I can’t recall any disaster film scene as affecting as the very real sinkhole that swallowed Jeff Bush and his entire bedroom a few days ago. Talk about Primal Fears: falling, trapped in an enclosed space, buried alive.
Mr. Bush was in his bedroom on Thursday night in Seffner, 15 miles east of Tampa, when the earth opened and took him and everything else in his room. Five other people were in the house but escaped unharmed. Mr. Bush’s brother Jeremy jumped into the hole to try to help, but he had to be rescued by a sheriff’s deputy.
“There’s hardly a place in Florida that’s immune to sinkholes,” said Sandy Nettles, who owns a geology consulting company in the Tampa area. “There’s no way of ever predicting where a sinkhole is going to occur.”
We tend to think we live on solid ground, but a lot happens below the surface.
At least we have some warning about sequestration. My friend “the greatest living Democrat” has noted on social media that both she and her husband are in danger of losing income and health insurance access due to automatic sequestration. But I’ll bet a lot of other people sleep in their bedrooms not realizing how much their income depends on a growing economy and a steadily enlarging federal budget.
Behind the growth and spending of the 20th century was a fossil-fuel energy bonanza. As that energy boom peaks and winds down, the word austerity has begun creeping in to economic discussions. Here in the US, we’re trying to convince each other that a new surfeit of energy is at hand thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling of unconventional energy sources. In Energy: A reality check on the shale revolution (paywall) for Nature Journal and Drill, Baby Drill Can Unconventional Fuels Usher In an Era of Energy Independence? for the Post Carbon Institute,, J David Hughes concludes:
Unconventional fuels are not a panacea for an endless extension of the growth paradigm. At best they are a high-cost interim source of energy that will mitigate some of the impacts of the decline in production of lower-cost conventional fuels. They can buy some time to facilitate the development of the infrastructure that will be required to reduce energy throughputs. But to view them as “game-changers” capable of indefinitely increasing the supply of low-cost energy which has underpinned the economic growth of the past century is a mistake.