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Keeping Peak Oil Reality In Mind # 18: Deny & Delay

General Ideas

An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Paul Gilding.

Like many, I feel a great impatience sitting here on the edge of it all. Waiting for it to be clear to everyone that it’s time to stop pretending the old models will somehow get back to normal. We lurch from crisis to crisis, but never seem to face up to the reality that old normal is gone, that step change is now our only option….
[B]ut building the momentum of the new takes time. And perhaps of more immediate concern, the dismantling of the old economy and the decline of the fossil fuel industry is being fiercely resisted by those who own it. To be fair, you can’t really blame them. I can’t imagine I’d take kindly to everything I assumed about the world being proven wrong and all my success now being blamed for the potential collapse of civilization. Denial and delay would be quite appealing!
But none of that really matters because the end of their world is going to happen regardless of anything they do. You can buy your way to political influence but you can’t buy new laws of physics. So we will change, not because of any great moral battle between good and evil, but because people and economics will respond to physical limits – the limits of the climate’s capacity to absorb our waste, the limits of our food production to keep pace with our demand, the limits of living on one planet.
Thus the need to act is no longer just a moral imperative, it’s now a social and economic necessity.

Facing great change is daunting to anyone and everyone. Who the hell wants that? The comfortable and familiar business as usual (or at least business as usual before 2008, when we paid the price for both the excesses of the prior decade and our failure to take a moment or two to consider outcomes suggested by facts and reality) is an infinitely better option. Who wants more struggles and more difficulties and more sacrifice? Denial is indeed a coping strategy.

The problem is that denial as a strategy will in due course (sooner rather than later) lead to its inevitable outcome. And when that happens, facts and reality will still be there bright as ever, but the time we could have used to think more clearly and plan more effectively will have slipped into the past. We’ll be left with less time, fewer resources, greater challenges, and increased urgency to get more done for a larger population faster and all at prohibitive cost. Hell of an option!

We can still rely on the Magic Technology Fairy to come racing to our energy rescue before we all really start feeling the effects of the peak in oil production (tar sands/tight oil hype notwithstanding). So too can we rely on economic ideologies which have consistently failed us for more than three decades, choosing the option that invests less on research and education and community well-being and women and the middle class, but more on the well-to-do at our expense, and hope that the facts and reality are all wrong.

Denial and misrepresentations and pandering and playing to fear soothes the soul today, but lead us to a very unpleasant future for which we will be woefully unprepared to face. Short term gain, long-term pain. Who benefits more? Who suffers more?

Accepting the facts and evidence and reality standing before us will surely be unpleasant now in their own right. But once we move past that by summoning the will and confidence and courage and wisdom we each and all possess, we can then begin the slow but steady process of planning for a future with different energy resources as our engine. Short term pain, long term gain.

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3 Comments on "Keeping Peak Oil Reality In Mind # 18: Deny & Delay"

  1. actioncjackson on Tue, 27th Nov 2012 1:15 am 

    Yes, remain in the greater metropolitan area of your city and wait for a new energy source, stay home and remain calm

  2. BillT on Tue, 27th Nov 2012 1:41 am 

    Sorry, but humans are not wired to respond to long term problems. We may live in a fast paced world, but our wiring is still from the days when we had to watch for immediate dangers like tigers, and react quickly to survive.

    All civilizations that have come and gone the last 10,000 years have died the same way we are. Overreach of available resources and decline. sometimes over hundreds of years. Sometimes in mere decades. I think we are going to take the fast route, if mankind survives at all.

  3. SOS on Wed, 28th Nov 2012 12:43 pm 

    The evidence before us, as the author of this rambling ode to weak thinkers states, is not shrinking oil supplies. Those are growing by leaps and bounds. The evidence before us are all the efforts being employed to deny and stop the burgeoning energy supplies now being realized.

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