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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/13/16

Peak Oil: Simplicity Isn't Always So Simple

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Few of us appreciate just how much we rely upon inexpensive, readily-available supplies of energy to live our lives. It's as easy to overlook as the air we breathe, and a change in its availability could impact us no less dramatically. Whether it does or not will be up to us.

[W]hat future awaits us if we cannot be courageous and honest enough to plan for that future with the full range and understanding of all the facts now at our disposal?

While there's surely some benefit derived in keeping things simple for readers and followers, I'm still unclear as to what the long-term benefits are for them [and the rest of us] when the full range of facts and considerations about our future energy supply are kept off of the discussion table.

It's a defining characteristic of the conservative personality that they tend to prefer closure quickly; and this is so for matters both simple and complex. Like any tactic, there are advantages and disadvantages in how they are used, and for what reasons.

Latching onto to one or two pieces of information or opinions in matters of greater complexity and accepting them as the final say can lead to bigger problems down the road when the majority of facts and considerations are ignored--or worse, not disclosed at all to those without the means to collect details on their own. The public understandably relies upon their preferred go-to media and political sources for information, and when their motivations and interests differ from those who rely upon them, the dissemination of full information tends to be an early casualty.

The issues surrounding the concept of peak oil are not a contest between progressive views and conservative ones. Peak Oil is about the facts on and in the ground. No one denies the great advantages and production increases for which tight oil production in the past few years is responsible. But that's just a factual statement. It's not the sum total of energy considerations and concerns today and/or tomorrow, despite the fact it tends to be couched that way by some.

Production facts past, present, and future affect all of us, even those media, industry, and political personalities from the right side of the divide who tend to work so hard [and, unfortunately, effectively] to cloud the truth. Peak Oil's impact will also just as surely and adversely affect ardent deniers when the consequences of declining oil production and a warming Earth begin to make their inevitable appearance. By then that realization will come too late to arrange for meaningful adaptations. Reality will still remain entirely unmoved by political ideologies.

Democracy holds out a promise that we will get to make choices about what we will do in our community. But each time we choose to ignore the factual truths staring right at us, we ensure that future generations will have fewer and fewer choices.

Offered in the context of climate change, that quote holds the same meaning and truth for peak oil and all other complex, challenging issues in our society for which universal agreement is lacking.

The challenges posed by peak oil [a depleting, finite resource whose substitutes carry a host of drawbacks: higher costs; greater production challenges; less efficient; environmental consequences, etc.] is all the greater--if that's possible--because from the perspective of those of us legitimately concerned about providing full disclosure, too many citizens without the means/opportunities to understand what's at stake rely on informed others making a deliberate decision to disclose either too few facts from which to make informed decisions, or carefully massaged facts with a self-serving purpose.

A steady diet of half-truths, misrepresentations, irrelevancies, distractions, abundance forever nonsense, and in some cases outright lies certainly suggests disagreement about energy supply issues for those who make no independent determinations on the matter. If you come to the table without understanding or even knowing the facts, you leave very quickly with a comforting if false belief that there are no issues worth considering. Furthermore, it's more difficult to contribute meaningful insight, or even just have a chance to voice concerns or ask questions if you've been told there's nothing to be concerned about.

Perhaps there's a good explanation for why making a critical, looming problem worse later on; for more people and industries affected by that problem; in more ways, and with costlier options at hand--not to mention fewer ones--is actually a wiser course of action than just telling the truth and offering up all of the facts.

So " what is it?


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