Saturday, 4 April 2009

Vision Of The Age

In a recent talk, Mark Forskit mentioned "Now the bad news, the society shaking, earth moving bad news. We have used up half the oil and gas in 150 years. We have reached the maximum output -Peak Oil. However from here on in we can expect a decline in oil production of 3% per year. The effect has been masked recently by the global recession curtailing demand. Without relatively cheap and freely available fossil fuels we cannot have classical economic growth, even if we wanted it. Our growth centred GDP based economics simply will not do for the future." He also hinted in comments that one of the concerns that he kept away from addressing, because it was simply too worrying, was a possible collapse of our civilization and reversion to barbarism if the oil does become less available, and almost impossible to gain to sustain  our oil driven industrial world.

Back in 1982, I was contemplating how people would react if oil ran out. I had been reading Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful", and his comments, and the all too visible effects of the energy squeeze under Ted Heath's Government in the early 1970s, gave a clear idea of how this could bring society to its knees. I remember television going off around 8.00 or 9.00 every evening, the "three day week", and the shortages of petrol - not just rising cost, but also scarcity. People were queuing (in panic) at petrol stations to fill up. By 1982, it was clear that Margaret Thatcher was starting to think about a repeat of the Ted Heath against the miners struggle, but the Falkland's War meant that in the end this struggle was postponed until 1984. With the memory of oil shortages, and the thought that if oil did run out, not just because of a political struggle, but because it was a finite resource, I wrote this - a poem of a collapse, barbarism, and the madness of a people who are undergoing a profound psychological breakdown, as their world ends, and there is no light. The echoes of Asimov's famous story, "Nightfall", are deliberate. It is an issue which will not go away, and seems significantly closer that when I wrote this. The time for complacency is over.

Vision Of The Age.

Unexpected, flashpoint came and light
Extinguished; remaining lack of sight,
Plunged into darkness, the city; its cold stone
Now in eternal night; the heat, a loan
Once given in black gold, is now spent
(A currency so precious, so misspent)
And payment calls, in chaos screaming,
Where once was power, now but seeming
As if it never was, with night eternal,
And nightly fears aroused that slept diurnal;
For what of the city now, so vast and dead,
But filled with shrieking cry of dread,
Whilst only few glowing flames appear.
Enough! Each as wheat taken from the tare.
Hope lives! And though eternal be our night,
Yet in this darkness, there will be light,
That out of great evil, some little good
May come; and we must pray it would.

1 comment:

st-ouennais said...

I like the poem, Tony.
One of the things that really saddens me is that people like you, Nick Palmer,Stuart Syvret and like minded others were so disregarded back then. Had society taken on the challenge at that time, we would be so better positioned today.