"Oh my gosh. Do you know what you're wearing? Did you do that on purpose?"
These were statements made by me at lunch a day ago when I looked across the table at Edmund and saw the image on his faded t-shirt. At first Edmund smiled and denied having chosen that particularly bad looking t-shirt for any reason, but he acknowledged the obvious metaphor.
It was in effect a conceptual art or performance piece, because just seeing it across the table broke a window through my consciousness. There we were eating lunch. We were eating at a time when many other people up the Eastern seaboard were also eating. The proud tractor on Ed's shirt had shrunk in the sun. The little plasticky puzzle pieces were contracting onto themselves, tearing away from the cotton and falling off. The mammoth machine at the forefront of this model farm is fading into obsolescence as oil becomes harder to extract and less available (tractors may be the last mouths we feed, but the point remains the same- oil is not forever). But hardly anyone is talking about it. The only reason we were all eating at that moment was our indebtedness to fossil fuels. Seriously. They are the founders of the feast. We grew a good portion of what we were eating that day ourselves, but even so, the garden was plowed with a diesel powered tractor and the seeds we planted were shipped to us. It is endemic. There is hardly anything I can think of that does not arguably rely on it in some way. Fossil fuels are dense with energy and have been the arbiter of this marvelous global interconnectedness we rely on. But why are we counting on a continued stream of energy like that when it is becoming increasingly apparent that it is not reliable? A report compiled by the German military reviewing the risks inherent in the face of peak oil was just leaked and posted at The Oil Drum. I am comforted that people are taking the severity of the situation to heart and preparing for that day now, but mostly I am at a loss about what I can do. I don't know a different way yet. I don't know many people who can remember one. The last century has made us helpless in a way, but it also brought us a vast amount of knowledge that will inform our decisions in the coming challenges. We'll need the help.