Peak Oil--Beyond Fear

A Guest Post by Shepherd Bliss, and we're happy to have him.

Upon first hearing about Peak Oil, a few years ago, I doubted it. "Just Big Oil propaganda to raise gas prices," I initially thought. But the more I read about how our natural petroleum supply will reach its mid-point and then dwindle, the more convinced I became. So I got angry—at Big Oil for not informing us and at Americans for over-consuming a limited, non-renewable resource.

Then I got afraid. What would happen to all my careful plans? How could I get the food, water, and other essentials that I need to survive without the oil that drives our cars and runs modern agriculture? One's first response to hearing about Peak Oil is likely to be denial, bolstered by arguments about why it could not be so.

Change can induce fear. Change, even of civilizations, is inevitable, but fear is not. When fear emerges, it can either linger or evolve into other more positive feelings, such as acceptance. Fear-based actions are seldom effective. Denial is often followed by anger and/or fear. This is understandable. Peak Oil is an unprecedented event in human history. But getting stuck in fear or anger and merely blaming or working individually only to protect what one has accumulated--rather than working through one's feelings and with others--can be dangerous.

Then I began to bargain, which is when I remembered Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of dealing with death. Maybe if I just reduced my own use of oil, things would get better, I bargained. I reduced my consumption and drive a vehicle that gets nearly 40 miles to a gallon, thus doing my part to deal with the demand aspect of Peak Oil. This is not enough. I'm just a little guy. If other gas-guzzling drivers, American itself, and now China all reduced their petroleum use, that could make a difference. Personal responsibility is important, but it is certainly not enough to deal with the global twilight of the oil supply.

A learning curve with respect to oil depletion is important. We should also consider that there is a feeling curve that might go something like denial, doubt, anger, fear, bargaining, acceptance. It wouldn't always occur in this order, or with all these stages; some people jump ahead, then back. With the learning and feeling curves can come a doing curve. Many people are acting and making major changes in their work, relationships, and habits related to transportation and where to live.

Which stage might you be in with respect to Peak Oil? What do you need to move to another stage? Perhaps there are stages that I have not described, which you experience. If so, please explain them to me at (and cc them to theoildrum@gmail, please). I am interested to understand how we can reach more people with the information and metaphors that could convey the Peak Oil situation and helpful ways of responding to it.

After reading nearly a dozen authoritative books and talking with many experts, I have finally accepted that Peak Oil is inevitable and will create many personal and global changes. Though some of those changes will be uncomfortable for me personally and others, I am now mostly beyond fear. Mostly.

I've moved into direct action. I have been talking with friends and writing about oil depletion and its probable consequences. We have set up a free local email source of information and discussion in Sonoma County, Northern California, called Beyond Oil Sonoma. Since food security will be one of the main issues as Peak Oil unfolds, we hosted a meeting at a local farm. We initially thought a couple of dozen people would show up, since we only had a few days to inform people. Over 100 people came.

There are many actions that one can take personally and with others to deal with the twilight of oil. We are certainly not doomed. As I have met with people recently, I do not feel gloomy. In fact, by moving into action I have begun to feel the pleasure of working with others on a common problem. Rather than being depressed, I feel inspired, creative, and connected. Keeping fears to oneself can create isolation. Part of the solution to dealing with feelings about Peak Oil is to talk with others. We now have an ongoing monthly group that has met six times to talk about and make plans for our post-carbon lives.

As I've conversed with others I've come to see that the oil depletion cloud is not all dark; it has silver linings. Without the greenhouse gases that burning fossil fuels emits, the climate changes that it creates may not be as harmful to the Earth.

Without abundant oil, global warfare will be increasingly difficult and perhaps eventually impossible. Starting with World War I, every global war has been over natural resources, especially competition for oil. These wars are likely to heighten as the demand for oil increases and its supply decreases. Now I can imagine a world beyond oil and beyond war.

Some contend that technology will provide us the tools to make a transition to other sources of energy. But nothing will provide the energy for us that easy oil has. I would choose warm friendships—sometimes described as "social capital"--over cold technologies.

Let's talk, and even argue, about how to move through various feelings—denial and doubt, fear and anger, bargaining, and eventually to some level of acceptance and moving into positive actions. Being fear-based is not much fun.

(Shepherd Bliss,, has taught at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo for two years, but because of Peak Oil plans to move back to his farm in Sonoma County, Northern California, after the next academic year.)

Technorati Tags: ,

My opinion is that by linking peak oil to fringe politics, you dilute the message and undermine your own cause.

Shepperd Bliss is a vocal promoter of a fairly radical agenda. He has a right to say want he wants and all of us have a right to accept it or not. Clearly a large portions of your readers do. This post is not conditional on that position.

Posts like this and others show his biases:

Again, I don't know the degree to which I agree or disagree with him. My point is that this website is very powerful as a pure source of information on peak oil.

Professor Goose, you often ask "Why aren't we able to reach out to a broader audience? or Why isn't our message more convincing?"

The answer is that a non-biased source of analysis-based information on peak oil will convince people. A web site that mixes radical politics with rational discussion is a good platform for an active banter among people who already agree.

It is your website, do what you want. But please stop pretending you are trying to convince mainstream readers if you draw on sources like this one.

I like this website, the the political bias does undermine its credibility. The fact that peak oil and fringe politics seems connected at the hip is going to continue to make me and others more dubious of the information you present.

Utopian visions are nice, and dreams are important, but I suspect that many of those promoting widespread adoption of "Community Solution" type settlement patterns are merely looking at PO as an opportunity to see their ideal lifestyle realized on a widespread basis. Not gonna happen, in my humble opinion.

Spatial development patterns, economic geography, and the distribution of freight/passsenger transportation among modal types may change radically, but that doesn't mean that industrial activity comes to a screeching halt and we all move back to the farm.

Well what does the right-wing have to say about energy depletion? Post a link, we'll read it.

I'd suggest that the best way of "bargaining" with the prospect of Peak Oil is to get rich off it. Here you are, you see the future in a way no one else does. If you're right, there are so many things you can do to not only help the world but to help yourself, doing well by doing good. Investing in alternative energy companies is one obvious possibility.

Even something as seemingly regressive as buying oil (in the form of oil futures) helps the world by slightly driving up the price of oil today and in effect moving some oil into the future. It's easily as useful as buying a Prius, plus it has the advantage that you can make enormous riches off it. As oil prices continue to rise (assuming you are right) you will gain more influence due to your wealth and can do even more to improve the situation for the world.

You have a point, though I would note that Matt Simmons, Rep. Bartlett, and T. Boone Pickens are hardly lefties.

Personally, everytime I read an article or post on this subject, I wonder "what, exactly, are the informed supposedly in denial about?" If it's denial that oil production will peak and decline after being presented with all of the evidence, that's one thing. If it's denial that we are going to live in a world similar to what Kunstler or Savinar have described...well maybe there's a good reason for denial--or maybe we should call it disagreement.

Donal Fagan:
See Republican Representative Bartlett's speach, or Matthew Simmons' book, if you want to know what at least some on the right think.

I have half a dozen PDFs by Simmons and read Bartlett's speech when it was posted here, but I didn't complain about their politics. Frankly, it never crossed my mind to care.

No wars?

I think the part of no wars in the future was beyond naive. Oil or not.

Whoa guys.
Denial is a fundamental part of human nature.
We must deny so we can go on living.
Otherwise we will be paralyzed constantly thinking about ... about the unthinkable.

As for myself, I'm in post-acceptance, re-denial stage. Even though the more rational, cerebral part of me understands that PO is here or just around the corner and I should've found out about this many many years ago --idiot that I am-- but then again I was too deep inside the MAtrix ...

Still there is another part of me that keeps hoping "Technology will save us ..." gee maybe some brilliant scientist in some underfunded university research lab will stumble across real cold fusion, or a 98% efficient way to convert solar power into hydrogen, or ,,, or ....

But then I remember they are underfunded, and human, and besides; who would listen to some whacko/nutty professor herminating in some non-mainstream university?

Big personal breakthrough today though.
For one split second my wife opened her blue-pilled mind and listened to a rant about PO.

I owe it to you guys.
I was posting something here.
She got angry (jealous?).
"Who are you talking to on the net?"
"It's the peak oil ring," I sheepishly replied.
"Oh those whackos !!"
"Well one of them is a college professor." (Thanks goose)
"What makes them so smart?"
"Well never mind them, there is this guy Matt Simmons ... yadah yadah ... Dick Cheney ... yadah yadah .."

Then she comes back (lucky for me) with a denial response I was prepared for.

"Well, they'll just drill elsewhere and find more oil !!!"

No woman. Let's go back to 1859 and this fool named Drake in Pennsylvania ... yadah yadah

Well for one brief shining moment, she had sniffed at the red pill ... but then swallowed the blue pill instead and returned to "normal life".

It's a start.

I know what you mean. I just read (in another forum, but a PO debate) that the oil in the Gulf of Mexico will make Opec obsolete.


my wife leaves me to worry about it enough for the both of us. (as long as we have enough wood stacked to keep us warm thru the winter)

No woman. Let's go back to 1859 and this fool named Drake in Pennsylvania

[sound of pull-out couch opening...]

"[sound of pull-out couch opening...]" --from baloghblog

Yep. Well aware of that. Willing to take the pain --to save the local herd, my family.

... :-)

After listening to Matt Simmons' interview by Jim Puplava I was surprised by Simmons' comments on globalization vs. local economies:

"And then we basically end globalization as we know it today, which is effectively a really flawed plan of breaking manufacturing components down into their smallest parts, and finding the cheapest place in the world to manufacture the parts, and then zinging them around the world to be assembled into bigger, and bigger units, until they finally arrive on the showroom as a piece. If you make stuff close to home, you can have a major savings in fuel efficiency."

This puts Simmons in the company of what some might call radical, fringy types. It seems to me there are some potentially surprising alliances that could form that bypass current dichotomies. I think the same thing is happening on The Oil Drum. I think this is good and should continue.

P.S. to baloghblog ... just visited you home page
$2.50/galon is CHEAP !!! We are over $3.15 in san Francisco

AND housing costs 3x

(I have relatives in Syracuse. ... Big plus there is that at least you will have water from the lake effect when Global Warming hits where here on the West Coast we are going to return to being a dry desert. The Big Dryout.)

My wife laughs at me and compares me to the anti-petroleum character in the movie "I [heart] Huckabees." (A great flick if you have a quirky sense of humor.)

Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes at him...

First off, before commenting on Jokerman's comment, which has become the dominant theme of the commentary rather than the article itself, I'll respond to the author's request for info:

1 - What stage am I at? I believe in "peaking oil" and believe that regardless of the time frame - whether its 2030 as the EIA and other forecasters seem to believe, or next year or 2010 as a problematic year even the very optimistic CERA folks paint as a picture - no matter what, we, as a society, will be unprepared for the full ramifications.

2 - What have I/we done? We are already on the fringe of society in that we already do what we can to reduce our petro/energy burden. We did this originally for environmental and health reasons. We ride, a lot (thousands of km per year). Tomorrow I'm headed out on a weeks vacation, on bicycles, from our front doorstep. With our kids.... who are 5 and 8. We invested in tandem bikes so that we could ride / commute / go shopping / etc - all the normal things families with young kids - as much as possible on bikes.

3. Communicating to others: As you might imagine, being out on the fringe of transportation makes us visible at school and among our friends. This is partly intentional, meant as a learning experience for others, to help them see that alternatives are workable, and in fact, fun! We moved into this frame of mind after watching another couple do the same thing (they are even more committed... some might call it crazy... than we are). Incidentally, my friends motivation is purely environmental. Mine is partly survival... having worked in the oil industry and my father in law roamed all over the world looking for the stuff, I've reason enough to believe that PO is a reality only the timing is problematic.

I also write a daily market newsletter and have been slowly educating folks - with what success I can't yet say. Doing is easier than talking - local impact, in my experience, easier to achieve.

My latest rant, just in time for a week long holiday

P.P.S. to baloghblog ... a picture of SF gas station

You know the Chevron message: Will You Join Us ?

I tend to agree with JLA as to (both wings it seems) the fringe taking possible massive change to mean that their own ideal lifestyles will become the norm - from the socialists to the rightwing militia survivalists-cum-Mad Max.

I just wrote a paper on possible climate change influences on lake-effect snow around upstate NY (to be submitted for publication soon... hopefully), for some background information see Burnett, Adam, et al. In Syracuse, all we think about is snow.

I just moved to NJ, and wow, talk about unsustainable. I have a 5 mile commute, but some people have bought into this outrageous real estate market with massive commutes - there has to be some kind of effect when gas hits $5/gallon. It's hard to think that the economy can continue to shrug off higher energy prices. Most of the negative impact thus far has been financed away, which will lead to problems in its own right.

As I mentioned above, the main reason I dislike this post (and the earlier one by Shepperd) is that I think it hurts our cause.

When I get into discussions with people about peak oil, I always wish there was a website I could point them too. As I have mentioned before, The Die Off variety are mostly the choir trying to outdo each other. Sometimes I think The Oil Drum could be a catalyst. Most the time there are brilliant fact-based postings that are very convincing. However, if I directed someone to the site today, they would just think peak oil is for nuts, conspiracy theorists and other who are predisposed to believe the worst (and then lump me in with them).

The second reason I dislike Sheppard's posts is that they are long winded and don't really even say anything. If an editor shortened this post down to a few well written paragraphs, it would fit right into the comments on any given day.

I don't know what the right has to say about peak oil. When they have supportive ideas (such as the national security aspects of oil dependency), I listen - but do wonder at their motives. If things come from the far extremes on ether side, I am more dubious. If Professor Goose posted something by Tom Delay or the nut Dobson, I wouldn't even be able to read it. It is safe to say the Sheppard is far left. I also don’t care about people’s politics and think everyone should be welcome to peak oil.

However, Professor Goose has claimed on dozens of occasions that an objective is to get people to change their minds. Logical, evidence-based arguments can do just that

However, five minute Google search on Sheppard shows he has written a lot of things that are going to offend the people the site purports to be trying to reach. I am a peak oil moderate, trying to expand the base of believers. I think the ideological extremists are pushing them away. It is interesting that several regulars mention above that their wives roll their eyes at the mention of peak oil. If they follow the links on Shepperd, they will never roll back.


The same is true of Kuntsler. Should he be banned as well?

You can find expensive gas almost anywhere if you look hard enough, but if you're paying those prices, Stepback, I advise you to hustle over to You'll pay $2.64 at the Arco stations even in the city itself, $2.59 if you head down the peninsula a ways.

Now on to Jokerman's comment, I think every post needs to be taken in context and for the informative value, if any, within. Whether or not I agree fully, in part or not at all, with Bliss or any other commentator will not be determined by how I view their political beliefs.

Some might call me "left wing" simply by reading my posts... I tend to have a humanistic bent, environmental concern is evident in much of what I have to say, and myself and my family are already walking the walk so to speak.

It might then surprise you to learn that I'm a Conservative who has been involved in politics at the federal level; taking on key roles in leadership campaigns, and, for a long time, have been a major donator to my party both in raw cash and work effort.

I was, for a long time, a poster-child for capitalism, doing the red-eye between NY and Silicon Valley every week, often twice a week, and to who knows how many other stops along the way before I came to my senses and came back to Canada for a simpler and ultimately more fulfilling life although no less busy to be sure.

Without diving into the Iraq war and related subjects in detail I will simply state that, in my considered opinion, real conservatism is not what we see practised these days by the major parties in the US, or in Canada for that matter.

I venture to guess that the median wage on the west coast is a wee bit higher than good ole Syracuse...

Hell I am a sucker for 4 seasons, and this winter, a hell of a lot of snow.

As far as the right/left discussion goes, I think that peak oil will force a deeply divided nation to come together to solve problems, locally as mentioned here, but on a national level as well. Neither side will be happy, as all outcomes appear to be negative. (I don't buy the join a commune, don't worry, be happy crowd)

ps. Walberg's anti-oil character in I heart Huckabee's was hillarious:

Tommy Corn: Honestly, I have no idea what you were saying. All I'm interested in is petroleum.


Politicians have very sophisticated, very smart, think tanks that figure out ways to get messages into people's heads.

I don't pretend to have "the answer".

It takes a lot of trial-and-error testing (focus groups) to find a messaging "framework" that will be effective on a large number of people (you will never win them all over) at any given time.

No one person can do all this by him or herself.

We need to play out many different concepts here and test out in the field (yes on friends and family) what works and what does not.

We need to have "talking points" so you know how to respond instantly when someone says something like:

Oh yeh --well they'll just find more oil (i.e. by drilling offshore Florida say)
Oh yeh --well we will just go back to coal
Oh yeh --well scientists will find (have found but are keeping secret) new technologies that will save us
Oh yeh --well we are better than (picked-on ethnic group) and they will go down first
Oh yeh --well you are just psychologically disturbed and none of this is real

etc., etc.

Do you have all the response scripts written out in your head?
Are you prepared?
Do you know the rules of fight club?
If you do not, you will probaly go down with the first counter punch.

This is not a joke ... you are in the fight for your life and the life of your family and friends. If it means sleeping on the couch tonight so be it. Are you training yourself? Are you prepared? Do you already have "the answer"?

Let's keep working together to find "the answer(s)".
If we divide off into close-minded extremist camps, instead of hanging together, then we will hang separately.


To answer the article.

I come here to find out if peak oil is a reality or a paranoid dream/ nightmare. I remain unconvinced; mainly due to an unacceptance of the concept "total recoverable oil in the planet". Maybe someone could point me at something that explains how, despite not being allowed in USSR, not caring about africa until recently, not knowing much about antartica or most of the ocean edges, people still reckon they know how much oil is in the planet. I accept they can guess but how accurate is that guess?

In support of jokerman, I worry that the issue is one that certain people want to be true and then stop trying to find out if it is.

In disagreement, if it is true, then new politics must be considered as the present setup lead us to this pass and will not survive the peak. Not considering alternatives will just leave the PTB to decide our fate, maybe that's what some would wish for.

I like this site because it's a good mix of facts, politics and psychology, all of which have a bearing on the issue and the ways of spreading the message .


Your assumption about the "rich & haughty" folk who make a wee bit more in fancy shmansy California is all wrong

Actually, we are more f***ed over than you --thanks to "outsourcing". All the computer jobs are making that sucking noise on their way over to India and China. You can probably start a torrent here from people who have "downsized" their expectations recently --yours truly included

Jokerman is right. At its root, PO is about food on the table. Voters and nonvoters alike should be very concerned about it (lefties and wingers, and moderates too).

We need to find ways to get the message out without the fringiness that sometimes comes with the discussion.

Seems to me that the leaders of BOTH political parties are pretty silent on the issue. I have read that George Bush has been briefed by Matt Simmons in the past. I assume the same is true for other politicians. So far, no one in a leadership position is taking it seriously enough to have a frank discussion with the cititzens about it. Why? Maybe because some of the marginal ideas that are associated with it. Maybe because people are trying to get rich from it, as Halfin regularly suggests that we all do. Who knows?

That said, making attempts to connect the dots, and debate other ways of living than the current all-growth-all-the-time model can be useful. People can pick and choose among these alternatives (they can even continue to enjoy the growth model, if they choose).

When and if there is a resource crunch, it's better to have some alternatives in the hopper, than to have silenced all discussion at some arbitrary point leading up to that moment.

I think one way to have that discussion, is by recognizing that there are many potential scenarios and by talking about them all (to the extent that it's possible), rather than one's personal favorite. When I discuss this issue with my students in the Spring I plan to do just that. Let them think about ways to tackle this issue given several competing scenarios (including BTW the endless growth model).

Shepherd said

We have set up a free local email source of information and discussion in Sonoma County, Northern California, called Beyond Oil Sonoma. Since food security will be one of the main issues as Peak Oil unfolds, we hosted a meeting at a local farm. We initially thought a couple of dozen people would show up, since we only had a few days to inform people. Over 100 people came.

For those of you who don't buy into Kunstler's arguments, perhaps it will be a revelation that people living in Sonoma County, which is many miles from any urban center, a place where I'm sure many people commute great distances to work and where most goods have to be trucked in, are concerned about the effects of Peak Oil on their exurbia paradise.


You are doing the same denial dance my wife did this morning.

OK short script cause I gotta go back to work:

Step back and read about how easy it was for Drake to find and extract the first gusher in PA (1859 ? I think)

Skip forward to EAstern Texas around 1965 --flat land, easy to roll the rig over, drill down and up thru the ground come a bubbling crude --Jed Clampett style, JR Eiwing ("Dallas") style

Skip forward to 1973 --first major oil shock --USA is no longer the number 1 producer in the world, we gottat go sucking up to foreign governments --thay drill on their LAND

Skip forward to NOW 2005 --you are on board the listing Thunder Horse in the Gulf of Mexico --what the f**k are you doing way out here in the waters, battling off hurricanes, huge expenses just to suck up some more oil SURELY there are easier spots !!!

Wrong-oh there are no easier spots
We are running out
And next we planning to run up to freezing ANWR to try and keep sucking the fluid of our addiction, why don't we stay out on the offshore rigs??? answer: they are starting to run out

So if you step back and see the larger historical migration pattern of the lemmings you will understand that we are moving ever closer to the edge...

Take the red pill
Sit a spell
Ya all come back now
--signed Jed Clampett, Elly May and happy happy rest of family

Thought I'd post this little myth-busting factoid about electric cars. As I learn about the technology and capabilities behind EV's, the more I become convinced that they will become the dominant form of transportation for daily commutes. The electric grid is a large system which can quickly replace the current network of pipelines and oil distribution which we use for most of our transportation needs. Of course we'd have to build more coal, nuclear, and wind farm power plants to handle the extra load. However EVs would certainly go a long way in significant oil demand reduction.

Though there is much that I could respond to in the dynamic discussion above, I do want to answer the person who feels that the possibility of no war is naive. War is actually a fairly new phenomenon in human history. I studied military history as a child born into the family that gave its name to Ft. Bliss, Texas, and then as an officer myself in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

War came about around 10,000 years ago when the hunters and gatherers, the nomads, and the herdspeople settled on land and began agriculture. Sure, there was hostility, fighting, violence, and aggression before--all of which will probably continue as long as people do. War, however, is a more specific event, according to military historians, such as Sue Manesfield in her book "The Gestalts of War." War is organized, pre-meditated combat carried on, usually by states, to achieve certain specific goals, like the control of oil.

Many have said things such as "war is obsolete," including general Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Admiral Hiram Rickover. Are they "naive?" Or perhaps their vision is wider than that of the person who cannot imagine a world without war. I can, and will work toward it.

I do want to agree with those who indicate that Peak Oil is beyond left and right politics. I am indeed a radical American, not a liberal. I think that the best responses to Peak Oil are local and in the neighborhood where one lives. It is not important that one agree with the politics of one's neighbor or even like them. What is important to me is to work together and cooperate with my neighbors, regardless of our differences. Peak Oil is the politics of survival, rather than the politics of who is right or wrong, left or right. Those are distinctions that are beginning to blur as we move into a post-carbon age.

very american orientated answer.
Thats why I used non american places. I appreciate they are more expensive to get to and maybe more politically sensitive, but my point is that they have not been explored to anything like the same degree as the US. If they had been then I'd have more faith in the numbers.

And then again maybe peak oil will affect americans more than the rest of the globe (greater dependency on oil , oil based infrastructure, further to fall).
Maybe peak oil as a conceptal problem of adjusting your society quickly enough to deal with the destruction of oil supplies so that it doesnt fall apart is mainly an american problem.

A bushman doesn't need your pills, red or blue.

I think what really concerns me is that we may be coming to the perfect storm scenario. It isn't just a fuel issue, although that is frightening on it own. Seeing environmental changes and the number of people who will be effected, in a word competition. Some here talk about trees for fuel but we are seeing changes in forests due to climate change that may limit their numbers. Some forests are losing key animals that we may have been able to depend on for food. People are not going to starve without a fight and there are people who are better equiped to fight than I am. Civil war is a pretty frightening prospect. People die now in the US during heat waves and freezing weather because they can't afford fuel. And it's the things we haven't even considered , i'll call it unknown chaos that I find interesting. There will be changes we cannot anticipate. I believe many people around the globe will not even notice since they are not as hooked as we are- as you say Fred - a Bushman doesn't need your pills- if they survive, there would be a nice symmetry to that. I'll listen and learn. Thank-you all I appreciate your thoughts.

You are correct to note that America is in more dire straights than say, Saudia Arabia because America peaked out first --in 1973

I am no expert in oil exploration --but all the experts I read say all the low hanging fruit, around the globe; has been picked off already.

It sort of correlates in my mind with what the f*** all those deep offshore rigs are doing way out in the Gulf of Mexico, in hurricane alley, and why our president wants to go up to f***ing feezing ANWR to start "exploring" for oil --we really do not know if and how much there is up there

but good news folks ... the permafrost is melting
that will make it easier to drill in Siberia (maybe --if you get through the swamps)

and as an added bonus, melted permafrost releases methane

methane is good, right? (hint: wrong. think global warming big time, runaway kind)

... well I may have saved on my car insurance today by switching to ... (just a bit of good news to avoid being too pesimistic. p.p.s. sometimes the pessimist are right)

When you have a fire to put out, you shouldn't turn away anyone with a bucket.

Yes, but too many cooks spoil the broth.

Here is what Roscoe Bartlett, a very conservative Republican congressman from Maryland has to say about Peak Oil. This is not a partisan Issue... C. Boyden Gray, James Woolsey, and others of the "right" are making alliance with Sierra Club, National Resourses Defense Council and others in collaborative efforts to slide into the new paridigm easily, rather than crashing into the wall and falling off the cliff.

i am not even close to an expert, but i do think that sometimes people on these
boards can be a little too speculative, and miss the basics on how to prepare for peak oil. here is my guess about what is most important.

1. prepare for what you will do if you lose your job. what jobs might stil
exist 10-30 years from now and can you do them?
2. how are you going to pay rent and other fixed costs if 1 happens?
3. how are you going to deal psycholigically, mentally, financially, etc with massive uncertainty and quite a bit of reduced expectations and unpleasantness?
4.what money you do have will be worth less. you must learn how to deal with largescale inflation, market crashes, etc. figure out what will be worth
something in the future.
5.some locations will be much less desirable to live in than others. make sure
you choose well
6.unable to afford adequate transportation.

finally, only after taking care of these items, is it worth worrying about things like smallscale energy conservation, starting a garden, self sufficiency projects, recycling, or other things that feel useful but might not be of first importance.

you might also try some sort of advocacy to get the government and your community to prepare, but as we have seen, make sure this is not time you will be missing.

im sure i have missed some steps, but if i had to answer how best to prepare for peak oil in one quick soundbite it would be- make money, invest in things that wont lose value in the future, and anticipate what will happen slightly before the crowd.


Good point. Often one of the actions suggested is move closer to work. I have not seen mentioned before to evaluate if your current job will exist as start the downslide. Also your ominous point about devaluation of financial resources, we all must consider that.


Actually your good point deserved a more thoughtful reply than my quick reply above. I do agree with you that a fire is a reasonable analogy and that we do need to draw on all the resources that we can to move towards a solution.

However, at the same time, we need to put a face on peak oil that is welcoming to people who are sceptical. As many have noted, peak oilers are often regarded initially as a bit wacky.

In that regard, a sober, fact-based approach is the best way to actually get people to listen and change their minds. This website, and very few others, often does a great job of presenting peak oil as a serious issue.

Now you may believe we are approaching "the end of the world as we know it" as many do. Or you may believe that the American leadership are a bunch of war criminals and that Americans now are like the Nazis in the 1930s, like Shepherd says elsewhere. I am not sure about the first and disagree with the second, but have friends who are in these camps. Nether assertion gets me too bothered.

But if your goal is to convince people and to create change, I believe that you have to realize that this is not a platform for getting people to listen to you.

Yosemite Sam,

You suggest that Kuntzer makes similar arguments to Shephard and imply that I advocate banning him. Wrong on both counts.

1) I didn't suggest banning anyone. I said that Shephard is biased and unconvincing.
2) Kuntzer didn't compare Americans to Nazis as far as I can tell. Kuntzer can also write. In two postings on this site Shephard blabbers on paragragh after paragraph with very little to say. There are three or four regular commenters on this site who say everything Shephard says better and shorter.

There is much debate tonight about the core tenets of peak oil and the timing thereof. Think about this logically first.

1) Oil (as are all fossil resources on earth) is FINITE. They are not unlimited.
2) Oil will peak and someday decline in production. This is a fact, not debatable as long as we use oil.
3) If the economy is based on oil, than reduction of oil will negatively impact the economy until a substitute is found.
4) Now the questions are:
A) Can we estimate oil quantity?
B) Can we estimate when we will have a shortage?
C) When should we move to an alternative?
D) What are the ramifications of doing nothing before oil output declines?
E) What are the ramifications of moving to alternatives before PO.

Instead of picking holes in the estimates of oil reserve or when the peak will really be here. Contemplate what will happen if nothing is done before that time. Because ultimately it doesn't matter if oil peaks this year or 15 years from now. Putting decisions off til next year doesn't change the paradigm(sp?). If the human race doesn't start working to get off oil NOW, some time in the future we will reach peak oil (with respect to demand) without ever attempting change.

That is a scary scenario.

Jokerman -

I am tired of right wingers always complaining about left wingers "hurting" our/their cause. So what he has a different agenda. You think you conservatives don't also have a different agenda?

And, really, if your complaint is that you don't like his ideology, my question for you: "is that all you got?"

Mr. Jokerman:
after reading your comment, I went back to Mr Bliss's post, and read it twice. No where could I find the link "YOU" posted on your comment. Now if you don't like the guys politics that's just fine. However. I believe when you stated that the oil drum was injecting politics into the discussions here you misstate the facts. As I said "you" are the one who injected the politics into this discussion by deliberlitly posting the link to his site. And I for on think this is totaly unfair. I would suggest that the comments and posts here at the oil drum are and have been as long as I have been comeing here have been very non political, and I suspect they will continue to be. Now that I have ranted I go back and read the rest of the posts.
the hermit

Re: NC's comment "If the human race doesn't start working to get off oil NOW, some time in the future we will reach peak oil (with respect to demand) without ever attempting change".

Right. You are aware of the Boiling Frog ? Some peak oil skeptics commenting on this site and people in general should be.... The pot is getting warmer and warmer.

This reminds me of the old joke where a guy jumps off a hundred story building and as he's falling, somebody on the 50th floor calls out to him as he's going by, "How's it going?" And he says "Everything's OK so far....". 8)

My best recommendation, agreeing with PG, is too look at the Albert Bartlett video in which he explains what an exponential function is. If some of the newbies commenting on TOD lately -- I assume that is because oil prices rose $1/day all this week -- would watch it, then we would not have so many pointless arguments about whether the world is in trouble vis-a-vis energy (not to mention population, environmental) issues. Timeframes are always an issue, but not much of one. We're peaking and going into permanent depletion pretty soon regardless of whether you think that's this year, next year, by 2010 or maybe a few years after that.

By the way, I consider the greatly increased number of people commenting here at TOD to be a good thing.

Have a good one.

Eric: You may feel that anyone who says something you don't like is a rightwinger. It's an easy excuse for not having to think. But there are plenty of people on the left and in the center who don't think Americans are like Nazis in the 1930s. Step outside of your little world and take a poll.

Hermit: OK. You got me. I plead guilty to "deliberately linking to his site", but am a bit surprised it is totally unfair.

I realize a lot of you want to reserve the right to toss out whatever mad conspiracy theory you wake up believing and are offended when someone questions them. Sorry I won't play along.

It is interesting that one of you calls me a rightwinger and the other says I have injected politics into the dialogue, but neither of you knows my politics at all.

As I have noted, Professor Goose often asks "Why aren't people listening to us". I have given an answer and some commenters above - who read and thought a bit more carefully than you two groupthinkers - agreed.

Off topic, but pretty funny.

Headline on right now is:

Bush Vows to Eliminate U.S. Dependence on Oil by 4920.

Hello Jokerman, Eric, Hermit and some others....

Maybe we could actually talk about understanding the peak oil issues and ongoing events pertaining to rising prices vis-a-vis supply and demand? Maybe we could actually talk about Shepherd Bliss's post that started this thread? Maybe we could get rid of our own needs to be right about things all the time and deal with substantive issues over whether there's going to be enough oil to meet demand in the coming months (years, decades)?

This is probably too much to ask but I thought I would put it out there anyway....

On another subject, as far as Jokerman's "groupthink" goes, well, this is The Oil Drum. Here at TOD the fundamental premise is pretty much this: world oil supply is peaking and when it does, demand curves rise and supply curves fall. Depletion is happening. As this process plays out, demand will diminish due to rising prices -- that has bad consequences economically -- and so the picture is not always that clear. You can disagree about the fundamental premise -- I'm glad to see contrary points of view -- but if you do, you better make a pretty damn good case. I have yet to see one, not Michael Lynch, not Daniel Yergin, not the IEA, not the EIA and certainly no one who has ever posted on this weblog.

Dave: You're right. We should talk about oil. But there is nothing wrong with talking about why we believe what we believe.

The groupthink remark has nothing to do with peak oil. I am in your camp on that issue, not Lynch's or Yergin's. I agree 100% with your fundamental premise. I say groupthink because the ideological folks act like it is heresy to critique certain things they hold as truths. To me anything is up for comment. Let the stronger srguments and the truth prevail.

I agree with some of your frequent posts and disagree with others. I respect you and your opinions because they are based on thoughtful analysis and you are willing to defend what you say.

My opinion is that some of the most important things we can do to address peak oil are to convince others, and debate the issue to arrive at some common ground. As I have noted above a common theme on the site is that people turn off when we talk to them about peak oil. There is nothing wrong or irrelevant about me pointing out some of the reasons why.

This site has a unique opportunity to reach out to those who might otherwise turn off. There are dozens of other "conspiracy zones" out there. That is why I get frustrated when the site headlines with someone who compares Americans with Nazis. I guarantee you 95% of Americans will be offended and stop reading. I know a lot of people don't care and want to offend people, or think they need to hear this. If that turns them on, great. But it isn't changing minds.

Jokerman --

My point is to keep the discussion focused on the issue at hand, which is peak oil and all it's ramifications. When I brought up your "groupthink" remark, this was not so much directed at you but rather how this concept applies to the way we are perceived at TOD. I want to make sure that people reading and posting here generally understand what we believe -- I said this in my post -- and most importantly, why we believe it. As you said, you may not agree with everything I say but I usually try to provide the evidence for my view.

I am a bit perturbed about the way most discussion threads go here at TOD. People go off in some very weird directions -- I am occasionally guilty of this myself. But really, I don't want these TOD discussions to degenerate into some incoherent nonsense that a first-time reader might easily dismiss. If we're trying to convince newcomers of the seriousness of the problem, we don't want to start talking about conspiracies, alien abductions, the Third Reich, Jim Jones and Kool-Aid and whatever other wacko stuff people might bring up.

The basic integrity of the site is important. I think that's my main point.


I check the economic blogs regularly and its interesting how infrequently peak oil comes up. But, it is coming up more frequently. Similarly, the environmental blogs discuss environmental warming, the elimination of ocean fisheries, etc, again without much concern for econ or peak oil (other than to insist that nuclear is not the way). I think we cannot address these issues singly. And there are other issues we need to think about: a possible avian flu epidemic, the increasing US infrastructure debt, an increasing class structure, the proliferation of guns, alienation and hostility, the unanticipated, etc.

Just the US and world debt overhang plus the stress of oil declines would be enough but pretty soon global warming will also start taking an economic toll.

Altho denial is the easiest response, we have two lines of action: (1) cover our own asses (i.e., protect ourselves and our families; (2) try and get the rest of the citizenry engaged and trying to help the situation. As we proceed, tho, we need to keep all the big issues in mind rather than addressing only one in isolation.

my first post in this thread about how to deal with peak oil was a very basic "cover your ass" approach.
I probably gave the impression that I didnt think a larger response was worthwhile. It is, but there are definite limits.

markets- the problem with any market solution is that if it is not profitable in the short run, it is very hard to implement. something would have to be very profitable in the long run for any private investors to invest much. either the speculators will have to keep driving up prices, or some very rich person will have to become interested in a particular solution to a peak oil problem.
one good thing about markets though is that they have a very evolutionary approach to problem solving that might end up solving things better than any person could- we can take 100 fixes to peak oil(or whatever else) and find the best ones through competition, innovation etc. we'll just have to be careful that the market is taking the long run sufficiently into account.

governments- from what i see, the us govt at least only moves when the very rich(including corporations) or a solid majority want it to. so youll have to start convincing the rich that it is not in their interest for society to collapse- you would think this would be an easy sell, but based upon history, rich people seem to be suprisingly shortsighted when it comes to protecting their place in society.
what about the majority? at this point laughable. peak oil is barely even a fringe idea at this point. the vast majority arent even aware of it enough to reject it. so most of our efforts should be on awareness raising, with the realization that it will take some drastic events before most people will even begin to listen- although oil at 70 to however high will open some ears.
the danger of course is that people will become aware of the problem far too late(for all we know it might be already, but no sense worrying about the "dieoff" till weve at least gone through the alternative solutions)
we of course need a critical mass of the population aware of the issue for politicians to act- no politician will ever do something extremely unpopular.

so none of these methods look too great in the short run. one thing that might be helpful is to try to focus appeal to scientists and professors. if a significant number of them would adopt an issue(scientists especially), they could give it credibility in the eyes of politicians and the public that internet advocates never could.

so basically, besides fixing your personal life, from a larger point of view we need to consolidate what we think we know about peak oil, hopefully get far more scientists involved to do rigorous studies of the more debatable points, and try to perform miracles to get the general public aware of peak oil at all.

I dont want to sound too discouraging, but as george2 says, we need to keep the other big issues in mind. in fact, I would go further and say that because there are so many big issues involved, any solution is not going to be small. if we solve our problems, it's going to require a fundamental change in the way we think and live. since many people dont want to change at all, let alone hugely, there is no way even an effective solution is not going to be difficult.

i feel like what i am saying here is not very informative, but sometimes it helps to state things that you think are straightforward, so that others might disagree with it or add in ways you hadnt anticipated.

one possible good idea that i have-have this site take a wikipedia like approach
where we break down peak oil into the theory, the objections, the implications, the short term solutions, the long term, the alternatives, the personal solutions, the technical solutions on the horizon, how to think constructively on the future, a list of the best books and sites out there and
whatever else we can think of.
that way we can be adding to a focused project rather than discussing back and forth, with the obvious benefit that once it is reasonably developed we can try to publish it or do whatever else to draw mass attention to it.

silentsnow wrote at | 08.13.05 - 6:38 am |:
we of course need a critical mass of the population aware of the issue for politicians to act- no politician will ever do something extremely unpopular.

so none of these methods look too great in the short run. one thing that might be helpful is to try to focus appeal to scientists and professors.

Dear Silent

You pack a lot of very good ideas into one posting.
I'm going to ignore the negativities in your posting and pick out one of the many cherries.

One of your points I strongly agree with is that we need a "critical mass".

However, we need to avoid tunnel visions about these issues.

There is no 'one true way' to get a critical mass going. If we each do a little bit, those tiny bits can add up into a huge force, in invisble ways.

Consider this. Each of us has an outside life, outside of peak oil (I hope). In those outside lives we cross with people who have expertise in politics, in advertising, in music, in colleges, in corporate governance, etc. etc.
Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is not to convert these people into becoming peak oil fanatics, but rather to pick their brains. Ask them how they would go about changing public attitude about something important in the world (don't let on that it is PO --keep it general). Then you can come back and report to this group. Even if what you come back with sounds dumb, report it anyway. Your idea may inspire someone else in the group to come up with a better idea, and their's will inspire the next. Start the snowball rolling.

So one of your ideas, silentsnow, was about getting to the politicians. You indicate it is near hopeless.

It is far from 'hopeless'. If you persevere, your chances of succeeding go up dramatically compared to the chances of those who give up after the first failed try.

I'm going to give you an example --and please ignore the partisan political aspect of it no matter what side of the fantasy red/blue line you live on. Take this one lady, Cindy Sheehan out there in Crawford. This was far from her first attempt to draw attention to herself. She has been doing it for months. She did not give up. She kept going like that Battery Bunny despite many failures. Eventually she got "lucky". Suddenly she is the topic of almost every fair-and-balanced news show. Personally, I think her luck hinged on positioning herself at Crawford so that suddenly she became Cindy --Crawford. That triggered certain things in people's minds. The newscasters accidentally said, there is this lady, Cindy She___ out at Crawford ___ in a ditch." She got lucky. The right string of instigating noises had been made. Never mind how you feel about Cindy and her cause, the point is that the right string of noises got sounded at the right (lucky) time and the public (the herd) reacted.

Don't reject the concept right away, chew on it for a while.


One of the things you guys can do is sign the petition at

Speaking of perseverance, do you know why WD-40 lubricating oil is named what it is?

Answer is at urban legends:

silentsnow: Is this what you had in mind?