If you ask most people, “What are the most important things we are going to need in a peak oil world?”. I can guarantee that a better refrigerator won’t make it into their top 20. It probably won’t even come up. Residential refrigeration is taken for granted as is electrification, hot water, running water for that matter, a reliable food source, sanitation services and list list goes on and on and on. There are so many technologies that we give little thought to, having only acquired them in the last three or four generations. Cheap, abundant energy provided these for the masses of people. ‘Masses’ meaning of course the minority of the world’s population self chosen to have such luxuries.
There seems to be someone working on improving, adapting ad securing many of the technologies that have freed humans of labor, tedious work, malnutrition, disease and so on. Wether it’s a University program designing solar water heaters or individuals toiling away building ‘eco friendly’ mud huts that are safe, warm and energy efficient; it’s nice to know that people are waking up to the fact that the low hanging fruit of fossil fuel energy is all but picked and that our society gorged itself on that energy with inefficient gizmos of modern living, throw away products in a consumption driven economy and became dependent on an unsustainable infrastructure that will quickly deteriorate beyond any control as soon as maintenance falls behind. Yes, we could have used that ancient sunlight locked away in those carbon deposits to propel our society forward both socially and technologically, but we didn’t. The industrial revolution will be remembered as a flash in the pan following a long arduous journey.
What the hell does all this have to do with a refrigerator? It’s the one piece of technology we give little thought to and yet it’s one of the most important achievements of human civilization. It changed the way we live on this planet. I won’t say much more about it than that.
I would like a record somewhere to establish the following. When it comes to refrigeration, we are woefully unprepared for a peak oil society. Of all the work being done about developing appropriate technologies; ones that use sustainable sourced, non toxic materials and provide efficient service for many years, I have yet to see one advancement in personal refrigerators. This may seem like a rather specific criticism, but it’s my criticism and feel it’s rather important. Capitalism has been and continues to be the problem for much, if not all of our problems. Producing well made, long lasting goods is not sustainable in a capitalist economy so that model gets booted out the door. There is too much at stake and we can’t afford it anymore.
I propose something better.
To be continued…
-M. C. Pletcher