Men and energy, the foundation of modern civilization

Update 2019 01 16: Added links to related articles.

Men and energy are the foundation of modern civilization. The latter would not have come to exist without men, not be modern without plenty, generally accessible and cheap, affordable energy.

Man and Horse - Plowing

Man and Horse – Plowing

Men invented ever more ways by which energy is used to make people’s lives easier. That began with men using animal muscles instead those of humans to get necessary work done.  It progressed to having incredible amounts of work done through the generation of energy and applying it to move mountains, to bore through and under them, to go around, under and over them, by flying far above them, even into space. Still, importantly, just as men were for more than ten-thousand years of civilization the protectors and providers of their families, they also became the protectors and providers, the stewards, of the environment, locally and of the world.

Energy in modern Civilization - Two women at work

Energy in Modern Civilization – Making work  comfortable

As important as both men and energy proved themselves to be for the evolution and progress of civilization and ever making all people’s lives more comfortable, the roles that both played in that are being taken for granted, often forgotten or, worse, vilified.  It appears that people hate men and energy, that they have a death wish and want to go back to the good, old days, when life was short and brutal, when even as little as 150 years ago, the average life expectancy was about one-third and at best for many no more than half of what it is now.

It is amazing how many things men discovered, invented and applied to improve lives, among them, first and foremost, even energy itself and ever more inventive ways to use it. It is more amazing that the progress of civilization progressed at an accelerating rate.  Most of the things we enjoy or use in our everyday lives were not around just 150 years ago, they were not even thought of then.  If someone would have been able to describe them then, for people to comprehend them, they would have seemed like magic to the listener.

Feminists have had a lot to do with the vilification of men that became lately so prevalent.  I have no idea at all who or what is the cause of the vilification of energy and the progress and evolution of civilization and the roles that men and energy played and still play in it.  Yet, it is all the more admirable that a feminist woman expressed what no feminist — man or woman — ever paid homage to:

If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.

— Camille Paglia, in Sexual Personae

As profound as that observation is, it does not quite make up for all of the other things Camille Paglia expressed as part of her efforts to deconstruct civilization.

Men in Our Lives

Men in Our Lives – Are they important, or is their importance a pretense? Where would our world be without dads and men? Would those without them be comfortable or even safe?

The fortunes of men changed, lately, primarily as a result of the Industrial Revolution, as society lost its appreciation of and respect for men, with the advent and spread of social safety nets in the late 19th century. Increasingly, men’s role as providers and protectors of women and children in families was first being augmented and then replaced by the State as the provider and protector of women and children.  That development, too, accelerated, along with the growing predominance of feminism.  In the mid 1960s, “no-fault” divorce (the fault nevertheless is always said to be the man’s) became legal and very fashionable.  It was no longer so desirable to have fathers within families but to liberate women and to have “families” without fathers.

A man (I will call him George) wrote and complained about the lack of a unified men’s movement. He also alluded that I fairly frequently mention “the movement.”

My response to George follows (patience, I will get back to the changing fortune of energy soon, in that response),


The reason why I keep mentioning “the movement” is mainly that you keep mentioning it in disparaging terms.

On a local, national and international level, I was involved in a number of failed attempts to establish a movement or chapters of movements. Three of those attempts looked promising and were very time-consuming; but not only that, they were also very exhausting. Richard Doyle (the author of Save the Males) and others were involved for far longer and far more often in trying to get such attempts to succeed.

It would be better if we could meet face-to-face to discuss and debate what is required to get a viable movement off the ground and into existence. It is not practical to hope that will happen, except if an opportunity presents itself by accident. Far more than that is required to make things happen and to make them happen according to plan, continuously and constructively.

Some of the problems encountered in trying to launch or vitalize a unified men’s movement demonstrate that the vast majority of promising and eligible players is too far separated – ideologically, geographically, and logistically (with respect to time-zone differences). Real-time meetings, even by electronic means, appear simply too hard to achieve to sustain constructive discussions and dialogues. A practical solution to that would be for men to reclaim at least a portion of the dominance of control they once had in the education curriculum. As of now it appears that the predominant prevalence of feminist men at universities will prevent that happening for as long as it takes for civilization to collapse and to emerge once again from the ruins of its self-destruction.

Another essential ingredient for the creation of a successful and thriving men’s movement is the existence of an understanding of the fundamental role of men in society within the context of families, communities, business and industry, organizations, states or provinces, nations and civilization. No men’s rights activists have come to grips with that. Virtually no men’s rights activists have even begun to see the need for that. It does not suffice to state that it is caused by people not being able to see the forest for the trees. It requires one to understand what a healthy forest consists of and that some trees are more in need of a cure than others.

I will use a few analogies that may help to illustrate what I am getting at. The first of those is “clean energy“. [The link to that was installed 2017 07 11]

For the past few weeks our local daily newspaper, the Edmonton Journal, has been intensifying the publishing of articles relating to energy issues and yet failed to illustrate in even a single article what role energy plays in society and in the global civilization. Yet, the availability of energy, especially clean energy, is as important to the continued existence and evolution of civilization as are men, money and families.

There were articles that discussed seismic exploration in a pristine natural area, Marie Lake, Alberta, to assess the volume, depth and location of bitumen deposits (a.k.a. tar-sands oil) for recovery and conversion to synthetic crude oil.

There were articles on wind power generation (not feasible when and where there is no wind), solar energy (not feasible on a large scale, and not when and where the sun doesn’t shine), both requiring standby generating capacity using conventional energy production methods, and requiring – when produced on a small scale and for total independence from commercial sources – energy storage in batteries. Energy storage in batteries is not feasible on a large scale, although to some extent energy can be stored on a medium scale, for example, by using excess energy to pump water into hydro-electric reservoirs. Another means of equalizing energy supply and demand is by creating and using geographically larger and larger collection- and distribution-networks.

There was an article on the construction of a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal in Quebec (with imported LNG to be injected into the existing gas distribution network), for which the start-up costs of close to $800 million would be paid through a surcharge of about 3¢ per GigaJoule (GJ) to all Canadian end consumers (the article said nothing about US consumers of Canadian-delivered gas). The scheme is intended to alleviate an allegedly developing shortage of natural gas production in Alberta  (we now, in 2017, have more natural gas than ever before). It would amount to a competitive handicap of about $1.10 per GJ for Alberta natural gas producers, whose fate the article bemoans without discussing the developing shortage and another project intended to address that shortage. There is a project in the making (without a doubt just one of many such projects to come) to produce synthetic gas through the gasification of coal (Alberta has enough coal to last for more than 1,500 years at current rates of mining), and to inject the gas produced in Alberta into the gas distribution network. (Now, in 2017, there is so much natural gas, that the gasification of coal is considered unnecessary, and Rachel Notley (NDP), the current premier of Alberta, is doing her best to shut all coal production and use of coal down, by making it too expensive to use, through taxing its attraction as a once-cheap fuel for the generation of electric energy out of existence.)

There was an article on clean and environmentally-friendly electric cars, of whom a popular model will run at a maximum speed of 80 kmh and permit the operator to run the car for a distance of 80 km at a cost of energy of 1¢ per km on a single charge.

The electric-car article mentioned pollution issues, for instance that electric cars are an absolute necessity because (in India) even “a non-smoker ends up inhaling the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes by breathing the air of India’s cities”, without mentioning an essential rate of breathing the equivalent of the smoke from that pack, namely whether that relates to the smoke breathed in during an hour, a day, a month, a year or a life time. A very important omission in the article was the lack of any discussion of what will be put into place for a system for collecting and recycling the worn-out batteries produced by such cars.

An even more important omission in the article is any discussion of how the energy used by the car will be produced and at what rate of overall efficiency. There are losses of energy in the conversion of chemical energy to hot steam used to drive turbines. About 60 percent of the energy contained in steam is lost as heat when heat energy contained in high-temperature steam is converted to kinetic energy. There are more losses in the transmission network (about 10 to 20 percent) when electric energy is being transported to local distribution networks. About seven percent of the energy delivered into the distribution networks is lost between the point of delivery and the point of use by the end consumer. More energy is lost when the car battery is being charged. Far more will be lost when converting electric energy to kinetic energy for putting and keeping the car in motion, so that in the end only a relatively small fraction of the energy generated at the source will actually be converted into the energy consumed by moving the car from one point to another.

The interesting point of greatest concern is that, for instance in China (where an enormous amount of local and even global air pollution is being produced by coal-fired power generating plants), the large-scale use of electric cars to reduce pollution will ultimately be the cause of ever-increasing, large-scale escalation of environmental pollution.

There was an article on the advantages of fluorescent lights to be used in place of incandescent lights, so as to make better use of solar panels that can, when the sun shines, produce – for a $900 investment – enough energy to light one 100 Watt incandescent light bulb but can supply 6.7 fluorescent lights at 15 Watt each (implying that the resulting light output would be the same). The article did not mention that anyone replacing incandescent with fluorescent lights will lose the advantage of the large amount of heat produced by incandescent bulbs, heat that will help to keep the heating bill down during the winter months when increased heat demand (on account of cold temperatures) and increased heat production (on account of increased use of incandescent light bulbs during much longer winter nights) coincide.

Twenty percent of the energy used by an incandescent light bulb is converted into visible light. The remaining 80 percent of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is converted into infrared radiation, providing a substantial addition to the heat energy input used by a building. I doubt it that the calculation of the break-even interval of 40 to 50 years on the capital investment for a photo-voltaic system took into account the advantage of waste heat produced by incandescent lights. Furthermore, it was quite obvious that the results of the cost calculations did not consider the costs of energy storage in batteries, the cost of the batteries, of the batteries’ replacement, their disposal, recycling and of the mitigation of the environmental pollution that will cause. The article most definitely did not address the cost of stand-by energy production from conventional sources necessary to cover energy demand when the sun doesn’t shine.

Not one of the articles addressed any of the fundamental issues faced by a world economy that cannot function without energy. Not one of the articles mentioned, for instance, that money could well be backed not by gold or any other metal but by units of energy. At the very least some of the articles or even a single related one should have addressed the feasibility of replacing the backing of money with gold (a non-renewable commodity that can be stored indefinitely but otherwise serves hardly any practical purpose) with energy (a non-renewable commodity that for all intents and purposes cannot be stored at all in its electrical form and is a constantly-consumed, vital ingredient for life and industry).

When it comes to give recognition to either men or energy, both are equally invisible, because they are familiar, they are taken for granted.  Familiarity breeds contempt.

As with energy, modern civilization cannot exist or continue to exist without money, a universal standard used in the interactions associated with the exchange of goods and services between individuals, organizations, enterprises and nations. The history of money shows that money would not have come into existence or be functioning well without men, from the work done to create its basis (the gold and other metals mined by men) to the creation, maintenance and administration of its modern abstract forms: banknotes, drafts, cheques, stocks, loans, double-entry book-keeping, taxes, transfer payments in the form of debit and credit entries, clearing houses and much more along those lines. All of those practices and concepts, without exception, were invented and refined by men, from since before Aristotle until today.

Men played comparable roles as creators, organizers and administrators of physical and intellectual wealth. That was a consequence of their roles as creators and administrators of families and their roles in societies and civilization.

The “family” in all ages and in all corners of the globe can be defined as a man and a woman bonded together through a socially approved covenant of marriage to regulate sexuality, to bear, raise, and protect children, to provide mutual care and protection, to create a small home economy, and to maintain continuity between the generations, those going before and those coming after.
It is out of the reciprocal, naturally recreated relations of the family that the broader communities–such as tribes, villages, peoples, and nations–grow.

— Dale O’Leary, The Gender Agenda, p. 24,
original source: Allan Carlson, in
What’s Wrong With the United Nations Definition of ‘Family’?
The Family in America (August 1994), p. 3

Camille Paglia is quite correct with the statement (in Sexual Personae): “If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.”

If it hadn’t been for men, science, engineering, manufacturing and construction would not have become what they are now, if indeed they would even have come into existence.

The feminists almost succeeded to completely remove from our social consciousness all of our recognition of men’s vital contributions to the construction, evolution and maintenance of society.  As I already said, I have no idea how it came about that the importance of energy in a well-functioning civilization got removed as well from the collective consciousness of mankind but also the importance of that that the price of energy must be kept as low as possible, and that its use must not be taxed.

One can pretend that in the absence of anything better:

  • Cars don’t need to run on petrochemical fuel;
  • Communities, nations and civilization will function without money;
  • Electric energy isn’t necessary in anyone’s life and for the well-being of a modern economy;
  • Men are not necessary in families; and that
  • Men are not necessary at all.

However, anyone who manages to convince a sufficient number of people to firmly believe any of that will soon find that he will be forced, along with everyone else who survived the consequences, to live once more in grass huts.

You wish to have a men’s movement that will help to solve legal inequities that affect property and child-custody issues after divorce and separation. That goal falls as far short from being helpful in creating a universal solution for pressing social issues as does discussing, in isolation from all other related issues, the need for a better electric car.

Nevertheless, whether you like that or not, both discussions require the cooperation of men and women who both have to accept that although men and women are vital for any functioning and required social unit, be it family, community, province or state, nation and civilization, not every man or woman can contribute equally in all respects.

That returns us to the starting point of the discussion, your complaint that there isn’t a functioning men’s movement. Right, there isn’t, and there won’t be until men, for starters, recognize how important they really are, in society, in industry and commerce, and in families. No men and most definitely no men’s movement will succeed with promoting the image of men for as long as men do not respect themselves and men’s roles in a functioning society.

— Walter Schneider


See also:

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