I think as a global community we’re approaching a historical milestone – Post Burn. As a species we have thrived because of our ability to burn stuff – to produce heat, warmth and cook through the consumption of available resources. From wood, to coal, to oil, to gas, to uranium – we’ve relied on the Burn to power our development and evolution. Our biology has been transformed by our ability to burn, and it has shaped our technological development too.
Our Burning has steadily become more and more efficient and powerful, but at the same time we have done untold damage to the environment as we’ve scale up production. Our carbon loaded fuel has spewed pollutant, ozone destroyers and smog across our planet and into every ecosystem. Our radioactive fuel has leached into our environment too – spilling into the air and the waterways where it slowly kills everything around it.
We’ve also made the resources we depend on more and more scare as we increase the burn. More and more of our resources are literally going up in smoke as we stoke the fires of industry. As we make more steel, poor more concrete and increasingly ship products around the world we take from the planet and spew back a foul mess.
We have been operating with a mindset of abundance – which simply isn’t reflected by our reality or the natural state of the planet. Trees are finite, soil is finite, water is finite – so too is the oil and gas and uranium. Somehow we’re under the delusion that this, how we live and make, is somehow sustainable.
What is happening now is a transition, because this just isn’t sustainable.
We can still power our world, not through the burn of an engine but the hum of electricity. We don’t need to dig up the ground to find fuel, fuel finds us, it caresses us as it passes by. Sunlight, Wind and Waves are there for us to use – free and open. The sun and the moon are there to be harnessed and supported. We don’t need to burn at all.
Renewable. Sustainable. This is the new guard. This is the way forward. The quiet hum of the electric motor. The silent flow of power through wires.
But the grey boney hands won’t yet cede control. The hacking cough masks a booming voice and the fossils must be burnt. The pump-jack – the oil horse, the oil jack, the donkey pumper, the nodding donkey, the rocking horse, the Big Texan – works tirelessly till the well is empty. And then we dig another hole. Till there’s nothing left to pump. Nowhere left to dig.
We can die slowly or we can make something new. We can learn to work with the sun. To work with each other and for each other. To harvest and share the collective benefits. From centralised fire pits to distributed rooftop arrays. Rather than opt-out and go off the grid, we could all connect and use the grid to share.
Photo by M1kha https://flickr.com/photos/mikham/6630747029 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license