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Energy Supply & Climate Status Quo: Bad Info; Bad Decisions

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Research has powerfully illustrated that a lack of knowledge in domains such as energy and the environment can lead to bad decisions and erroneous beliefs that hinder a society's ability to create change in domains that require it.

Rather self-evident, isn't it? Certainly that observation is not limited to energy supply issues and environmental/climate change concerns. The more complex the challenges we face, coupled with the greater potential impact of a diminished energy supply and the relentless march of impacts from our warming planet, the more critical it becomes to understand the issues--all of them.

Failure on the part of those who should know better [and certainly do] to articulate the range of potential consequences should there be a failure to respond appropriately is an egregious strategic decision which will exact from all of us an exorbitant and completely unnecessary cost.

There are reasons and explanations as to why the general population--and those leaning Right in particular--choose to deny, avoid, or ignore matters of great import and impact. The conservative personality tendency to fear change, avoid uncertainty, dismiss ambiguities in favor of prompt decisions--other factors be damned--is well-established, and obvious to anyone paying attention to legislative and cultural maneuverings. That the justifications, rationales, and innate strategies used might be understandable should not be the end of the discussion. Self-awareness and introspection carry their own set of benefits.

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This series will examine the concept of System Justification * and the role it plays in generating continued opposition and denial of the facts and implications of both a peak in the rate of oil production, and climate change. Facts won't go away, and denial is not a shield, much as those relying upon those problem-solving techniques might wish otherwise. There are well-defined patterns and behaviors which provide a foundation for the tactics employed to sow doubt and preserve the comforts of the known and familiar. They are not consequence-free.

While the benefits are clear and gratifying today, the ongoing failure to move beyond the emotional and psychological comforts afforded by system justifications is of immediate benefit only--"benefit" being loosely defined. A greater appreciation for not just the facts of peak oil and climate change, but an understanding as well of how we respond to them, why, and what happens if we fail to examine other approaches is arguably of more enduring benefit.

How can anyone justify making critical decisions and establishing plans to address important matters if facts aren't part of the mix? Does that question even have to be asked?

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It's understood there are emotional triggers we all prefer avoiding because of the range of effects they have on our sense of well-being. Human nature is difficult for humans to combat! But as the vintage automobile oil filter commercial's tag line suggested to consumers who wouldn't make a small investment in purchasing a new one: "You can pay me now, or pay me later." The implication is that "later" was not the wiser choice.

"Later" is a much worse choice when dealing with issues of peak oil and climate change" much, much worse. Is the risk worth taking by choosing to do nothing now? Facts suggest that doing nothing is the worst choice. Psychological and emotional needs--for some--suggest just the opposite. We need to move to a better place about these issues.

Later shouldn't be an option.

* [Courtesy of psychwiki]: "System Justification Theory (SJT) is a theory of social psychology that postulates that people are motivated, often unconsciously, to bolster, defend, and justify the status quo---that is, the prevailing social, economic, and political systems. The term 'system' is, intentionally, loosely defined to include a wide array of such arrangements and institutions from relationship dyads to family systems, to corporations and organizations, to economic systems and governments, thus the effort is to identify the general social psychological processes that play out in variety of social establishments. The system justification goal may manifest itself in different forms, such as stereotyping, attribution, and ideology, and is proposed to serve the three more basic existential, epistemic, and relational needs"

Adapted from a blog post of mine


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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows Rich Turcotte is a retired attorney, former financial advisor, and now a writer. The mission: informing others about the significance and impact of Peak (more...)

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