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The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Once upon a time...

As I come to understand the future path of the world ahead – the one which we shall all have to face, whether we want to, or not, I have to measure what I should tell my children and what I should omit. Generally, I like to keep them informed about the issues they will face.

A few days ago, I remarked to Fintan, eight, in a soft voice, bearing hard news:

“The oil will run out in your lifetime.”

“But not in yours!”, he countered, very quickly. “That’s not fair!”, he said most passionately.

“It will.”, I said, sad but sure, “but I will probably be an old man by then.”

He seemed to stare off into the distance – a distance in time – and what he saw there displeased him. It was clear that, at that moment, he had no further comment to make: he needed time to absorb the message and think about it.

Most of us think of ourselves as at the beginning of a new world. We look ahead to the greater things to come. Few of us, however, reflect upon the unavoidable truths that Mankind now faces: the end of the Age of Oil, for a start. It is quite possible, that my children’s children, will be born in a time when the oil has finally gone. It is certain that my children’s, children’s children – that is my great grandchildren, will definitely be born in a time in which oil has become a fairy story – a “once upon a time...” to be told at bedtime, of a fabled era when there was such a thing as cheap energy and people did crazy things, like drive their own two ton people carrier, called a “car” – often to move just one person. Young children, in those times, might lump “oil” along with “elves” and “dragons” – as something that either was far, far away and of no relevance to the modern world (which might be a lot less “modern” than now), or consider them of equivalent status: not real at all.

We live in a time of great challenge, greater than most people seem to appreciate. All that we have become accustomed to, in our way of life, is threatened. Unless Man builds an alternative energy infrastructure, with no dependence on oil or other fossil fuels, soon, the future will not seem to be the “future” at all – but the past. Without a great deal of energy, the modern way of life is not possible, at all.

When I am old, the Age of Oil, will be at an end. My children will, then, be in the middle of their lives. They will see oil pass away and they will live in what is to come. For them, it shall be harder, therefore, than for me – for they will see the contrast between the Age of Oil and the age of whatever is to come. Should Man be foolish enough not to have replaced the energy source, in full, by then, my children will know a sense of loss, in the second half of their lives, as they compare the lives they have to live then, and the lives they knew, growing up in the early 21st century.

Looking again, at Fintan’s words: “That’s not fair!”, he asserted. He is right. It is not fair that my generation and the couple of generations before me, should have been so profligate with our oil and other fossil fuels, such that it shall shortly be at an end. It is not fair, that the generations that are and have been, did not husband this precious resource more carefully. Even an eight year old can see that – can feel the wrongness of it. It is not fair that people living now, should deprive all the people, who shall come, in the entire future history of Man, of that precious resource. We all should be more careful with it, than we have been. It is foolish to burn such a precious, once in a planetary lifetime, material, for reasons which, actually, don’t seem good enough, if you analyze them.

It is an odd thought, but my remaining life expectancy, if I live a typical life, for one of my background, is much the same, as the life expectancy of oil. Should I pass from the world as expected, I shall be leaving the world, just as oil does, too. I shall not, therefore, see what happens when all of it has gone – but I shall see the effects of its depletion as it nears that time.

I hope my children see a good world, in the time beyond the Age of Oil. I hope that there is enough wisdom in the world’s leaders (or at least all the major leaders between now and then...for there is little enough wisdom in the present ones), to ensure a secure ENERGETIC future for Man to come. Yet, I worry at what that world will be. Will enough be done, to ensure a good future for Mankind? Will my children have a good world to live in, in the second half of their lives? Any parent who truly understands what Mankind faces, can only be concerned about what the future will hold. I would suggest that, wherever you are, you choose to elect leaders who have an eye on replacing our present fossil fuel based energy infrastructure, with a renewable alternative, well in time, whilst there is still fossil energy to allow it to happen.

I wonder what Fintan will tell his children, about the Age of Oil and about his early life? I hope there is a workable alternative, then, for them, I really do.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:06 PM 

2 Comments:

Blogger Joshua of Tyatora said...

You speak often on the oil crisis, and the impending chaos based on our failure to act -to be honest, I have not thought of this much, but it is worth to think about -especially considering how our food supplies will be met. Where will we turn to? The Incans, and the Chinese, I think, had some good methods, but putitng these on a grand scale? It indeed is worth much thought and preperation -both psychologically and physically. Thank you, again and again, for your thoughts and insights.

Josh

9:06 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

The problem, Josh, is that known methods of agriculture, other than the modern fertilizer and machine intensive, don't deliver the same productivity. It is estimated that the carrying capacity of the Earth, without fossil fuels is no more than 2 billion people...some say closer to 1 billion. Thus, unless we can find new ways to make food that don't require fossil fuels, but which are highly productive, then the Earth's human population must fall by quite a few billion this century. It is not a happy prospect and will mean war, famine and disease...on a massive scale.

One thing that would help is putting in place a renewable energy infrastructure that requires no further fossil fuel input. Were that done, the landing would be much softer.

To implement a system like the Incas or any archaic system at all, would mean a return to very high agricultural employment...most people would have to work on farms. That will certainly disrupt society.

Thanks for your thanks.

7:00 PM  

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