Reality Blind - Vol. 1

TaaL: This concept gets nearer the core of the current human predicament. You’ve tapped economies of scale, the advantages of globalization, hundreds of millions of years’ worth of fossil sunlight, and a billion years of concentrated ores to create a “just in time” global extractive and distributive sys tem that doesn’t really stockpile much of anything. Rather than warehouses, the stuff you need is inside trucks and container ships , and the stores where you buy it may have only a few days’ supply. You then kept that system “affordable” using the meth -like stimulus of trillions of dollars of debt to disguise the thermodynamic realities that began to impose limits on it. Yet none of t hese tricks has a “reverse gear” - safe failure modes - if any aspect of it all proves unsustainable (or, not to put too fine a point on it, every aspect). Electric cars are cool, but the added energy cost of manufacturing one is so significant that you m ight have to drive it for seven years before it ‘breaks even’ with a standard gasoline car in terms of energy benefit; and if your grid electricity is from coal, then your electric car is a coal-burner in every sense. 191 Your USA used to have a lot more train tracks, but they were torn up for speed and profit using a different (short term) method of moving things around. You’re going to need a lot more trains, but few people in modern human societies really ‘get’ this, and those that do are limited by invest ment capital decisions, which as yet don’t take future reality into account - only earning a return. Trains can be electrified. Not high-speed bullet trains, just trains to keep your vital flows from seizing up. Moreover, the entire semi- fractal physical structure of suburbia is laid out in a way that makes it difficult to be serviced by anything other than cars and trucks.

The Bottom Line: There’s potentially a big trucking problem with keeping things moving once oil availability diminishes.


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