For the first million years or so of mankind's existence, mankind lived like animals. Shelter was whatever could be improvised from local materials and was never windproof and rarely waterproof, the best shelter was caves, but the local critters had that same idea too plus caves are always damp and chilly. The invention of fire helped, but as those of you who've huddled around a campfire in cold weather know, your front roasts while your backside freezes, and when the wind blows the smoke in your direction then you suffocate and must make a choice of either moving away from the fire (and getting colder) or breathing. Food was whatever could be scavenged or killed, and hunger was omnipresent, leaving only on those rare instances when large meat animals could be run down or during the spring and fall harvests of berries and roots. Winters in particular were one long misery, where you hoped you had stored enough food in clay pots to last the winter, and if you didn't, you starved. Death was a constant specter, and happened all too often, generally from diseases related to starvation (if you are starving to death, even the common cold will suffocate you from pneumonia because your body isn't strong enough to fight it off). Most children did not make it through their first year -- disease, exposure, starvation, you name it, all happened. Death in childbirth was common, and after childbirth too due to lack of sanitation and clean water. Anytime there was a group of humans in one location for an extended period of time, water-borne diseases soon cut them down, because water sources became contaminated with human feces.
That's a million years of human history right there -- a history of misery. When I go out into the wilderness, I have all the modern conveniences -- a tent made of silicone-impregnated nylon, water purification equipment, a small camp stove capable of heating water and cooking food, a down sleeping bag, ridiculously warm clothing including waterproof outwear, the works. I have the best gear that modern technological society can provide me. But when the weather turns miserable, I'm miserable.
The difference is that this is a choice on my part. I can turn around and go home, and bask in the warmth of central heating, take a hot shower to sooth my aches away, sleep comfortably on a soft mattress. And while I'm miserable, I'm far less miserable than that poor sod even 1,000 years ago, who would have been soaked to the skin and sleeping "cowboy style" on his bedroll with a sheet of canvas over him. The chances of me dying of exposure during a typical backpacking trip are basically nil. My gear is too good, my preparations too extensive, my checking of the weather reports too comprehensive (thus why I was unable to take the long backpacking trip at Christmas that I'd hoped to take -- I'd check the weather report every day, and every day said no).
And all of that -- central heating, hot showers, soft mattresses, weatherproof homes -- is now dependent upon modern technological society with its extensive transportation network and energy-intensive factories. Contrary to popular belief, homes simply don't use that much energy -- less than 22% of the energy used in America is used by homes. THe majority by far is industry and transportation, which together account for almost 60% of energy use. Unless you've tried to put together a small fabrication shop, you simply have no idea of how much energy is required to actually build stuff. Even a small MIG welder needs a full 30 amps of 240 volt service to operate, add in a plasma cutter (ditto), grinders, cutters, large air compressor, and so forth, and you're using more energy than four average households just for the modern-day equivalent of an old-timey blacksmith's shop, one capable of welding together bicycles from tubing and welding the frame of an automobile back together. Actually *manufacturing* an automobile takes dozens of welders, a large assembly line, a fleet of trucks to haul the parts to the assembly plant, paints comprised of a variety of complex chemicals that themselves require significant energy to create, casting and forging plants for engine and transmission parts, and so forth. And there's not much that can be done to make this process significantly more efficient. The laws of physics state that melting steel to weld things together or cast things is *always* going to require a lot of energy, period. Modern engines may have significantly less metal in them than 40 years ago and correspondingly take less energy to manufacture, but it's always going to be a significant amount.
In other words, modern technological society is energy intensive. And without modern technological society, you end up with a mass die-off of virtually every species on Earth, because the Earth simply won't sustain billions of hunter-gatherers.
The problem with solar, wind, and other "green" energy sources is that they simply won't provide sufficient energy to sustain technological society. That apparently is a feature, not a flaw, to the Greenies who push those to the exclusion of the only other non-global-warming-causing energy source available to us, nuclear power. They want us to all go back to being primitives. The problem is that 99% of humanity dies if that happens. The Greenies smugly assume that they'll be part of the 1% that inherits the Earth at the end. Methinks they're deluding myself, personally... there are very, very few people who remember how to live in pre-industrial society, and none (zero) of them live in the United States today. The inheritors of the Earth if modern society collapses will be subsistence farmers in the equatorial jungles, not anybody you or I know.
But wait, I'm speaking sense here, and who cares about sense when there's an ideology to sell? Siiiighhhh... radical righties, radical lefties, about the only real difference is that the righties have power and the lefties largely don't. I do wish, however, that they did not insist upon living in some alternate universe of cotton candy trees and pink unicorns rather than in this universe, where reality simply, well, is, regardless of your ideology...
-- Badtux the Industrialized Penguin