Preparing for the Oil Apocalypse
Written By: Jeff Behnke
In contrast to the majority of my statements concerning our connection with infinite resources and immortal life spans in a web of connected consciousness, we are still playing a game with a beginning and an end, on a world where there is only so much we can waste. In the 70s this became quite apparent during what many believed was peak oil, and over the past few years, it is becoming apparent to yet another generation as they grapple with impossibly high oil prices as peak oil rears its head yet again. Conspiracists will tell you that we are swimming in a sea of energy—which is very true--and oil companies are engaging in uncompetitive practices—which may also be true--but that sea of alternative energy is currently unharvested, and our reliance has continued on fossil fuels to this day. But what is a fossil fuel, why is it a finite resource, and why will our continual reliance upon it over the next decade destroy everything that we have built over the past 120 years?
Fossil fuel is a fantastic name for our current source of energy: dead organic matter that has existed in a compressed environment for millions of years. That’s right. We have had millions of years of dead organic matter that we have been using to fuel our cars and heat our homes, never thinking that dead organic matter will ever run out. There is a massive infrastructure in place to get that fossil fuel to everywhere on the planet. But it’s almost gone—and by almost, I am saying it will be much harder to get over the next decade as pumps dry up and gas stations close. Everywhere. And what will happen when it does?
No more driving. There’s a kick in the balls for you. You’re welcome. All those cars on the planet will be practically worthless hunks of metal. And that means no one else will be driving either—including those massive trucks that transport food to your local grocery store, imports from China and out of season vegetables. Hell, how in the world will we harvest food when none of our tractors work and we can’t feed horses or mules to replace them? Most farm equipment runs on fossil fuels—famine will most assuredly kick in. Globalization, outsourcing, and climate change has been on the map for the past several years as the evil side of capitalization, but have no fear of any of these! Mother Earth knows how to fix the most impossible of problems as our engines are involuntarily shut off and the population of the planet drastically goes into a downward slope as we all walk around looking like holocaust victims.
We all heat our homes with fossil fuels in winter. If those pipelines ever run dry (and they will shortly), the entire landscape of the United States and Europe will change as people flock to more tropical environments and flea their homes as the pipes would instantly freeze and they have no way of heating them, other than the climate. You think the current home foreclosures are bad..imagine a landscape of unkempt empty houses, empty stores, empty shelves! Skeletons with nothing inside, like leftover dinosaur bones with no meat on them nor organs within them.
When fossil fuels begin its massive descent into uselessness since it will be a truly "dead" resource, the U.S. dollar will tank since they are directly tied together, and we have seen this over the past few years as oil cost has shot through the roof and the dollar has indeed tanked. I have lost approximately 30% of my income in the past year and a half because of the shifting dollar—and I get the majority of my money from the automotive industry. In other words, I have not been demoted by a living person—oil has demoted me! And that demotion will occur everywhere, to everyone, as we all struggle to survive because of our continual dependence upon this finite resource.
What will most likely happen when the oil runs dry in the next few years is a turn to the environmentally destructive harvesting of shale oil found in Canada and the western United States, and a heavier reliance on burning coal. There are trillions of barrels in this soft clay, but to get it out pretty much turns the landscape into a wasteland that you might have become familiar with if you have ever played Half Life. In addition, more coal will be burnt to supplement the loss of energy from oil which currently gives you the most energy for your buck, filling the atmosphere with CO2, melting the polar ice caps, changing ocean currents, and flooding the coastal cities as the entire weather of the planet changes.
Like most people, I have an evil side in me that actually wants to see all of this as I love disaster movies and watching things blow up, including major metropolitan areas and national landmarks, but honestly I am not self-sufficient whatsoever and have spent very little time up until now considering my own energy usage or how I will supplement any of that energy usage when the gas and oil is turned off and the lights go out. I have relied quite heavily upon globalization and am fine with giving other people money for favors. I cannot cook my own food, hold a knife, hammer a nail, and I have no idea how to fix anything in the house. Everyone around me knows this, knows why I am that way, and readily accept my money for their services. We recently had an energy specialist come over to our house as a form of community service, and her jaw dropped when she looked at our energy bills. I basically told her to stuff it, I pay for it, but after reading more about peak oil, I have seen the error of my ways. (I am, of course, saying this while using an electric heater under my desk to heat up the table top to make it easier for my wrists to type as I am stricken by dehabilitating RSI). In addition, when I lose my job because no one buys cars they cannot drive, I will have no money in which to give to others for their services, so I, like many others, will be a sitting duck, waiting to be picked off by a survivalist who, unlike me, has prepared by creating a solar-powered zombie-plowing jeep.
The question is, should one invest and turn their house into a more self-sufficient power station, or should we wait a few years when the price of more efficient solar panels, wind turbines, and water catchment systems goes down to a more reasonable level? Should we start learning now how to cultivate our backyard gardens into caloric-filled paradises of potatoes and heavily carb-filled vegetables, or should we cross our fingers and throw our faith into the free and open market as energy giants invest more heavily into renewables? Our deserts are wide open and apparently useless—why not turn them into solar havens of energy collection? Our wind seems to be a renewable—why not install turbines above and below the water to capture all that movement, store it, so that we can once again move the unmovable? Or will that slow the spin of the earth, causing a new problem? Our fat people seem to have a lot of stored energy—why not force them to jump on an electricity-generating treadmills to give some of the love back to the world around them? Hydrogen fuel cells show at least some promise—why not just wait until more refueling stations outside of California are installed which would bring the price down for automotive makers, kicking off a new vehicle revolution? Every dollar you currently spend is a dollar that relies on non-renewable fossil fuels to even exist—think about that, and they don’t seem to be as interesting anymore.
Despite all of this doom and gloom, I do not believe infinity will ever run out of energy. It is like saying that infinity will run out of matter, and they are pretty much the same thing—both of which were invented out of a whole lot of nothing. We are playing a game here. But how should one play it during this round? Please post any suggestions, links, etc. below because I am at a loss, and frankly, for the first time in my life, energized by the sobering concept of dwindling resources. I come from the land of plenty…but this century is beginning to look a bit bleak. I don’t want to grow my own barley. As a result, my fossil fuel addiction could quickly become weeded out of the gene pool. What about yours?