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Society & Ecology
Wednesday, March 09, 2005  
Human Mind

Peak Oil is one of those areas where some of the peculiarities of the human mind is revealed.

Most people are oblivious to the issues around peak oil, although it is something that is likely to significantly impact their lives. Either they have not heard or thought about it, or they know about it but (a) think it will not affect them or (b) that someone else will take care of it.

Blind Attachments
And some are strongly committed to either the worst or the best case scenario. They tend to be not willing to sincerely consider other views or data that does not fit into their preferred scenario. In Eugene, many have a strong commitment to the worst case scenario and filter any information through this perspective.

Going out in this extreme may be triggered by seeing the obliviousness of the majority of the population, the active denial of another segment, the real challenges in the situation, and - in some cases - a habitual tendency to go into an adversarial and victim mode around these types of issues.

A more rational approach is to accept that it is a significant issue that will impact most of us in our lifetime. We need to take it seriously and make the changes necessary so the transition will go as painlessly as possible (although it will certainly involve various types of discomfort).

This approach also takes into account the enormous adaptivity of life in general and - in this case - humans in particular. The history of Earth and humans certainly does not lack significant crisis situations that life found a way to adapt to, and in many cases turn to its benefit.

History also tells us that what really occurred in most cases were not as bad as the worst case scenario, and not as good as the best case scenario...

In terms of peak oil, we do have the behavioral and technological solutions necessary to make a transition away from oil dependency. We also have an international economy that will pour its resources into these technologies whenever they obviously are more profitable than oil technology (and this transition will occur gradually along with the increases in cost of oil, although it will also occur relatively rapidly). And behavioral change tend to occur when people are forced to, again most likely through steadily increasing oil prices.

There will be a crisis of sorts, but most likely not as catastrophic as the worst case scenarios, and - for that matter - as smooth as the best case scenarios.

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