A Modest Proposal

People_DarnellFulghamto save the world as we know it

Story Darnell Fulgham

Let’s think for a minute. Let’s say there’s no such thing as Global Warming. And that the world is not going to end, at least not any time soon. Not in our lifetime anyway.

Okay, we got that out of the way. We don’t have to argue about it anymore. Let’s look at it this way. Oil and coal, and natural gas, too; it’s true they lifted us up out of the Dark Ages, made the “Industrial Revolution” possible. And the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.

What’s not to like? Beer and barbecue and Barry Manilow. And soon a robot at your beck and call. As in the Antebellum South. Except there’s no slavery involved, so you don’t have to feel bad about it. Unless we get too fond of those robots and start anthropomorphizing them. And the Supreme Court declares them to be people, or at least due the rights thereof. Well, corporations are. If the Supes can’t or won’t, a Constitutional Amendment could or would.

Then what we’ve got to worry about is some of our other kin being declared to have the same rights. There goes your food chain down the drain.

Well, we could become vegans. But haven’t you heard? Plants are Sentient Beings too; they talk to each other, respond to music — especially Mozart. And what about the bees? And their fanny wiggling way a’ talking. What if the Supes give them their rights, too? There goes your vegan diet down the tubes. (That is to say if we don’t kill ’em off first.)

But I digress. My point, and I do have one, comes in the form of a question. Have they, coal and oil, outlived their usefulness? Maybe there is a better way. If so, is that not what our dearly beloved, and deservedly so, Economic System is all about?

Capitalism is the American Way. If there’s a better way to do it that’s the way you do it.

And who can say with a straight face that getting your power straight from the Sun is not a better way to get it than digging it up or sucking it out of the ground?

Recently, in some of my Wilder Imaginings, I put pen to paper and wrote down a notion that’s been knocking around in my noggin for awhile, that maybe we could and might should ignore the question of Conservation of Energy, that is to say making our buildings more “efficient” via insulation and sealing cracks with ‘duck tape’ and so forth.

Make it irrelevant is what I’m saying. Make it so cheap it does not matter if you “waste” it. (Which of course would make our grandparents roll over in their graves. To waste is Shameful; worse, it’s Sinful.)

Well, I’m here to remind you that’s what we do every day. The Sun above rains down upon our heads more energy than we could ever use. Even as we speak. it is being sequestered in bogs or bouncing back out into space. Wasted, man. Gone forever.

What does that suggest to you? Well, put a bucket under the hole in the roof. Don’t fix the leak, use it. Bring it on, man, electric blankets, toys and games and coffee makers, cars and trains and planes.

But I digress. Point of story, Capitalism is built on Competition. He who builds a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to his door.

He who does it better and cheaper than the competition can start hauling that “filthy lucre” to the bank in a wheelbarrow, after first hiring someone or thing to clean it on his behalf.

To recapitulate: God put the Sun up there in the sky for us to use. It’s up to us to learn how better and cheaper to harvest the crop than heretofore.

Here is where the caveat, the counter-argument, rears its ugly head. In a word, storage.

Batteries have been around a long time. Of course they’ll have to be improved. But isn’t that what we are all about, find the hole and fill it? With good old-fashioned American knowhow.

As a for instance or two, we made a Bum because we thought we had a reason to, went to the Moon because it was there. That is to say because we thought we should and because we could. We made up our minds to do it and did. The hard part is making up your mind. The rest is working out the details.

Coal and oil and other dubious ways of doing things are Kaput! No longer needed. There’s solar, wind and water, wave and tide to take their place. A thousand ways to bring home the bacon without harming a hair on Porky’s head.

The rewards are great, not the least of which is disfigurement of the scenery we hold so dear.

The Universe is Infinite, I understand, but every piece of it is Finite. It cannot change but can and does combine in diverse ways to make up everything that is, has ever been, will ever be. Including you. It’s all there is, there isn’t any more.

Born in a sharecropper’s shack in ‘32, / I thought we were well off, and I still do. / The subsequent 82 years were spent as follers— / Somewhere in the woods amongst the hills and hollers— / Can’t tell you where, I’d have to kill you, I fear. / Ran herd on two thousand chickens for a year. / They did their thing and I had the fun / Of peddling the eggs; the downside was the job was never done. / We built a little cabin back in the woods and there’s / Where I spent 20 years at a drawing board upstairs. / Inside I’d be doing houses for rich folks mostly / While outside I’d be watching the wildlife closely. / When my pencil finally ran out of lead / I switched to writing lines of verse instead. / And from a distance watched in awe as she / Raised three stalwart sons, a part of whom were me— / The only thing I’ve done that’s an unmitigated right, / That has redounded to my credit and delight. — Darnell Fulgham of Ackerman