Ten years ago there was a lot of talk in certain circles about Peak Oil. At the time the rest of the world ignored the whispers, because life was just so damned good! It was very much similar to the Climate Change debates. A group of people who were heavily invested in the lifestyles that copious use of fossil fuels created wanted to hear nothing about resource depletion or environmental destruction (potentially) wrought by our continued use and dependence on fossil fuels.
Having grown up in a coal mining part of the world, I saw, first hand, how destructive using coal is. It doesn't just kill the environment. It also kills the people and the communities who depend on coal as an economic base. The only people who get rich in the coal industry are the people who own the mineral rights to the coal. The people who actually work in the industry are struggling to just make ends meet while their health continually deteriorates. Many end up broken and disabled before they turn 50.
For many decades the oil industry boomed. We had a glut of the black gold and a lot of people got very rich. We've known now for many years that the oil industry in the US is waning, and we also know (at least those of us who'll admit it) that the oil industry is waning worldwide.
In the 1950s, geologists discovered the Bakken Tar Sands. Nothing was done for more than half a century to attempt to extract that oil, because it wasn't profitable to do so. When the price-per-barrel for oil topped $80, investors suddenly became very interested, and fracking the tar sands started. It was a boom for the communities around the tar sands ... for a couple of years.
The problem with tar sands oil, other than it being difficult and costly to extract, is that it's not sweet and light, like oil from a well.
In response to the tar sands mining, oil rich countries, like Saudi Arabia, began flooding the market with their oil, and the prices went down. The price of gasoline at our pumps here in the US dropped ...
... and everyone gave a big cheer.
But, perhaps, that cheer was misplaced, and a thoughtless return to our gluttony was irresponsible, because it won't last.
According to this article, Shell is cutting over two thousand jobs because of weak oil prices.
What does that mean, you ask?
As Saudi Arabia continues to pump more and more oil out of their wells, they are depleting what they have, and it is only a matter of time before their well is dry. There are only so many oil wells out there, and once we've used up what's available, we either learn to live without it or we end up like curs fighting over the scraps out in the dirt yard.
Here at Chez Brown, the peas are a couple of inches high. Baby lettuce is ready to harvest. The apple trees are in full bloom and beautiful, promising a bumper crop this year. The first batch of ten broiler hens is ready to pick-up at the butcher, and we have two dozen more growing out in the yard.
The other day a friend was laughing, incredulously, as I recounted the story of my shirt. "It used to be yellow," I said. "Then, I washed it, and it ended up with a red splotch, and so I dyed it blue. Now, it's starting to fade, because I dry it on the line." She said, "You get a lot of wear out of your clothes, don't you?"
Life would be tough, if the economy buckles. The world won't just go away, and there will still be things we have to pay for, but because we have food, because I know how to get a lot of wear out of my clothes, because we're learning to be more frugal with everything - including our Internet usage (more on that another day :)) - we might be able to stay somewhat comfortable - even on our tiny quarter-of-an-acre.
In another post, my friend, Contrary Goddess reminded me that people are often limited more by what they perceive as limits than actual physical restrictions. There's a lot we can do, where we are, with what we have. The key is to see the possibilities rather than the limits.