Petroleum-free World

Here is the text I got this morning in my e-mail box from my cousin in Canada:

One crisp winter morning in Sweden, a cute little girl named Greta woke up to a perfect world, one where there were no petroleum products ruining the earth. She tossed aside her cotton sheet and wool blanket and stepped out onto a dirt floor.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“Pulverized willow bark,” replied her fairy godmother.

“What happened to the carpet?” she asked.

“The carpet was nylon, which is made from butadiene and hydrogen cyanide, both made from petroleum,” came the response.
Greta smiled, acknowledging that adjustments are necessary to save the planet, and moved to the sink to brush her teeth where instead of a toothbrush, she found a willow, mangled on one end to expose wood fiber bristles.

“Your old toothbrush?” noted her godmother, “Also nylon.”

“Where’s the water?” asked Greta.

“Down the road in the canal,” replied her godmother, ‘Just make sure you avoid water with cholera in it.”

“Why’s there no running water?” Greta asked, becoming a little peevish.

“Well,” said her godmother, who happened to teach engineering at MIT, “Where do we begin?” There followed a long monologue about how sink valves need elastomer seats and how copper pipes contain copper, which has to be mined and how it’s impossible to make all-electric earth-moving equipment with no gear lubrication or tires and how ore has to be smelted to a make metal, and that’s tough to do with only electricity as a source of heat, and even if you use only electricity, the wires need insulation, which is petroleum-based, and though most of Sweden’s energy is produced in an environmentally friendly way because of hydro and nuclear, if you do a mass and energy balance around the whole system, you still need lots of petroleum products like lubricants and nylon and rubber for truck tires and tires and asphalt for filling potholes and wax and iPhone plastic and elastic to hold your underwear up while operating a copper smelting furnace and . . .

“What’s for breakfast?” interjected Greta, whose head was hurting.

“Fresh, range-fed chicken eggs,” replied her godmother. “Raw.”

“How-so raw?” inquired Greta.

“Well, . . .” And once again, Greta was told about the need for petroleum products like transformer oil and scores of petroleum products essential for producing metals for frying pans and in the end was educated about how you can’t have a petroleum-free world and then cook eggs. Unless you rip your front fence up and start a fire and carefully cook your egg in an orange peel like you do in Boy Scouts. Not that you can find oranges in Sweden anymore.

“But I want poached eggs like my Aunt Tilda makes,” lamented Greta.

“Tilda died this morning,” the godmother explained. “Bacterial pneumonia.”

“What?!” interjected Greta. “No one dies of bacterial pneumonia! We have penicillin.”

“Not anymore,” explained godmother. “The production of penicillin requires chemical extraction using isobutyl acetate, which, if you know your organic chemistry, is petroleum-based. Lots of people are dying, which is problematic because there’s not any easy way of disposing of the bodies since backhoes need hydraulic oil and crematoriums can’t really burn many bodies using as fuel Swedish fences and furniture, which are rapidly disappearing - being used on the black market for roasting eggs and staying warm.”

This represents only a fraction of Greta’s day, a day without microphones to exclaim into and a day without much food, and a day without carbon-fiber boats to sail in, but a day that will save the planet.

Tune in tomorrow when Greta needs a root canal and learns how Novocaine is synthesized.


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    Hi, Rys.
    True words!
    It is always very easy to protest, to complain, to judge, to demand ... while we still use all the comforts.
    When I complain, I should also have a suggestion on how to change or replace things.

    Just one example: How would it be possible to connect people around the world... to demonstrate and spread protest around the world... without modern technology? No chance!
    The majority of people want to protect the environment, which I am sure... but I am also sure that many of them would not accept any restrictions. The reason for new protests and demonstrations would be born.
    Of course we should care for and protect our environment, because there is no second earth. Not without reason we call our planet "Mother Earth". When a mother dies, she is gone forever.

    Nor do I understand why young people always blame older generations for environmental problems. Everyone should ask. Everyone should look at their own actions and mistakes ... old and young people ... equally ... everyone shouldn't waste their time blaming each other.

    Incidentally, old people have not lived ruthlessly, although many young people always say so.

    I found something on the internet and think it is worth publishing it here.
    It was a post in German language and I translated it.

    Just have a look:


    We did not know about environmental protection.
    Dear EC members, Rys' article "Petroleum-free World" gave me the idea to post something. The following story, I found on the internet and think it i…
  • Cute little girl needs a root canal.. Haha poor thing!! 

    But anyways, some years ago I was spending 3 months in a Zen cloister. Not because I was looking for spiritual guidance, but because that was the only way for me as a single, living in a city, to get off the grid, and find a way to avoid most things that are an eminent threat to this planet. I didn't find it too hard, but it wasn't winter and I wasn't sick. XD - As you can see, I decided not to stay forever, because it really takes the fun out of life. On the other hand, the real fairy tale is that many people think by avoiding some plastic waste they are saving the planet... and they could still live like they are used to right now. NO. That doesn't do the trick. Wake up, people! 

    • Oi, NotAClue,

          Speaking about the plastic threat to our almost ruined planet, in mid 80's I was on a contract in Libya and on free days I used to go, the pollution of the sea with plastic bags and alike things was mindblowing compared with the condition of the seawater back in the mid 60's when I started going snorkelling in then called Persian Gulf....

      • Snorkeling in Libya and the Persian Gulf... how fancy! :-)))  --- Yeah, the North Sea has changed dramatically as well. :((( 

  • Amazonka Rysperski! The black gold is controlling our lives. Very interesting! 

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