A preview of things to come?

My friend Brady has an out­stand­ing new blog, and his most recent reflec­tion on our abject depen­dence on oil as a civil­i­sa­tion was straight to the point, and real­ly got me think­ing along a ter­ri­bly pes­simistic trail of ideas.

The unfold­ing tragedy in the Gulf Coast states of this great nation of ours is reveal­ing all sorts of ter­ri­ble truths about our soci­ety, fore­most among them how incred­i­bly frag­ile the fab­ric of that soci­ety real­ly is. We watch in hor­ror as, with­in a brief span of days (hours, real­ly), a major city in the most pros­per­ous nation in the his­to­ry of the world is trans­formed into a scene of squalor and despair that we are accus­tomed to asso­ciate with var­i­ous ‘third world’ coun­tries (if we are accus­tomed to think about such unpleas­ant scenes at all). How shock­ing­ly thin is the bound­ary between the Amer­i­can way of life and the bot­tom­less hor­ror of total loss and utter pover­ty.

I watch the scenes of emp­ty, bro­ken free­ways dot­ted with emp­ty, bro­ken peo­ple: Amer­i­can refugees, home­less in their own land, walk­ing from the over­whelm­ing tragedy that is their lives toward some future beyond hope, beyond any rea­son­able expec­ta­tion of hope. And as I watch it is easy to imag­ine this in any oth­er city in the U.S. We wouldn’t even need a storm like Kat­ri­na to clob­ber us, real­ly; if events else­where caused the gaso­line sup­ply to dry up, we would all be limp­ing away from what­ev­er sud­den­ly-dead city we had been used to call home.

Have we wait­ed too long to turn our nation­al resolve, our pas­sion as a peo­ple, to the devel­op­ment of real, usable alter­na­tives to fos­sil fuels? Of course we have. We trem­ble on a brink of utter col­lapse; New Orleans is only a hor­ri­fy­ing pre­view of what awaits the entire coun­try in a future that is all too near.

And if we as a nation can­not even take care of our own peo­ple in their hour of utmost need, what are we doing try­ing to run the rest of the world?

3 Comments

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  2. Ah, a nice piece of spam blog or splog as I have come to call it.

    Good thoughts, Bean­er. I’m try­ing to have hope. every­thing just feels so frag­ile. Part of this feel­ing, I think, comes with being a new par­ent. Sud­den­ly, you are faced with the fragili­ty of life after grow­ing up feel­ing like every­thing hap­pens to oth­er peo­ple. And it’s just an exten­sion to think that the world, our soci­ety, is that frag­ile as well. It is.

  3. Great entries! (That being yours and Brady’s)

    Reminds of a debate my father-in-law and I were hav­ing regard­ing the peak oil the­o­ry, and what we as a soci­ety should do if we believe what it pre­dicts… This may inspire an entry on my blog about such things. (although that would be a huge detour from my nor­mal pop cul­ture rants)

    Any­way, I think the pic­ture you paint could be very real in our life­times.

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