John Michael Greer on Energy and the Future of the US

One of the things I like about John Michael Greer’s articles on peak oil and transition to an low-energy future is that he always takes a moderate view of things. His latest article, “Energy Predicaments and Prospects,” is another such article. We’re not in danger of heading back to the middle ages anytime soon. We’ll deal with a lot less power usage, and a lot of our homes up here in the Great White North may be unlivable without natural gas heating, but civilization will adapt and survive.

A forward-thinking suburban city council here in the metro would do well to start mandating smaller, more energy-efficient housing for at least some of the new house construction that takes place around here. They’d also change the zoning laws so that people can walk to schools, shops and other places they need to go to on a daily basis. Finally, open space preservation is a must. Between the need for agricultural land, and land for managed woodlots, we’ll need to either keep some exiting parkland/farmland wild, or we’ll get to experience the joy of trying to re-forest some of the McMansion developments at some point in the future.

I am expecting wood and other biomass energy to become more important parts of the heating solution in Minnesota as years go on. Getting a head start on some harvestable trees would be an excellent idea. In the meantime, they’d provide excellent homes for the local wildlife, and maybe even make great bikeways, since access pathes will be needed sooner or later anyway. One local stretch of wilderness near my house is rife with deer and wild turkeys, it would be nice to see their homeland expand instead of contract like it has for the last century or so.

Anyway, take a glance at Greer’s writing. I think you’ll find it balanced, and probably pretty accurate look at our future, which will be difficult, but not catastrophic unless the resource wars really flare up. Right now, it’s the big boys trying to knock off the smaller players, which will put a cap on the killing. It’s when the US squares off with a world power (Russia, China, EU, take your pick) over previously-conquered ‘areas of influence’, that the potential for WWIII gets much scarier…

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