Who killed the 'American Dream'?
Last August (2005) I penned this for a young american friend of mine...
Back when there were about half as many humans, before Intel made the first integrated chip (1974), when mainframe computers about as powerful as modern wristwatches were just becoming available costing $ millions and were the size of rooms, I read a book. "Limits to Growth" was written by a handful of academics who wanted to try out these new computers for modelling and forecasting something. Nowadays they'd probably try it on stocks and shares, then they modelled the future of the human race and its interaction with this planet. Some people walked around with their eyes open in those days and were brave enough to look at meaningful things.
The computers were slow, the models simple, the results probably mostly inaccurate, but it was the first time people had systematically considered human and economic growth and when it would run into the natural limits of this planet to support them. There was no simple answer but the one I remembered was: things probably start to run out around 2016 give or take a few years. More than 40 years away, plenty of time for us smart humans to fix things. Ah, the optimism of youth.
About four years ago I was seeing mention of 'peak oil' and began looking into it. Realistic estimates (from ASPO) then were that it would happen about 2012, still over 10 years away but starting to get close - time for me to begin thinking of what I should be doing, and where, when peak oil hit. Well, in these last 4 years I've watched with growing concern as that estimate has moved to 2010, 2008, 2007 - the estimated date for peak oil and the present date have been rushing together at similar speed [Note: January 2006, ASPO have put their peak oil date back to 2010 mostly due to anticipated additional non-conventional oil]. Like two galaxies colliding the first impacts have already happened and their ripples have begun to distort and rip our reality, though few have noticed yet.
Peak oil brings the end of the 'American Dream', the US economic and financial systems have minimal chance of surviving it, the next 10 years will bring at best the halving of wealth of the american people, or halving US population, or maybe both, or maybe worse.
In the latter half of the 1970s the american people elected a truly honest president, it coincided with the last energy crisis. He set out what the USA must do to become virtually independent of foreign energy supplies. It never happened, he wasn't re-elected.
Had the american people, congress and senate supported Carter and implemented the energy policy that he spelled out very clearly the world would be very different today and peak oil would be at least a decade farther away. We would have time to change further and the US would already be at least half way on that positive road. But, as Carter said "There is no way to avoid sacrifice...". That didn't sound nice so the american people turned their back on truth, embraced illusion, and postponed the (then small) sacrifice. Thus was humanity and this planet betrayed.