┐What, me worry?
Now we've got to deal with some of the ten thousand excuses for why there will be no problem. It is easy to come up with a crazy idea that such and such will solve it all and "you can't prove me wrong so that makes me right". The craziest one I think I've ever heard was going to Jupiter to get some kind of heavy helium gas and bringing it back to Earth. Nobody can prove that humankind will never get to Jupiter, never find that gas, never find it useful, never be able to bring it back in industrial quantities: in fact, all that might turn out to be so someday. It's just that I hate to be betting the whole ball of wax on some crackpot idea that to anybody with common sense looks mighty slim on the working out in time. Just because we can see somebody's fantasy idea of a Millennium Falcon on the big screen doesn't mean that anything imaginable is going to solve this running short of dinosaur blood.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the wishful thinking is directed toward keeping everything the same, no matter how foolish in terms of global energy it may be. If what you put in a car is green instead of brown, doesn't make you any sicker, and looks like it can be afforded by just enough people to keep a general stink from rising at the moment, then it's a go. Nothing really has to change. Nobody's house is suddenly worth a lot less because they now have to take a bus or a bicycle; no businesses have to shut down because what they make sells only because people have lots to throw around; banks don't go broke because the economy stops growing and it no longer makes sense to pay interest on money. That's what they're most scared of, the stopping of growth, not being able to make sense out of all those pieces of paper which say Jack owes Jill more tomorrow than today even though Jill is just sitting back. They are scared you-know-whatless of having the whole house of cards fall down.
┐Anybody got a spare Texas or two?
One of the all time favorite solutions is alcohol, and although it's not now at the top of the wishful thinking list it will undoubtedly come back around. There are several ways to come up with alcohol. There is sugar cane, which grows widely in Brazil with just a bit in Florida. But the main way in the United States is to grow corn, and make alcohol out of the grains, which is where the corn plant concentrates its effort, where it mostly puts what it can make out of sunlight, water, and plant food. The amount of alcohol that can be gotten from an acre of good land is about 300 gallons. (Question: how did the acre get its name? answer ) The annual rate of gasoline exhaustion as of July, 2001 was 8.617 million barrels of gasoline a day, a 1.72% increase over 2000. There's 42 gallons in a barrel. But it takes 275 gallons of alcohol to give the same combustion energy as 174 gallons of gasoline. Texas is 167,689,600 acres in size. Now then, how many fields the size of Texas would we have to plant and harvest to get enough alcohol to keep the gasoline guzzling cars happy for a year? Can you figure out the answer before you click to get it?
That's only partly the right answer. It's a lot more than that because you have to plant, cultivate, spray, harvest, and dry the crop, then haul that corn to the processing center and then process it. Now unless you're going to have fourteen zillion slaves who don't eat out there doing it by hand, then is going to take for the most part the same kind of energy used to make the cars go around. It goes back to the dude grubbing dinosaur blood out with a spoon; if he doesn't come up with more than it takes to keep him going, it's a chump idea.
One expert who is a Cornell University Professor, David Pimentel, states that when you add it all up it takes more energy to make a gallon of alcohol than you get in a gallon. Other people who are most likely trying to fill their rice bowl from involvement with the alcohol industry paint a possibly rosier picture, but it is one of those deals that conveniently forget to include the human contribution, and the energy to build the machinery and processing plants, as well as depending upon great improvements coming down the line and saving the day like growing the same amount of corn with a lot less plant food and energy, 1/5 the nitrogen, 1/10 the phosphorous, 1/5 the potash-potassium, 1/4 as much fuel. Even if it were possible for such improvements in agriculture to be made in limited areas, we're still stuck with needing all those Texas size fields, before taking into consideration the energy required for the task. And, we're not taking into account the fact that the soil on farms is often being lost from being farmed badly, and being stupidly covered with asphalt or houses.
"¡Can't prove us Wrong so we're Right!"
One surprising example of puffing it up is the United States Department of Energy, where if it looks like the picture isn't going to work out as they want it to then they just decide that there's more dinosaur blood underground than anybody else in the world says. Can't prove that it's not so because the last drop hasn't been gotten out yet. We might ask ¿why would the government try to fool us, why wouldn't it be truthful? We've got to remember what they're so scared you-know-whatless of, and that it affects their way of seeing the world; it prevents them from seeing anything that contradicts what they must believe in. They cannot face the possibility of the whole economic system breaking down simply because it can no longer grow, because the planet Earth does not grow larger and larger like the amounts of interest owed on debts. The economy has been growing since man fell in love with pretty-pretty gold and it is the only way of living that has ever been known. It's what lets 'em say to the poor man, "hang in there, work a little harder, and better times will come to you cause the economy is growing, and your share will come to you, someday." It is what lets them believe that somehow their driving around in a guzzler has absolutely nothing to do with someone else starving for food, education, and life opportunity, for they think money is the fairest of them all and if you've got it then you must deserve it, and if you don't got it then it's just "tough titty said the kitty". The worst time the economy took a nosedive and started shrinking instead of growing they called it the Great Depression —if they hadn't had the Second World War to jump into they might never have got out of it.
We have to wonder if they have even the foggiest idea of how to lead us into this different future when the only thing they know is to believe in the power of money. It says "In God We Trust" on the dollar bills, but what's going on looks to me like it really means "In Dollar We Trust". All one has to do is look at the buildings that people put the most effort into. A long time ago it was churches where people went to pray and sing hosannas to God; the big buildings of today like the twin World Trade Center towers in New York City, are for people sure more interested in moving money around than passing prayer books. That's understandable though, cause the results of everybody chasing after money are clearly before the eye in the zillion different things that one can buy, assuming that what we want the most out of life is all this choice of stuff and, according of course to the number of bills one's got to toss. The only thing is, they think it's just from using money when in truth the easy way of getting dinosaur blood that has been possible for so long, has been a very important part of it. And when the easy way changes to the hard way, it will be an entirely different world, which nobody yet knows how to do, not the realpolitikers, the number crunchers, nor the idealists, nobody but nobody.
Making water into gasoline
The idea that has everybody happy-faced because it paints the future as being the same as today, is hydrogen gas powered cars. But they're not necessarily going to use it to just burn like a regular car engine now does, they want to power electric cars with fuel cells. Hydrogen is not something you can get a hold of like calling turkeys with a turkey caller. Now, we have to make hydrogen out of water with electricity which of course itself takes energy to make, or from natural gas by a process called steam reforming.
When you use dinosaur blood to power a car it goes from the driller, to the refinery where the gasoline part is taken out, then to the gas station, to the gas tank, and finally to the engine. When you use electric generated hydrogen you have to first come up with a way to generate the electricity, naturally. It has to be a source that is not in some way connected with fuels that can already be used for transportation, or ¿what would the sense be? That means it cannot be either heating oil, which is really a special grade of diesel fuel, which is what the semis and tractors use, nor natural gas, which can be compressed and easily enough used in engines. It also has to be smarter than stopping the use of natural gas for the generation of electricity that is already going on, and instead using that gas to power vehicles. That is a tough one, for it would require a means of generating electricity even better than using natural gas, which is at the moment the favorite manner of adding new electric generation capacity. Which all in all could leave us stuck between soon choosing between either less electricity for the factories and the houses if we want to keep the same number of cars going, or less cars if we want the same amount of electricity. ¿Surely though, that can't be the case, because more and more is the way the world has worked for so long?
We're back again at the easy way against the hard way, which goes for natural gas as well as for dinosaur blood. So many things change when just one important part of the whole energy system begins to run out. It doesn't matter so much if the United States runs out of something as long as it can be bought somewhere else at an affordable cost and easily enough brought here. That is the case for dinosaur blood, which the Middle East can still supply at a pretty good clip if they choose to, shipping it in large tankers, but it is not the same case for natural gas. High pressure pipelines are the normal method to get it from one place to another, but it is harder the greater the distance, with a pipeline coming from another continent pretty much up there with a Millennium Falcon in everybody's garage. There is the idea of converting natural gas to liquids, which in the end depends upon lots of easy to get gas that isn't wanted for anything else. It is also possible to bring it as a compressed liquid (LNG) in a special tanker, and plans to expand the existing import capacity by 8 tcf per year have suddenly jumped out on the table, in order to make it possible to match the expected increase in use for normal electric power generation. This is an indirect admission that there will not be the capacity to nationally find the required natural gas through drilling and it is indication of a decline in energy supply when a more expensive alternative is chosen. Thus, the idea for hydrogen powered vehicles begins to collapse when any part of the electrical energy sector is endangered by resource exhaustion.
There are, as always, those who are willing to bet it all on nuclear reactors, even though they haven't even finished paying to decommission the first one built, let alone caring for the waste that will make the pyramids look like they were stacked up yesterday.
Many people have faith that the scientists will be able to solve anything whatsoever, that they'll always be there to rescue us from running off a cliff. If one really takes a look at the cities and the freeways around us, it looks like the world is made more for cars than for people. If an extraterrestrial came from outer space and looked at the United States, he would surely think that the cars were what the world was all about. It's hard to imagine the whole Earth being covered with cars like the US is in its sprawling cities to suburbs, and hard to imagine there being enough steel and dinosaur blood for everyone to be able to have a car. Yet, that's how every country wants to live because of television, and that's how we think we want to live because almost all our social imagery is directed toward convincing us that happiness comes from the purchase of something —even if it all leaves us with an outdoor world of only sidewalks that lead to someplace to spend money.
You can tell by the flaky ideas that come and go for keeping the cars going that's precisely where the catch is. Build a world where the guzzlers no longer rule and we've got a better chance. Try to build a world where everybody has a car, and we're pretending that the round Earth is swelling like a balloon that you never stop blowing up. Build a world where only the privileged nations have all the cars and we've got to have an army to keep the others in their place.
Build a Way of living across the planet that can be lived by everyone and there is no need for armies and all that they waste on their weapons and warring.
Mankind is not ready, though, to pursue a goal for the well being of the planet and all its peoples. The moneyed choose their leader to be someone who will protect their interests against those of the world as a whole; they do not care for wisdom. They will again send the young men off to war to maintain their own privilege of being able to have a guzzler and the convenient access to private property thus given. The battle will be fought until men lay exhausted, the Earth wounded, and until the supply of dinosaur blood declines anyway. The battle will be fought to finally give life to the many, even if that many must become less than we are now, rather than luxury to the few, and the Will shall be of the One Great Spirit that is within all and knows the entirety of suffering and yearning. Afterwards, men will look back and say "If only we had started earlier to build for the exhaustion of dinosaur blood, how much wiser it would have been and easier to do the building." The moneyed above all else will likely block the changes that are needed to create an intelligent world, because they so identify their selves with their possessions and wealth. That is the profound Ignorance of the consciousness that knows itself only as ego. They think they are powerful because they have a lot of money, and because people who don't have it piled high have to come up with a way to get their own in order to buy food and clothing, which usually means doing what Mr. Big Bucks says. They think they know the meaning of the universe with the observation that any number of bills plus one is indeed a greater number. They think they are powerful because they can destroy things with bombs and kill lots of people. But they have not the foggiest idea of what power really is. They live and move in the Ignorance and go round and round, battered and stumbling, like the blind being led by one who is blind.1
When man reaches toward the Divine within his self, and that Self in turn reaches toward man, when the yearning comes from the many and moves through one, that is Power.
Unless the word is quickly spread wide and well, history will probably repeat itself. The public will be led to believe that there is still plenty of dinosaur blood in the world, right up until the global peak hits us with a vengeance. This is what happened in the U.S. with Hubbert's prediction, which has its importance today in the fact that it demonstrates how most everyone can be believing that there is no problem whatsoever, and wind up being dead wrong.
1Mundaka Upanishad II. 50
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