“You are always learning; there is a lot of grey; don’t take things for granted.”


  • title quote – Lisa Marie Presley

Elvis Presley, according to what sounds like a really smart guy on Wikipedia, exploded onto the music scene in the 1950s with records that “contain the seeds of what rock & roll was, has been and most likely what it may foreseeably become.” Indeed, Presley was at the forefront of a musical revolution that sent music in a direction that had previously been unfathomable. Imagine if the parents that watched Presley’s circa-1955 gyrations in horror could skip ahead a mere twenty years from then to see what punk legend Johnny Rotten was up to.

Presley’s daughter lived through this all and, to her credit, came out the other side fully able to make sensible quotes like above. You’d think she’d had it all; wealth, fame, looks, and a last name that guaranteed her at least a huge advantage in any endeavour she chose to pursue. But one of her major life lessons out of all of this, personified in the quote above, was that living such a metamorphic life has a value in the metamorphosis itself. That is, maybe people need to go through some sort of hurricane to see the value in what she’s saying: there is a lot of grey, and we take a lot for granted.

The energy world personifies this to perfection. There are no simple answers to reinventing the energy world; there is no magic, easy solution just as Ms. Presley’s life was not magic and easy just because it appeared it must be so. People have made similar assumptions about an energy revolution, when the world was humming along and every conceivable luxury was affordable to ever more people. But there is a lot of grey, and we need to learn that.

We live in a western world that has been so well taken care of that it can take everything for granted – endless supplies of food, clothing, heat and shelter, and these basic needs have been so consistently and ubiquitously distributed that we treat them like oxygen. On top of that, we have a whole new layer of what we consider necessities: telecommunications, social safety nets, stable governments, entertainment, rights to protest, air conditioning, you name it.

That is part of the human condition, to take for granted that which someone else provides for us.

The past few generations, ones that are more spoiled than any in history, have provided a wonderful petri dish for social engineers to ply their trade as they have for generations. That’s because we have time and energy to worry about things, and at the same time have had a stupendous safety net to maintain our standard of living. Add to this mix the fact that there is always, always, something to complain about, and there is always, always, something to be scared about.

COVID 19 has caused a serious refocus. Last year’s dismissal, and in some instances disdain, for our supply chains has disappeared into thin air. We are learning what is optional and what is not, what is a luxury and what is not. Toilet paper became a famous symbol of this reawakening, a kind of ironic and weird magical talisman that caused a light bulb to go on in the west’s collective consciousness: this shit doesn’t just fall from the sky (sorry).

There is a lot of grey, and we are always learning. Nothing makes us learn like scarcity or going too close to the flame. Run out of gas and walk for a few miles as a result, and you’ll learn the value of checking the fuel gauge and not taking it for granted.

We needed a crisis to be able to learn the lesson about all we have in our life as well. Prior to last month, I’ve never in my life had someone tell me they were happy to get some toilet paper. No one probably ever even thought that. But there is always lots to learn.

Now that we’re in a crisis, things are getting a bit clearer. We are finding out what it is like to live without life’s options, or a lot of them anyway. And we can see that it is possible that they go away entirely.

The big lesson here is that if we want to get back to a “normal” life, or close to what we did before, we now know, or know a lot more about, some of the underlying support mechanisms that make it all possible, ones that we never thought about for a second in the past. Some of those support mechanisms are smelly and ugly and industrial, and many have an environmental footprint that is less than desirable.

But at least now we know what the choice looks like: Do we want to make them better, or do we want to live without them? As the coronavirus cloud eventually disperses, we will find out where people cast their votes.

We can do this everyone! Stand by each other, call a friend, support small businesses. Delight shut-ins with copies of “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” available at Amazon.caIndigo.ca, or Amazon.com

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  1. I agree with the theme of this post and I’d like to list some of the lessons the virus is teaching us. The first is that cities, the need to live in them, are a colossal mistake. They may have been necessary in the past, but they no longer are and we should start leaving them. Secondly, apartment buildings and high-rise condos are a mistake. Such close proximity is akin to living in a Dickensian slum. Thirdly, public transit is a mistake. Climbing into a box with 60 other people and breathing the same air is like playing Russian roulette. Fourthly, Big Box stores filled with Chinese junk are a mistake. Buying anything from China damages our own industries. Fifthly, culture matters. People who eat bats, snakes and dogs should be quarantined, not the rest of us.

    Most importantly, globalism is a mistake. Nationalism, or if you wish, diversification, is the solution to this virus, and many other problems caused by our short-sighted leaders and their business friends.


  2. John Chittick says:

    That portion of the institutional left draped in green who have achieved cultural and political dominance in most of the western world that pushes the narrative that we can’t get away from fossil fuels fast enough is strangely quiet these days now that a medically induced economic coma has reduced most of the world’s economy to sub-stasis. They are quiet because the human ballast on whom they depend as customers of their snake oil are now experiencing only a small sample of the “green” future in store for them in this crisis and they naturally aren’t happy about it.

    The anti-industrial revolution, now embedded in the institutions as green theocracy, is a product of the excesses of prosperity and government largess, a prosperity increasingly maintained by growing debt that is serviced by constant cash flow which is now reduced to a trickle as governments rush in to paper everything over with even more debt. The coming struggle to regain prosperity will either refocus priorities away from the green theocracies or accelerate the journey down the road to serfdom. This could be a pivotal moment in our history.


  3. Carter Duchesney says:

    On point as usual Mr. Etam. The blockades were however earlier this year. It does seem longer for sure.


  1. […] Last year’s dismissal, and in some instances disdain, for our supply chains has disappeared into thin air. We are learning what is optional and what is not, what is a luxury and what is not. Toilet paper became a famous symbol of this reawakening, a kind of ironic and weird magical talisman that caused a light bulb to go on in the west’s collective consciousness: this sh*t doesn’t just fall from the sky. Read on… […]


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