Skip to main content

Power Down

December 6, 2010 – The heat is off and it’s 14 degrees outside. Our furnace broke, so we’re having it replaced with a more efficient furnace for which the feds will help us pay. It will take about six hours to install the new one. Until then – no heat!

Powering down will take time. It will happen over time, not with a resounding crash, but in a series of steps, at the conclusion of which I think we’re all hoping for a gentle thud. What’s taking place today, in my home, is one of a million tiny steps in the direction of powering down. Our source of electricity is a nuclear power plant. Nuclear has, in fact, been the source of electricity for most of our homes, whether we’ve lived in Illinois, North Carolina, or here, in Ohio. We may have had nuclear power in Texas, as well – I just don’t recall. According to John Michael Greer, in his book THE LONG DESCENT, some of the uranium being sold today isn’t being mined at all. It’s being stripped out of old Russian nuclear warheads. One wonders how long that can go on.

We speak of incremental steps, when we talk about facing a powered-down future. There will be those steps, of course, which are more like a stumble, those which are more like a lurch. Doing nothing to,help the situation in Copenhagen, doing less than nothing in Cancun. Steps of omission, rather than commission. Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, methane bubbling up out of the East Siberian ice shelf. Those aren’t steps, of course – those are disasters. We take steps to power down in order to address the causes and effects of these disasters.

“We” are everybody: humankind. It’s so terribly difficult for a group as large as all of us to do very much. Those countries inclined to sign treaties and protocols, and to act upon the promises made with that signature, help the most. They make planning possible. When countries behave like renegades, either refusing to sign treaties and protocols, or signing them and then refusing to honor their signature, they make the world less safe, less secure. The renegades may be taking the steps necessary to power down, but don’t want to be held to a schedule. They may see the necessity of sacrifice, but refuse to act until everyone sacrifices. They seek a kind of unattainable perfection, unwilling to accept the fact that sometimes the best we humans can do is only slightly better than nothing at all.

Our generosity will never be as perfect as our greed. Our trust in one another will never be as perfect as our distrust. Our willingness to see worthy goals through to the very end will never be as perfect as our willingness to give up hope. That is what makes small steps so vital to the process of powering down. Two steps forward, one step back. One lurch backward, one piece of legislation finally passed. One close stumble, a billion dollars pledged to move us forward.

Ever watch sausage being made? It’ll be like that: not pretty. Power down!!


Popular posts from this blog

Scott Pruitt is a Bad Man

March 13, 2017 - Raise your hand if winter weather where you live has been abnormal. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have had record-setting amounts of rain. 2017 has been one of the fastest starting years on record in terms of the tornado count, which currently stands at 301 confirmed tornadoes. There is an historic blizzard taking place in the northeastern US as I write.

When you see words like "record setting" and "historic," think climate change. Otherwise, there is no change; events fall within an average range, established over decades or centuries. The events and patterns just described fall outside that range; they are therefore symptomatic of climate change. Every passing year gets warmer - and worse, by which I mean the damage done by storms measured in dollars, and the number of injuries or deaths caused by storms.

The warmer temperatures occur at night, by the way. Yes, daytime temperatures may also be hellishly hot, but they aren't at the cutting…