Monday, May 05, 2008

Sweaty Days

I hope Koreans will not be insulted, for I should remember more about their country from my couple of visits, though in my defense it's been nearly a decade-and-a-half since my last one. The Natural History Museum stands out, and I certainly eat and drank well (though Japanese might beg to differ). I learned to toast politely (though not silently) Korean style (something about never never never let your companion drink alone, and another about touching one's glass-holding elbow with one's other hand while toasting). Much everything else is, by now, blurred.

That is, except for one thing which stubbornly remains in my mind from that last visit during that hot, steamy humid Seoul summer: out of economic necessity, they were ostensibly ALL doing their bit to both ration available energy AND save money and so almost every single domestic company that I visited in their bright new glass-office buildings in the modern financial district had their air-conditioning turned off and it was unbearably hot and sweaty. When the Koreans set their mind to something, let nothing like a little sweat and B.O. stand in their way. They of course apologized, had the requisite electric fan in the meeting rooms for their foreign guest, but all the same, it was unbearably oppressive for someone coming from near the same degree of Latitude as Canada's Hudson Bay.

Watching oil's relentless rise, along with America's declining ability to finance it's oil purchases, and the continued inefficiency of her motor fleet, appliances, building materials, construction methods and energy use in general, for which there have have been few noticeable lifestyle changes in consideration of this reality, it occurred to me whether we might - one-day soon - see such a similar and heretofore almost unimaginable sight in America's skyscrapers, such as as I witnessed in Seoul but two decades before when oil itself was (seemingly) far more plentiful. Will the inviolable 70-farenheit-in-summer, and 74-in-winter be a thing of the past?

Continuing down this not so far-fetched avenue, will baseball games once again be played in the natural light of day? Will Ice Hockey in Florida and Houston once again be banished to the shed of "This is a REALLY STUPID idea"? Will sailboats make a silent comeback over their noisy two-stroke outboards and monster-diesel inboards? Will we be watching the "Indianapolis 200" next year? Will the use of 'eminent domain' return to America - not to seize waterfront property but to construct new rail services? Will kids start riding their bikes to school again? Will drive-thru's become illegal or simply wither away unused? Will you need a permit to fly? Will people ever stop putting fertilizer on their lawns, and use it instead for their "OPEC Victory Garden"? Will Americans finally embrace the carpool? At what price do these things start to bite, and will the manufacture of artificial snow and firing-up of antiquated double-chairs to ferry people up the mountain become uneconomic? Will the US Air Force find itself having to adopt energy efficient training methods first pioneered by the Chinese (inset right)? Will modern skyscrapers ever have to to shut down the A/C to comply with rationing or simply to save a few bob? I'd like to know.


Anonymous said...

yo brother,

the Indy 500 is fueled by ETHANOL!!!!


"Cassandra" said...

Indeed they run on corn hooch, but given the neck&neck race between rallying corn & crude, it's not clear there'll be any difference in price or scarcity...