Archive for February 21st, 2008


Sharon February 21st, 2008

One of the very first blog posts I ever wrote on the original, blogger-based Casaubon’s Book was to mark the crossing of the $50 per barrel mark for oil prices. That was in the fall of 2004. 3 1/2 years later, it seems oddly appropriate that I would open up this site with the observation that oil hit $101 per barrel just a few days ago, and closed above $100 dollars for the first time.

When I started writing about peak oil, it was a minority viewpoint. The other day, New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman suggested that peak oil really might be here. That’s pretty mainstream, and he’s not the only one. Articles have appeared in most major media recently discussing the possibility, and I’m getting regular calls, not from alternative presses, but from reporters for major media outlets (recently the AP and the Wall Street Journal among others.)

When I started writing about climate change, most people (including me) thought that climate change was a long term problem, one that required us to make changes, but which we had time to address. Now we’re learning just how wrong that was - and how imminent a climate crisis really is.

When I started talking about the shaky nature of our financial system, things were booming, and my claim that we were on shaky ground seemed nuts. Now we’re learning that total losses may exceed $1 Trillion dollars - the total liquidity of our banking system.

When I started writing about food shortages, and the danger of even rich world inhabitants being stalked by hunger, it seemed impossible to most people that we could ever experience shortages. But the biofuels boom has meant that hunger is a real and serious likelihood for billion’s of the world’s poor - and for millions of Americans (look at the graph particularly here) and local food and gardening may literally be what we depend on - and fairly shortly.

Setting up this new site has caused me to look back over the last few years, and my own take is that our situation is quite a bit more serious than I thought it was back when I started blogging. And I wasn’t an optimist then, except by peak oil standards.

That said, I’m still optimistic in many ways. I still believe that it is too easy to look at the current situation and see the end of the world. The reality is that many things come to an end - but the loss of a particular way of life, difficult as it is, is not the same as the loss of our lives. We’re human, adaptable, creative, imaginative - we can go on, as human beings always have, from where we are.

Our success in mitigating the worst effects depends on early action, on creating the seeds of a response that can then be adapted into a larger system when the time comes that change is seen to be necessary. So we wait, and build. We start our garden movements and our local food coops, we talk about energy to our neighbors and work on community health care and education. We put our time and our energies where they count - to ensuring quality of life and a decent future.

When I started blogging 3 1/2 years ago, I never thought anyone would actually read my blog - I didn’t make any effort to publicize my writings, really, and I never expected to become someone read by a host of people. I’m flattered and moved that people think what I say is worth reading. I hope it stays that way (and y’all will let me know if it doesn’t, I’m sure). But I didn’t start writing because I thought people would listen to me - I started writing because it helped to clarify my thinking, and my actions. I’m delighted that it may have done that for others. And I hope all of us (me too, because I get caught up in the writing sometimes) will remember that the ideas are great, but it is the work that matters.

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