Blueprint or Scramble?

I’m convinced that energy is the #1 structural issue of our era. As a student of energy, I’ve tracked many recent public statements by Big Oil. One of the most revealing comes from a Davos talk this week by Shell Oil’s CEO. Shell is the world’s third largest corporation by revenue (Exxon being first. In fact, 9 of the 10 largest global corporations are either oil companies or automobile manufacturers.)

Following in Exxon’s recent admissions, Shell’s CEO Jeroen van der Veer is now admitting what many are calling “Peak Oil.” In his statement at Davos, van der Veer reveals that, very soon, “easily accessible supplies of oil and gas probably will no longer keep up with demand.” He cites 2015 as our Peak date – some analysts believe we passed “Peak” in 2007.

Jeroen sees two strategies to keep the energy flowing:

1. Blueprint

… a cautious ride, with some false starts, on a road that is still under construction. Whether we arrive safely at our destination depends on the discipline of the drivers and the ingenuity of all those involved in the construction effort. Technological innovation provides the excitement.

2. Scramble

Like an off-road rally through a mountainous desert, it promises excitement and fierce competition. However, the unintended consequence of “more haste” will often be “less speed,” and many will crash along the way.

Shell’s CEO sees two possible energy futures: (1) an exciting ride on a road that is still under construction with only marginal assurance of safe passage, or (2) a fiercley competitive off-road rally on tretcherous roads where many will crash and burn.

Wow.

The CEO provides further details into these global energy scenarios – I encourage anyone remotely interested in our collective future to read this paper. I believe energy scarcity will be (and perhaps already is) the primary influencing dynamic behind world economics and the political decisions which follow.

Added: Short introduction to the concept of Peak Oil

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Omar Osama bin Laden

Omar Osama bin Laden and his British wife Jane Felix-Brown are seen during an interview with the Associated Press in Cairo, Friday, Jan. 11, 2008. The 26-year-old son of the al-Qaida leader says there is a better way to defend Islam: Omar wants to be an “ambassador for peace” between Muslims and the West. (from AP)


Benedictus

May there be some beautiful surprise
Waiting for you inside death
Something you never knew or felt,
Which with one simple touch
Absolves you of all loneliness and loss,
As you quicken within the embrace
For which your soul was eternally made.

May your heart be speechless
at the sight of the truth
Of all your belief had hoped,
Your heart breathless
In the light and lightness
Where each and every thing
Is at last its true self
Within that serene belonging
That dwells beside us
On the other side
Of what we see.

John O’Donohue, “poet, priest, philosopher”

John passed away January 3, 2008.

from John O’Donohue’s The Question Holds the Lantern

The journey shows you that from this inner dedication you can reconstruct your own values and action. You develop johnodonohuelrg.jpgfrom your own self-compassion a great compassion for others. You are no longer caught in the false game of judgement, comparison and assumption. More naked now than ever, you begin to feel truly alive. You begin to trust the music of your own soul; you have inherited treasure that no one will ever be able to take from you. At the deepest level, this adventure of growth is in fact a transfigurative conversation with your own death. And when the time comes for you to leave, the view from your death bed will show a life of growth that gladdens the heart and takes away all fear.


Oxymoronica

With a HT to KK, and in continuing the theme of an earlier post in which John Fiesole playfully tackles the notion of meaningful meaninglessness, and the meaningfullnessians who profess such paradox, here’s a book exploring uncaused causes – self-causation – seemingly illogical or nonsensical ideas that, upon deeper reflection, may offer  profound truth. From the book:

The superfluous is the most necessary.
Voltaire

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.
Margaret Mead

I shut my eyes in order to see.
Paul Gauguin

We learn from history that we do not learn from history.
Georg Hegel

We are never prepared for what we expect.
James Michener

To be believed, make the truth unbelievable.
Napoleon Bonaparte

What we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.
Sydney J. Harris

When a dog runs at you, whistle for him.
Henry David Thoreau

Always be sincere, even if you don’t mean it.
Harry S. Truman

Man can believe the impossible, but can never believe the improbable.
Oscar Wilde

War is a series of catastrophes which result in a victory.
Georges Clemenceau

First I dream my painting, then I paint my dream.
Vincent van Gogh

We are confronted by insurmountable opportunities.
Walt Kelly, From Pogo

I want peace and I’m willing to fight for it.
Harry S. Truman

Study the past, if you would divine the future.
Confucius, in Analects

Love is a kind of warfare.
Ovid

All works of art should begin…at the end.
Edgar Allan Poe

and my favorite…

The final delusion is the belief that one has lost all delusions.
Maurice Chapelain

no wait, this is my favorite…

A man chases a woman until she catches him.
Anonymous

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The Kandelhardt Paradox


Internet Singularity and the Exaflood

The rate of virtual information we generate and share is growing exponentially. But the Internet “backbone” is finite and limited. The USA is ranked 16th in broadband infrastructure, and falling. The advent of video and other high-speed requirements are taxing the Internet like never before. In early 2005, YouTube didn’t exist. Today, over 100 million videos are downloaded every day.

The IIA advocacy group claims that “consumer and corporate Internet usage could outstrip worldwide network capacity in little more than two years,” generating what they call an exaflood of data. Maybe so, but something smells funny with the group – like they’re working a bit too closely with the backbone community. Anyway, they’ve produced an interesting video which I’ll attach, below.

Regardless of the IIA’s affiliations, the Internet must grow in both bandwidth and, more importantly, egalitarian transparency. Free markets will assure a continued growth in backbone connectivity – no need to sound the alarms. Demand, and the almighty dollar, will drive bandwidth.

What’s of greater concern is the increasing rate of governmental (or quasi-govt) intervention, like we see in Burma and China, restricting the free-flow of information and community. All freedoms, especially on-line religious freedoms, can be snuffed out by heavy-handed central rule. We saw this recently with Burmese Buddhists monks and reporters – a near-total Internet blackout.

And if the information / backbone carriers (ATT, Global Crossing, etc.) had their way, they, too, would curtail interfere with the free-flow of data, as we’ve learned in recent “Net Neutrality” debates. There will come a time, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, when ideological freedom will closely equate with a free global Internet.


Gratitude

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
– G.K. Chesterton

The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.”
–Albert Schweitzer

“A man of genius is unbearable, unless he possess at least two things besides: gratitude and purity.”
–Friedrich Nietzsche

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”
–Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world around me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?”
–G.K. Chesterton

And from Jeremy Sherman:

When should you call people on their inconsistencies? In effect, that means holding them down long enough for reality to hit. Not too soon or it will crush their aspirations. Not too late or they’ll invest in dangerous delusion. And when should you do the same for yourself? That is, hold yourself down or allow others to hold you down until you’re accountable to reality?More


The Earthquake Rule

My friend Ian has asked me to speak at his wedding tomorrow. Here’s part of what I’m going to say:

. .

In tough times, you will remember how you waited a good third of your life to find each other: this memory will be a constant catalyst for healing and reconciliation – it will remind you that your sensitive and deep-rooted love is far greater than any differences that may arise.

Know that sometimes marriage can be like a series of earthquakes. There;s a rule I want you always to remember – let’s call it the earthquake rule: when you find a fault, don’t dwell on it.

Marriage is a continual stream of ripples and waves, just like little earthquakes. But the reality of marriage is that you may not always be on each other’s wavelength. Tolstoy said it well:  What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.

See, marriage isn’t about thinking alike, but thinking together. This means that rather than always being on the same wavelength, you’ll simply need to ride along with each others waves. When those magnitude 7.5 earthquakes rock your world, the marriage commitment keeps you together until the dust settles and you fall back in love again.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull author Eric Segal said love means never having to say you’re sorry. When I first heard that, I thought.. that’s nonsense! Married people do stupid things all the time – we always need to forgive each other. But as I thought more about it, I realized the truth in this saying. Forgiveness in a healthy marriage becomes more than words – more than an occasional conversation. Forgiveness becomes a state of being. The words forgiveness and marriage become almost interchangeable.

Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu said marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness. The late Ruth Graham said a happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers. Ian and Kristin, never forget what is worth remembering. And never remember what is best forgotten.

Chief Seattle said this: the Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Chief Seattle’s words are a lot like marriage. Marriage means you are no longer in control. You now belong to each other – you are connected in a mysterious, spiritual manner where two beings become united into one body and one heart. You, Ian, now belong to Kristin, and Kristin you now belong to Ian.

In ancient times, sacrifices were made on the altar. We’re continuing that custom today.  Marriage is the ultimate sacrifice of our autonomy. In what might be the most mystical chapter of the New Testament, Jesus says,

Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are –
I in them and you in me.
That they’ll be matured in this oneness

(Jn 17, The Message)

In language that can only be called deeply metaphysical, Jesus takes us into a place of unrestrained unity, where all duality is banished in God’s singular light. Marriage is a profound opportunity to overcome our separate lives and to seek something more than physical unity. We have the opportunity to seek a spiritual unity in which two become one in every respect.