[permaculture] Ten unfortunate assumptions of energy addicts

Keith Johnson keithdj at mindspring.com
Fri Oct 24 14:15:06 EDT 2008

Shattering Myths - Opportunity Abounds?

Ten unfortunate assumptions of energy addicts
Written by Jan Lundberg

Our collective problem as we see the world sputter out of control for 
the worse (before it gets better) is largely that so many loud mouths 
claim to know what IS happening here. Honest and wise assessments of 
what all is really going on are hard to come by, partly because the 
corporate media suppress independent voices who may have the background 
and objectivity to offer clarity.

There are several major assumptions blinding most of those who try, 
within the confines of the dominant culture and “The System,” to grasp 
trends and glimpse the future:

1) Oil supplies will diminish gradually now that peak extraction has 
2) Alternative fuels and renewable energy can replace our petroleum 
3) The petroleum infrastructure can last or become renewable-energy based.
4) Technology is the equivalent of energy, and energy is energy (all the 
5) Today’s population of consumers has something to fall back on if and 
when petroleum-grown/distributed food and petroleum-pumped water disappear.
6) Government and scientists can see us through this challenge and save us.
7) “The market” and “entrepreneurial innovation” offer salvation for our 
unraveling social fabric and our destruction of the ecosystem.
8) Climate change will be gradual and be reflected accurately by 
numerical averages.
9) The U.S. population can cope with anything and is at an advantage 
over other countries especially as scarcity and adversity mount.
10) The “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan are winnable or can be put behind 
us with elections, and that the waste of lives and wealth on these wars 
can be absorbed.

Baby, here are the debunking facts on the above, in order:

1. The oil industry and the oil market are, like the global corporate 
economy, not set up for contraction. Enough of a shortage will sink the 
whole ship.

2. Petroleum has no substitute, neither for all its uses nor for the 
cheapness of the bygone days of rising supply. “Unlimited” petroleum 
created the growth and abundance we’ve known. The main alternatives are 
just for electricity and have far lower energy yield than the easily 
extracted, cheap petroleum of yore.

3. The petroleum infrastructure is hard-wired and decaying rapidly. A 
replacement-alternative needed to be created decades ago to avoid 
industrial and economic collapse.

4. Energy comes at a physical cost (entropy) and has been exploited 
according to convenience at hand. Continuing to wish for a free lunch to 
power our endless consumption may yield gee-wizz technologies, but there 
are too many weak links in the supply chain (metals, petroleum, 
uranium). “Externalities” such as environmental degradation come home to 
roost with, for example, the cancer epidemic.

5. People are basically eating petroleum as part of modern agriculture’s 
industrialization and scale dedicated only to profit. Ten units of 
fossil energy are needed today to create one unit of food-calorie 
energy, and that does not include transportation or food preparation. 
The average piece of food in the U.S. has to travel 1,500 miles from its 
point of origin.

6. Government is not really in control of the gigantic, complex systems 
it has unleashed for its Big Business constituency. Corruption, 
incompetence and ignorance prevail, and reflect the dominant culture of 
materialism and private wealth – at odds with any spirit of 
citizen-cooperation for the public good. Katrina and Rita were only 
ameliorated by individual and grassroots volunteerism.

7. Making more money and relying on ever-advancing technology is the 
basis of not only green consumerism but the promise of a “new economy” 
that is really just more of the same: a disconnect with ecology.

8. Global warming is already out of control, as positive feedback loops 
have kicked in. The tipping points, accompanied by mass extinction 
already underway, are inescapable and are characterized over geological 
time by sudden, total flips to new states not seen on Earth perhaps for 
the last 55 million years. It has always been true that Mother Nature 
knows no restraint.

9. The average U.S. citizen has become far softer than our tough 
forebears who worked the land and could create and repair anything their 
lives depended upon. Crucial skills have been lost along with community. 
Most other countries have been called impoverished, but even after being 
ravaged by corporate and government manipulation, they remain –- 
compared to Northern Americans -- close to the land, and their peoples 
retain family cohesion.

10. The cost of the Iraq War alone has approached half a trillion 
dollars and is projected to cost over three trillion in the long run. 
Far more significant is the death and destruction that, although tragic 
and incalculable already, will persist for generations. The use of 
depleted uranium amounts to a nuclear war that the average U.S. citizen 
knows nothing about, as if one is not affected on this side of the world.

Read the rest here. 

Keith Johnson
"Be fruitful and mulch apply."
Permaculture Activist Magazine
PO Box 5516, Bloomington, IN 47407
(812) 335-0383
- Bloomington Permaculture Growers Cooperative http://bloomingtongrowers.locallygrown.net/
- Renaissance Farm and Permaculture Center http://bloomingtongrowers.locallygrown.net/growers/show/212
- http://www.PermacultureTradingPost.com
- Switch to Solar Power the Easy Way http://www.jointhesolution.com/KeithJ-SunPower http://www.PowUr.com/KeithJ-SunPower
- Blog: http://kjpermaculture.blogspot.com/
- Patterns for Abundance Design & Consulting http://www.permacultureactivist.net/design/Designconsult.html
- Association for Regenerative Culture http://www.ARCulture.org
- APPLE (Alliance for Post-Petroleum Local Economics) It's a small world after oil. http://www.relocalize.net/groups/applebloomington
- Bloomington Permaculture Guild http://my.calendars.net/bloomingtonpccal/

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