Friday, July 25, 2008

What Would Chesterton Say about Oil Dependence?

We just watched a very eye opening DVD called A Crude Awakening, which, as we are near term in the market for a new vehicle of some sort, was alarming.

And now you know why the Nissan Prius is on my mind.

Chesterton never drove himself, but what do you think he would think about transportation today? What is the common sense thing to do?

I think he'd be the one challenging our world to develop a new manner of transport which did NOT involve oil. One that could possibly use the same infrastructure (roads, bridges, highways, railways) but without relying on oil.

What do you think?


  1. Like Schaumacher said, we should be taking advantage of nonrenewable resources now to assist us in finding a renewable resource that is efficient (solar & wind = distractions)(Nuclear Fusion = "whose idea was it to waste all that time and money playing around with windmills?".

    Unfortunately, we have been treating oil as though it were a renewable resource.

    Full scholarships for anyone entering a nuclear research / related field?

  2. Correct, and I think Chesterton would also be encouraging people to stay put a lot more, to live close to their work... close enough for a nice walk.

    That would require that we live less in suburbs and more in well-planned cities.

    The great thing would be to live above your shop, but zoning laws discourage that sort of thing nowadays. Pity.

    And we need trains, like they have in Europe. Gotta love trains.

  3. One might consider the transcript called "Do We Agree?", a debate in 1928 between GKC and GBS (George Bernard Shaw), with Hilaire Belloc in the chair - you can find it in CW11. Here is the conclusion.

    --Dr. Thursday.

    MR. BELLOC: I was told when I accepted this onerous office that I was to sum up. I shall do nothing of the sort. In a very few years from now this debate will be antiquated. I will now recite you a poem:

    "Our civilization
    Is built upon coal.
    Let us chaunt in rotation
    Our civilization
    That lump of damnation
    Without any soul,
    Our civilization
    Is built upon coal.

    "In a very few years
    It will float upon oil.
    Then give three hearty cheers,
    In a very few years
    we shall mop up our tears
    And have done with our toil.
    In a very few years
    It will float upon oil."

    In I do not know how many years - five, ten, twenty - this debate will be as antiquated as crinolines are. I am surprised that neither of the two speakers pointed out that one of three things is going to happen. One of three things: not one of two. It is always one of three things. This industrial civilization which, thank God, oppresses only the small part of the world in which we are most inextricably bound up, will break down and therefore end from its monstrous wickedness, folly, ineptitude, leading to a restoration of sane, ordinary human affairs, complicated but based as a whole upon the freedom of the citizens. Or it will break down and lead to nothing but a desert. Or it will lead the mass of men to become contented slaves, with a few rich men controlling them. Take your choice. You will all be dead before any of the three things comes off. One of the three things is going to happen, or a mixture of two, or possibly a mixture of the three combined.

  4. Let's not forget his warning against, "this sort of formless fanaticism that is the great danger of the American Temperament" which shrieked at the sight of a cigar - and now shrieks at the sight of an SUV.

    Oil may have been too cheap until recently, but it's probably too expensive now. Our known reserves may be shrinking, but we're discovering more and more.

    If he was shocked that Americans thought ethics were involved with smoking cigars, he'd laugh at the notion that using oil is a moral issue.

    Oil is a "tool or a toy" and its abundance or scarcity will shape our society until it is replaced as a fuel source – with another tool or toy.

    Prudence and temperance instruct us not to waste fuel, (or anything else) but when I trade in my Kia Rio for something that will hold my second car seat - I won't need to confess it.

  5. "The Department of Defense is the nation’s biggest oil consumer, burning 395,000 barrels per day," reports Politico, "about as much as Greece."

  6. Just no one start blathering about fuels from corn or hybrid fuels or any of that crapola. Ethanol or e-85 of whatever they call it is a perfect example of what Geir was talking about at the conference -- how any heresy actually achieves the opposite of what it was supposed to do. IN the case of hybrid fuels, they are actually WRECKING the environment instead of doing any real good.

    Giant swaths of jungle (rain forest, for you envrionmentalist whackos out there) are being plowed under in Brazil and other places to grow corn for fuel. And it's ruining the economy in two ways: causing shortages in other crops as farmers grown more corn instead of things like wheat and beans (and hops!), thus driving up the cost of bread and other foods; and causing shortages in animal feed because corn that once went to feed cattle and hogs is now being diverted to fuel processig plants, thus driving up the cost of meat.

    Oh, and it's somehow helping to drive up the cost in fuel too. Biofuels suck.

  7. I'm moving to Wyoming tomorrow. Coal central. I'll get back to you.


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