Hedges and Priorities

Hedges and Priorities

At least with currently imaginable technologies, we will continue to need the high energy density of petroleum to power massively consumptive products like jet engines.  Other power sources just don’t pack enough punch to put a plane in the air and keep it there. 

This puts a near-term premium on using other energy forms, such as electricity generated by coal or nuclear fuels, or even less dense renewable sources like solar and wind generation, to power other uses that don’t have such massive requirements.  Establishing priorities along these lines strikes me as a blindingly obvious hedge against having our collective tank run dry.

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Limits

Limits

We have reached this point of civilization through exploitation of resources, especially petroleum and mineral extraction.  We started tens of thousands of years ago with the transformation of copper and bronze into tools and weapons, and we now use rare earth minerals in cell phones.  Power consumption is everywhere and permeates everything we do, every day, even in the most remote corners of the earth.

Most of these resources are nonrenewable in any practical sense.  We can debate how long they will last, when “peak oil” will or has been reached, but not the basic point that they are finite.

Global CO2 and other greenhouse gases have risen to levels that are impacting the environment.  As with the finitude of fossil fuels, we can debate when the tipping point to a real climate crisis will be reached (if it hasn’t been already), but we cannot responsibly doubt that there are limits to the earth’s carrying capacity for greenhouse gases without severe implications for the future quality of human life on the planet.

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Companions in the Wild

Companions in the Wild

I admire and respect solo hikers and others who desire to be alone in wilderness.  For me, however, it is through social interaction with wilderness that we make it a human encounter, becoming not simply passive observers of the wild, but active participants in it.  In doing so, we connect with a deep and integral part of our own nature, rekindling bonds of culture and community that our ancestors have experienced since the dawn of time.   

We can only hope that our descendants will have similar opportunities to come together in the shared experience of wilderness and to give full expression to our natural place in it.  If we allow that to slip from our grasp, an important part of our human heritage will be lost as well.

This is an excerpt from the latest Northern Passages blog post.  To read the entire article, please click the link or visit the website.

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