Billionaire T. Boone Pickens has dropped his plan to build a huge wind farm in Texas, citing financing problems and challenges posed by the economic recession. The collapse of the project adds weight to the notion that we won’t have practical alternative energy generation until the governments of the world, and the populations they represent, make lasting commitments of money and attention.

What’s more important than the heft of Pickens’ wallet is whether we ever find a way to get out from under the crushing consequences of our shameless and profligate consumption of hydrocarbon fuels.

It’s not likely there will be widely usable new energy sources until the governments of the world, and the populations they represent, commit big money to finding out what works and paving the way to realizing new approaches.

Pickens is now looking to drill into the federal government’s vault, and that is causing some criticism. But what’s at stake here is unimaginably bigger than the question of whether this controversial entrepreneur should be subsidized. Our very future as a world civilization may be riding on finding solutions to climate change. Surely there must be some answers hiding within the collective intellect of the globe’s 6.7 billion people. (That number itself is a big part of the problem.)

If you aren’t properly scared by the fix the planet is in, read the new book by James Lovelock, “The Vanishing Face of Gaia.” (Click here to see a review in the Los Angeles Times and here to read long excerpts at Google Books.) After absorbing the predictions of Lovelock, the originator of the so-called Gaia hypothesis, you may feel the need to pour yourself a large tumbler of Scotland’s best medicine and ingest regular doses until the trembling eases.

Wake up, people. What’s on the sign of that disheveled fellow on the street corner may finally be true: The End Is Near. At least the end of the life we have known. Let’s buckle down and refuse to fall into the darkness without putting up a good fight.

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