Thursday, March 23, 2006

salon perspective

Yesterday featured one of the best articles I’ve ever read concerning overall response to peak oil and the coming energy crisis. This first-rate piece of writing by Katharine Mieszkowski covers the full range of peak oil perspectives without polarizing the issue. She starts with an interview of Matt Savinar of He is a pessimist peak oil profit who’s been quoted on the floor of the House of Representatives and whose site serves as a clearinghouse of information on peak oil and its possible implications. She also speaks with others who believe peak oil is a myth or at worst a speed bump on the highway of human evolution. She completes her open-minded yet focused coverage by talking to Peak Oilers such as those at the Post Carbon Institute who are somewhat optimistic that the long term result of a reduction in dependency on fossil fuels might actually have a positive effect on our society. Many such advocates of the movement to power down still fear an unplanned energy decent and the short term implications of the coming shortage of petroleum. They are however working to do something about it. Much of the media coverage of our day is “balanced” such that it reports on items by presenting two opposing views on either ends of the spectrum. Ms. Mieszkowski avoids that obstruction and provides a comprehensive look at peak oil; one which is not afraid to deal directly with this difficult issue. Below I’ve provided a quote from this must-read article.

"I think that a lot of people have their head in the sand about this," says [Larry] Robinson. "Some believe that the market will solve the problem, and ultimately, it will, but markets aren't anticipatory. They're more reactive. If we wait for a market solution, it's going to come probably in the midst of a lot of disruption and unnecessary suffering."

But the Sebastopol City Council member also sees some silver linings in the slide down Hubbert's Peak. First, he believes that savvy local entrepreneurs will be able to create new businesses and local jobs, manufacturing shoes and clothes, when transportation costs make it prohibitively expensive to import them from halfway around the world. Beyond that, he sees peak oil as providing a kind of wholesale referendum on the American way of life.

"I think that we can adapt, but our adapting may not be so much technological, as sociological, and maybe even spiritual," Robinson says. "It really comes down to the question of the place that we see for ourselves in the world and what we need in order to live a meaningful life. For quite a while now, a meaningful life in America has meant acquisition of things and cheap energy, and we associate that with freedom. We do not see that it's really a form of dependence and slavery. So, I see the potential for a much greater level of freedom and spiritual fulfillment and social cohesion, and restoration of balance with the natural world. This is one of the great possibilities that I see on the other side of the crisis, and whether we get to that is a question of the choices that we make now."

The entire article is available here. Enjoy.

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