Saturday, December 15, 2007

Week 31: Time I Had Some Time Alone

This is gonna be my last post for a while, so here it goes.

I woke up today to a blinding sight, sun on newly-fallen snow; I woke my husband Dennis. We smiled, went out, and shovelled the walk. We shoveled our next door neighbor's walk, too, since he's old and he's been using a snowblower for the last ten years.

We came in; hung up our wet clothes, some of which I had to crochet myself. We had hot chocolate. It's something we do sparingly even in good times. We had toast from bread I made.

We talked about Christmas, about how it'll be different this year, about how we can't really give gifts, but that it doesn't matter anymore.

Philadelphia is Philadelphia, which means that there are Red Zones and Green Zones, but that was true even before the oil crisis. Philly's been a hard--but interesting--place to live for years now. The city center has an infrastructure going back to before the Age of Oil; things will continue, life will continue.

Three hundred years ago or so, Ben Franklin invented the Franklin Stove, which proved to be more efficient than the regular fireplace. Den and I are saving up for one; my parents have one. I'm sure in the near future everyone (give or take) will be using one. It's practical, it makes sense.

Which means people will probably still go on burning oil or using a fireplace, because humans, like most animals, don't adapt well to change.

I've been thinking a lot about evolution. People think that evolution is about progress, about reaching some sort of Platonic ideal of your species, but it isn't. It's simply the ability of mutation. Everything mutates, and some mutations can survive, and some are a dead end. Just look at the dinosaurs--those that mutated and eventually became birds survived. Those that didn't, well, didn't.

Humans evolve. Slowly, I guess, until a massive event where only the fittest survive. The Ice Age springs to mind--humans in the north changing pigment, changing the amount of body fat, and you end up with Norwegians or Inuit, depending on the area and what the exact environment is.

We have to evolve. I know you know that, but it doesn't hurt to say it.

We have to evolve.

Eventually, the oil will become to expensive to extract. We may come up with alternatives for some things, but overall, I don't see ethanol or wind energy replacing oil--or coal for that matter. Not until the coal runs out. We'll find ways to cling to our lifestyles, like an alcoholic drinking mouthwash. We'll drink till we die.

But some of us will survive, because some of us can adapt. I don't know if I'm going to be one of them. I don't know if my children (hypothetical for now) will be among them. But I know that, just as some dinosaurs became birds, some people will go on, living in an age without oil, an age without ease.

We're the last, you know. The end of a golden age that maybe was only pyrite. It's like some Greek story, like Icarus or Atlantis. Like Camelot. I remember reading The Last Battle, the last book in the Narnia series. King Tirian laments that he lived to see the end of the world, and how much better had he died before-hand. I've been thinking about that a lot.

It's not so much the end, but the end as we know it.

And I feel fine.