The decision to use half of the crude oil on the planet – millions of years worth of concentrated solar energy – in the span of just a single century is what has made our lives so significantly different from 99-plus-percent of human history. The amount of labor that first-world peoples are now able to accomplish with the help of petroleum would have required a thousand slaves per person in pre-industrial times.
Once all this oil runs out – and it’s only a matter of time until it does – we will have to return to having far less energy at our disposal, to accomplishing far less with our lives. It would behoove the world’s top scientists to use this time before the oil supply plummets inexorably to figure out how we can keep having as many of the things we currently have, and keep doing as many of the things we currently do, but with far less energy.
Unfortunately, next to no top scientists are working on this most important problem, preferring to hinge whatever work they’re doing on the erroneous assumption that the amount of energy we can manipulate to our liking will stay the same over time, or even increase. Thankfully, a few social justice warriors and eco-freako activists are working on this, trying to preserve some of the fruits of energy abundance.
One of these future prophets is Bruno, a man who – nearly half a century ago in 1969 – began to construct what might very well be the developed world’s only amusement park with rides that run entirely on kinetic energy. With his own bare hands, he has welded together swings, multistory slides, see-saws, gyroscopes, tilt-a-whirls, and even roller coasters that operate without any electrical input.
Bruno originally began building the attractions to increase interest in the his then-fledgling family restaurant outside the town of Treviso in northern Italy. The osteria outdoor tavern, which now seats about 500 people, is not located on the side of a road, but rather in the middle of a grove. Interspersed among the D-I-Y carnival rides are tall poplar trees, giving the grounds the feeling of an enchanted post-apocalyptic ruins.
Today people like Bruno are thought of as quirky creatives but those that visit Ai Pioppi, his sausage joint-cum-jamboree. But tomorrow – if we still have methods of long-distance communication worth a damn – they will be worshipped as heroes, the modern-day Noah’s who ensured the survival of the conveniences we can’t imaging living without and the sensory delights we forgot to keep appreciating.