2050 is the new 1850

Via Mathew Gross comes this interesting, informative, and depressing article about the coming energy crisis and its possible implications in the coming decades. Short answer: it ain't gonna be pretty. The Pacific Northwest would probably fare well in comparison to the rest of the country as the author says -- Portland, in particular, has had the foresight to restrict the city's slow gobble of outlying farmland, and we benefit from excellent growing conditions that would allow regular people like us to grow some or all of our own food.

But as a former Wyoming native, I think the speculation about the Mountain West is at least somewhat incorrect*, if only because states like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are still largely rural and despite recent technological and economic advances, they lag far behind the rest of the country in terms of that kind of "progress". There's something to be said for being left behind (no, not in the fundie apocalypse sense) the march toward change and that advantage comes when the march toward changes comes crashing down around your ears.

During the whole Y2K extravaganza, most of the people in these states barely paused to concern themselves with what would happen if all the computers in the world suddenly went on a bender and started flinging airplanes into the ocean or turning ATMs into toaster ovens, or whatever the hell experts thought might happen. Not because they're a bunch of ignorant hicks or that they wouldn't be affected by it, but their daily life isn't tethered so tightly to technology. That can make life less convenient, sure, when you're talking about internet access or debit cards, but when internet access and debit cards suddenly go the way of the dodo, it's the people who depended on them overmuch that suffer far more than those who're still governed by a pioneer ethic of self-sufficiency.

(* the Western water crisis, on the other hand, is a very real and looming problem)

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