What do we do with the energy?

Arthur Noll

As oil runs out we have to think more careful about alternative forms of energy. It is important to think about what we do with the energy. Recently, some have focused on biomass (converting food to energy), corn and other grains. I’ve pointed out negatives with this, you can’t eat hydrogen or electricity, for example. Alcohol has too many side effects to be much value as food. They might help you stay warm, but it could be a lot easier to just add some insulation to your body, as to go through so much trouble with these renewable energy schemes. However, there are also potential positives. You might make small amounts of energy in these forms, and the way they might be used could make up for all the losses before. What is the value in energy saved, for example, with timely communication? What might be the energy saved, to run a small plane on alcohol, and get information on the state of wide ranging wild herds of animals? Or bring medicines quickly?

We need to stop this nonsense of simply assuming that having more energy is good. It is far more complex than that. We need to look at what we need, and how the energy we go out and capture is going to help with that. And whether we have spent so much effort keeping warm that we don’t have enough to capture food energy, or the other way around. Or that we have used up things at an unsustainable rate.

If you need to get to the other side of a mountain, climbing over the top is a lot harder than walking around. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean it is really a good idea. You get to the other side exhausted, and then find you need to go past another one before you are fully rested. And because you went over the last time, you feel compelled to say that this is the way it must be done?

I’m seeing this, in the grandiose schemes to build large numbers of big wind turbines, to cover vast areas with solar panels, or build new kinds of nuclear plants. All this great effort, to meet needs that can be met far more simply and reliably. You don’t need more than a stick to herd animals, and a basket to gather wild plant foods. Shelter can be of skins and thatch, very easy. You really don’t even need metals most of the time. There doesn’t have to be this great effort expended to meet day to day needs. Sometimes it could be worthwhile to spend a little more energy on metals and technology, for emergencies, for occasional bigger efforts. But people are flabbergasted at the idea of being like this. Walk around the mountains? Not see the fantastic view, and feel like the master of all? Well, go ahead and exhaust yourself for a fleeting illusion of power. Because that is all it is. People are using energy like a drug, it makes them high, makes them feel good, in control. But it is all fleeting illusion, no reality. When people invest in these schemes to make more energy, and keep a semblance of their present life, they are heading up the slopes again. I’ll walk around, thanks. If you would allow me and mine to cut loose, and stop dragging us with you.

We have too many people to live simple, like this. But nothing works in the end without consciously controlling population. And it works out, I think, because “mountain climbing” should work well at trimming large numbers of people. I don’t think I’ll be meeting many on the other side, who take this path. Roped together on the cliffs, exhausted, one falls, and the whole string plunges, tangles up other whole strings, and down it all goes.

More–> Arthur has written a little book called  Harmony, which I highly recommend.