"I can't face cooking tonight. I'm too tired."
"Me neither. Maybe I'll take Lilia in the car and we'll drive and get takeout."
To understand the absurdity of this exchange, you have to understand where my wife and I live. We're about 10 minutes out in the country from the nearest town (yeah, not very green...). While we have one (excellent) restaurant just around the corner, there is only so much Mexican food you can eat. So this drive—to an excellent, locally-funded everybody-eats restaurant—would have been a 30 minute round trip minimum.
And here's me saying I'm "too tired". What I was really saying is I was fresh out of ideas and enthusiasm.
Crushing Creativity With a Blunt Tool
It seems to me that it's a useful analogy for what fossil fuels have become in our lives. Someone once wrote that we are crushing time and distance with fossil fuels, and I wonder if we are also crushing our creativity and ability to problem solve.
Sure, once upon a time they may have represented a break from the old guard, a new source of freedom, and an opportunity to explore new territory and try new experiences. But increasingly oil, coal and other fossil fuels are becoming, at best, a rather blunt tool that we use to throw at a particular problem—be it personal mobility or keeping the house warm—when we don't have the creative energy or inspiration to seek a more elegant path forward.
Consumers Want the Benefit, Not the Fuel
From passivhauses to electric vehicle sharing, people are finding new and innovative ways to deliver mobility, comfort and any other benefit that was once provided by burning more-and-more oil/coal to the end consumer, but with a fraction of the impact. And I for one think we're creating a more delightful, inspiring and creative world in the process.
So what did we end up eating? Some leftover pesto, a little cream and brussels sprouts conjoured up a meal every bit as good as our local eateries could have offered. And we'd cooked, eaten and washed the dishes within the time it would have taken us to pick up the food...