Dan HerwigMy name is Dan Herwig and you could consider me a recovering modernist. I actually have a degree in architecture, which I earned by studying the radical theories of privileged Europeans which were formed in the height of an oil-addicted culture. (We’ll all have helicopters! Skyscrapers will be a mile high! Buildings are machines for living!) My education instilled in me a love of the modern, the new, the avant-garde. It taught me that no obstacle was too great because you can always throw more time, energy and discerning taste at it. After my schooling I switched gears a bit and have spent the last 15 years building and designing web sites for some great global companies. During this period I’ve made witty jokes, traveled, ran marathons, and eaten, drunken, and entertained myself as I so pleased. Then I got married, had a kid, and started to really think about the future, rather than just the here and now.

We’ll all have helicopters! Skyscrapers will be a mile high! Buildings are machines for living!

I’ve recently come to realize a few things. The first is that we’re running out of oil. Like a petri dish of bacteria with an ample food supply, the human population has skyrocketed in the past two centuries due completely and utterly to fossil fuels. This is all slowly coming to an end, as the amount of energy it takes to extract more fossil fuels from the earth has begun to approach the amount it takes to extract it. It’s a politically contentious topic, and I’m not going to beat it to death. You’re either rational and see that our “modern” way of living cannot be sustained at its current rate, or you’re delusional and/or ignorant to the fact that our current lifestyle is afforded only due  to a one-time endowment of easily accessible energy in the form of oil. There are tomes written on the subject and I do not claim to be an expert, just someone who has seen the writing on the wall.

The second thing that I’ve come to believe is that in general, the human population is hugely out of balance with the resource base that sustains it. Our ample food supply, our global supply chains and our public infrastructure is all predicated on a constant, reliable and cheap supply of energy – oil in particular. There are renewable energy options of course, but you try flying a plane using electricity only. It ain’t gonna happen. Technology is created by energy, not vice-versa. In the near-term, we’re not going to develop a silver bullet technology that will do everything that oil does for us. Any technologies that we do develop will take lots of time (and energy) and will ultimately be less efficient and more costly than pumping fuel directly out of the ground.

The last thing I’ve really realized is that the world’s governments are basically in denial about the issue. The failure with Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil spill and the gridlock and overbearing partisanship in Washington have all illustrated how ineffective the US government is at actually governing. There’s no long-term plan. There’s no cooperation amongst the politicians. There is no true representation of the people. When energy prices start to creep up and our oil-dependent infrastructure starts to strain, what’s the plan? Pretty scary question.

So this is it. My life’s work moving forward. An ongoing effort to live in some sort of balance with nature and the rules of thermodynamics. To wean myself off the teat of oil and the lifestyle it has afforded me until now. It’s not going to be easy or fast. Everything I interact with on a daily basis is a result of this temporary energy-glut. I will contradict my beliefs. I will fall into old habits. I will come across as a hypocrite at times. I guarantee it. What I can’t do any more is lie to myself about the future.

Hopefully this page will be the “heaviest” content I write.

What does this all mean? I really wish I had the answers. I’m certainly not panicked, but I am genuinely worried about global stability once energy costs skyrocket. I’m not going to hoard ammo and MREs in a bunker, or join local militia. I look at it more like a new adventure. Moving forward I’m going to drastically cut my energy consumption and become more self-sufficient. I’m going to reduce my tremendous waste stream. I’m going to grow more of my own food, dabbling in permaculture principles.. I’m going to learn how to live with less and make smarter decisions. Other than that, I’m going to continue on with life, just with a different outlook. This site is a chronicle of my progress. My attempt to realign my needs with reality.

I plan on keeping it light-hearted here. Hopefully this page will be the “heaviest” content I write. To start with, I’ll document some of the things I’m doing to change my ways. Initially, my posts will be mostly focused on food, energy and shelter – the lower portions of Maslow’s nifty pyramid. Who knows, maybe moving forward I might inspire you to make a change too?

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