Creativity and the danger of moving forward

I am a strong believer that we humans need to have a goal to focus on to feel good. I think there are really few of us out there without dreams of what we want or could achieve. Setting up a goal means you will have to get to work, to be creative and actually do something to eventually reach it. Using your brain and muscles activate tons of chemical substances for increased wellbeing as endorphines and serotonin flush through the system. For me personally the thrill is usually in the chase. Once I am satisfied with the results of that “chase” I immediately start to feel restless and either start thinking about how to improve the results or I’m off to the next project. Subject can vary.

Since the dawn of time we humans have always strived to master our environment and the obstacles in our way of getting a less complicated life. They say that the mother of all inventions is necessity. In other words – that what we see as a necessity, whether it is basic needs like food and shelter, or the necessity to progress just for the sake of it (money?*) doesn’t really matter as far as the outcome concerns. We humans need to feel we’re constantly moving forward, and that’s the reason we have come so far.

But sometimes the urge to strive forward and to improve our world has lead us in the complete opposite direction as inventions and ingenuity has spawn both imminent and long term threats to us all as a specie.

The nuclear bomb you think?

No. The most dangerous one is actually the invention of the steam engine.

Really? – Why on earth??

In 17th century England during what was later to be known as the Industrial Revolution the coal miners were tired of the futile work against flooded mines as they were digging deeper and deeper into mother earth.

On 2 July 1698 a fellow named Thomas Savery patented an early steam engine, “A new invention for raising of water and occasioning motion to all sorts of mill work by the impellent force of fire”. […] Little did he know that this would impact the whole world when we later discovered oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania. “The Valley That Changed The World!” and eventually learned to combine that with the internal combustion engine.

The world back then was a much darker and quieter place. A natural consequence of local sun energy being used and re-cycled instead of tapping into millions of years of stored and converted sunlight in the form of fossil fuels. Electricity was still to be discovered and it would take another 100 years before the first electric motor saw the light of day, and the petroleum driven internal combustion engine of today was not due for another 200 years or so. Therefore, the oil that was gushing from the Pennsylvanian well, The Drake Well, was first used as kerosene for lamps for a long long time. And maybe we should have stayed there.

The internal combustion engine later transformed the world completely during the 20th century and above that today we owe pretty much everything we see around us to oil. The food you eat, the clothes you wear and all the stuff you use, simply the life we live. In fact, thanks to fertilizers derived from fossil fuels we can now feed more than 7 billion souls, something that had been absolutely impossible without it. In the modern world every calorie you eat basically takes an average of TEN calories of fossil energy to produce, or to convert I should say since energy can’t be produced. Transport, storage and cooking not included.

The first law of thermo dynamics, also known as The Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system. Therefore we’re on a very very dangerous path here. We’re depleting the oil reserves around the world fast, leaving nothing but entropy after our use of exergy (energy put to work). It is not a question of technology or ingenuity, it is basic math. Countries with the most advanced technology such as Norway for example is now 20 years past their peak in oil production. So throwing paper money down a depleted oil well doesn’t give you oil in return. Fact.

So, some food for thought: If a coyote uses more energy to chase down its prey than it gets from eating it, it will starve to death. Fact.

The most disturbing fact, in my humble opinion, is that in our modern way of life we use fossil fuels for transport and to manufacture plastic shit that beeps, to such an extent that world hunger and war for resources seem impossible to avoid, which is utterly crazy.

“Let’s be responsible and by an electric car?” or “Let’s say no to plastic bags at the supermarket or stop using straws at Burger King”!? How about this: In China alone, stats from 2015 show that more than 2 million new cars were put into traffic every MONTH! And to produce an electric car today consumes as much fossil fuels from mine to customer as you can drive your already made car with for 2-300 000 kilometers. And, btw, to run that electric car, were did the electricity come from? Converted fossil fuels? Most probably since more than 85% of world electricity comes from fossil fuels.

This subject has fascinated me for a long time, and I’ve written many songs about it. “The End of Oil”, “The Prediction of M.King Hubbert”, “Our $oil”, and the much softer and melancholic “Waiting for The Water”. Check them out and enjoy the party in The Age of Petroleum while you can, for it is soon to be over.


Thobbe Englund

(*Subject for the next chronicle).

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Creativity and the danger of moving forward

February 21, 2019

This subject has fascinated me for a long time, and I've written many songs about it. "The End of Oil", "The Prediction of M.King Hubbert", "Our $oil", and the much softer and melancholic "Waiting for The Water". Check them out and enjoy the party in The Age of Petroleum while you can, for it is soon to be over.

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