Archive for May 12th, 2009

This past weekend a friend and I went to my friend’s house to help make a garden. We brought a big tiller and my Mantis tiller. In about an hour we have tilled a 16×22 garden out her lawn. The next day I spent using the Mantis to create a new garden at our home for growing corn. I also used my new chain saw to clear brush from around the my fruit trees. The next day I brought it to another friend’s home to cut down a group of five adult maple trees (60 – 70 feet tall). We cut these up into fire wood in a few hours. All this work and I used less than a gallon of gasoline.

The astounding magical power of gasoline is something we all take for granted. The amount of work I did in a few hours would have taken weeks of work with hand tools. Think about this. Your car carries you and a friend up a long steep hill and uses about a tablespoon of gasoline. Now imagine that not only did you and your companion have to walk up the hill but also had to push your car as well. Think about how much energy you would expend to accomplish this task. All that energy is in one tablespoon of gas (more actually as the internal combustion engine is hugely inefficient). All that power and we just burn gas without thought. Fossil fuels are a miracle that we need to consider every time we use them. It is a finite resource and we need to respect and treat it as such.

Now consider that the power of gas has been the driving force of our world economy. The power in gas has a direct correlation to the advancement of technology and the growth of the world economy. This power is waning and there is nothing in the world to replace it. There isn’t alternative fuel that has this much power and cost so little. There isn’t enough uranium to power the planet using nuclear energy. Natural gas is in decline as well. There is no such thing as clean coal and gasoline derived from it will cost a bundle. Basically the power that drives the world’s economy is in decline and it isn’t coming back. There is nothing at the moment or on the horizon that can replace that cheap source of power. We are facing a world in decline economically and technologically.

I am not suggesting that we will cease to have technology or that we will run out of gas any time soon. We won’t. But it is going to get more expensive and without cheap fuel the rate of technological advancement will slow. This is a fact that I am trying to work with, building a life that is self-sufficient. I am trying to be as conscious as possible with the gas I use. Every time I use it now, I am acutely aware of the power of it. I sit in amazement as I go down the road in my car, or when I cut down a tree in a few seconds that would have taken ten minutes with an axe or saw, or when I turn over the soil in a few minutes when it would have taken many hours with a shovel. Gasoline is precious. It is a deity in my mind and I try to approach it with worthy respect. It is a miracle of power that has no equal in the human story. Let’s use it well.

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