Here in my part of the world, November weather is usually a volatile and unpredictable thing. It has always been a time of this weird kind of irony. It has pretty much always been predictable, that the weather will be generally unpredictable.
This year is no different. If somebody idly chats about the weather, whatever it might be at the moment, to describe it as unusual is pretty silly. What is usual? It could be anything from a calm and balmy warm day that finds people out in T shirts and people getting motorcycles out of the garage for a ride to a full on blizzard.
Around this area in this part of the year, weird and unpredictable weather is normal and predictable in its weirdness and unpredictability. Even with that kind of strange variety as normal, in recent years the weather has struck the natives of the region as strange beyond the usual kind of varied mixed bag of conditions.
This is a place where, in realistic terms, “winter” usually actually lasts about five or six months. It can get down to wintertime cold temperatures pretty much any time from October to late April, and snow any time in that period in not a big surprise. Given that, this past winter of 2011-2012 was pretty weird, having only one snowfall that was enough to actually cover the ground. Even that snowfall of maybe two inches or so quickly melted off of any paved surfaces, so that the result was a winter that never required clearing snow off driveways, sidewalks and roads as is a usual regular ritual around here. That got the attention of people, even some of those those mostly oblivious to bigger-picture, who mock anything about overall warming of the planet and associated climate changes as some sort of hoax, some kind of trick or scam people are trying to play on them.
Here we are now, a few weeks since the storm that started as Hurricane Sandy, relabeled Superstorm Sandy, swept across the northeastern United States. As if that wasn’t enough of a hit, the same area was then pummeled by a major snowstorm complete with heavy snow and blasting winds, just days later, that would have been problematic and unpleasant enough on its own in normal circumstances, with people and systems ready to deal with it.
Despite all the news coverage, my general impression is that a huge portion of the American public still doesn’t really have their minds wrapped around the full scope of the picture, either in the short term or the longer view implications. The news chatter as Sandy swept through, and afterwards, did at least finally show some signs that people were starting to get the idea that something very large and long term was happening.
Before this storm, I suspect that, generally, people have not even considered it a reasonable possibility that the southern portion of the island of Manhattan would find itself up to people’s knees in seawater. Then, one day in October 2012, people in lower Manhattan found themselves up to their knees in seawater.
Looking around via the various electronic communications portals we have available to view the world, it’s pretty common now to come across somebody chattering about whether or not set of circumstances is “the new normal”.
I read an old quote from James Schlesinger, the first cabinet Secretary of the US Department of Energy, saying that humans have two basic modes of operation, complacency or panic. Sit back and watch some talking head on television talking about “the new normal?” and you’re probably looking at some human attempt to ratchet back from a state of crisis panic, and return to complacency and ignoring the matter as routine.
You can observe something of this in the notion of “the news cycle” that’s a kind of routine concept now. As a component of the lazy and inept failures of what we used to call “the press” to research, investigate, gather, verify, organize and report true accurate meaningful relevant information, we can watch the attention deficit phenomenon of “the news cycle” in action on a regular routine.
You can watch it play out if you watch CNN, for example. Some event happens that qualifies as The Big Story of the moment. That then becomes the sole focus for a day, or two, maybe a few days in a case of something really major and extended. That will be literally all you hear about, around the clock, even while there might be a bare minimum of actual information they have gathered and report, and everything they have to report can be covered in about two minutes. That continues in a kind of obsessive compulsive loop for some period of time, depending on how big the story is, until it fades into some transition and reverts back to the usual mixed news routine, or the next Big Story starts up a new cycle of this. The last Big Story is shoved on to a shelf.
The huge hit from Sandy the Storm didn’t just cause damage and disruption almost beyond people’s ability to comprehend. It raises all kinds of extremely difficult questions. The Earth has started to pretty much give up on dropping subtle hints, and has been in the process, for a while now, of restorting to punching us square in the head to get our attention.
The gigantic saga of this storm and what it left behind strikes me, very clearly, as just one element of what James Kunstler called “The Long Emergency”. His book using that term has a full title of “The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century“, which pretty much spells out the gist of it.
The impact of Sandy across the coast of New Jersey, Long Island, and New York City presents us with a big pile of serious questions about what we’ve built, where we’ve built it, and how we’ve built it, and what we do moving forward.
Someone wrote to me that they thought dealing with Sandy and the aftermath might be the largest public works project in American history, but there is a serious question about how many Americans might have a real grasp of the costs. I agree with both parts.
This isn’t just about the projects of repair and restoration and reconstruction. What was considered extraordinary is pretty clearly showing signs of becoming ordinary. Questions present themselves about what must be done, in the region just smacked by Sandy, to protect the region from damage from future storms, especially given a condition of dealing with changes in climate and rising sea levels and what this means for a coastal region.
In the past few days, articles in the New York Times have found people thinking about the aftermath of Sandy, considering the problems and questions of the costs of rebuilding, how this is a source of severe problems for many people, and issues of where rebuilding should, or perhaps, should not happen.
We have major tasks laid out in front of us. We’re talking about necessity, about issues of having a civilization that functions. We have this presented to us by reality in the form of our petroleum problems (and the other finite forms of hydrocarbons under the ground), and by the changes pressed upon us by changes in the Earth’s climate and all the repercussions that brings.
These things are not optional. They bring large costs that must be paid. Getting a realistic general public consensus happening about the work we need to do, and understanding the costs involved, is a real problem.
We’re talking about something large, something huge, circumstances far beyond what anybody can describe neatly as being any single item/topic, and guess what? There will be costs. This has to be paid. It’s pretty noteworthy to read news about New Jersey Governor Christie and his position as state governor regarding these costs and taxes. This is dealing with reality like sane people. There has been a pretty severe lack of this in the public realm.
It’s like there’s some public mantra of our time that might go something like “oh, that’s too much to think about… so we won’t“.
Meanwhile, taking a look at the CNN RSS feed of current feature news stories, I find a story heading: “Boy bands we love“. This is the kind of noise distracting us. It’s hard to not sit back and wonder if we might find some future epitaph for ourselves, our time and particular story of human civilization, reading “it was too much to think about… so they didn’t“. Another alternate might go something like “they didn’t want to pay for anything“.
I’ve been talking for quite a while about how much work have to do, in all kinds of subject areas of civilization and human activity, and how many people there are who can both get the work done, and are in need of actually being paid to do some work. This was before the arising circumstances of what has happened in the northeastern US and all that it left people to deal with.
It’s like barking into a void. How can you get this through to people?
One of big items under the heading of infrastructure is the widespread batch of electrical power problems. We saw just how badly a storm like that could disrupt the electrical power supply over a wide area, and the kinds of problems that caused.
That’s just one facet of all that’s tucked under the heading of “infrastructure”. Natural gas supply is also on that list, along with large systems of plumbing supplying fresh clean water, and more systems carrying away waste water (and all that’s in it), communications systems, and what else?
One big problem was demonstrated in long lines and problems involving people trying to get gasoline. Part of that, in turn, turned out to be problems where a particular gas station actually had a supply of fuel in their tanks, but without electrical power supply, were simply unable to pump the stuff.
In that scene, we had a glimpse in one particular area of the country of what happens when there is some sort of problem involving limitations in supply of refined petroleum fuel. Things get very difficult, for a lot of people, very quickly, and the problems manifest themselves in an assortment of logistical problems that provide clues about the fact that many things involving petroleum, and our use of the stuff, are far more complex than most people realize.
In the situations unfolding in the petroleum supply department following Sandy, we had a glimpse of a preview of problems of peak oil, something like what we had here in the United States almost forty years ago, during the infamous OPEC Arab oil embargo of 1973. Considering that US oil production peaked way back around 1970-1971, and we then had the infamous large problems of 1973, we’ve had a long, long time to get our heads around the difficulties of limitations in petroleum, and adjust accordingly.
The fact that the fuel situation turned out to be such a major problem for people in the area gives us a serious smack upside the head and reality check. That gave us a load of clues about how much in that region has developed based entirely around the idea of effectively unlimited and cheap petroleum fuel for things to function in daily life, and that particular region is not unusual.
Ever since the end of World War II, here in America we’ve put enormous amounts of resources into the vast project of suburbia and its perpetual expansion. This has squandered the enormous windfall resources of petroleum we found ourselves with, and boxed us into vast areas of suburban sprawl that consume vast amounts of petroleum, still, because that’s the only way this can work the way we’ve laid things out. We continued this even after the United States domestic oil production peak in 1970 and decline since. The latest noise about “energy independence” is mad thrashing around to avoid the obvious.
According to a new IEA report (see Reuters story), the United States is on track to become the world’s highest volume oil producer by 2020, and even become a net oil exporter by 2030. This is the latest of what has been a regular series of presentations recently of rocketing past wishful thinking and deep into delusions.
There are people analyzing the problems and assumptions in this, a fairly involved task. So I’ll pass that on in analysis from Gail Tverberg for you explaining the issues, or another piece in the Houston Chronicle . After that, a new installment of James Howard Kunstler’s blog addresses basic issues that can’t be overlooked and ignored in favor of wishful thinking and simply ignoring the fairly complex problems involved. There are all kinds of problems and huge presumptions that don’t fit with reality.
We’ve had an awful trend of this kind of thing becoming more frequent over the last few years. There are recurring themes, such as the accounting trick of fudging numbers by counting any and all kinds of liquid fuels as “oil production”.
There’s the practice of including bitumen from tar sands and kerogen from shale formations, substances that are not petroleum and have their own costs and complications, under “unconventional oil”.
There’s the problem of ignoring peaking and diminishing returns depletion of existing wells and fields.
There’s everything that falls into the domain of false happy hype talking about “new discoveries” and “new technologies”, that ignores facts about supposed “new discoveries” that aren’t new, but are very expensive to use, and have been ignored until the price of oil rose so high that these became possibly not a money losing proposition. Throw in the element of cost of the “new technologies”, and you get a more realistic picture.
A piece by Michael Klare notes some of the problems about the IEA report and the excited chatter about it, and adds the point that it drops a bit of a major bombshell regarding what projected use of fossil fuels will be bringing in even more drastic and catastrophic changes to the Earth.
There’s some twist of irony in the latest wishful thinking and fudged accounting of the notion of the United States would once again become something it once was, decades ago, the world’s highest volume oil producing nation.
Over the last few years, the US has still been the third highest in production rates, after Russia and Saudi Arabia. (I wonder how many people have been aware that Russia has been topping the list, not the Saudis.) With our massive overconsumption of petroleum, even while being the world’s third highest volume petroleum producer, we’ve had to import most of what we use, while we’ve been in a routine of steadily devouring somewhere close to a quarter of the world’s daily output of crude oil.
Ignoring all the tricks of counting any liquid fuels as “oil production”, and all the wishful thinking hype and loose definitions of “unconventional oil”, even the practice of importing is getting into trouble, as other parts of the world massively increase their own consumption, and the world starts to hit limits. The rate of crude oil extraction on a worldwide scale has been bouncing around a bumpy plateau of around 72 to 75 million barrels per day, hitting the limits, since around 2004-2005. This is a sign that we are probably in the zone of all time world peak.
For anyone in the United States in a range of age from the earliest members of the post World War II Boomer generation to today’s children, the postwar epic project of outward expansion of suburbia might seem like the “normal” condition. Anything you see, hear, and read in virtually any kind of economic news reports, for decades of recent history right up to the present, seems to regard this as the normal state of things, with the number of “new housing starts” regarded as a prime economic indicator.
For most Americans who have only lived since 1950 or so, suburbia is regarded as a normal living arrangement. It’s the way of arranging things they know. Americans living in this same era have only known living in the Oil Age, with a general assumption of petroleum being both limitless and cheap.
People who have only known a society of cities surrounded by ring after ring of suburban development think that this arrangement of things is normal and natural, maybe even the only sensible and desireable way of things. This kind of notion hangs on, whether from determined denial, or plain inertia, despite all the problems of suburbia that are evident quite apart from the issue of petroleum problems, and the complete dependence of suburban zones on available and cheap petroleum to function and continue.
People who have only lived in the Oil Age of assumptions of virtually limitless and cheap petroleum, and also live in a segment of civilization that completely revolves around that, can get themselves stuck in the illusion that all of that is a permanent state of affairs.
People are thinking of things as “normal” that, in reality, are momentary blips of anomaly in human history. This is really binding us up severely.
At this stage, it should be apparent that the decades long project of American suburban sprawl expansion is done, over, finished. We had clues about the problems inherent in the project of perpetual outward suburban expansion, and the abandonment of our cities and increasing overconsumption of petroleum it brought, in the decade of the seventies, after the US oil production peak of 1970 and the ensuing problems. We had enough clues to call a halt to outward suburban sprawl decades ago. It doesn’t look like enough people got the hint.
Even now, with all the indications of what a severe problem we have in the combination of diminishing returns in petroleum and our massive overconsumption, people are not facing the need to reverse the project of suburban expansion, and compact the distances involved in the activities of life and business, in the places where we live and work, and relocalize.
Even with the reality of the petroleum situation, and the repercussions of the real estate bubble and train wreck of banking and finance, people are still flailing around trying anything possible to somehow sustain the unsustainable.
The extra twist to the problem we have is that the project of petroleum fueled and petroleum dependent suburban expansion didn’t only squander the deposits of petroleum the United States found itself with, it squandered the wealth and resources in general of post World War II America, poured into a way of arranging places and doing things that turned out to have a problematic future.
We’re way overdue for reconsidering our arrangements of a lot of things, including our vast areas of petroleum fueled and petroleum dependent suburban sprawl, and the abandoned cities it left behind. We should be focusing attention, energy, and resources on rebuilding the hearts of our cities that were abandoned to decay decades ago to pursue the suburban project.
I happened across a program on CNN where one of the CNN talking head regulars was sitting down with Bill Gates for an extended interview. I sat back to listen, and found myself bailing out only minutes later. It could be summarized as Gates telling an audience that newer better greater digital wonder technology and connection of all the devices via the internet will revolutionize education, for one thing, along with this, that, and the other of virtually any human activity. All of these miracles of wonder, including “economic development and growth of GDP”, will, according to Gates, be solved and made wonderful by innovation. Innovation of what, exactly, doesn’t come up.
The Gates story strikes me as a perfect example of somebody’s thinking revolving completely around being stuck in a particular context of familiar territory to them. It was a classic case of the old adage; if the tool you have at hand is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
We’ve got loads of issues revolving around what other people have described as “the psychology of previous investment”, or an “outside context problem”. The psychology of previous investment is kind of self explaining (e.g., you’ve put everything into your collection of hammers, so everything must be a nail).
The “outside context problem” is a bit more ambiguous as a term. This refers to a condition where something is so far outside the context of what people regard as normal and routine and established, as they know things in their daily lives, that it’s almost (or is) incomprehensible, and talking about it to them baffles them, or maybe they think it’s a joke, or they might even think it’s some utterly bizarre loony babbling. They just can’t get their heads around it, anyway.
At some point, considering the broad public nature of the matters at hand here, the course of discussion inevitably has to lead into questions and issues of government, finance and taxation. Again this leads us to ideas in people’s minds of “normal”, regarded as normal only by virtue of the fact that this is all they’ve known.
In this case, any American younger than around 75 years old or so has no living memory of a time when the United States military was not operating on a worldwide operations basis, and was simply a military force, in its own country, for the purpose of defending the country from outside hostile forces.
For 67 years now since the end of World War II, the United States has been in a permanent state of worldwide military operations trying to cover the globe with military installations, people, and equipment. How many trillions of dollars have gone into this, beyond the basic function of a military force to maintain a defense of the nation? Where could we be now with all that money?
There’s a huge amount of work we need to do to change and rearrange a great many things. Exactly how the costs of all this will be paid is a good question.
Many of us don’t seem to be getting a grasp on the understanding that infinite “economic growth” is just not possible on a finite planet. The games of banking and finance have been trying to avoid that reality, as a variety of tricks and maneuvers and illusions and outright accounting fraud have played out. We have lots of evidence of the results. The reality is essentially as Richard Heinberg pointed out:
Indeed, economic growth has been waving a long, slow goodbye since 1980: in the past three decades, total debt in the US has expanded at three times the rate of GDP growth. We’ve been hocking our grandkids’ future for a little more spending money today. In recent years, the amount of GDP growth we’ve gotten per dollar in new debt has declined. Whether the debt-for-growth swap ever made sense, the fact is it’s succumbing to the law of diminishing returns.
We could actually regard this state of affairs as something going back further than Heinberg’s marker of 1980. It doesn’t take much awareness of recent American history to notice that, really, we could point back in time at changes in the wide picture of the American economy over the decade of the seventies. Things started getting a bit sour and deteriorating through that decade, and it’s not mere random coincidence that the peak rate of US oil extraction came around 1970-1971 and started into diminishing return decline around 1972.
It’s kind of a parenthetical side note that in the warped world of Fox News and AM radio talk alternate reality, Jimmy Carter is frequently, almost incessantly, condemned as “the worst president ever!”, with the honking in question referring to the petroleum and economic problems of the time he was in office in the late seventies, while the people doing this completely ignore the circumstances during the administrations of Nixon and Ford.
But, then, that’s a pretty significant part of our current problems of failure to get a public concensus about circumstances, based in a clear solid grasp of reality as it actually is. Spending every day paying attention to the AM radio noise and Fox News makes people crazy.
As I write, we’re just past the Thanksgiving Day holiday here in the United States. This holiday is a natural day for reflection, but it has a way of prompting reflection in terms of the way many people regard the day. Like many things have become, that isn’t always what it ought to be. For a lot of Americans, here in early 21st century America, the day of thanksgiving doesn’t include much in the way of genuine thanks and gratitude and appreciation of good fortune, and is something more like a binge of gluttony and televised sports contests. Maybe throw in some petty family dysfunction as an extra layer of perversity.
Far too often it seems to be a demonstration of how badly people can miss having any genuine perspective about their own lives and the lives of many of their fellow human beings and how fortunate their own lives may have been.
Charles Hugh Smith telling us about his Thanksgiving day is a nice story about doing this day right.
A few days ago I came across a piece with a bit of a sarcastic twist about Thanksgiving Day here in America that kind of puts some things in perspective. The sarcasm is directed pretty directly at all the kind of squawking morons who have been spending the last few years telling people that having Barack Obama as President of the United States is turning the nation into some Stalinist Soviet Union communist wasteland. What it shows is a collection of examples of just how much there is available here in this country.
It reminded me of something that has often struck me as I walk around examples of what is a typical grocery American grocery store these days, the kind of big mega-store places that sell food and groceries and add a large amount of other things for sale. These are the kinds of retail establishments that sell a huge assortment of food and other grocery items, including having their own meat and seafood counters, in house deli, and in house bakery, but can probably sell you anything from patio furniture to plants to televisions.
Walking around a store like that, I’m struck by the profound sense of just how fortunate I am to live in this time and place to have all this available, and how overwhelming it might be to billions of people from elsewhere around the planet to walk through such a place. I can imagine people so overwhelmed that they would almost fall to their knees in awe and astonishment by the sights around them, in tears of joy at the sheer wonder of the wealth around them. I’ve thought about this often as I walk around gathering what I need, and I’ll look at people around me in the store and wonder how many of them are oblivious to all this, taking it all for granted.
That loops us right back around again to what people regard as normal, doesn’t it?
Looking around and trying to generally gauge attitudes, it seems apparent that an awful lot of people just take all that as a given, just a natural state of society: you go to the local mega grocery mart and all the world is laid before you. It’s not too judgemental to think that lots of people are just, in a word, spoiled. Spare a thought for a different twist to this picture, too. How many people in 2012 America might go into these places and can’t afford much of what’s on offer?
There’s still another element to those megagrocery emporiums, too, the flip downside of all the amazing stuff laid out for us. This is the question of how much of it is malnourishing and even poisonous garbage?
We need to be thinking about the future of food. What we eat, and where it comes from. We have some serious problems coming with notions of where we grow our food and how it’s grown, and how we get it to where it’s needed. Given the petroleum situation, we have coming big problems with the practices that James Kunstler likes to describe as “the thousand mile Caesar salad”, which just refers to the way it has become normal to grow food in places hundreds or thousands of miles from where it’s eaten.
It amazes me to see how little people seem to think about this in terms of how this entire system of food production and distribution depends on available and cheap petroleum fuels.
A couple of days ago I sat waiting and CNN was on a television droning away in late morning programming that was far less informative than it was mind numbing. Among the items that came up was the subject of the Earth’s changing climate, and their idea of an informative story was a segment that lasted somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes, where the CNN talking head on duty did a remote chat with Bill Nye the Science Guy as guest authority. The CNN host introduced the segment mentioning in passing that there was a big international conference in Doha, Qatar, for purposes of drafting a new international treaty to deal with this matter.
The introduction of the story was, in itself, something of a general indicator of things as they are now. The CNN host mentioned this conference, and the one particular point of the introduction that was just amazingly outrageous was when they said something like “you probably haven’t heard anything about this conference and known it was happening”, and delivered this statement with a kind of air of ironic bemusement about the idea that it’s being almost completely ignored and generally the American public is completely unaware of it.
Let that thought really soak in for a minute. The TV talking head personality was commenting about how unaware the general public is about the fact that this conference was happening, as she sat there in her role of, supposedly, reporting important news, on a full time 24 hour a day cable television news network that could be telling people all about this event regularly and in detail, but wasn’t.
Now, let’s be clear, it’s not like this kind of thing is some great new surprising revelation, I’m not just not suddenly realizing how much of what’s presented as “news” now is empty showbiz. Still, this scene was stunning, it really took the levels of vacuous stupidity down to some new depth. I sat there in this awful weird combination of simultaneously being not surprised at all and being completely astounded by the sheer plain stupidity of the moment. I desperately wished for a sudden moment of plain honest candor where the CNN humanoid would look in the camera lens with the standard mode plastic vacuous TV talking head grin, as if everything they say just fills them with joyful amusement, and say “isn’t it just amazing how useless we are?”. It was a perfect moment to cue up Lewis Black ranting “are you fucking kidding me?!“.
It really was a perfect moment of revelation and display of how most of what passes for news, replacing the profession of journalism, has become plastic entertainment, incompetent entertainment figures who can’t be bothered presenting useless superficial noise and pretending to be informing an audience who mostly can’t be bothered and sit in front of a television sharing the pretense that they’re being informed about the world.
Out of curiosity, I checked, just now, the CNN website main page, and looking over the entire page I find nothing, nothing, about the climate conference in Qatar, unless you count a link to video of Bill Nye the Science Guy, the piece I just mentioned. This is found buried under the “This Just In” portion of the page well down the page, along with stories like “Sex toy giveaway heats up Boston“, “Hillbillies go wild in new TV show“, and “LZ: Rihanna may be making bad choice“.
There’s quite a bit to be gathered from this for people who actually care about something, bother to pay attention, and actually think.
In the meantime, turning to somewhere where you can actually find something like actual journalism, in the UK, The Guardian newspaper reports something about the climate conference in Qatar, and the absolutely astonishing headline “US claims ‘enormous’ efforts to cut carbon emissions“. My jaw drops.
File this as just one item of an endless parade of people putting on an empty, pointless, two dimensional show of pretending to do something.
In a bit of online reading, from the blog Nature Bats Last, I find something that really summarizes neatly a great deal of what I’m thinking and how I feel about a large collection of matters, from the author of that online piece, a guy called John Duffy:
My feeling as I sit here is that I shouldn’t have to be sitting here. What I’m writing shouldn’t need to be written, because it’s already been written. In fact, rather than writing this, I’d like to be able to look everyone in the eye, and say, “cut the shit.”
“Cut the shit”, indeed.
The recurring theme of the time is the intertwined themes of problems in the areas of energy, finance, and climate. The impact of the storm named Sandy brings all of those things up front in more immediate form, as if they were not staring us in the face already. Still, even now, people prefer to look away and pretend they are not there, or worse, pretend to address them while just making the evasions and pretense even worse.
In a blog note not long ago Charles Hugh Smith wrote about one evasion, the pervasive attitude that says let’s pretend financialization hasn’t killed the economy. In there, he quotes something interesting from a Wikipedia entry on the subject of “financialization”, which notes, “Financial leverage overrides capital (equity) and financial markets dominate traditional industrial economy and agricultural economics.” .
That really hits the nail square on the head.
So much of our set of problems and challenges revolves around a basic set of needs: getting the work done that needs to be done, and people being paid for their work.
It amazes me to see how badly the phenomenon of what some people have described as “the financialization of everything” has derailed getting good needed work done and getting people paid for good work. Instead, we have all the financialization games of recent times, perhaps the last three decades or so (the actual time period is something for discussion), that have, more and more, sucked the life out of these concepts and activities, while the people playing the financial games pretend it’s all “creating wealth”. I suppose it seems to, for some people, doing tricks to magically turn money into more money, for essentially nothing.
Add in the determination to avoid realizing that we are well along the way into the diminishing returns arc of depletion of the windfall of ancient underground hydrocarbon deposits of petroleum, natural gas, and the various other forms, and the Earth prodding us insistently with hints about what is happening to it via the climate, and we have some problems.
And here we are. Where “here” is hangs around as a question that is proving to be not so simple, made much more complex by all the ways people are avoiding it and obfuscating. We have a large set of circumstances that are telling us that we need to make major changes and we have a lot of work to do to get to a different kind of place, where things can function and be sustained. Where we are, where we need to go, and how we get from here to there is the subject of our time.
As we near the end of a year and look at the new year coming, it’s about time to clear the fog and get on with this.