Sunday, June 04, 2006

Comment to Henry

Henry:
When I have spoken to adults outside of my family about peak oil, it seems like a huge proportion of them are skeptical about the peak oil theory, just as the adults that you approached were. You mentioned that a lot of them think that because of their experience with the 1973 crisis in the U.S. that they are troopers and they can handle any other energy collapse. Maybe, to help them really comprehend, you could bring up the notion that peak oil is a permanent situation. Once oil peaks, there won’t be any turning back; there won’t be any reserves left. Peak oil isn’t the result of some messed up market price gouging. It’s ironic that the same generation of people who are responsible now for the policies that the U.S. makes towards energy efficiency and the environment are also skeptical about peak oil, it compounds the problem. It is also a very American mentality to just rely on the governments influence on the world market to make changes. Americans think they are untouchable. Your post is the only one I have read so far that addresses that those in power have this notion of invincibility due to their age and experience.
With regard to “I do not know whether or not other countries had the same amount of issues with oil as much as the U.S. has in the recent past.” I think the U.S. is the biggest consumer of energy in the world, and in turn, the largest emitter of green house gases and other forms of pollution, so while I think other countries do face some difficult transitions into other forms of energy and lifestyles, I do not think anyone will have the same scale of hardship.
Throughout your post, I noticed a sense of inevitability, in two senses. The first sense was that peak oil will happen, soon. Is this something that you believe beyond any shadow of a doubt? The second way I perceived a sense of fatalism was that you seem to have given up on explaining peak oil theory to your parents and convincing them. You are usually pretty good at convincing people, so this is strange. You should ask what it would take for them to believe in the theory, what their threshold for belief is.
“While I have been holding onto the idea that we will not have such a hard time with peak oil I feel that this is showing me that it will not be easy and in fact will be towards some of the worst case scenarios. As we have talked about in class the level of which we will collapse depends on how soon the preparation starts.” People’s receptiveness to peak oil does affect our preparation for the crisis. It does affect whether peak oil will be a crisis at all. If people ignore it and deny it much longer, we will be at mercy to the forces of nature that occur when global warming and peak oil hit simultaneously. This general mentality of ignoring the negative seems to be a society – wide illness, and maybe we should try to address that as a class, or as individuals. “The truth hurts”.
You’re post raised a lot of issues that I have come across myself, and others that were interesting to consider.
Eugenia

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