Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Peak Scientism" and the price of petro

     The period roughly bracketed by 1878 and 1968 has as many names as my partner Rebecca has relatives (a warm shout-out to the baby-makers of the Little Vatican of Antigonish County Nova Scotia).
     Call it Peak Scientism, High Modernity, Non-Renewable Modernity, Non-Renewal Progress, the Second Industrial Revolution, the Era of Positivism, the Counter-Romanticism Era.
   Many more names besides those - and that is just in English.
   Not easy, this close to the Beast, to get a consensus on its essence.

   But one Powerpoint image of the many, many that Andrew Nikiforuk flashed on the screen at SMU's Sobey's Business School Building in Halifax last night, (hey - he said the talk was a work in progress !) grabbed me by my intellectual short and curlies.
    It was brought to us by the handwritten capital letter M ;  aka a graph of oil prices in current 2010 dollars in the vertical versus the years 1850 to 2010 in the horizontal.
   The high price upper twin towers of that written capital M were just before the late 1870s and just after the early 1970s - the low price trough was the the exact period of the era of Peak Scientism and High Modernity.
  Interestingly, coal, not oil, was the main energy source throughout almost that entire period - oil, by contrast, is what has fueled the post-modern era of hippy-dippy baby boomers : the oil boomer kids , my generation.
   But that relatively tiny amount of petroleum was more than enough to fuel the mental/imaginative travel of billions - rather than fueling their actual - physical - travels.
   Cars - racing cars, motecycles - freedom to go down any and every road in a clud of fumes,dust and speed. Rockets to universes unknown - away from spouse, kids, take-out-the-garbage, mortgage debt, bosses.
    Personal airplanes as cars - not more bound to color along the lines of rail lines and two lane blacktop.
    Freedom !!
    "Global Commensality NEWS", that spokesperson for defending limits to personal freedom to do whatever you want to whoever you want when and wherever you want has two words to say:
        St Brieux, Saskatchewan

    In the air above this tiny remote community, two planes collided and all five on board died --- pieces of planes and body bits raining down over a one square kilometre area on the ground.
    The myth is that flying in the air promises totally freedom to go anywhere as your whim hits you.
   What actually does hit you, if you do give in to the urge to go just anywhere your fancy moves you, is someone else's wing tip : game over forever.
   Small plane owners have less ,not more ,freedom than car owners or walkers - they must file a flight plan, time and speed and direction indicated - and stick to it - or planes collide.
   This is with maybe one hundred thousand small plane owners in the air around the world at any one time - try to imagine 9 billion plane owners with a billion small planes crisscrossing the skies
randomly at any one moment.
    Disaster !
   This is Late Modernity's dream and delusion.
    Please help us stop that delusion before they crash our entire planet instead of just their personal plane.
   Or the song won't be "It's Raining Men" but rather "It's Raining Bits and Pieces of Men ! "......

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