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Peak Oil: Where To Go From Here? Pt 1

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I ended last week's entry by explaining the significance of getting all of the facts about our energy-supply future as a first step.

Before deciding whether or not to accept the realities of a depleting finite resource and the impact this will have on our society--or ignoring it for whatever comforting alternative explanations suit one's needs--understanding the implications and those realities is a more beneficial approach. One-sided stories help move a narrative along, but their value to an unsuspecting public is questionable at best.

The corollary to an appreciation for what a less adequate, less affordable, and less available supply of our primary energy resource is the transition itself. That effort will not happen via magic. Not only will the research, development, and planning require more effort, time, and contributions than we're likely considering now; putting everything into place is no easy assignment, either.

There's no question the possibility of having to deal with such an all-consuming scenario is daunting at best. Most of what we'll be confronted with is less gratifying. Predicting the month and year is a fool's pursuit. Past predictions fell short of course--both by those urging greater awareness of peak oil's potential impact and those who prefer mocking the messengers than dealing with the facts.

Using well-intentioned prior estimates [supported by the best available information at those times] as justification for discounting today's assessments is a great tactic if avoiding the subject matter entirely is the objective. The added bonus is that by focusing on those secondary matters, consideration of the realities we're facing now and likely will be in years to come can be taken off the table. Problem solved!

If only....

Just to keep things interesting, the transition from an oil-based industrial economy to Whatever-Plan-B-Will-Be will have to be achieved using that same declining measure of supply to design and construct and transport and put into place the infrastructure we'll need to support and maintain this as-yet-unidentified and not-planned-for-yet Plan B, thus making less available to us for all of our 'normal' demands and needs, creating its own set of problems. We're talking about using a lot of declining energy supplies that's a lot more expensive, over the course of a lot of years to put into operation a lot of new industrial and economic and civic foundations to (we hope) enable us to maintain some semblance of growth and prosperity--all while using new energy resources that simply will not be as efficient or inexpensive or dependable as oil has been.

Challenging? No doubt! Doable? Of course! There is no reason whatsoever why the collective genius of our society and the capabilities this nation has demonstrated in addressing great challenges of the past cannot be utilized once again for this effort.

But the process will fail if we continue to listen to those whose interests in preserving fossil-fuel-production status quo for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many are given prominence. Every day their apparent strategy--whatever the rationale or motivation--to suggest that a depleting finite resource critical to modern society somehow possesses magical qualities unbound from the laws of physics is another day delayed and lost on the path to a successful transition.

Success itself will not be easy, of course - not with a task promising at this moment nothing short of unimaginable complexity and scope. Pretending we have no issues by distracting citizens with fringe-issue nonsense is of absolutely no benefit to all but a few. They don't need that kind of coddling.

Given the wide swath that oil cuts across our industrial, economic, agricultural, transportation, and cultural foundations, we run the risk of being blindsided from several directions simultaneously if we don't begin giving peak oil the consideration it mandates--at least for societies hoping to sustain themselves.

Choices remain available to us.

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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