Pioneer CommunityPosted: January 18, 2011
As soon as its light reaches the corner of my eye through the window I know everything is just as it should be. I am reminded of the constant hum of energy and life that it holds and of the vast resources it harbors to keep civilization moving on. Its soft orange glow has become a source of comfort for me and millions of others, for my generation and the generation before mine. This glow pierces the night sky, clouding out stars and acting as a beacon that can be seen from vehicles on highways a hundred miles away, letting individuals know that safety and luxury are always within reach. This source of light is humankind’s largest finger print, our greatest achievement and our biggest crutch.
As the plane makes its descent all I can do is stare at the impressive technological feats coming up toward me from below: the vigilant sky scrapers, the interstates, the apartments, the shopping centers, the thousands of cars, and the endless sea of lights. I’m so fond of it all. But then I’m brought back to reality by the roar of rubber on pavement and the sight of concrete rushing by below the window seat where I sit. That reality is that everything I just saw and admired will, at this rate, inevitably end in something ugly.
The wings I have just flown in on, the car that takes me home and the lights that guide me there are all powered by a painfully limited indulgence. Black gold, in all three of its forms, will some day not be able to keep up with the needs presented by a growing human world. When fossil fuel production starts to decrease, the world’s industries will be strained and they will eventually break. There will not be enough cheap fuel to power vehicles of trade. There won’t be enough coal or natural gas for power plants. This will paralyze the infrastructure of the entire world; the earth will suddenly seem like a very large place again. People will have to rely on a small fraction of the power they were once used to, and the vast majority of day-to-day life will occur within walking distance of home. The idea of a global economy will be something in between a dream and a joke. Big cities will only be quiet embers of the vibrant fires that they once were.
Some would say that this is deserved, that we are gluttons fattening ourselves on a cheap buffet of fossil fuels. I think it’s something much more innocent than that. Scientists and engineers have provided humanity with technology that makes life longer, more enjoyable, and more convenient. People have just been living their lives. Most don’t know of all the potential technical problems that threaten our very way of life, but frankly, who would want to? It’s depressing.
This up-coming hole was dug by fossil fuel-based inventions made by engineers and scientists. It is engineers and scientists who will keep us from falling in this hole. Just as with any complex problem, there are many potential solutions to this situation. We’ve just got to find the right answers and apply them. This is what engineering is all about; this is what I dream about doing. I am in love with the world as we know it and I want to be a part of the search for ways to sustain it and even improve it.
That radiant light that emanates from the city, that greets me on every trip home, should never have to die. I have always known it and it has always been a source of encouragement and strength. It defines everything that technology is meant to achieve. I must be sure that it will always be there for me and the rest of the world.
Because no one should ever have to live in the dark if they don’t want to.