Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Be Prepared

On the ferry coming in..3/00

I have been asked recently concerning the doomy and gloomy prospects for our future and my tack on it, “Why so extreme Mike?” While people seem to acknowledge that we have been living excessively, as a rule they think the most we will notice, in the inevitable depletion of oil, will be a gradual reduction in our standard of living with time to adjust. “Sure, riding in cars will be more of a luxury activity, but I will still be able to get to work; public transportation will pick up the slack.” I only hope it turns out that way.

I recently went to the Mission district and spoke with a pawnshop owner, a large bearded backwoods looking fellow. I was shopping for a good knife and I thought for sure this man knew a thing or two about survival, so I brought up Peak Oil. As I conjured up the anarchistic scenarios, he laughed in that ‘I’ve-heard-it-all-before’ way, and said, “Look, when it becomes too expensive to use oil we’ll switch to something else; we could go solar anytime we want, and as for cars, we’ll just switch to hydrogen.” My hopes for getting good advice from Grizzly Adams were dashed.

We cannot go solar anytime we want, and hydrogen comes from natural gas (like petroleum, a limited supply) or by electrolysis, an electrical process (where does the electricity come from?) Transiting into any alternative mode of energy production is going to take time and effort with binoculars on the long-term. The current powers-that-be are clearly not interested in the long term. As Jerome a Paris points out today, if there is little incentive to invest in the basic maintenance of the infrastructure that we depend on so heavily, is there going to be any momentum toward such visionary projects as the solarizing or wind-turbining of America?

I would love nothing more that to be on a beach in Hawaii twenty years from now with my friends all laughing at me. “Hey Mike,” they will say, “Why don’t you go catch me a fish with your homemade lure?” “Oh, and while you’re at it, see if there is a tasty grub under that log over there.” There will be laughs and drinks all around (on me, I promise) as they recall my days of survivalistic paranoia. In that day-dreamy future, the fact that I am in Hawaii implies that the aviation industry still exists and is usable by the common person. By extension, other fuel dependant industries must still exist. That I have time to be leisurely implies that I have a job and I have saved a little money to blow extravagantly. I could live with that alternative future.

What I am about these days is for being prepared. If we are prepared for the worst, and it turns out that we were extreme in our predictions, then we will take our ribbing at some future beach party. However, should the fan be hit by that dark and smelly substance, we will be ready, calm and wearing a raincoat.

[Soon to come: Note to my fellow nursing students and To stash or not to stash]

(photos courtesy of and


Blogger macmadman said...

Mike you crack me up. In the last week of the semester, while the rest of us are stressing, and studying you're bantering with Grizzley Adams over what sort of knife might be most capable of splitting firewood, gutting a deer, and popping the top off your dehydrated green beans.

5/22/2005 9:38 PM  

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