The Doleful and The Soulful

PETER CURRIER

The Doleful Picture

Oil Work:  One barrel of oil does the work of 12 1/2 years of human labour. Imagine pushing your car up Armour Hill to the Peterborough Museum. You’d need ropes, a dozen strong people, a good hour, and an ice-free road. Now estimate how few ounces of gas it takes to do the same job. Shows how dependent we are on fossil fuels.

Enduring Blight: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is comprised of an estimated 80,000 metric tons of plastic and assorted other sludge and detritus. Like the North Atlantic garbage patch, it continues to accumulate. And almost all of it was once the black goo you see on marine-birds’ wings after an oil-tanker spill. Imagine how much energy would be produced if we harvested all that plastic and found a method to cleanly burn or recycle it!

Climate Grief: The devastation of the Earth by our bad energy habits and addiction has led to a widespread sense of disempowerment and depression. The young are reluctant to have kids and see a low ceiling over future plans. Homes fly, species die, forests fry, springs go dry, and fly? seas acidify: that is the sorrowful cadence that underpins climate grief. As the earth atrophies, grief will turn to mourning unless we act now.

But If We Act Now… The Soulful Picture

EROI: Energy Return On Investment measures the energy it takes to mine, pump, dig, gather, capture and refine/process everything from coal, tar-sands petroleum, wind, natural gas, sunlight, and biomass energy from crops like corn. An example of low EROI in the oil patch is harvesting low-grade products required to build a road, mobilizing tanker trucks, digging, pumping, and refining intensively, and shipping to market, only to find that in the end the petroleum yield was less than the energy it took to capture it. The tar sands EROI is quite low. For a camper building a fire with an ample supply of nearby deadwood, the EROI is huge. And then here is …..

Hydroelectric Power: It has a large return on a small energy investment; some estimates put its EROI at 84:1. Although per capita Canadians use five times more energy than the average world resident, we are second only to China in hydroelectric power production. Result: we leave the same oil and gas footprint as the world average. And we are phasing out coal. Further, as fossil fuel supply dwindles, renewables will be cheaper energy sources.  Give thanks for the Otonabee River.

Energy Descent: This occurs as we adapt to a declining supply of fossil fuels. As we contract, retract and retool energy supply and use, we become more resilient, starting now to use more sustainable, greener energy – on a massive scale.

Re-purposed Labour: Currently the oil and gas industries employ less than 3% of the Canadian labour force. Now, geothermal, biomass, solar, and wind sources account for only 3% of Canada’s energy. In Denmark it’s nearly 24%, Portugal, 15%, and Germany about 13%. Transferring energy production to renewables can potentially provide jobs not only for all current fossil fuel workers, but for hundreds of thousands of others in a new fossil-fuel free economy. And that transition means giant steps closer to meeting emissions targets. 

Greta Thunberg. This 16-year-old Swedish activist and youth around the world are rising to promote any effort to thwart their future life. Extinction Rebellion is currently one of the most influential activist groups with a huge youth presence in Europe, and a growing profile in Peterborough.

Vegetarianism: More and more average folks are calling the food industry to account by their personal lifestyle choices and by protest from, for instance, investing in climate-aware, responsible corporations to unwrapping over-packaged foods on the spot and leaving the supermarkets to deal with it.


Oil Work: One barrel of oil does the work of 12 1/2 years of human labour. Imagine pushing your car up Armour Hill to the Peterborough Museum. You’d need ropes, a dozen strong people, a good hour, and an ice-free road. Now estimate how few ounces of gas it takes to do the same job. Shows how dependent we are on fossil fuels.

Enduring Blight: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is comprised of an estimated 80,000 metric tons of plastic and assorted other sludge and detritus. Like the North Atlantic garbage patch, it continues to accumulate. And almost all of it was once the black goo you see on marine-birds’ wings after an oil-tanker spill. Imagine how much energy would be produced if we harvested all that plastic and found a method to cleanly burn or recycle it!

Climate Grief: The devastation of the Earth by our bad energy habits and addiction has led to a widespread sense of disempowerment and depression. The young are reluctant to have kids and see a low ceiling over future plans. Homes fly, species die, forests fry, springs go dry, and fly? seas acidify: that is the sorrowful cadence that underpins climate grief. As the earth atrophies, grief will turn to mourning unless we act now.

But If We Act Now… The Soulful Picture

EROI: Energy Return On Investment measures the energy it takes to mine, pump, dig, gather, capture and refine/process everything from coal, tar-sands petroleum, wind, natural gas, sunlight, and biomass energy from crops like corn. An example of low EROI in the oil patch is harvesting low-grade products required to build a road, mobilizing tanker trucks, digging, pumping, and refining intensively, and shipping to market, only to find that in the end the petroleum yield was less than the energy it took to capture it. The tar sands EROI is quite low. For a camper building a fire with an ample supply of nearby deadwood, the EROI is huge. And then here is …..

Hydroelectric Power: It has a large return on a small energy investment; some estimates put its EROI at 84:1. Although per capita Canadians use five times more energy than the average world resident, we are second only to China in hydroelectric power production. Result: we leave the same oil and gas footprint as the world average. And we are phasing out coal. Further, as fossil fuel supply dwindles, renewables will be cheaper energy sources. Give thanks for the Otonabee River.

Energy Descent: This occurs as we adapt to a declining supply of fossil fuels. As we contract, retract and retool energy supply and use, we become more resilient, starting now to use more sustainable, greener energy – on a massive scale.

Re-purposed Labour: Currently the oil and gas industries employ less than 3% of the Canadian labour force. Now, geothermal, biomass, solar, and wind sources account for only 3% of Canada’s energy. In Denmark it’s nearly 24%, Portugal, 15%, and Germany about 13%. Transferring energy production to renewables can potentially provide jobs not only for all current fossil fuel workers, but for hundreds of thousands of others in a new fossil-fuel free economy. And that transition means giant steps closer to meeting emissions targets.

Greta Thunberg: This 16-year-old Swedish activist and youth around the world are rising to promote any effort to thwart their future life. Extinction Rebellion is currently one of the most influential activist groups with a huge youth presence in Europe, and a growing profile in Peterborough.

Vegetarianism: More and more average folks are calling the food industry to account by their personal lifestyle choices and by protest from, for instance, investing in climate-aware, responsible corporations to unwrapping over-packaged foods on the spot and leaving the supermarkets to deal with it.

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