Reality Blind - Vol. 1

TaaL: A good mental exercise for “energy blind spots” is to imagine yourself and others - perhaps brilliant scientists all with IQ’s of 200 - on a remote island with unpredictable weather and imagine what level of complexity and convenience you might

be able to fashion there, and exactly how you’d go about it. There are no buried fuels, only plant biomass, and that in limited amount. The sun and wind exist, but is there a way to usefully tap them? What can you accomplish with what’s at hand? This theme was explo red – at times fancifully - in a number of novels of the 18 th and early 19 th century and many novels since. But it’s a useful theme to imagine in the 21 st century at the peak of energy and “stuff” ubiquity for any species which will ever exist on your blue planet. (On the off chance a different species develops a fetish for exosomatic energy and consumerism after you’ve departed, they will be largely out of luck, since the slow pace of geological change will not re - charge the mineral ores which have been depleted in this century. Or maybe “in luck,” since they won’t be able to get in as much trouble by hewing to their own gene agenda.) Certainly, many cultures thrived using stone-age technology in such a situation, like the Hawaiians. (Although they had the benefit of stable climate and hyper-abundant fisheries.) Yet even if they had developed a brilliant scientific culture to rival the one you share today, it is difficult to envision a series of steps they could have taken to, for instance, build a turbine engine or solar panel, any more than a pod of dolphins could. The fruits of cleverness are constrained by the possible game moves. How is this relevant to today and tomorrow? I invite your speculation, but here’s a big hint: Think of just how many things and systems around you derive in their entirety from energy ubiquity, and then muse on the fact, one way or another, that ubiquity must soon depart.

The Bottom Line: We swim in low-cost energy ubiquity like a fish swims in water.


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