People make the difference

The world economy doesn’t behave the way most people would expect. Standard modeling approaches miss the point that economies require adequate supplies of energy products of the right kinds, provided at the right times of day and year, if they are to keep from collapsing.

~ Gail Tverberg from,


Since we finished remodeling our home, this is the time of year when I pay a local company to dump two cords of split firewood in my lawn, (a pile about the size of a small car.) On my patio this morning, as the sun climbs above the old, worn-down mountain behind our neighborhood, the world smells like fresh, black coffee and green firewood.

I remain very optimistic about our world, and our economy—local, national and global. Because: People. Heating primarily with wood only works well for us for a few reasons: The housing density is low enough that multiple wood stoves is sane in a neighborhood. But the housing density is also just high enough that the stores are very close by. These trees grew relatively close, were sawn and split by a local company, and traveled not too far to get to my yard. Troy—the firewood guy—and I will both work very hard though, in the entire process of my heating with wood. Meanwhile, street gas (which isn’t even available on my block), propane (which I use to cook with), and electricity (which is my secondary heat source via heat pump and baseboards) are rising steeply in price.

Lumber prices are also crazy-high. (What was once a $2 2×4 is now nearly $10.) And Troy has resumed sawing lumber, something his father used to do with their equipment decades ago. And he’s taken on another person part-time. Yes, he asked me for more money to cover the fuel-cost of delivery, but the firewood is still less than the other fuel (gas, electric) options available to me for next heating season. My point here is that if everyone keeps making manageable decisions sooner rather than later, things will work out. The difficulty that I see for most people is being honest about what things they have to eliminate, in order to be able to keep their personal universes going.