So long, and thanks for all the fish.

This is a ceremonial last post to Cold House Journal, which, like the rest of the world, has fallen on hard times / into warm water. With renewal up and posts down, it’s time to pull the plug. We had close to 10k visitors annually back in the day, but now down to <1k. Don’t worry, I have all the posts archived as PDFs, in case aliens ever land and want to read them. You can always reach me at coldhousejournal@gmail, at least until Google ends.

Boy, things have changed since I started writing this in 2008. Back then heating oil was over $3/gal, and no reason to think it wouldn’t keep climbing. We’d just elected a climate-change-believer to the White House. “Drill, baby, drill!” had been defeated at the ballot box. And with the Great Recession just arriving, people needed to think about economizing in their everyday lives. Between all these things it seemed likely that we would all be reducing our petroleum usage. And possible, if not likely, that the U.S. would actually take some meaningful action on carbon emissions. Maybe even take a leadership role.

Then came the fracking explosion, and falling petroleum prices. And the backlash against everything Obama. The invention of “fake news”, which of course included climate change. The “global world order” / liberal child trafficking conspiracies that somehow came to encompass everything from the Iran nuclear deal to the Paris climate accord. The people in monster pickups boxing other people’s hybrids and e-vehicles into parking spaces, I guess just to show them who’s in charge around here. The invention of “rolling coal” for similar purposes. The raging about a “war on coal” (to parallel the “war on Christmas”).

And of course since 2016 all hope of rational national action on climate has been out the window, with deniers in charge of government, and non-deniers distracted by a thousand and one other more pressing outrages. Wantonly burning petroleum has, at least among a substantial segment of the population, become not just acceptable, but downright patriotic. To “support American energy”, you see.

Meanwhile winters have gotten less cold, and summers have gotten hotter. In 2016, a storm took out a backyard tree at the Cold House. We had had never called the tree “the shade tree” until it was gone– but immediately, it became clear that’s what it was. We’d never owned an air conditioner before, but suddenly the bedroom was uninhabitable in July & August without one. So, burning energy in summer where we never did before. (I’ve planted a new shade tree. It’s going to be a while…)

Today, here in Maine, heating oil is at $1.70/gal– equivalent to $1.40 in 2008 dollars, so less than half what it cost when I started writing here. Right now, dozens of office buildings downtown are being heated with almost no one in them, thanks to COVID, while thousands of people are working from home, burning more heating fuel to do so (but hopefully offsetting most of that by burning less gas going to work.) The newest house to be built in our neighborhood– looming over the nature preserve at the end of the street– is also by far the largest in our neighborhood. And the owners have a second (or third?) home in Florida, so good chance this one will be heated but vacant much of the winter, too. Overall, motivation to efficiency and conservation seems to have dropped off nationwide. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but it’s how it seems to me.

With a science-believer heading back (maybe) to the White House, there’s some hope for action again. But without a Senate majority, it will probably be limited. And even if unlimited, it seems likely already to be too late. Much too late.

If there is anyone out there still “subscribed” and reading, I’d like to thank you for all the comments and debate along the way. It was quite enjoyable. And I’d like to thank the various media outlets who had me/us on for interviews– NPR, USA Today, the Weather Channel, BBC Scotland (at 2am my time) and quite a few others– that was a lot of fun. And the nice literary agent who reached out and said I should write a book (I didn’t.)

As a final thought, I leave you with an image of a circumspect cat and this morning’s fire. Thanks again.

4 Responses to “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

  1. Says:

    Still reading Susan 

  2. Myers Kathryn Says:

    I love reading all that you write. It’s like letters to home. I just have to stop everything and see what is new with you. Stay happy and, healthy and safe. Anytime you want to write, please do so! Go write that book.

  3. John Says:

    I hope you archive the posts in the way back machine via

  4. K Lane Says:

    Dear Coldhousejournal,

    Thanks for the farewell.

    Your information and discussions were always appreciated and enjoyed.

    Best Wishes, Kevin

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