THAT (that) wrote,

Good Timing

Mowed the yard today with the landlord's electric mower. It's a pretty nice one, but that thing is woefully underpowered; I had to raise the blade height and then go back over the same territory on a lower setting.

This doesn't speak well for the post-oil economy. It doesn't even use a battery; you have to drag the cord around the yard. Millions of lawnmowers are sold every year. If they can't make an electric lawn mower that's worth a shit, that tells me that achieving the kind of power output we're used to getting from internal combustion engines is not a minor engineering problem. Fossil fuels provide a hell of a lot of bang for the buck.

I've been reading and listening to interviews with James Lovelock, the guy who came up with the Gaia theory. Seriously dark stuff. He says global warming is going to be far worse than any of the IPCC estimates and it's too late to stop it. He talks about a massive die-off and animal life being restricted to tropical, mosquito-infested swamps at the poles. He also says nuclear power is the only thing that can feasibly replace fossil fuels and is pro-GMO farming. He thinks the only possible mitigation of climatic disaster might come from radical geo-engineering stunts like putting huge volumes of particles in the atmosphere to deflect sunlight, and he says we shouldn't kid ourselves; even if something like that works, it will have terrible side-effects. If you buy his scenario, his solutions makes sense and the idea of going back to nature is absurdly anachronistic, since nature is about to turn very nasty.

It's hard to evaluate ideas this big. I'm an American and that means that even if I think of myself as thoroughly secular, I've got apocalyptic mythology in my DNA. There's no way around that bias. So I don't entirely trust the part of myself that thinks he's probably right. But I do. It just seems evident to me that we've stressed the ecosystem to the breaking point.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about while I was mowing the lawn, enjoying the feeling of the cool, soft grass under my bare feet, basking in the crisp spring evening air of this northern latitude. And thinking how lucky I was not to be born a hundred years later.
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