Hello world!

The Cheery Pessimist is a blog about the energy crisis. As the name implies, I’m not an optimist about our current situation but I also don’t see the point in being gloomy & doomy about it! There is much talk about climate change and reducing carbon emissions as if that was the whole story – it isn’t. The less popular sister to climate change is peak oil and I began speaking publically on peak oil in 2004 as I couldn’t believe how many people didn’t see the links between these two topics (hint: energy!). There were the climate changers and the peak oilers and they both laid claim to having ‘the worst problem’. Thankfully more and more people are making the links, thanks in no small part to people like Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition Towns movement and Richard Heinberg, author of many excellent books and senior fellow-in-residence of The Post Carbon Institute (don’t be put off by the ‘support us’ box, which seems to appear at every click of the mouse – but if you do have any money to spare, it’s an excellent cause to donate to).

We have to realise that fossil fuels offered us a one-off energy bank. Rather than using that resource wisely, we’ve been like a kid in a sweet shop gorging ourselves as fast as possible & throwing a tantrum when someone suggests that we stop it as it’s bad for us & anyway, the jar’s nearly empty and other kids want to have some before it’s too late. Technology uses energy, it does not create it (1st law of thermodynamics!) and there is way too much hope that technology will save the day because we’ve never known a world without abundant, cheap energy – until now.

I’ll be back to say more on oil, net energy and other important issues of the day – hope to hear from you…

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About The Cheery Pessimist

Waiting for some sign that we will change our ways before it all comes tumbling down...still, you've got to laugh
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12 Responses to Hello world!

  1. Nikki MacLeod says:

    And Hello Mandy

    So lets all hope that the accident waiting to happen in the GofM that finally happened will awaken the rest of the world into thinking that the harder the oil is to get the bigger the mess it’s going to make and possibly leaving the damn stuff in the ground, under the sea or wherever but I hae me doobts. . . . . . .

    Whadya think about the idea of extracting more energy from fossil fuel by setting fire to coal under the Firth of Forth using Underground Coal Gasification? Does this have the potential to cause a major disaster here on our doorstep?

    • mandy meikle says:

      Hi Nikki – good questions you raise. I used to write a blog for a now defunct anti-coal group and raised the issue of underground coal gasification (UCG) beneath the Forth (http://sancnews.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/underground-coal-gasification-fuelling-the-fires/). UCG is touted as clean but it is only clean if combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS) and there are big plans for Longannet coal-fired power station to become a shining example of CCS. However, given the state of the economy, I think it’s anyone’s guess how CCS or UCG will pan out. I’ll no doubt write more on coal later…

      The Deepwater Horizon is an enormous wake-up call on the dangers of exploiting ultra-deep oil reserves. Oil companies can access reserves at phenomenal depths but they can’t do that cheaply and safely – something’s got to give. But let’s face it, would we be going to such lengths to access oil if there were easier options available? Of course not. The only ‘large’ oil reserves being found these days are fraught with technological difficulties, such as their ultra-deep location or their ‘heavy’ nature which requires a lot more energy investment in processing (tar sands being a classic example). We have used the low-hanging fruit but rather than wean ourselves off of oil, we just go on scraping the barrel. That is definitely a topic I shall return to!

  2. Welcome to blogworld Mandy! Totally agree that you need one, you are able to articulate the overlapping subject with ease and accessibility. Like you say, we need to start seeing climate and energy decline through the same lens. I will try to keep up on my blog, to post similar things, but to be honest I struggle with just keeping pace with the present, the day to day advancements on our own effort to find ways to build and live with less carbon and pollotion from building materials, land use and food production and energy use. I will try to make a link to mine (when I get there next time)
    Hugs from the River valleys:)
    M

    • mandy meikle says:

      Thanks for your lovely encouraging comments Magnus! I am well aware that many people who are actively making their own lives more resilient may not have the time for blogging. It is a luxury to have time to think about these things and enter into a global debate. I will attempt to make this site a useful resource for people with little time to do hours of research and so on. So please do ask questions on any burning issues – I’m bound to have an opinion on it!

      Let me have a note of your blog and I’ll link to it here. Seeing what others are doing is as (if not more) important as understanding the issues.

  3. Teen says:

    Hey Mandy – good to see you’ve made the foray into the blogosphere and look forward to following your posts.
    Are you surprised by the ‘biggest environmental catastrophe’ the US has ever seen and how do you think the energy sums will add up for that stramash?
    As for the UK, asserting ‘sovereignty’ with a view to drilling deep in the South Atlantic doesn’t seem like the best use of effort and resources… in my uninformed opinion.
    Bring on the ‘net energy’ bit. We all need to be able to get our heads round it – and explain it better.
    G’aun yersel!

    • mandy meikle says:

      Cheers Teen – I was going to post about the wonders of ultra-deep oil reserves but caught a programme on Radio 4 about democracy. That first post has taught me a lesson – try to keep it brief!! I will be back, hopefully at the weekend, with a post on Deepwater Horizon. I’m off to sunny (?) Aberdeen for a peak oil talk tomorrow – I’m in the audience for a change!

  4. max says:

    Glad to see you twittering all over your my-face-space-tube. Don’t forget the ability of the money system to be claimed as the biggest problem we have. Helping people make the connection between growth, banking, energy decent, animal instincts and unemployment would be a good thing.
    I like Dmitry Orlov’s summary of Transition, it could do with expanding perhaps:
    “1.Formulate a brilliant plan
    2.Generate community enthusiasm
    3.Get buy-in from industry, government, the UN, the Vatican and the Dalai Lama
    4.Use mass media to create public awareness
    5.Form action committees
    6.Propose new legislation, lobby parliaments
    7.Secure corporate sponsorships
    8.Execute pilot programs
    9.Publish papers, present results at conferences
    10.COLLAPSE!”
    He then doesn’t go on to say that it’s still worthwhile to be prepared, as a community, even if we can’t really steer things much.

    • mandy meikle says:

      Hey Max – just for the recrod, I don’t do twitter or Facebook (although someone else with my name, how dare she, does have a Facebook thingy). No, I’m a bit of a Luddite (in a good way!!) and feel torn between embracing technology and ignoring it. I read Orlov’s Reinventing Collapse, which I quite enjoyed, and as for expanding his summary of Transition, how about:

      11. Thank (insert diety or expletive) for the Transition movement – now we have a base of knowledge to start again from…

      Yes, I could go on about that but not now, Meikle!

  5. Ah, the Cheery Pessimist – clearly my alter ego! Welcome to blogworld 🙂

  6. Jeff Rice says:

    How about a neat summary of Peak Oil to get the ball rolling? 🙂

    • mandy meikle says:

      Excellent suggestion, Jeff. I’ve just posted on planning and democracy (bizarrely – didn’t think that’d be my first!) but a nice summary of peak oil is very high up the To Do list. I might as well share this with you and who ever else reads this – I’m writing a very small book called Net Energy in a Nutshell. It’s small because that seems more achievable (it can always be expanded on) and I have no money for publishing etc. But I’d like to think people will read it and say, “of course, now I get it”. I’m sure I’m delusional but wish me luck!!
      Cheers, mate!

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