Will our addiction to oil drain every last drop? "Having taken oil for granted for decades, the global economy has failed to prepare for its absence. A bleak future awaits . . .
…Today's energy supplies provide the equivalent of the work of 22 billion slaves, according to former oil industry man Colin Campbell. But now the wave of oil looks set to leave us high and dry. At well over $100 per barrel, prices are climbing again to the level last reached in 2008. Since then, however, the tone of commentary has changed." ~Andrew Simms
“In 1860, slaves as property were worth more than all the banks, factories and railroads in the country put together,” ~Eric Foner
"There is no energy crisis, only a crisis of ignorance." ~R. Buckminster Fuller
Conservative Southern businessmen backed a civil war in defense of their business model and business interests. Given that the business model had been operating in the New World for two centuries, the livelihoods of much of the population depended upon it, and had 100 years of bedrock support in the US Constitution, it may be understandable that only a bloody conflict could reconcile the inherent contradictions embedded in that system.
More than two hundred years after that horrible conflict, the nation is again bitterly divided politically, ideologically, and economically, about an economy dominated by a problematic industry, fossil fuels.
Carbon, is the foundation of the global economy and fossil-fuel based industries in the US have trillions of dollars invested in human and industrial capital. These investments supply not only the energy needs of the rest of the economy, they power our pension and investment funds as well. Furthermore, petroleum-based ancillary industries and products also complicate matters. Our food, textiles, technology, construction, etc. industries, all depend upon inputs from fossil fuels.
Millions of people depend upon income derived from fossil-fuels and although in principle they may agree with the abstract goals of sustainability, when the chips are down, most will choose the real "in-your-face" needs of their families over the perceived benefits of a green future.
Progressives are spot on about the facts of possible futures, about the need to systemically and urgently move away from fossil fuels. Conservatives are correct that there isn't enough money in the world to solve all problems everywhere now, and do it effectively using the middleman of Big Government.
If we are to effectively, justly, and quickly meet the ever evolving challenges of Climate Change, we will need more efficacious tools than stalemated government and self-interested business.
There are several sources of capital for the purpose of addressing human problems; business, government, wealthy people, foundations. Each has advantages and disadvantages but we tend to favor one source or another based upon ideology, politics, and one's values.
What is lacking is not money, what is lacking is imagination and a genuine sense of a shared future. This we can not blame on the other. This we must honestly confront with the woman/man in the mirror. If we can learn the rudimentary lessons of Human cooperation, embrace complexity and inclusion in our social relationships, be flexible and creative, we can begin to truly begin solving problems instead of preaching to our respective choirs and lobbing rotten eggs at one another from behind our group-defined walls and moats. We are One Human Family, living on a blessed and beneficent planet, let's do a better job of acting like it. Our children deserve no less.