A fossil fuel-driven-and-made-possible life is all any of us have ever known. There are virtually no aspects of commerce, leisure, transportation, or consumption that do not depend in some part on inexpensive, readily-available and easily-produced fossil fuels. That is most certainly not going to change dramatically overnight, but the situation we'll soon be facing simply isn't going to get any better if all we're counting on for many more years is even more inexpensive, readily-available and easily-produced fossil fuels.
So what to do? Do we want a voice in the solutions or not?
Who among us wants even more problems and worries to contend with now? Plates are still full and then some. For issues like peak oil--where it's not at all clear that problems with fossil-fuel supplies exist today or tomorrow or next month--that challenge very quickly slides down our list of priorities. That there are so many conflicting assessments [some unintentional; others ... not exactly] and the subject itself is a bit misunderstood doesn't help.
All duly noted and a perfectly reasonable determination to make ... today. The underlying concerns voiced by proponents of peak oil and its impact remain unchanged notwithstanding. A future with diminishing fossil-fuel resources--our future, more specifically--is going to be so different and in so many ways, and so much more constrained by that fact, it's unlikely anyone can legitimately wrap their mind around that eventuality at this moment.
We don't think about our energy supply like we don't think about the air we breathe. It just is ... except when it's not. Awareness about that last point is a first step.
Fossil fuel--oil in particular--plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat; to the means by which we transport ourselves; to the creation and availability of the innumerable products we need and use; to the availability of and development of the just-as-countless services we rely upon; to everything else we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. Who among us ever pauses to consider that? [No blame assessed because we don't.]
Just look outside your window and appreciate all that our ingenuity and technological prowess has created. But consider also the output and process of both creation and use. Multiply that by countless millions of locales and hundreds of millions of other individuals and organizations doing the same, dependent on that same finite and ever-depleting resource. No consequences to any of this? Seriously?
Transitioning to a non-fossil-fuel-based society will be no easy or quick process. Very few aspects of our lives--personal or commercial--will be untouched. The evolution of new systems and production modes and transportation options will be years/decades in the making. Accepting that is an important component to the development of appropriate plans and adaptations. The creativity and vision and skill and sense of community that first built this nation are the very same traits we will need once again as we usher in a new future.
Can we at least start the conversations needed, or should we continue to rely on half-truths and distractions about the realities of a finite resource?
Adapted from a blog post of mine