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H’s, T’s and E’s – A Peak Oil Guide

H’s, T’s and E’s – A Peak Oil Guide thumbnail

This is a post meant for people who follow resource depletion, simplified for the group think as “peak oil.” But you might enjoy knowing more about the three groups now thinking about the way this society will crumble – or transform.

I’m having a problem. I need some help differentiating the types of thinking in the peak oil movement. I know we have names already, “cornucopians” and “hopiumsmokers,” and “doomers,” but I think I want an update, offering some subtlety.

Can we make things easier by perhaps declaring whether we “believe” that:

1. Industrial civilization will not entirely or at all survive the 21st Century;

2. That hope and technological innovation will allow a “hot swap” of things like “molten salt reactors, thorium, or fusion” for our petro-society?

3. Or, that nothing can be done and everybody is already dead, and just don’t know it?

Can we start our conversation by admitting the bias with a simple designation? It’s for purely selfish reasons, as I’m exhausted by hopium smokers. And they may be exhausted by non-hopium smokers. So, in fairness to all:

The “H’s”

I am of the belief that all of human history and pre-history are the actual guides to our future. That is, we will experience non-uniform collapse and non-uniform re-formation as tribes, then towns, then perhaps, low-energy, slave-owning small, warring states. Geology, geography and resources play an important role. But “technology” will be too interrupted by resource depletion and the interruption of long-distance ‘assembly lines’ (from Asia and Africa to Europe and the Americas).

Call that “H” for historical perspective.

The “T’s”

If you believe that technology will fix our predicament, you could do the service of making conversation easier by admitting that you’re a “T.” A “T” is a believer in the thought that technology will somehow help us out of the collapse … caused by our reliance on technology. For example, if you find yourself wanting to talk about “thorium reactors” or “molten salt reactors or batteries,” or if you have no doubt that the “solar revolution” will replace our ugly “carbon” society – then you are most certainly a hopeful “T” believer.

The “E’s”

Then some of you are pure “extinctionists” who believe that we’ll not only get rid of excess materialism and large numbers of people – but that we will, in fact, wipe out all people, period – and much life on the planet. For example, some global warming people are extinctionists, more generally than are peak oilers, and you can often feel their internal excitement (“boners of self-righteously arrogant sadness”) at the notion that we’re all going to die – and that we frankly deserve it.

In sum…

We’ve got “H” for people looking to the report card of human history for a guide to probable behavior of groups of people.

We’ve got “T” for people who believe that technology will save us – or some of us, and allow us to “swap” one “paradigm” for another. (Oil, by the way, is not a paradigm, it’s the structural basis for every single damned thing we do – which is why I’m not a “T”).

And finally, the pure, unadulterated doomers, who I’ll affectionally call “E”s for extinctionists.

Play along. It’ll be fun! Collapse Watch

54 Comments on "H’s, T’s and E’s – A Peak Oil Guide"

  1. Joe D on Mon, 9th Jan 2017 10:41 pm 

    Peaky, you poor thing. I thought you were done with me. “End of discussion with you”, were you being dishonest?

    Your questions sure are dishonest. Do you like to use what science hasn’t figured out, to discredit what it has? “before the universe was created”? Really? Do we need to delve back that far to satisfy your dishonest curiosity? Do you wish to discuss the Point of Singularity of the Big Bang?

    All physics breaks down from 0-10^-43 seconds of the Point of Singularity of the Big Bang. Does that help with your dishonesty? Or shall I speak about Dark Energy and Dark Matter and how science hasn’t answered these either.

    When you interject your opinion (like an entropy reset, etc.) into what science can’t explain, you are being the religious one.

    Instead of being dishonest to yourself, why not try and comprehend what science has figured out. Like entropy. Try to study entropy in this closed volume we call our home, earth. It may work better for you.

    Funny, when I wrote I was an ‘S’ man, I was just fooling around. This is what happens when you fool around in a remedial classroom…lol.

    Cloggie, you are in the wrong room. Kindergarten is down the hall. Close the door from the other side please.

  2. GregT on Tue, 10th Jan 2017 1:51 am 

    You are way out of your league here Joseph. Go back to university.

  3. Cloggie on Tue, 10th Jan 2017 4:40 am 

    All physics breaks down from 0-10^-43 seconds of the Point of Singularity of the Big Bang. Does that help with your dishonesty? Or shall I speak about Dark Energy and Dark Matter and how science hasn’t answered these either.

    You figured it all out, didn’t you Joe.

    Science hasn’t figured you out either and I have a dark suspicion it is better that way.

  4. Davy on Tue, 10th Jan 2017 5:05 am 

    We probably need to redefine the peak oil discussion. It is a valid dynamic in the economy and our civilization. It is not turning out to be what we thought it would be when it became a force of thought back around the turn of the century. It is by no means irrelevant as many are trying to make it out to be recently with poor journalism and snake oil sales pitches.

    Techno optimist and status quo optimist fail to see how multiple converging problems are now an existential predicament. This is a catch 22 trap without an exit at the level our global civilization is at. Seven Billion people are not going to fit through a very small door that is a coming bottleneck. It remains to be seen how far down the road this bottleneck is. How quickly will this bottleneck be realized? Will it be slow and measured or a jagged average with some horrible events injected? If this unfolds over a few decades then excessive doom is crying wolf or living in the unreality of the far off future. Not accepting it can happen tomorrow is sucking hopium.

    Humans live in the here and now with imagination of the future. This separates us from other animals. Our large brains obsess over the future. We construct elaborate civilization constructions based on future activity. The reality is we live today. Our values and expectations need to be rearranged. This does not mean to dismiss the future. The future is part of being human. That is not what I mean at all. What I mean is we need to live less in the future and obsess less about it. There are plenty of things of value we are pissing away in our mad dash to nowhere.

    If we spent more time in the here and now and looked around we would see a mess. Maybe we could start to clean this mess up without the delusion of a future where the mess is cleaned up by forces our imagination dream up. Reports and studies about life thirty years from now are useful but when they are what drives policy and planning we are basing our current reality on unreality.

    What is lacking today is wisdom. Most often it is the wisdom to say no. We are a global world in competitive cooperation. No is a comparative disadvantage. Those who say yes attain power over those who say no until everyone is ruined. There is likely no solution for this other than to be aware of it. This is a human evolutionary defect. We are just too many people with too many unrealistic cultural narratives of Yes. We are an animal with a big brain that should have remained in small groups. Instead we developed skills that allowed us to conquer a planet. Conquering the planet means destroying it as is always the case with an invasive and aggressive species is allowed to flourish. Rarely does the planet witness such forces. We can equate ourselves to geologic forces of destructive change. How wonderful if we could have been a positive force of increasing biological richness, LOL.

    Peak oil is just another sign of decay that will be debated and discussed without the true picture of reality. Humans can’t handle reality. Humans can’t handle the truth. When you have imagination like humans how do you expect the truth of our mortality that includes pain, suffering, and death to be faced? What do you expect of such an animal? Maybe we should give ourselves a break in this respect and show some humility.

    Dirty Harry said “A man’s got to know his limitations”. Peak oil is a limitation and one that is not sleeping. It is not what we once though but it is a very powerful force that if dismissed will bite us in the ass. We should be making other arrangements because of it and multiple other equally dangerous forces. Things like alternative energies are part of this but not a solution. The real solution is in our heart and DNA. We have the potential to say no. As an individual and small groups we can say no even though we can’t say no to forces outside our control. We have to yield to these uncontrollable forces but control our behavior. Learn what NO means and start living. Peak oil is one of those forces outside our control NO is not.

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