Thursday, August 5, 2010

OPINION: Paying The Piper

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

I remember, for all of my life, listening to the sounds of “the Piper.” I was told that life in the future would be glorious: unlimited, affordable energy to help us do all of the work that we had to do; plentiful, durable plastics that could be molded into anything we could imagine; cars that could float and auto-pilot us to any place we wished; sleek, stylish cities of glass; and appliances, oh, the futuristic appliances that would fix our food at the touch of a button.
I’m old enough to remember all of those strange Westinghouse and Maytag ads for refrigerators, dishwashers and toasters that were actually being fondled by their new, meticulously bouffanted owners.
Black or white cotton gloves (depending on the season) were an added bit of kinkiness. Auto ads followed the same quirky format. The Monsanto House of the Future which premiered at Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 1957 was another concept that gave me pause. I wanted to believe, but some feeling in the pit of my stomach was screaming “Danger!”
Well, the joyride is over. The days of cheap energy are no more. We’re all fumbling in our collective pockets to find the cash to pay the Piper. He won’t take credit and he certainly will not accept credit swap derivatives. The thriving economy and the huge population that cheap oil supported are soon to end.
Plastics and fertilizer, which are made from oil, will soon be relics of the past. Not that I’m that fond of chemical fertilizers; composted coffee grounds, banana peals, horse manure and weeds seem to make suitable food for plants, especially in our top-soilless community. And you already know how I’m beginning to feel about disposable plastics.
It’s one thing for an individual person to face the consequences of their actions. It’s quite another thing for a society to face the fact that our collective amnesia has brought us to the brink of destruction.
Just in the span of my lifetime, we have managed to ravenously consume well over half of the oil that the Earth has made available to us through billions of years of effort. No thought of the future; just drill, consume, enjoy, forget, then drill some more. No need to worry about the needs of future generations.
For those of you who are willing to find out more, I recommend the documentary by Chris Smith, Collapse. It features Michael Ruppert talking about the peak-oil pickle that we’re in. At one point, he brings up the five stages of grief (over our vanishing oil supply): denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Notice the first two stages that a lot of people now-a-days seem to be stuck in. They seem to think that peak-oil along with the resulting climate-change are all conspiracy theories designed by us eco-nuts. Oh, well. Guess I’ll be hearing from some of them soon.
There are so many consequences that we are facing now or will in the near future. One of them is the effect of all of those millions of gallons of dispersant that was mixed with the oil in the Gulf to make it “go away”. Was that really such a good idea? The oil, now in the form of billions of tiny droplets, along with all of that neurotoxin, Corexit are headed into the Atlantic. “Bon appetite” England!
Wouldn’t it be really great if we could just sit down and honestly discuss the consequences of our intended actions before hand? I’m talking about consequences to individual humans and the Earth, not the greedy, profit margin, what the market will bear, our corporate image consequences.
For example, what will the long-range effects to the Earth be, of using geothermal energy. Should we not stop to think about the consequences of these actions before running headlong into another orgy of “business as usual”?
For those of you who want to find out more about the consequences of the water-crisis that we’re up against, might I recommend our bi-weekly Water Meeting at the Magdalena Public Library. The next meeting will be Wednesday, August 11 at 7:00 pm. The featured speaker will be Jack Loeffler, from the Chautauqua group, presenting: Thinking Like a Watershed.
We will explore the watersheds of the arid west and consider them as being a common for the benefit of all. In a recent e-mail he said to me “I’m ardently opposed to turning watersheds and habitat into money.”
I’m looking forward to this one! This program is being funded by the New Mexico Humanities Council and the Friends of the Library.

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