The peak oil concept has been brainstormed for over 30 years, surely it has beguiled the energy observers with its elusive challenges since the reality of the American peak was recognized. Those inside that circle have grown irritated and become extremely restless from inaction on what is a clear threat to our lives and 'civilization'. With such an all encompassing failure potential, many have been seduced to believe that such a big problem, requires a BIG SOLVER. They have no volunteers.
Having been brushed aside by corrupted government and greedy corporate interest in the status quo, they have despaired, given the IMMINENCE of the deadline RELATIVE TO THE SIZE AND EXTENT OF THE CONVERSION REQUIRED. This latest 3-part strategy -- dropping out, powering down and going local -- is a desperation move that is designed either to kickstart panic or to create islands of survivors.
That strategy is functionally blind, and diminishes the power of mavericks and the central role of women's spheres. For ideological reasons, they choose as a model the Cubans, abandoned by the Russians, instead of the model of the Swedes in WWII, even though the Swedes are more appropriate for most of North America and would surely be more desirable to those in the developing world following our footsteps. Hence their plan powers down too far.
They expect a single monolithic solution to fit into the ubiquitous gaps that the loss of oil will create and lose the advantage of diversity that no engineer would discard. They decry renewables as too weak to save us, ignoring their regional strengths and their various adaptations. Solar is one they lovingly bury claiming its progress has stalled short of what's needed.
But, solar heating in cold regions that are also very cloudy -- like ours in Cinci -- simply requires longterm storage, and unlike the earliest models of solar designs which all had to face South, ours will best face East and West. Check out the neglected concept of PAHS -- Passive Annual Heat Storing -- and berm designing,
They ungratefully moan that the price of solar electric hasn't dwindled enough and claim that advances in solar and wind have been less than revolutionary. But there are solar electric systems that can now utilize the diffuse light and UV of our cloudy skies. And wind has progressed to the point of being economically competitive with nukes (even without accounting for the toxic wastes that no one wants in their backyard), specifically $.03 - $.06 per kWh depending on the quality of the wind. Not to mention the latest variation on small, built-environment-friendly sauvonius designs that thrive in our indecisive, gusty winds in Cincinnati. We can justifiably feel grateful for the progress made in filling the gaps in solar's reach and wind's potency.
And yes to experience the power of renewables we will need to eliminate the huge layers of waste that the corporate world has pushed on us with its leech of consumerism. But those who've experimented with this form of conservation -- freeing ourselves of layer after layer -- have found the path and the initial slope is easy and empowering, which will buy us time to learn what to do next. We need to take an incremental approach to transition so we can shape the solutions and not expect a one-size-fits-all answer.
By allying themselves with the academic pipeline of solutions even though it has been compromised by corporate money, these pessimists have missed the solutions developed by mavericks who are a clear source of inventiveness. Most crucially among these mavericks, they missed TDP -- thermal de-polymerization -- which converts our massive carbon-based wastes to oil directly, recovers the minerals in the waste, purifies other fuel sources. More than that, TDP is not only efficient but can replace the damaging and incessant addition of more carbon to the above-ground environment IF WE CAN RESTRICT CONSUMPTION TO THE RECYCLING LIMITS OF WHAT'S ALREADY IN THE ABOVE-GROUND WORLD. But TDP will need many thousands of implementation sites and unique adjusting. Diverse, distributed and relatively small, not massive and uniform and singular.
They cling to models of lifestyle -- the nuclear family -- that corporate pressures molded for us and reject the power of neo-women's work. At best, they see women's work as necessary but never as powerful. Some of their designs would confine our homes to under 500square feet, a domestic cubicle per family! They isolate us from our few real allies in the corporate world, those that support DIY with tools and supplies, and those that damp the size of profit-taking and make our genuine needs affordable. Critically, their model ultimately envisions separating us from the good things we've built, like ample communications, potent computers and the net.
Even worse, the tri-part plan makes us an easy target, one that can be exploited by the corrupt and greedy using fear of the strange to isolate us from potential adopters, even potentially make us convenient scapegoats to blame for the turmoil that transitions bring -- and this one will surely bring enough.
But most of all, they miss the realization that a better answer in our hands would give us an advantage in our struggles for peace and justice.
From the SOS Art Show for Peace and Justice at the Mockbee Galleries in Cincinnati
on Sunday April 30th
by J. Raichyk, PhD, mathematical decision analyst and AEA CoChair. Alternate Energy Association Club(AEA)