Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Time for a wee dram of reality all around, then?

The ability and even propensity of humans to fool themselves into total ignorance is amazing!

We are entering the end of the Age of Oil. Really! Forget about the price of gas. Irrelevant.

Look at the rate of oil production in Saudi Arabia. Flat out, pedal to the metal. No more go in the old Go Fast pedal.

Look at the rate of oil discovery anywhere in the world. Limp as a eunuch's swizzle stick.

What does this tell us? Civilization is fucked!

Now I've never been a great proponent of civilization; it's a bad go even at the best of it: ice cubes, single-malt scotch, Raleigh three-speed bicycles, underwire bras, hand-pulled ale. Most of what passes for civlization consists of murder, property destruction, theft at the point of arms. We'd been better off if the astrolabe had never been invented.

That's all in the past now, because civilization took a turning right at the point when human industry was severely limited by the number of trees left standing in Great Britain, and someone discovered the steam engine, then oil, and figured out what to do with it, and its been downhill ever since... until just now.

Now we know that oil is a finite resource. Big Surpise, eh? Not only that, we've discovered that we've already burned up the easy bits, and the lot that's left costs a bundle more and takes a lot more energy to extract and produce than that which is slouching about the stratosphere mucking up the planet's air conditioning. It doesn't matter that there's still a lot of oil left because it takes a lot more oil to turn it into fire in the old ticker's engine. The more we use the more we lose. Downhill the rest of the way to the bottom.

What does this mean? Well, old chum, you can forget about going to the moon, and condos in space, swift and efficient cheap air flights to Honduras, a DVD in every living room and electric cars purring from burbs to skyscapers. It's back to feets and bicycles, horses and standard class railway coaches, sprouts from the local allotment and Chateau Fleet Street 2006. The Global Economy is going local and this time for true.

Not a moment too soon.