I had hoped to get my head completely around this subject before writing about it, but I finally realized that I most likely will not be able to reach some definitive point with it, so, at the risk of sounding self important, here are my thoughts. It goes by many names, for simplicity I will use the term Peak Oil. I have been talking with family and friends a little about it, hoping, I think, that someone else will feel my sense of urgency. What prompted me to write this morning was this post by Southern Beale. She was reacting to various news reports and opinions that she feels seek to scare us all into thinking Armageddon is just around the corner. It was kinda funny to me that she referenced the Mad Max movies, since she was the second person in just a week that brought them up. I should also say that I really like and admire Beale, we used to hang out years ago on a National blog, and she was smarter than most of the regulars, and always came across as “real.” I also liked her views on Christianity.
But dang it, Sister, you got this one wrong!
I kid. A little. (I know what you drive) Ok, so in the comment thread (burn in Hell, Haloscan) she admits that she believes that we are running out of this precious resource, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world. She mentioned having faith that this country has a record of pulling together during a crisis and solving seemingly unsolvable problems. Since I’m pretty sure I’m a Humanist, I happen to agree that we can “fix” this together, I think humans are capable of anything, particularly when the collective consciousness reaches a critical mass. Whew. (Exador is going to have kittens over that phrase) But here’s the thing…this is where I part ways with just having faith, or Faith. Our brains are amazing tools, capable of processing more information more quickly than any computer, and yet even when we experience that awesome power day in and day out, we somehow manage to minimize what we can do as human beings.
This was about Peak Oil, right? I’ll get there. But I feel compelled to address what I see as a major stumbling block for me with regard to applying faith where we need to apply thought. I WANT to have faith that it will “all work out.” I have children, after all, and I want them to be happy and healthy and have a bright future. I struggle daily to find balance with respect to making their childhood memorable, and preparing them to be ready for what life might hold for them. And so I seek balance in my own life as well, though I’ll admit that I fall somewhat short most of the time. (But at least we are journeying together, right?) My point here is that I’d love to just have faith, but like that popular story about the man stranded on a rooftop, I’m gettin on the helocopter, pronto.
So, for a minute, lets imagine a blip in the availability of gasoline. I remember sleeping in my car so that I wouldn’t lose my place in line at the gas station not that long ago. Most of my current friends don’t remember that because they weren’t born or were small children at the time. But it stayed with me for a very long time, that feeling of helplessness because I couldn’t get anywhere until I filled my tank. (At the time, I didn’t know how dependent I was on oil and all of it’s by-products. ) Ok, so something causes a temporary disruption in fuel delivery to our gas stations. Like I said, just a blip. A few days. A week. Those with fuel already in their cars go about their business, and head to the grocery store, only to find it almost barren. (Food moves on trucks, trucks use fuel). Think back to any news broadcast on Dec 26th of almost any year, and I bet you remember some riot at Walmart over the scarcity of some new toy. Imagine the fun if there was a scarcity of food. Most people I know shop week to week, few people stock much beyond that.
All of us felt pretty helpless watching the events following hurricane Katrina. To me, the thing that scared me the most, and I mean scared me, was the fact that one town, just across the bridge , dispatched it’s police officers to point their weapons at the refugees fleeing the horror that was New Orleans. Part of me understands that an order like that might be given by some stupid politician, but no part of me understands how these guys obeyed it. What part of them was so disconnected from those people seeking safety that they would point loaded guns at them to keep them out even if it meant their jobs? Could you do it?
To me, the warning signs are everywhere. I tend to be good at logistics, so I always look for ways to minimize wasted time or effort, and I am worried that most people have no plan in place to deal with even a short-lived oil shortage. In fact, I’ll bet most people have no clue as to how much of their lives depend not only on a supply of oil, but a cheap supply.
I fear this is getting to long to read, so I will post more about this in the days and weeks to come, but for now I have to say that I don’t think it will take much more than a temporary gasoline crisis to provide a glimpse of what Armageddon might look like. Boy do I want to be proven wrong.