The Great Propping Up

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You and I exist for one reason, fossil fuels. It took from the beginning of humanity until the early 19th century for our population to reach one billion. The Industrial Revolution took it from there as we’ve breached 7 billion. So in other words we went from a gradual increase to reach a billion people in 1800 to a dramatic increase of 6 billion more in about 200 years. How did this happen?

The basics needs for human survival are food, water and shelter. Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas have allowed most of us to exist by providing these three staples of life support. Food can now be created on a massive industrial level, shipped to our local store and picked up by car. A fossil fuel support system is our way of life.

Living within the industrial model has allowed most of us to take water for granted. We turn on a municipal tap and our cup runneth over. Millions of people living in the American Southwest is just one example of how fossil fuels have made it possible for the multitudes to live in such a harsh climate. We no longer have to secure our own drinking water. The power of fossil fuels provides for many of us. Just turn on the tap.

Our well lit, optimum temperature houses were built for us. No longer do we need the skill set to create a shelter that keeps us warm or cool when necessary. We pay someone to do that for us. Those materials and their assembly are at our disposal because of fossil fuels. We just pay someone and it’s taken care of.

We have been propped up. Most of us were born into the industrial model with no skill set other than the one that allows us to continue our participation in it. We can have children without being concerned of overshooting our resources. We can waste food and water without being concerned about running out. We can be oblivious to the social and environmental atrocities that are required to provide such an existence because we don’t have to see it. We can go on thinking this will last forever because why wouldn’t it?

So this holiday season when we have those moments of contemplation and self-reflection and we begin to ask questions like why we’re here or why we’re so blessed, all we have to do is open our eyes and scan the area we’re currently in. Chances are that space will be littered with structures, items and products that were produced by fossil fuels. That space also includes you.