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Praying for (Black) Rain

It’s obviously instinctual, because plenty of civilizations did it when they ran out of options. Well, now we are out of options, and people are praying for lower gas prices. I’m glad to finally be able to post something that can be in both the Religion category, and the Energy Transition.

Americans are on their knees about gas prices. (Video) Now if only they could get on their feet and out of their cars!

This would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. But not to worry. God isn’t going to send us black rain (referring to the color of crude, not the color of the supplicants in the video). But we can come up with the substitutes for transportation fuel ourselves. We should be cheering the high fuel prices, which will bring research and development, which will bring down prices. Here are a few promising technologies in no particular order: Algae-produced biodiesel from coal power plants, lithium-battery powered cars, cellulosic ethanol, new nuclear, wind and solar plants to power all the new electric cars we will be driving.

What’s not a solution is corn ethanol. Corn is heavily based on petroleum fertilizer, it’s already consuming huge tracts of land into industrial monoculture, sucking up precious groundwater, and poisoning the Gulf of Mexico. Growing corn as a fuel crop is worse than doing nothing. Its energy balance is barely greater than 1:1, and its externalities are devastating. Shame on GM for their "Live Green, Go Yellow" campaign. You can’t even buy E85 in more than a few states, and gas mileage drops 20%. It’s a blatant PR move to attempt to prolong SUV sales to the bitter end. One more corporate boondoggle to add to the list.


Comments (3 comments)

David Mathews / April 30th, 2006, 4:54 pm / #1

Hello BlackSun,

Overall I agree with the post. My only point of contention is against the proposed solutions:

“Here are a few promising technologies in no particular order: Algae-produced biodiesel from coal power plants, lithium-battery powered cars, cellulosic ethanol, new nuclear, wind and solar plants to power all the new electric cars we will be driving.”

All of the above options will only delay the end of the energy-intensive modern technological civilization. A day will come when humans will run out of options and have no accept the reality that our lifestyle is over.

Struggling to preserve a failed system will only prolong the suffering. It is best for humans to end the war against nature by surrendering. Nature has endured for billions of years, shouldn’t we recognize that this level of success might indicate that nature knows more about survival than humankind?

Though we are all emotionally attached to the tools, toys and trinkets provided by technology, all these things are passing away. These things appear important and even vital, but our behavior indicates otherwise: Don’t we throw all these things away? Yes, indeed we do.

It is time for Americans, Westerners and China & India to make a substantial sacrifice of our own personal wealth and luxurious lifestyles. If we choose against making a sacrifice, nature will extract these from us using the most painful and deliberate means possible.

BlackSun / April 30th, 2006, 5:14 pm / #2

“make a substantial sacrifice of our own personal wealth and luxurious lifestyles”

Never going to happen.

morgaine / April 30th, 2006, 6:38 pm / #3

David,

Yes its true that western society is permeated with a mentality which in its blind pursuit of ‘progress’ has failed to take adequate measure to properly maintain the delicate balance of life that IS this planet. This mentality reflects a general undervaluing of all things ‘feminine’ (and I mean that archtypally as well as literally).. and as such has done tremendous and PERHAPS irrevocable harm to the body which all humans depend upon..the body which is our home.. mother earth. We are undeniably paying a huge price.

Whether it is OVER as you seem so certain is altogether your own conjecture…It is certainly very possible that you may be correct .. but there is also ample reason /evidence to hold hope for a future in which humanity not only survives but thrives.
.
Most important for that potential outcome is this: your absolute sense of doom is a mindset which can only create its own self fulfilling prophecy.Without hope ( no matter how slim) people give up. Any chance.. no matter how remote that we may have as a species to see our way to a sustainable world depends upon a willingness to fight this out, to maintain a hopeful outlook,not a polyannish one… but neither one of doom….The average persons logical response to this is to say ..fuck it, might as well go out in high style( ie consume consume consume…why not?).In order for us to harness the uniquely human capacity to create novel solutions to unthinkably difficult situations…we have got to have the courage to fight even in the face of perhaps insurmounatble obstacles. Its the ONLY way.

The truth of the matter is..no one knows what the outcome will be..not even you. Unless you are omniscient, the best you can do is make an educated prediction. It seems as though you are more invested in being right..than in whether humanity actually makes it. As I see it, if you are right … you have not only done no good by your stance.. you have actually contributed to humanities demise by giving up. Mindsets matter…they are the underpinnings for action… they inform our behaviors and choices.. It was the mindset of the past which helped create the mess we are now in. Be careful how you THINK… and the nuances of these thoughts implications and reverberations.

We need a couragous, honest and hopeful vision , while taking responsibilty for our miscalculations and failures for us to have a chance as a species. Yes,If we are to have a chance WE must make changes today ,( and both the market and the harshness of natures wake up call will rally people to realize they are a part of the problem and solution in a way that nothing has until now) More and more of us are indeed rallying .. The game isn’t over, no matter how bad it looks.

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