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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/11/16

Peak Oil: Now Is A Good Time To Get Serious Pt 1

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The truths, unpleasant though they may be, are the truths: inexpensive, readily available oil is slowly but surely becoming less readily available, more expensive, and harder to come by. Current conditions [ultra-low prices; curtailed/canceled oil production and exploration projects; over-supply; declining investments; high debt] only highlight that the problems of maintaining an adequate, affordable, accessible supply of fossil fuel needed to power modern society aren't going away.

We can pay homage to and wish for all the magic technology in the world; ignore every single environmental consequence; disregard the fundamental differences and considerations regarding conventional crude oil production and tight oil production via "fracking"; ignore all the geopolitical and geological realities; pretend that oil will still be ours for the asking as often and for as much as we want; or hope that Someone Else is going to rescue us, but delusion and denial will only take us so far.

Producing oil from shale formations won't end tomorrow, but it is foolish to completely sidestep fracking's many legitimate and relevant challenges to continued production at recent levels. Discussing not just the cherry-picked positives but the important negatives so that meaningful solutions, progress, understanding, and planning can then take place seems a wiser choice. That it may conflict with ideologies or beliefs formed on the basis of incomplete or inaccurate information should be a secondary consideration.

Those who know but have worked much too hard to mislead and misrepresent must now devote some of their prodigious efforts and considerable knowledge to not just truth-telling, but taking a vital leadership role in exploring how we plan for a future where fossil fuel resources will no longer serve as the primary energy supply for our society.

Recognizing the awesome complexity and widespread impact of that fact merits serious effort and honorable leadership. Are we going to find it? Soon?

The sooner we accept the evidence before us, the sooner we begin to plan intelligently for new methods of powering modern society. Anyone deluding themselves into thinking it won't be all that difficult or will develop in anyone's definition of a reasonably short period of time needs to step away from the conversation until the facts and realities settle in. We've had plenty of senseless denial as it is.

I'm no different than most, and have admitted that I don't want to have to do without; I don't want to give up ambitions or expectations; I don't want to have to make do with less or different, and I have no great desire to devote time and effort and planning and doing to embrace changes to my lifestyle.

But I am also quite aware of just how much my cozy little life depends on fossil fuels for almost everything I need or own. I also am quite clear on the concepts of a finite resource, depletion of same, inadequate substitutes, and lack of planning--among other vital considerations.

Regardless of how much cognitive dissonance will result from a discussion of all of the facts--good and bad; pro and con; left and right--that discussion needs to begin. Our recent spike in fossil fuel production has been a wonderful turn of events, and kudos to the ingenuity and technology which made it all happen. But those efforts are colliding with unpleasant realities about production, costs, and supply. Pretending something is going to come to the rescue--or just hoping--can't be part of the conversation.

We have some serious challenges ahead, and waiting until it's really too late for meaningful discussions and solutions likewise cannot be part of the strategy. The sooner everyone is on board with a full appreciation for and understanding of the assets available to us and the challenges we're going to be facing, how all-encompassing the issues already are, and recognizing what we need to do over an outrageously lengthy period of time, the better our chances of constructive adaptation.

Anything less than that kind of effort and cooperation is only going to contribute to the problems. We need to focus on contributing to the solutions. Peak oil's impact is here regardless of the name attached to it, and it is not going away. That it is not yet the all-consuming catastrophe some falsely claim was the message and motivation is not an excuse to do nothing. That never was a consideration of ours, and it is less so now.

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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