Monday, April 13, 2009

The stages of grief

A comment on the prior post about the CBC video introduction to peak oil went:
"We read a story in Wired a while back about Peak Oil. My husband was so down that he didn't read another newspaper or newsmag for months!"
A lot of people go through the stages of grief (Kubler-Ross) when they first realize that the life that abundant cheap oil has given the rich countries cannot survive when oil is no longer cheap: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance.

On the other hand, peak oil doesn't mean we're running out of oil -- the exact opposite in fact. Peak Oil is the moment of maximum global oil availability. So if there's ever a moment when we ought to be able to afford to prepare for the transition, it's at the peak.

And we better do it, because we will have to invest lots of energy now in the things we will want to rely on later, when oil (and thus all forms of energy) is much less abundant. Even a 2% per year decline in oil flows means that it only takes 36 years to put the world on half-rations for oil. And 2% decline rate is about the lowest that anyone suggests we'll see -- Cantarell in Mexico, the world's second largest field, is plunging at 15% a year or more. Sometimes all the glorious technology people think will save us is only making things worse, faster.

If you or your husband are ready to think about preparing for the coming transition to a post-oil world, you can check out the Salem Transition Initiative for Relocalization (STIR), a group that is just starting to organize around building the social resiliency we'll need to meet the challenge of a future that is likely to look so different from the immediate past.

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