Friday, November 20, 2009
Resource Depletion Humor
We at Pygalgia are all too aware of resource depletion. We've read (ok, sometimes skimmed) all the reports and books and we know that air, water, oil, coal, metals (gold, silver, copper, platinum, phosphorous, etc) are close to running dry.
If you pick up any of these reports or texts, you'll be presented with the familiar and famous "Hubbert Curve" that depicts the general depletion of a particular resource base.
Many commentators in the world focus on plotting such resource depletion curves against things like GDP (US or World), or Per-Capita-Income, or some such measurement.
But there's something even more important: the collapse of oil production in relation to the collapse of the production of good rock-and-roll music.
The roots of "Rock" music can really be though of as starting in the 1950s, but didn't really gain ground until the 1960s (the growth and discovery years) and then continued on throughout the decades.
But, as the previous chart shows, basically rock-and-roll music shot its wad early and has declined precipitously ever since. That's why you were stuck with Toto during the late seventies and early eighties (that early eighties bump came not from the North Sea Field or Alaskan production, but from the influence of Punk Rock finally crossing the pond and gaining traction in the US).
Unfortunately, it's been on a decline ever since.
Now, I love the Beatles. I can still appreciate The Band, some good Clapton, The Dead, Three Dog Night or Creedence. Hell, because I can still appreciate them probably explains the fact that there's still so many "classic" rock stations around - the best, low hanging chords were strummed the first. Those previously mentioned bands lucked out because they were on the rise, at least in terms of production. Folks like the Boss or Elvis Costello had to ride the backside of depletion - it gives a lot more nuance to "Tramps like us, baby we were born to run" now doesn't it? And shit, half of Springsteen's songs were about the romance of the automobile anyways....
Hell, I might even appreciate something like John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy!" as looking for ways out of our energy decline in the late 1970s. Plowin', farmin', playin' the fiddle, being sustainable - he does even mention limos as being uncool.
Now, all jests aside, we understand the importance of resource depletion. The next twenty years or so, as the resource base depletes even more rapidly, are going to be challenging for everyone involved. As people have to get used to doing with less - and more importantly, accepting doing with less, there is the possibility that many folks won't take kindly to it, to use a phrase.
That's why humor can be so effective in certain situations, and why I'm trying to be a little bit funny in this post.
To me, probably the best consequence of the development of the immense frontal cerebral cortex in the mammilian ape was the concept of humor.
Humor can overcome so many situations - by causing all participants to view a situation (somewhat) objectively and to provide contextual comments (sometimes humorous) about it, that I think it is crucial to our species survival.
That's why I so much like the graph (completely unattributed, although I think I got it off The Big Picture & Barry would have the link(s)).
Please, everyone, although the backslide of the Peak may be disheartening, remember that it could be worse: you have no gas in your car, but the radio still works and all you can get is..."When you get caught between the moon and New York City..." from Christopher Cross. Or some Milli-Vanilli.
Which, strangely enough, is about the pablum that our energy polices have been these past few decades
I rest my case.