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Can We Survive a Shitstorm

Can we survive a shitstorm?

Before we dive into an answer, let me introduce you to two influential thinkers: Gail Tverberg and Albert Bartlett. Tverberg fearlessly explores finance, debt, and the profound questions they raise on her self-published blog, at Bartlett, in his seminal lecture "Arithemetic, Population, and Energy," delves deep into the implications of exponential growth.


At the intersection of Tverberg & Bartlett lies a pivotal question: "What happens when we descend down the right-hand side of the Hubbard Curve?" You may be wondering "what the heck is that" - that's fair!  Let's simplify things for a moment.


Think back to your childhood. You start as a baby, crawling on the floor, .02 kilometers/day. You progress to childhood and frequent parks and playgrounds. Your mobility dramatically expands, 2 kilometers/day. You progress to adulthood and experience daily commutes to work, dropping kids off at school and sports, 60 kilometers/day.


This mirrors the first half of the Hubbard Curve; resources are available and growth in those resources is an accepted norm.


We get older still. Our joints get a bit rusty and sometimes walking is a pain, literally.  We have a favourite chair, and that chair loves us as much as we love it.  We still commute, but the kids are graduated, and we travel less, 50 kilometers/day. This mirrors the latter half of the Hubbard Curve—the descent.


Now, let's apply this to society's use of fossil fuels. For decades, our reliance on oil has surged, reaching a plateau before declining. Yet, market forces resist this decline, humans keep driving, flights keep flying. We are at the precipice of conflict, an unstoppable force has struck an immovable object. The "unstoppable force" is our addiction to growth economically and in the consumption of energy.  The immovable object is the limitation of affordable energy resources to meet that demand. We have grown addicted to the ability to turn 1 gallon of petrol into 60 kilometers of movement for our body and the 1-ton automobile moving our body. But now, on the right-hand side of the Hubbard Curve, we don't have as much supply of energy. We must either consume gradually less energy, i.e. we all limit ourselves to less than 40 kilometers/day, or we continue consuming at the same speed, with price-inflated rates for all. In a word - SHITSTORM.


This shitstorm manifests in various ways: essential services experience financial strain, organizations curtail options or shut down completely, and individuals struggle or fail to make ends meet. The examples are everywhere - York University on strike for living wages, while the administration offers deep poverty wages.  HotDocs theatre, right around the corner from where I sit now, a nationally recognized hub for documentary film in dire straits. My own professional society MINT, the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, on the verge of bankruptcy. CSI, the Centre for Social Innovation, the building I am currently sitting in, attempting to sell this location to consolidate their properties and eliminate the burden of mortgage that curtails their ability to curate social innovation in Canada at a pace our world demands of us.


So, can you survive the shitstorm?


The best way I can think of to survive the shitstorm brought on by energy scarcity and energy inflation involves flipping one of the greatest consumers of energy into opportunity. There is a group of people who are actively working to stop this. They have a name, and their name is developers.


There's a glaring injustice—a betrayal by developers who prioritize profits over people. Building developers cut corners, sacrifice quality, and condemn their customers to subpar living conditions. Perhaps you’re not mad? Then let me ignite the flames of indignation as we expose this egregious disregard for human welfare.


Picture this: developers, driven by the allure of maximum financial gain, churning out cookie-cutter condos with little regard for energy efficiency or long-term sustainability. They line their pockets while leaving their customers you and I trapped in poorly insulated, energy-guzzling structures. These are the buildings that won't weather the shitstorm. This is where we currently live. These buildings need a lot of energy to cool and heat, and as energy becomes more scarce and more expensive, more and more people lose the ability to financially make that a possibility.


It's infuriating, isn't it? These developers, beholden to corporate boards, knowingly perpetuate a cycle of environmental degradation and economic inequality. They prioritize their profits over the well-being of their communities, condemning them to a future of skyrocketing utility bills, dwindling resources, and deteriorating living conditions.


And what's worse? Developers ignore solutions like Passive House—not because they lack merit, but because the financial benefit of energy efficiency belongs to their customers instead of them. They refuse to invest in energy-efficient design, not because it's unfeasible, but because it doesn't line their pockets.


I refuse to stand idly by and watch as developers prioritize profit over people. I refuse to accept as Developers greenwash themselves at the expense of our planet and our communities. It's time to hold these developers accountable, to demand better, to demand more.


Let's make Passive House the standard, not because it's easy, but because it's rigorous, durable and because its right. If a shitstorm is coming, I can tell you where I must want to be - and the answer is in a Passive House building.

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