It’s time to start spreading the word about peak oil

Hate mail is just part of the reason I submit the occasional commentary. It reminds me that, lacking the ability to love the future yet unable to change it, at least we can despise the messenger.


Few people appreciate the message emanating from a prophet of doom.
By 2015, demand for crude oil is projected to exceed 100 million barrels per day. Supply will be about the same it was in 1995, slightly more than 50 million barrels per day. If that smells like the collapse of our oil-based Empire, your nose is working fine. My nose is working fine, too.
But my neck is killing me. Friends and colleagues claim the cumulative weight of peak oil and runaway greenhouse are wearing me down, causing my head to tilt on its axis. Who am I to argue? It’s a better explanation than my doctor’s come up with.
The voices of most elected officials and a majority of the mainstream media are conspicuously absent from the discussion of peak oil, which is arguably the most important issue the country has ever faced.
Call me crazy — and believe me, you wouldn’t be the first — but I think we should deal with important problems instead of sticking our heads in the sand. Yet every time I mention a problem we face, hate mail overflows out my email in-box. As hard as it is to believe, society doesn’t appreciate social critics or social criticism.
Roscoe Bartlett, perhaps the most neo-conservative member of the United States House of Representatives, says the magnitude of the peak oil problem requires a “man on the moon” solution. Never mind the far more appropriate analogy — a large civilization on Pluto — at least Bartlett is trying to deal with reality. I’ll bet he gets some hate mail, too.
In a few short years, the United States will have virtually no access to oil and its derivatives, which include coal, natural gas, uranium, solar panels, and wind turbines. The last time that happened in this country, fewer than 30 million people populated the United States; about 10 percent of them were slaves. Life expectancy was 46 years; if you were black, you could expect to live to the ripe old age of 23. Surface water was abundant and clean enough to drink.
The Greatest Depression is coming your way. The task ahead is a daunting one for American society and every person comprising it. Tremendous courage, creativity, and compassion will be needed to get us through the next two decades without an enormous loss of human life.
It’s time to start the discussion about meeting the enormous challenges ahead. Please forward your constructive ideas to journalists, politicians, and your circle of family and friends. The hate mail you can send to me.

Comments 5

  • Maybe a little optimistic. I might have been tempted to write that the courage, creativity, and compassion needed to get us through the next two decades, would be most needed to deal effectively with the enormous loss of life, both human and otherwise, that is sure to come.

  • Not sure if you do this kind of thing, but I’ve tagged you with a blogging excellence award. A trivial thing maybe, but hey, it’s not hate mail!

  • Theresa — Thanks for the recognition! Not only is it not hate mail, it’s much more positive recognition than I receive from the supervisors at my day job 🙂

  • 1000 words to opinion@dailynebraskan.com
    Spread the word!

  • Guy, I’ve been reading you for several months now. Your recent post on spreading the word about peak oil is great. I just got harangued/snarked by a good friend last night for my PO “obsession.” He said I needed to balance that with spiritual study/practice. To a degree, I think he’s right. To be stuck in the material/political realm without any “soul sustenance” is debilitating. There is some good stuff out there discussing peak oil blues.
    But I really do sense the “deep-denial” in these hate mails, as you put it. We live simultaneously on several planes, body-mind-spirit. All need attention. So you do the “split wood-carry water” thing, but you also do the “self-observation, self-understanding, and self-transcendence.” Winter is coming, you fix the roof and put in some fire wood. But you dance and sing at the winter solstice party and relax into infinity. It’s the age-old optimist v. pessimist, glass half full, glass half empty, Pollyanna v. Chicken Little dichotomy/dilemma. There is a practical level at which you do what you can. Like the serenity prayer, which could also be called the courage prayer, or my choice, the wisdom prayer. Yeh, there are some hard lessons to be learned, but ultimately they are spiritual lessons. To understand how our sense of a separate self, the ego, evokes great fear, and all the ensuing strategies to survive and avoid annihilation. And thus, our so called “civilization.” All this stuff we do in a state of fear, just messes things up more. Hopefully those that survive TEOTWAWKI will emerge with a higher understanding.
    I’m calling this tribe the “Transcendent Neo-Paleolithic Low Tech Hunter-Gatherers” (TNPTHG).
    I’m amused by all the doom and gloom vocabulary creations, like doomosphere, and doomology, and doomfest. I’ve come up with one DOOMAGOGUE.
    Thanks to all of you out there writing and speaking so eloquently, so urgently, to get the word out. Proceed with compassion. Lots of people can only handle a little bit of reality at a time. Knowing when to speak out, and when to be gracefully silent is crucial. There ain’t no revolution on a full stomach, and the revolution is about to reach critical mass.
    GeneGeno