of the essence, let's just hope that the trigger will not be a catastrophic crisis. The Sun will continue to shine, but will you be part of the solution?