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Waking In The Half World

By Peter Goodchild

28 January, 2012

Most estimates indicate that by 2030, more or less, annual global oil production will be about half of the peak rate. "Half" the oil with occur at the same time as "half" of everything else (water, metals, electricity, etc.) and the general collapse of both a functional economy (with debts already beyond comprehension) and honest government (if we consider, for example, how casually the US dumped its Constitution and replaced it with the Patriot Act). All of these events will be occurring as a synergistic tangle -- or, rather, an "anti-synergistic" tangle, centrifugal rather than centripetal. A little pocket calculator will tell you that, for most practical purposes, industrial civilization will be over by that same date of 2030.

I'm happy to drink my first cup of coffee at my usual very early hour, while perusing the Internet, but I usually don't consider that activity much more than a temporary pleasantry. If I step outside at dawn I can feel the Arctic wind blowing against my face. I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to get a chainsaw running as I get older, so that I can put several cords of firewood together each autumn. I don't even know it that tiny amount of fuel will be available, or if I'll find the greater amount of fuel that will be needed to drive to the gas station and fill up the jerry can to run the chain saw. -- Odd how they work, all these convolutions of civilized life, even on the far edge of urban sprawl.

Frankly, I often think that running a chain saw is a bigger fantasy than the one that says global petroleum will decline at a rate so slight that it will be as if a golf ball was bouncing slowly down the green. At times, yes, I get nervous about these matters. I'm not sure if I should be spending my time thinking of ways for someone my age (and certainly someone the age I will be in 2030) to handle the physical hardships of the post-industrial world, or whether I should be gloating over the thought that coffee, computers, and central heating will be with me to the end of my days. And there's nothing I can say about the end of anyone else's days, after that, except that it will be a time of revelation.

Peter Goodchild is the author of Survival Skills of the North American Indians, published by Chicago Review Press. His email address is prjgoodchild[at]gmail.com





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