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Energy & Climate Status Quo: Different Issues; Same Approach

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By 2035, the global population is expected to reach nearly 8.8 billion, meaning an additional 1.5 billion people will need energy, according to BP's annual world energy forecasts, and based on current forecasts it won't be sourced from renewables.

There are two ways to respond to that observation: [1] No worries; or, [2] If we're dealing with finite resources to supply those needs, then that's a problem.

Another observation from that same article:

"The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not." Rex Tillerson, Chairman, President, CEO - ExxonMobil.

There are two similar ways to respond to that observation, also: [1] Great! No worries; or, [2] If we're dealing with finite resources to supply the world's needs, then that's a problem.

Those of us concerned about the implications of peak oil have opted for the latter responses to both sets of commentary. Finite--as best we can determine--is still finite. What remains [and there is certainly an impressive amount of fossil fuel resources left on planet Earth], is no longer as easily accessible, affordable, or energy dense, among other drawbacks.

It's convenient to ignore the inconvenient to make self-serving points, but the facts won't go away just because some choose to ignore them. Statements as to the expected/presumed fossil fuel resource totals are fine as statements, but until the details as to the how, when, how much, if, etc., are factored in, they are of little use in terms of increasing awareness or laying the groundwork for preparation and transition.

So while sheer resource numbers might suggest "No worries" is the wiser response, all of the facts regarding fossil fuel production and supply have convinced us that while that may be an easier and more tolerable choice, it's usefulness has a short half-life. The facts, the challenges, and the realities about current and future energy production and supply--the full range of information, not the carefully massaged versions offered up by too many whose self-interests diverge from those of the public--suggest a very different story.

Aside from financial motivations and the benefits accruing to those in positions of authority and influence which make the Happy Talk about abundance forever a logical extension of efforts to preserve those advantages, there are other reasons and explanations as to why those not in similar positions nonetheless accept the cherry-picked, sort-of-factual versions. The tactics and personality inclinations are not confined to purely political issues. There are common threads found in most Left vs. Right debates about economic, energy, climate, cultural, tobacco, political, and religious matters--among other topics.

That those on the conservative side of our political, cultural, economic, and social divide tend to be those both offering a No Worries approach and accepting same without questioning should come as no surprise. This series will explore those contributing factors in greater detail. More information is always a good thing....

environmental attitudes are influenced by general ideological stances that are protective of the societal status quo.

The authors of that same study quoted above also made this observation:

Despite extensive evidence of climate change and environmental destruction, polls continue to reveal widespread denial and resistance to helping the environment. It is posited here that these responses are linked to the motivational tendency to defend and justify the societal status quo in the face of the threat posed by environmental problems. The present research finds that system justification tendencies are associated with greater denial of environmental realities and less commitment to pro-environmental action. Moreover, the effects of political conservatism, national identification, and gender on denial of environmental problems are explained by variability in system justification tendencies.

Human nature being what it is, and preferences for supporting one's beliefs rather than challenging them being what they are, there are more than a few obstacles standing in the way of the general public's acceptance and understanding of the potential and certainly widespread impact of peak oil and climate change.

Giving up that fight is an option, of course, but then everyone loses.

Adapted from a blog post of mine

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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)

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