Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Why so much about Peak Oil?

Teresa asked a question in the comments: "why so much on Peak Oil and not any other of the other world problems?" This is a good question, so I thought I'd give my answer to her in a post:

1. I'm currently interested in Peak Oil, and the blog is the place for my 'thinking out loud'. Long time friends are aware that I take up an issue, study it intensely until I grok it, and then move on - at which point it has either been absorbed into my view of the world and effectively becomes unconscious, or else I reject it and have sound reasons for doing so.

2. More personally, Peak Oil seems to be something of a 'seed crystal' for me - as the ripples from understanding it spread out further in my psyche, it seems to be a focus for integrating lots of things which had previously been separate, in terms most of all of theology and politics, but also the daily patterns of my human life.

3. Peak Oil can't be separated from all the other problems which afflict the world, most especially the nexus between the concentration of power in the hands of western governments and the immiseration of the majority of the world's population. It is the access to (and reliance upon) abundant and easy energy that gave western governments (specifically the US) the 'first mover' advantage enabling them to assert their values (for better and for worse) within the world. In terms of shaping our lives so that we a) live more humanely ourselves, and b) allow other people to flourish, we cannot avoid the issue of our use of a valuable and rapidly diminishing resource. It's a justice issue. This is something on which I expect to post more substantially in due course as I think it is at the heart of it for me.

4. Peak Oil is imminent and potentially catastrophic; even if our politicians act with wisdom it will necessitate a drastic change in our culture and lifestyle within the next fifteen years. Have a look at the powerpoint slides from my Learning Church presentation, where I indicate the sort of things that will happen in Mersea. The downside - if we don't get our act together - is what initially terrified me (and provoked your 'Chicken Little' comment!). The potential downside is real, even if I don't personally expect it to happen. I am by nature profoundly optimistic - and I do trust in God - but I think we shouldn't be 'naively optimistic'. Whilst I disagree with much of the die-off.org approach, I do think their motto is valid: "If a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worst". Acknowledging the fact that we are waltzing along a precipice is the first move in taking steps away from the edge.

5. I also now think that the link between oil supply and world affairs is more intimate than I had previously believed - and I expect that to be shown this year...

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