In Praise of Modest, Humble People … Who Recognize What They Know, Don’t Know About Modern Life … (Pt 2)

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Surge Summary: The realities that Make Modern Life Possible are not always obvious to everyone. There’s great need today for Modest and Humble People Who Recognize What They Know and Don’t Know About these facts of life. 

by Rob Morse

Continued from Part One

Energy is more than a convenience. Before you believe that, it helps to know our history. We have more trees today than we had thirty five years ago. We have many more trees than we had a hundred years ago. Before we had electric lights, we used gas lights and kerosene lamps. Before that, we used to harvest whales for the oil that we used in our lamps. Whale-oil replaced candles. Drilling for fossil fuels put an end to harvesting whales for their oil.

Yes, using natural gas and kerosene to light our homes put an end to harvesting whales.

Likewise, we used to build our buildings with wood. We used to cook our food on a wood stove. We heated our house with a wood-burning furnace. We powered our industry by burning trees. Our economy ran by cutting down our forests.

Harnessing natural gas allowed us to make our buildings from concrete and steel. Coal, oil, and natural gas let us power our civilization without stripping our forests. We’ve made amazing progress and that progress is fragile.

We need fuel to cook our food and to keep our children warm at night. The reason we don’t burn the forest to keep our children warm today is because we have alternatives. We have well-made homes and affordable energy. That isn’t true everywhere. Affordable energy lets us use natural gas and electricity to cook our food. We don’t need to strip the forest or collect cattle dung for fuel. Because of cheap energy, billions of people can care about the environment because their children aren’t cold, sick, and hungry.

This is important because we took more people out of poverty in the last few decades than we did in all of world-history combined.

Another reason we have more trees is because we feed more people while we’re using less land in agriculture. We produce more-from-less by using fertilizer to grow more from each acre of land. Affordable fertilizer comes from natural gas. Rising energy prices put all of that progress at risk.

Rising energy prices put the environment at risk. I assume you knew that when you voted for higher energy prices.

We easily feed billions of people because we have fertilizer. Cutting back on natural gas means that the price of fertilizer soars. Expensive fertilizer and higher food prices are inconvenient if you’re rich. Those expenses are a death sentence if you’re poor and you are farming simply to feed your family.

Millions of people now care about the environment because they can afford to. What happens when they can’t afford to care about the forest, the river, or the reef? Sure, food prices will go up, but we will also convert more land to farming and strip more of our forests for fuel. More children will die and poor families will have more children. I’m sure you thought about that before you voted for expensive energy.

We are so close to preserving our environment. I want energy to cost much less, not much more. We are on the brink of a technological revolution. Technology has finally let us transform power into food. LED lights are so efficient that we can almost grow our own food anywhere and in any season. The cost of that “indoor” food depends on affordable power. Cheap power lets us use less land to grow food and leave more land for nature.

We are on the edge of a cultural revolution as well that is equally profound. We now have 8 billion people on the planet and our population is leveling off. People have fewer children when their children live into adulthood and stop dying at a young age. We have fewer children when women are no longer carrying water and washing clothes all day. Rather than going backward economically to “save the planet”, it is the prosperity of 8 billion minds that lets us do so much more with less. We can easily power the world and leave our forest to grow in peace. You knew that, didn’t you?

Demographers, the people who study population, have serious doubts if we will reach a population of 8.5 billion or 9 billion. That isn’t because of an environmental catastrophe, but because so many more of us live better and longer and we have fewer children as a result. I’m sure you already knew that.

Why don’t you know this good news? It could be because fear keeps us watching the news… so the news sells us more fear. It could be because politicians need the latest emergency so they can grab more money and more political power.

You know that there are dangerous men in the world. You know that even the best men are tempted by power. You knew that, didn’t you?

Did I mention things you didn’t know, or did you forget things you knew but forgot to consider? Modesty and humility means making safe decisions that allow for mistakes.

I’m sorry, but I didn’t have time to write a short article so I wrote a long one. Please share it with a friend. RM


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