Sunday, June 12, 2005

End of the Age of Oil, part 3

End of The Age of Oil is a narration set somewhere in the future (~2070). Chapter 1 discusses the wasteful lifestyles of citizens in developed economies during the 20th century. Chapter 2 is set in the early decades of the 21st century, and shows some of the implications of oil exhaustion to the lifestyle of the population.

Suggestions for future plot direction, topic of discussion, feedback are most welcomed valued.

End of The Age of Oil

Chapter 3:
Social changes

As oil prices rose, it became a terrible burden for the general population to drive. In light of this, public transport became incredibly efficient by 20th century standards. Electric trolleybuses become the favoured means of public transport, not only for its lack of emissions, but also because it used electric power generated from renewable and nuclear sources. The streets became free of rumbling, honking, humming and burbling automobiles, and the air over cities worldwide took on a clarity never seen in decades.

This turnaround in air quality turned out to be a blessing for amateur, backyard astronomers. Observant veterans noted that several previously undistinguishable star systems had revealed themselves to be the binary stars they are.

In spite of this apparently happy development of efficient public transport, peaceful urban streets, clean air and visible star systems, there was a constant, niggly threat of food security for states, families and individuals. If oil supplies were exhausted before a suitable hydrogen source was found, fertiliser and food production would be threatened.

In this respect, the food & population policies of states took on an additional dimension characterised by 2 opposing attitudes- “make less babies; we don’t want our numerous great-grandchildren to starve” and “have all the babies you want, but make sure you contribute to the fertiliser research program”.

Several states which took the “make less babies” stance enforced a one-child policy similar to 19th century China. Most parents were culturally unprepared for this change. Lavishing excessive attention on their only child, they gave rise to a generation with a disproportionately large number of socially-inept, self-centred and obnoxious little bastards who always got what they wanted. In these states, staunch believers of “no contraceptives” religions had very little sex, and were generally grumpy people. Most states prudently stood somewhere between the “make less babies” and “contribute to fertiliser research” attitudes.

For the majority of the inhabitants of developed states, their world and basis of existence had been cars, ordinateurs, air conditioners, microwave dinners, plastic bags, televisions and reality-TV. With the looming oil exhaustion upon them, a few began to see the insignificance and impermanence of their high-rolling lifestyles. “What is the point of clinging on to these trivial and temporary characteristics anyway?” they asked. “Yeah, we will lose them pretty soon anyway. No point fretting over them.”

A class of semi-ascetic people began to emerge from the middle-class of developed economies, eschewing in varying degrees dependence on fossil fuels, plastics and unnecessary convenience. Of course, necessity is subject to interpretation, and some found polymer condoms necessary while others thought of them as nothing more than an endangered plastic product.

*ordinateur - computer (French)

Previous chapters:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2