Saturday, March 15, 2008

The end of the fire age

Over at Peak Energy, Big Gav indulges in some funny, yet strangely persuasive armchair psychological interpretation of why libertarians disbelieve talk of global warming. They're Prometheans. They equate fossil fuels with the fire that Prometheus stole from the gods and bestowed on humans. Of course, another thinker who saw himself in Promethean terms was Karl Marx -- but that's another story: ...Given this strong identification with Prometheus and the fire he gave mankind, perhaps there is some strong subconscious resistance at work in the traditional Libertarian mindset to the idea that we stop setting fire to things - clinging to the practice of burning fossil fuels like polar bears clinging to the last melting pieces of ice cap in the Arctic.

This psychological barrier then manifests itself in the form of resistance to doing anything about global warming, or even acknowledging that global warming is occurring, and to the idea that oil production will peak one day - sometimes resulting in the adoption of abiotic oil theory as a way of keeping the fires burning forever.

Of course, there is an alternative way of framing the transition that might allay these subconscious fears that we are heading backward into a pre-fire age - instead focusing on the fact that we are moving forward to high technology ways of generating the energy we require - a leap forward, rather than a step backward (and a very popular one at that). Given that the most clean energy sources are driven either directly or indirectly by the sun, perhaps fire worship can be replaced with sun worship over a period of time....

Heinrich Fuger's "Prometheus brings fire to mankind," circa 1817, from Wikimedia Commons

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