The Oil Drum Demographic/Opinion Survey Results

A couple months ago, I did a survey among The Oil Drum readership asking 24 questions. The main reason was to test out 'SurveyMonkey' (which seemed to work quite well). In addition to demographics, there were also questions relating to Peak Oil, Climate Change, and Likert scale questions concerning the future. I have not had time to properly analyze the data with any statistical rigor but wanted to share the raw numbers (unfiltered) with this community. They are at this link. Schedule permitting, we will run a different version of this poll/survey soon. I intend to then fuse the finding of the two studies into a post/paper. I will try and respond to a few requests for filtered data: (for example, are those with children more or less concerned about the future than the rest of sample, etc.)

I've been looking forward to this survey's results.I was shocked at the male:female ratio though. Most people who are on TOD are men, mostly in their mid 40's it seems and are pretty smart with mostly engineering backgrounds and are well paid. Not surprised that most are atheist/ agnostic.
I was also surprised that nearly 80% of TODer's haven't posted or rarely posted.

I post from time to time, although only when the topic is something I have specific (and sometimes unique) knowledge about... but honestly the tone on the boards is often very caustic, and I think anyone that reads them will agree.

I love engaging in productive discussion to try to improve my understanding and share what I do understand, but when discussions so frequently degrade into name calling, appeals to authority, and assumptions that if the other person doesn't agree with you they must be delusional... well, I don't find myself often interested in getting involved with that.

That said, I do still read the comments religiously, because so much interesting information is posted. I just have zero patience for being attacked personally for sharing my opinion; no one knows everything, and while it's fine to attack positions, it's never fine to attack people.


I love engaging in productive discussion to try to improve my understanding

Amen, this is what I love about TOD also.

I just have zero patience for being attacked personally for sharing my opinion;

I'm continually amazed at how civil this group is. I've left several other discussion sites because of nasty behavior. I think TOD is the highest quality online discussion group I've encountered - I'd even vote for some gentle censorship if that ever changes.

assumptions that if the other person doesn't agree with you they must be delusional

Although I agree that personal attacks are never warrented, the discussion of delusion itself is really valid and important. I think that there is not enough discussion (friendly) of the problems caused by dis-information from religious, political and corporate interests. If we could rid the world of delusion, I think we could solve PO and GW issues in a straight forward fashion.

We guys totally rock or what? ;)

I'm completely in agreement with you. Delusion is arguable - hence it must be argued about - for it has direct consequences to everything we think about or believe in.

Please see my earlier comment on the same topic and let me know what you think:

Hi Sunson,

I like your questions:

1. Do you think alternatives can be made very quickly?
2. Do you think there will be a significant change to your quality of life after the peak occurs?

I've asked similar questions (after explaining what "peak oil" is) in places like the local coffee shop with people closer to my age (umh..maybe twice your age) and they usually say something like "well, these kids today are really smart and I'm sure they will figure out how to solve all these problems - I see no reason for me to worry about this - we had our problems to solve in our day and we did just fine".

Sam Harris in "Beyond Faith" (IMHO) "hits the nail on the head" when he says that the average person "Of Faith" has a greatly degraded ability to reason and arrive at any semblence of what is true or false - if you can accept on "faith" various goofy things about your afterlife, how can you possibly arrive at any rational conclusions about issues that contradict your irrational faith beliefs. Issues like family planning (including abortion) to reduce human population size. Or, accepting that mankind, not some mythical god, is changing the earth's climate. Or, believing that prayer to some being in a spirit world will intervene on man's behalf because we are special creatures created in the "image and likeness of god".

Richard Dawkins in "The God Delusion" about religion: "It teaches us not to change our minds, and not to want to know exciting things that are available to be known. It subverts science and saps the intellect".

Or, the delusion proprogated by corporations that attempt to convince you that a shiny car, fancy watch, or a house full of gadgets is the birthright of humans and the road to "happiness". Or, the idea that technology is capable of solving any human problem. Or,the delusion of politicans that they have the answer for the next round of "growth" that is going to lift all boats from the low tide of recession.

Or, maybe the dulusion that humans are on this planet for a "purpose" and consequently it is unimaginable that we could just go extinct due to a failure to adapt to changing circumstances - like lots of other species have done.

It seems to me, that all we really know is that we are a species on this planet that has arrived at a position of absolute dominance - as other species have in the past (although our dominance may be more extreme). And, this doninance brings special responsibilites. Our only "moral" responsibility is the preservation of our species - i.e. I would like to see my great granddaughter enjoy a good quality of life (as my grandparents provided for me). We don't need to know "why" we should preserve our species - that is just the simply fact of nature as we know it - that any given species tries to survive into future generations. It seems to me that we have an obligation to preserve a favorable environment for future generations - who would deliberately throw thier kids into a toxic pond? Beyond that we don't need to worry about fairy tails of special seats in the bleachers of some version of heaven.

So, a rational person should conclude that the preservation of our species means that we have to preserve the ecosystem that allows us to live a good life. We need all kinds of other "service" species to keep us going. We need a stable climate. We need food and water, etc. We like being happy. A rational person would look at these needs and take the appropriate actions. Actions that are detailed on TOD every day - so what are the delusions that prevent the majority of folks from seeing what is rational?

Good post, bikedave, and it underscores one of the central strengths of TOD to me: it's a community which systematically addresses delusionality of many kinds with rationality and generally good humor.

I'll certainly never meet most of those in the community, but I have a genuine affection for many of them individually and for the group in general. While I was an oil geologist several careers ago, I come here for the sanity, not the oil news.

My deep thanks to the core TOD staff who make it happen, and hugs all around to the dedicated posters... you know who you are.

Hi from Ireland, mid-demographic mostly except self-taught rather than 'trained' ;)

I've a general comment about discussion, posts, comments etc.

TOD for me has been an invaluable confirmation of my tentative conclusions vis-à-vis peaking and depletion, from numerous expert posts, and countless insights and anecdotes from experienced old hands in the field.

It's the same electifying feeling I get when I realise I'm overhearing, in a pub, a frank and revealing discussion between people in-the-know.

Lately though, I'm reminded of a paper I read (sorry ref lost) about the psychology of Competence.

Suprisingly (to me) they found that people fall mostly into just two categories.

  1. the first group is roughly characterised by:
    • high self opinion
    • high self confidence
    • moderate performance
  2. the second group
    • moderate self opinion
    • moderate self confidence
    • high performance

The study concluded that the second group, the most competent, were competent because they consistently underestimated thier abilities with respect to thier peers, consistently applied constructive self-criticism, and continuously tried to improve the quality of thier activities.
The first group, however, the mediocre, thought they were doing great and didn't spend much time thinking how they could have done better.

This study, and other stuff like it, taught me to carefully review my conclusions and assumptions, to think more effectively.

Part of thinking critcally is to try and enumerate the weaknesses of ones position and see what can be learned by exploring any data that doesn't fit the theory.

To recap, I was reminded of this paper because lately I'm seeing only supportive evidence for my worldview (rask-based doomerism) and not finding any challenging views.

I'm not suggesting that people (well-versed in population overshoot, paleoclimatology, depletion modelling, mass psychology and geopolictics) would start telling us all that permanent growth is around the corner, but rather explore the possibility - the Risk - that the decline could be quite slow and take a generation or two and feature a couple more boom-type economic cycles before main-sequence population crash.

So I guess I'm long on Copper while I stock up on dried foods :)

but rather explore the possibility - the Risk - that the decline could be quite slow and take a generation or two and feature a couple more boom-type economic cycles before main-sequence population crash.

But they do. Here Leanan, in particular, does. Greer is well-known for that stance. If you mean that *all* should, well, what fun would that be?


Hi jmullee,

Hi from Ireland

Achill Island has to be one of the best bicycle destinations in the world - but, I have to confess that I've never made it all the up from Keem Strand without walking my bike part of the way.

that the decline could be quite slow and take a generation or two and feature a couple more boom-type economic cycles before main-sequence population crash

I think this is a really important question. If we actually had an accurate model of just how all the interacting factors of fossil fuel decline, climate issues, environmental issues, geopolitical problems, etc. will play out over the next few years (say 50, for example)we could advocate a more compelling plan of action to mitigate otherwise dire consequences. I think TOD tries very hard to make a great contribution to this effort - but, the self-serving disinformation from many other sources makes it a real uphill battle.

Hi, how about that, I grew up in achill.

Life there in my grandparents time, similar to that depicted in man of aran, is now a lost world, where life had continued since maybe the bronze age without significant change, at least in terms of social structures, tools and skill sets - and could be considered as an example of a completely sustainable lifestyle.
The locals, when I was a child there 30 years ago, still gathered seaweed (bladder wrack) as an organic fertlizer.
This is now completely lost, thanks to radio, TV and the motor car, and the invasion of holiday homes which make it very difficult for locals to live there.

Hi jmulee,

Really enjoyed that Man of Aran clip - I've stood on your "Western Shores" many times and watched those monster waves. The scariest boat ride I ever had was from Doolin to Kilronan.

I agree with your comments about change. I know the holiday home thing on Achill has been a big controversy. I've been going to Ireland since 1990 (grandfather from Thurles) - I have a 500 bicycle tour: Shannon, Burren, Doolin, Aran Is, Rossaveel, Roundstone, Clifden, Westport, Achill, Belmullet, Ballina and back to Limerick. I did not go this past year (first miss in quite awhile) in large part because the increased traffic and urban sprawl have really diminished the charm (and safety) of the tour. Nor sure if I'll do it again. However, if car traffic subsides because of fuel prices it would be a temptation - but then, I probably couldn't afford to get over there!

Good post, bicycle dave.

Of course, I may be delusional, myself, but it seems clear that we live on a finite planet. Look at the survey results about growth. If one assumes that the realisation of peak oil implies a realisation that resources are finite (and particularly that the extraction of resources will always peak) then it is amazing, to me, that almost 27% of TODers think economic growth can continue indefinitely (though I'm assuming "indefinitely" since the first two answers didn't include a time period). However, this does gel with what I see posted, either in articles or comments. So many contributions are about somehow continuing with business as usual, or a close approximation of it, by altering the energy mix, and/or operating society more efficiently.

I'd like to see TOD contributions evolve to a clear understanding of the limits to growth. Surely rational people would eventually see that there are limits? Or am I just being crazy?

It's possibly interesting that the 27% who think growth can continue matches the percentage of conventional god believers. However, a huge number of people skipped the question about faith, so the actual percentage of believers might be much higher. If so, I would find hope in that, since it would imply that religious believers can think critically when it really matters.

My sentiments exactly! I read TOD almost daily, and sometimes am moved to reply, but for the most part I avoid it because even with a Ph.D. I can't seem to figure out what the dispute is about or why one person is so caustic to another, so I just cringe and move on.

It's interesting you were shocked by the M:F ratio. The survey actually confirmed my suspicions, actually. The gender imbalance, I think, is most obvious in the posts and comments on future scarcity/depletion scenarios and speculation. The overwhelming sentiment - especially amongst the doomer/dieoff readership - tends toward assumed violence, defensive posturing, and self-preservation. Hoarding and weaponry are dominant themes. I have observed that the women by and large that I know - who are equally average/above average in peak oil knowledge - tend toward communitarian, collective support scenarios and planning instead. Cooperation over competitiveness, as it were. There are plenty of historical precedents for the best qualities of humankind coming forward in crisis if we look for them, and building resilient, equitable communities now may help stave off the potential for violence in an energy-scarce future.

While I was not shocked that TOD was male dominated, I was surprised at the actual number. Perhaps the editors need to look at an equivalent/alternate to the hairy chested Campfire series (which have been great BTW) and offer something which may be more appealing to female particiaption.

The gender ratio is no different than any engineering class I've seen.

An astute observation. It makes perfect sense to me too. The pioneers of Peak Oil were retired and dissident oil industry engineers and geologists. The technical nature of many articles here attracts more engineers. I studied engineering myself, but more on the consuming side rather than the producing side. I contribute what knowledge I can about automotive technology, and I'm continually awed by the depth of knowledge among TODers.

I think its incorrect to say "most people are in their 40s". But even I was surprised and I think it does go to say something.

I'm in my late 20s (28 yrs old) and I do agree this survey only reinforces my 'gut feeling observations' - that the people in their 20s of today, believe too much in technology.

I'm also willing to bet, if the following two questions were asked to these 20-something folks, they would give mostly deluded answers like the following:

1. Do you think alternatives can be made very quickly?
- Sure. We've done it before, we'll do it again.
2. Do you think there will be a significant change to your quality of life after the peak occurs?
- Maybe a little bit, but I'll still own a car; I'll be employed and working using the same skills I use today to make a living (ie., write software / engineering / business / etc.,)

None I've met thus far believe we'll have to make significant modifications to our lifestyles... and believe they do: "Technology will save us"; "Green revolution is enough an example to tell you humanity can answer challenges with technology!".

The already-minority 20s-somethings who do accept the fact that peak-oil is inevitable, I'm willing to bet, are deluded in the above ways. This is what I sense from the people around myself - why would this not be true when this survey is done over the web?

On a quick scan, those under 30 are within mean of total sample on virtually every question. On questions 5-6 pertaining to 'attitude' about seriousness/concern about resource depletion. Those 21-30 (11% of sample) were dead-heat on question 5 and on question 6, 35% were extremely concerned and 42% very concerned vs 41% and 44% respectively on total sample. Again, not dramatically different in 'optimism'. (I can't yet find an easy way to share these filtered results online)

I'm one of the rare few members who actually fall into the <20's group, and I'd say that among the people I have spoken to the view is quite different. Most of us believe that technology will provide some improvements, but not that it will enable growth to continue. Since many of us haven't owned a car for long/at all, we aren't as attached to them as many older people seem to think. A lot of us are generally fairly realistic about the future, as in that many things such as quality of life will chance, but we are optimistic nonetheless - many of my friends plan for work in a sector that will be booming post peak.

Great post! I regret that I missed the original survey, but I seem to be in the majority/plurality for most questions. Nice to see the high level of education and science/engineering backgrounds in the group. Out of curiousity, how many "members" are there on TOD, and is there anyway of knowing how well the responders reflect the whole group?

I, too, am surprised at how many non-posting lurkers are out there, but then I lurked for a couple of years myself.

Another surprise (to me) is that most people think the peak is still to come, albeit it soon.



I was surprised that there was as much agreement as to the 2012/13 peak. The recession is going to delay the impact of the peak, IMHO, but not by much, so that may be the reason so many thought the later leak was the answer. Of course, 36% is not a majority, but it was head and shoulders above the other options.

While I wasn't surprised about the vast majority of the readership being guys, I was surprised at the huge differential. My friends, men and women alike, are very much concerned about PO, and probably more so about CC.

I think women are more likely to do something about their concerns when they have deep feelings on the matter, and that is what I see as a problem with the low %, per the survey.

Everything else seemed to be spot on.

There seems to be a reasonable train of thought that the recession could ensure the peak is behind us. Investment is decreasing and, if (or when) economies pick up again, currently producing fields may have declined too far for the investment to catch up and surpass the peak of 2008. Then there is the aging infrastructure that Matt Simmons talks about; the recession is unlikely to speed up investment in that.

I'm a lurker. My lack of commenting is usually because I rarely think of anything of value to add to the very well written articles here, and when I do, what I feel needs to be added has already been mentioned by someone else who has already left a comment.

An extra option to question 18 (How has reading changed your life?) should have been:

I would like to make changes to my life if I could get my wife's head out of the sand.


good luck from somebody in a similar boat :)

Advice from a female who seldom posts - don't wait for your wives' agreement to do what you need to do. How smart is that? No offense meant, especially if you're in the upper 1%...

You can always say "I told you so" later.

No offense taken.

Food storage, getting a little permaculture garden going, building a chook shed, sure, these things are do-able... And in fact, done.

Pulling up stakes and moving from an overcrowded area with insufficient rainfall... might be a stretch.

Hm, if I only knew a way to make it her idea, then she could be the one who gets to say "I told you so"... and everybody wins! :)

Just last night my wife commented about how her preference for a new vehicle would be an SUV. Dumb faced I asked her if she listens to anything I ever say. She says yes, and that's why she's accepted the fact the she's not getting an SUV, let alone a new car. Quite crushing to hear that she's "compromising" for me. Wish I knew how to get her on board. Although quitting the 401k last year and buying gold instead is making her listen a little closer these days.

Have her read Sharon Astyk. Also, the Great Squeeze is a new video that is excellent - covers Peak Oil, climate change, water shortages, species extinction, etc.

Unfortunately, the good DVDs on Peak Oil - Crude Impact, Crude Awakening, etc. (and The Great Squeeze as well) were produced before the economy tanked. Doesn't make them less prescient, just not as urgent seeming...

Les - I just showed End of Suburbia to my "Environment and Development" class, and noted (this time) that in 2003 Kenneth Deffeyes was saying how the peak would result in "seven trillion dollars lost from the US stock market, two million American jobs disappeared, state and municipal surpluses GONE..."

Pretty much the story since July 2008. Urgency is relative - they are arguing to fix the banks and then the rules - but understanding this downturn as (at least in part) an energy event is IMHO essential to navigating it. This makes that *understanding* urgent...

A related note: I was surprised that the survey shows most of us expecting the peak between 2009-2012. Really? I had a sense that many observers here see the peak being defined by the current downturn in demand. Rembrandt's latest (Feb - shows the 12-month rolling average high to Fall 2008, but after that who expects it to go anywhere but down?


[Edited to note jonrw's post below, which points out that his current response to that question would probably have changed since he answered the survey some months back. I'm sure he's in good company.]

Deffeyes got it right, didn't he? I'll have to watch EOS again.

I think we've passed the peak. It's just obscured by the drop in demand and overlooked because of the other converging issues. I, for one, and probably many of the other TOD posters and readers as well, think all of our crises are interrelated. I hate to sound pessimistic, but I'm beginning to think this isn't fixable. Humanity is learning the hard way that there's no free lunch. What scares me is that the day is coming when there might not be any lunch at all.

However, I still plan to attend a Transition Training workshop next weekend - I am female, after all. :) When you see and know what is coming, you have to take some kind of action or it will eat you up.

I agree with you that this 'event' we're in is not at all well understood - if for no other reason that no one foresees the future.
I listened to a former Chief Economist on PBS last nite talking about how, in his opinion, our decision makers are not understanding the depth and complexity of the problem today ... and how that will lead to a whole new set of 'social' issues in the next year or so.
I think you are absolutly right to frame this as an energy event. We live in a world that requires cheap and abundant energy, just to get up in the morning, let alone resolve any issue that plagues our day. How we get to the next level (let's say that's the staus quo - post recession) without cheap(er) and (more) abundant energy is not even an issue for serious discussion amongst the demographic most likely to populate that future, except here in TOD.
How "to fix the banks and then the rules" makes little sense in a time of rebellion which is the most immediate likelihood for a world without energy for global or even regional communications, without energy for water production and food production, ect ...
It's hard to stay away from the doomsday type scenarios. But that's what this keeps coming back to. That's scary enough.
What is really concerning tho is that our leadership, the so-called decision makers, are completly oblivious to the kind of discussion going on here at TOD. And the excellent analysis and thoughtful solutions posted on TOD are not considered in the mainstream debate.

My wife and I have just gone through the "what if" exercise of downsizing our fleet of two cars, to one SUV which would be more appropriate to our family situation, and upgrading our family bicylce fleet, possibly with electric assist and maybe a motorcycle. The SUV is for the (rare) long trips when all seats would be utilised for camping etc on local holidays.

Then we did the numbers on the "new" lifestyle vs keeping our two cars and just driving them less or more fully utilised. Even with the annual on-road fixed costs, it is still cheaper for us to keep two cars going, which we now plan to do until they die. However we now have a fuel budget of AUD$20 per week for both cars which gives us about 200km a week which we ration very carefully. Every time we ride the bike to the shops, thats extra km we can "spend" on more discretionary pursuits.

As on of the 7.2% minority, my problem is getting my husband to see reality. He just bought a 2006 Nissan Frontier, for gods sake! He also was trying to convince me how important it was for us to contribute to our Roth IRAs and to our 3 year old grandson's college fund. When I told my youngest, who is majoring in computer information systems that it would be a good idea for him to develop a skill like plumbing or construction, he and his dad just laughed at me - crazy Mom and her doomsday scenarios. I just keep plugging away in the meantime preparing the ark for the deluge to come.

They'll come around, klee, as nature unveils her plans for us. True, it would be better to have them on board now but having at least one person in a family preparing is already infinitely better than no persons in a family preparing.

As long as we are talking about wives, mine is totally on board.

Treasure her, tstreet. She is truly unique in our culture.

Well, then I'd be remiss in not noting that my wife is entirely onboard as well. I'm sure there are a number of couples like that represented here...

Most of the findings are fairly representative of the opinions expressed on TOD. Few surprises for anyone who reads the blog for a while. The male to female ratio may be indicative of the technical side of the topic more so than the topic itself. (I mention TOD and my wife's eyes glaze over but she is interested in some of the information that I've been able to glean from the postings.)

I, too, am curious about the 80% lurkers. Very likely, statistically, they would they be more representative of the bell curve of demographics found in the wider culture. Would people of lower income or education, for example, assume they didn't have the experience, expertise, or smarts to weigh in on conversations? Or, are people of religious backgrounds intimidated by the secular tone of some of the commentary?

It's a shame if that is the case since contributions by a wider range of people would certainly round out the discussions and in return, add fire and breadth to the burning questions of the day. (Every pun intended:-)

So to all you lurkers out there, please pipe in with a word or two from time to time. Would be good to hear from you.

many of us are inarticulate jackasses. I registered to vote in that survey. maybe I didn't need to register???I don't know.

theres already too much here to read. I wish some to pipe down, please.

among friends:my views are not worthy.

I discovered a long time ago that when I would meet someone who said they read The Oil Drum, the vast majority said that they never posted. I was surprised then, not now when I read the survey results.

When I first started lurking in 2005 I was impressed with all the data, graphs, and links and felt that unless I had something similar to contribute, I should not post. TOD has slipped down from that lofty place a little since then, but it's a standard I still try to adhere to.

I only post if I feel I have something valuable to contribute (i.e., not just my opinion, or to say "me too"). And I always try to leave well thought out posts that are short. I strive to post like Leanan.

Sorry, no link. ;)

I'm not quite a lurker, though I come close. My reason is, primarily, time utilization. Why post what someone else will eagerly say in my place if I just wait a bit? Most views are well-covered here, I think. I don't have any special experience, which decreases the frequency of my having anything unusual to say, so I say little. And, honestly, read selectively - it gets repetitive.

Hello everyone!

Long time reader, first time poster.

I made an account just now after reading the drumbeats daily for the better part of two years, never made an account though. I'm not very surprised to hear that 80% of the readers are lurkers. I guess many people dont dare to take part in the debate since there are so many extremely knowledgeable peeps here.

I find it interesting that average age is so high here, I'm 24 and I guess I'll have the doubtful pleasure of enjoying the backslope of Hubberts Peak first hand. Interesting times indeed, and my working life havent even started yet (2 years of military service, 5 years of university..).

I'm finishing my masters degree right now and will graduate the summer of 2010. I hope the economy has recovered by then (Bwahahahahahaaa!!1), since I'll won't have any assets at all other than my student debt.

I have a lot to talk about though, so hopefully I'll be more active in the future. I am sure there are a lot of things I can learn from you mature folks. (And I have, already!)

I hope the economy has recovered by then (Bwahahahahahaaa!!1), since I'll won't have any assets at all other than my student debt.


Well, I guess you'd be on the side of rampant inflation taking hold ;-)

Seriously though I find myself right in the middle of the TOD demographic, age, family, education-wise. I'm pleased to be in your collective midst.

The gender ratio is interesting. One of my peers recently commented that participants and leaders in Low Carbon Diet groups in our area are largely female, and I observed a similar trend in those participating in a local Transition Towns effort. It seems to agree with Rootstock's comment upthread --

I have observed that the women by and large that I know - who are equally average/above average in peak oil knowledge - tend toward communitarian, collective support scenarios and planning instead.

So how do we get these two worlds to converge a little better?

first time poster ... I'm 24 ... 5 years of university ... my working life hasn't even started yet

Wow. That's incredibly young.

I don't think I knew anything about anything when I was 24.

(BTW for fairness, I'm in the older geezer crowd. 55+.)
The irony of life is that by the time you wise up to what's going on around you, you're too old and it's too late to do much about it anymore.

You are probably on the outer fringe edge of your demographic age group. I can see you telling your EE classmates, 'Hey don't bother studying Maxwell's because by the time we get out of college (and get a job) there won't be any oil or electricity' (Bwahahahahahaaa!!1). Probably 90% of them think you are the one who is nuts and they also believe the technological Singularity is just around the corner. (Bwahahahahahaaa!!2) After all, we had PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, and now the iPhone. Clearly the wonders will just keep coming and coming. Ignore the kook in the corner who keeps ranting about petrochemicals. The Market will provide. It always has.

I don't think that's fair. I am also 24, recently graduated, and working. I feel like a lot of older people have the mentality that "we got through the last oil crisis, we'll get through this one too." The republican party is the one who thinks we can drill more oil to solve our problems. Who votes republican in overwhelming numbers? The 55+ crowd. I think people my age are significantly more willing to recycle than our parents. I do worry about the loss of basic skills in people my age though. I think the green movement is strongest among young people, particularly college aged. Current efforts are obviously insufficient, but at least people are moving in the right direction.

Besides, do you think the message of peak oil would be better received anywhere than in a college classroom? Where would one find open minded people to listen? I admit that you certainly have more knowledge than I do, but I don't think that equates to being wise to what's going on around you. I remember when I was about 12 my grandpa (probably about 65 at the time) told me that a penny dropped off of a tall building would be going fast enough to kill somebody when it hit the ground. Life experiences don't necessarily impart intelligence or wisdom.

My older brother told me the penny story when I was about eight (you were yet to arrive). I'd almost bet it came from a one-liner on some sit com they both saw. (But I'd still try to avoid the penny.)

Having just had the pleasure of introducing PO for (perhaps) the sixth time in a university undergrad class, I am pleased to note a continually growing awareness in my informal "PO awareness survey" (now approaching 1/3, from maybe 1/4 two years ago). The cargo cult is alive and well (my current uni is big on "environment and business"), but I sense that a majority took the lesson in - and no doubt a few will keep with it, will maybe join in the conversation here.

From those former students who've kept in touch with me, I don't get the sense the lesson has changed anyone's life too much... but I think it has got them thinking about their expectations, and perhaps helps them in interpreting the current crisis in terms of energy, as well as dollars.

Sorry ChemE,

I meant that as a compliment, namely that there are 24 year olds here at TOD who are PO aware and not tossing it off as some doom & gloom stuff perpetrated by the over-the-hill gang.

When I was 24 (grew up in the Sputnik era), we were taught that progress would be forever and there is a bright beautiful tomorrow just around the bend (--stealing some line from the GE tomorrow land carousel here). Why if "we" can go to the moon, 'we" can do anything. When I was 24, I believed all that BS. Our consumer-topia media keeps spitting out that same message. I assumed 24 year olds were still swallowing it down with hook, line and sinker just like we older fools did when I was 24. Just sayin'. :-)

Fascinating results! I'm not surprised at the high proportion of 'lurkers'--the '80-20' rule seems to apply in many listservs (certainly in ones with which I have participated in the past).

I will look forward to seeing some of the results from your crosstabulations in the future. If you repeat this survey in the future, one item you might want to consider is the addition of a measure of general optimism-pessimism (and how that might affect respondents' projections and forecasts for the future).

Question 13. Awesome. Garrison Keillor would be proud.

Indeed! My thoughts exactly - I got a big chuckle out of this one, especially having lived in Minnesota, where, indeed the children were all above average. Had the question been in relation to the general public, I'm guessing we would all have been, too.

Question 13 was a difficult one, because we can only judge our knowledge compared to those fellow Oil Drum readers who do post. I'm definitely less knowledgeable on energy matters than the posters. But what about the other 80% who are lurkers? How are we supposed to judge how our energy knowledge compares to them?

The 80% lurkers number is probably also too low. A lot of lurkers who had never registered, or had forgotten their password long ago, probably didn't even answer the survey.

ah, i had forgotten about this. interesting how roughly 50% of people said they felt it likely they were more intelligent than roughly %50 of members. also funny how closer to 20% of people thought they were in the top 10%!

some of my answers would change if i took the survey again. i would join the 2008 peak crowd and leave the 2009-2012ers. my guess is if you run the survey again soon that will edge up to be the most popular answer for that question

I think I answered that I was around the 50% mark of TOD posters for intelligence. However, if the question had been about my intelligence relative the population at large, I would have chosen a substantially different answer.

There's no surprise here. Obviously, the intelligence of the lurkers is far higher than the posters. The lurkers responded to the poll and answered honestly that they think the posters are a bunch of dummies.

One of the things that always surprises me is how educated readers are. According to question 20, 14.8% have Ph. D.'s or equivalent and 32.9% have masters degrees. That means that 47.7% have advanced degrees of some kind. I would bet that there are few large blogs that can boast that highly an educated audience.

But what percentage over-represent their qualifications on their resumes?

On a serious note, 35% of the respondents want to "contribute to a better future for society at large". So that is quite a large number of intellectual capital that could be mobilized to educate leaders and influence policy.

I would have liked to have had a follow up question which asked "What are you personally doing to contribute to a society's future with your knowledge from The Oil Drum?"

Perhaps a way for users to classify their field's of expertise so that people can connect up more easily? I've found that while it's not difficult to find people in my daily life who are excited about energy issues, it's rare to find people who are motivated enough to be worthwhile collaborators on projects anywhere.

And boy could I use collaborators... I learn quick, and I've read a lot, but I feel like half of what I do is reinventing the wheel.

Is anyone else curious about developing symbiotic colonies of algae and bacteria to collect sunlight, and then digest the produced carbohydrates into methane? This seems like the only long-term feasible way to use algae to produce fuel to me, because it removes almost all of the expensive equipment and high technology and replaces it with biology.

Most of my current research is with advanced catalysts, I do lots of artwork with LEDs, I teach karate, and know basic survival skills. If anyone needs that sort of expertise, let me know ( I have lots of other random weird skills too, but they're even less relevant...


Checkout the blogroll over at
You are sure to find some biologists who might be interested in collaborating with you in cross disciplinary projects somewhere on those science blogs. Maybe even on Pharyngula itself. The discussion there tends to focus on creationism vs evolution but there are some serious science guys doing real science who participate there for the entertainment factor.

Artwork with LEDs? do you have a link?

Cool, one of my roomates writes for them.

the still photos don't really get across what they look like, but there are videos on the page that are pretty good. Alas, I'm not much of a photographer, so I think it's still better in person =)

Gail points out,
"One of the things that always surprises me is how educated readers are. According to question 20, 14.8% have Ph. D.'s or equivalent and 32.9% have masters degrees. That means that 47.7% have advanced degrees of some kind."

Of course, those of us who drop by TOD often must realize that the demographic here is completely out of sync with the nation insofar as education goes...(also explains the fondness for wide open green space...much of the population at TOD have spent much of their adult life in them! And see them often on campus...the last one I saw was rusting into place under a wet plastic sheet!)

Also makes me think of a line a community college professor gave me when someone asked for a definition of intellectual, I don't know where he got it..."most people tell each other stories to entertain one another...intellectuals are people who tell each other stories to scare each other."

Sorry, I couldn't resist...and your right, the above is not a fair accusation (at least not completely) but in reference to the male/female split, as long as the unofficial slogan at TOD is "Give up hope all yee who enter here" women are probably not going to really get on board. Listen to your wives, female cousins, sisters, girlfriends, mistresses...women are creature of hope, it's just the way they have to be. How else could even a small fraction of them be persuaded to lie on their back in faith that the other party in the transaction is going to treat them right and live up to his end of the bargain, and then lie in a puddle of their blood in horrendous pain to produce a child for a world of no hope? You want to end the population problem? Seperate women from hope, and the population will begin to drop like a stone. But it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle with a Lincoln Continental driving alongside it...


Small minds talk about people.
Average minds talk about things.
Great minds talk about ideas.
I would say this forum tends toward the latter.

I'm very pleased to see that nearly two-thirds of TOD readers (65.3%) "believe Climate Change is primarily human induced and is of great concern to humanity and the planet."

We have a smart bunch here.

What with the published science running virtually 1000:1 AGW vs. anti-A, I was actually disappointed! That's not very much higher than the average population in the US. There are whole nations, thus much lower average education, with higher scores.

IIRC, education does not correlate all that well with rationality and objectivity.

Ah, here's an abstract that suggests as much:

Argues that teacher objectivity toward knowledge is an educational goal which is unattainable. Examines the temporality of knowledge; the idea that passive ingestion of knowledge is possible; the interdependency of fact and values; the need for a change in descriptive terminology; and teacher authority. (KO)


For what it's worth, I can't remember what I answered, but I think that while it's nearly certain that warming is caused by humans, I don't feel like I know enough to be able to say whether warming will be the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. So, I probably answered whatever is the second most serious response.

To whit, I think that the impact on civilization caused by peak oil will be an order of magnitude higher than the impact from AGW. Further, I think that the impact on civilization caused by overpopulation will be an order of magnitude higher than the impact from AGW. I feel like although AGW is well established scientifically, no one knows how seriously it will really damage society outside of estimates of flooding, hurricane increases, droughts, and decreases to crop output.

I don't feel like I know enough to be able to say whether warming will be the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.

Risk assessment isn't about knowing, it's about judging possibilities and whether they are worth risking. It's interesting that people know the risk of their home burning down is tiny, yet they buy insurance. The risk of dying in any given year by an accident is 0.000381, yet we *require* auto insurance and most people have accidental death coverage in their insurance.

Yet, we know the climate is going to see at least a 2C rise over 1850 which will bring about serious deterioration of the environment. And that's if we stop putting CO2 in the air immediately. The chances of the world cooperating on getting CO2 down to neutral is slim and none, which means temps will be going north of 2C.

In other words, your house isn't in a state of *might* burn down, it is burning down, but you don't think it's serious?

All I can say is, good luck with that.

Bear this in mind: PO can disrupt society, maybe even fracture it, but it will not come close to an extinction event.

Climate change already is an extinction event AND might be for humanity. Is the risk worth it?

This is a great presentation, but is a bit goofy, but intentionally.

This is a paper from PNAS:


2/3's 'believe' in so-called global warming... Bye, and good-riddance.

Please delete my account.

The percentage just got slightly higher!


This is a poll of readers. This doesn't mean that the staff of The Oil Drum is "pushing" any particular view. The views of the staff vary. We try to be a forum where important issues can be discussed, and opinions voiced, popular or not.

My post on sustainability today raises the question of what issues we should be considering, when we think about sustainability. If one comes with the view that man-made climate change is more important than any other issue (to the point that one need not even consider other issues), my post might come across as heresy.

Oh wait, that's right, it snowed in DC didn't it? I saw that on Fox news.

See, no such thing as GW, it snowed!

Ah, cornhole, I think Im going to miss you most of all.

Don't leave, stay awhile...perhaps we can convince you that man-made climate change threatens us all. The science is undeniable.

Informative survey! I probably characterize myself as a lurker, but I've had many phases. I remember first discovering TOD (thru LATOC) my sophomore year in college because it had excellent user-coverage of the Hurricane season (Katrina et. al) and the effects. I stayed here because of the discussion. I posted sporadically back then when there weren't 200 other posts to compete with :P. I see 10,000 Readers right now? How many were there in September 2005?

Now I'm all "growed up" working at a solar start-up. Peak Oil definitely put me on this path, and although I don't necessarily believe technology will save us, I'm trying my hardest to prove myself (and all of you) wrong.

Keep up the good work. And increase the female readership!

Could Oildrum contributors be characterized as a chorus of Nerds singing Kumbaya? Now that shouldn't be sustainable.

Chuckle, and we will follow that with a rousing chorus of Puff the Magic Dragon.

Seriously , Noel is one of my buds, just lives down the street and we owned an ISP together for 14 years. Kind of sad to go to a concert now, very small children and adults wheeling in their O2 tanks.
PP&M do a thing where they have a ton of folks on stage with them, last concert I went to one of them collapsed and we had the ambulance crew hauling them off the stage. Time isn't kind.

As to the poll, no real surprise, and I echo the comment about male, female engineering courses. My experience as well. My wife is one of the smartest people I have ever met, it made real electricity.
Yet she never learned basic physics, and she stumbles over it all the time. It frustrates the hell out of her, she gets mad and I have a hard time doing the explanation, because she is so frustrated. She's well educated, a masters in library science. She learned Unix in a flash when I taught her. She was the other partner in the ISP before she became my wife. What we all call a quick study.

She is always hopeful, while we do talk and share, she continues to think tomorrow will be better.

It's interesting because one of the big reasons she found me, was my take and life style related to self reliance. She really liked the security it offered as compared to the way she grew up and her first marriage. She actually looked at at all the males and decided I was a good bet.

Didn't hurt for me that she was some hot. She gardens well, that may be a new paradigm. Canning in the nude, it gets hot. Actually aprons for splatters.

The poll tells me I should probably back off on posting,let these young fellows and ladies go for it.

Missing Airdale, and it's kind of surprising TOD attracted a bunch of old dying boomers.

Each one, everyone of you is dying, that's the way this works, I am so totally surprised I have lasted as long as I have.I have no fear of death, that's how this works, study biology. Learn what it is really important, Hug your other hard, pet the cat, put another log on the fire, as you have have for generations. It will be different, but there are a large piles of us who will be just fine.

Seeing vague signs of spring up here.

One of the thing about TOD is that there are many who post from their heart, you can hear it if you listen.

Don in Maine

Yes, the survey results are interesting. I knew this blog was male-dominated, but I was also shocked by the numbers. I guess I fit the stereotype of the minority gender here since I am busy with planning and trying to get my community to come to grips with PO...don't have time for lots of on-line conversations.

I'm lucky if I get to read the articles and some of the comments. Also, as an agroecologist, I don't have much to add to the detailed debates about energy technology etc.

I've learned a lot from this community, and I'm glad I started reading TOD about a year ago. It was recommended to me by Charlie Hall in 2007 but I resisted coming here for awhile...have to admit I just didn't want to know about PO.

Thanks to all of you who write articles and take time to comment!

Community efforts are the way to go and here's my three cheers to you.

I guess the Kubler-Ross Model explains it - everybody goes through 5 stages of accepting grief. Denial -> Anger -> Bargain -> Depression -> Acceptance. Most folks are in Denial that they don't even bother to learn. I'm glad you, like everybody else in this community too, have broken denial. It took me a lot of reading oildrum to break that denial. Now... I'm no longer in Depression and I'm glad to look forward to the future to live in this historic moment.

Like Morpheus from The Matrix says... "I didn't say it will be easy. I just said it is the truth."

I guess the Kubler-Ross Model explains it - everybody goes through 5 stages of accepting grief. Denial -> Anger -> Bargain -> Depression -> Acceptance. Most folks are in Denial that they don't even bother to learn. I'm glad you, like everybody else in this community too, have broken denial. It took me a lot of reading oildrum to break that denial. Now... I'm no longer in Depression and I'm glad to look forward to the future to live in this historic moment.

I went straight from ignorance to depression, I'd love to know how to get to acceptance.

The initial stage of depression is normal. Remaining in a stage of depression is likely due to something(s) in your logical or rational mind that you believe to be true which is actually false. Most often it begins with "I can't", "I won't", or "I don't".

"What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for certain that just ain't so." -- S.E. Clemmens

You must identify that which you know which happens to be wrong, unlearn it, and learn something useful in its place.

Depression will also be fueled by poor sleep patterns, not enough exercise, poor diet, inadequate sunlight, lack of positive social contact, and illness/injury/disease.

Lack of positive social contact is likely a big issue among us, as our prophetic, Cassandra-like, doom-aware outlooks present a barrier.

All this assumes you are actually in depression and not bouncing around between depression and other stages.

"Denial -> Anger -> Bargain -> Depression -> Acceptance"

I have been PO aware for a year now. I passed through Denial and Anger, but I seem to be bouncing back and forth between Bargaining and Depression. Every time I get close to Acceptance, I seem to shy away.

What I meant was the stage of depression is normal when you first reach it, not that being depressed as a first stage is normal. I was unclear. Maybe I still am.

Since the world hasn't fallen apart just yet for most people, consenting to lose sight of the shore to discover a new land is very difficult. There are many things tying you to a previous way of thinking. Try practicing reducing the amount you shy away. Try a dry run of survival mode.

I knew I had reached acceptance when I got myself snipped...

Hmmm... maybe I have bigger problems. I went from zero to acceptance in one easy step.


I went through the depression several years ago. I call it my dark-night-of-the-soul experience. Perhaps this is too female-spiritual-non-agnostic for most of you, but what led me to acceptance was the realization that those of us who see what is happening have a responsibility to do something about it. Something beyond bunkering down and taking care of our own. Now when the bad news gets to me, I tell myself "This is the world I've come to serve." Amazing the different perspective that gives you.

One thing that disappointed me about the survey & that I feel was a bit of a missed opportunity was the lack of questions attempting to gauge the size of the Cornucopian & Doomer camps on TOD since the results of the survey show that a high proportion of readers rarely if ever post. I would have liked a few questions along this mould:

Which of the following best describes your attitude to the future:

(1) Nothing to worry about really. I’m a peak oil sceptic. Abiogenic oil anyone?
(2) Technology & mans ingenuity will save us. Basically its business as usual baby.
(3) I’m cautiously optimistic about the future & mankind’s ability to transition away
from fossil fuels.
(4) I’m some what pessimistic, but believe if we power down & embrace localization
we will be able to continue with healthy if some what less materially rich
(5) We will have a long slow crash, some sort of never ending economic depression.
I’m long gold & thinking of relocating to the boondogs.
(6) We are in serious population overshoot, whether it is peak oil, peak water or peak
soil that will get us first is up for debate. We are supporting 6.7 Billion on a planet
that without cheap fossil fuel can support 2 billion, you do the math.
(7) Were all going to die man. I’ve already traded in my gold for dried food & ammo
& I’m saving up for my fortified retreat in Colorado.
(8) None of the above.

Obviously it could be phrased some what more eloquently, but I think you get the idea.

Seems like you didn't notice question 5. However, you're right that there are some interesting issues(fast vs. slow crash, population) that could have been probed further.

How about including "pagan" in your list of spiritual choices? Surely I am not the only one who feels the earth/universe is alive and intelligent and represents a more sensible focus for spirituality than the various human constructed gods.

Um... just for completeness for the demographics data nerd perhaps ask about

Sexual orientation?
church affiliation?
political affiliation?
fitness level/overweight/health?
attachment to local groups pertinent to PO/Transition?
do you try to convert people or are you a quiet doomer?

List changes in your life due to PO
a)gardening / other self sufficiency
b)moved to better location
c)storage of food
d)changed investments (gold/cah inmattress)
e)changed job/career (renewables,etc.)
f)transport change(smaller car, bike, public transport)
g)consumption changes
h)downsized house
i)now see shrink or take meds or go to church due to PO realization

If we find that 90% of readers are white males with advanced engineering/science degrees with 2.2 kids earning USD 50,000+ who live in the Midwest and voted for Reagan and go to Methodist church on Sunday but only just in case and not because they "believe in God" and are 15 lbs. overweight but can play a mean baseball game and are known as doomers by their skeptic friends this would give a good FBI profile to find a typical TOD member just in case we all have to be rounded up due to sedition or similar. (:

Anyway the crowd will change here due to new people or broader offering or new sites will spring up(new blogs) or such knowledge will become more mainstream or all of those and I think that is all happening.

Gee, I'm stunned that TOD is made up of middle aged white upper middle class penis-people with engineering degrees. Wow, I'd never have guessed (just in case you can't tell I'm being gently sarcastic ;-)).

Sharon Astyk, white, religious lower middle class, overeducated non-scientist with breasts, who still loves TOD, despite its limitations.

I should start by saying that I don't intend to offend individuals. However, as the discussion is of a survey and to some extent why so-called lurkers don't post - I will share my own opinion - and in the spirit of a good survey, do so honestly. Again, these are my overall observations.

I'm afraid that unlike Sharon (above), the limitations of the oildrum are significant enough that I essentially do not participate in any of the discussions. And yes, this is my first post here (and likely last) though I've been reading the site for a couple of years.

I'm a college-educated, minority (minority in several categories actually) woman. The information made available here is certainly of great importance and terribly relevant to all our lives. Relevant enough, I think, that I willingly discuss the issues raised with friends, family, and anyone willing to listen.

However many aspects of the discussions I read in these pages as well as many of the predominant points of view are rather disturbing to me. Entirely too much of a male focus and "solutions", doomer mindsets, incredibly broad generalizations with discriminatory undertones ranging from racism, sexism, xenophobia and others, as well as unrealistic faith in bourgesie politics and the use of all too many convnenient boogeymen in the guise of other countries.

So yes, the information, as I've alluded to above is invaluable, but in the formulation of approaches and potential solutions, as well as causes and issues are where I generally break ranks with many, not quite all, of the oil drum community.

That break, is in my mind symptomatic of how/why many peak oil advocates, environmental awareness groups, and others pursuing similar projects in the USA, are overwhelmingly white, heterosexual, and middle-class and consistently failing to connect with minority, disenfranchised, and poor communities - which are obviously those that stand to suffer soonest and perhaps most.

Your post demonstrates why you should post more often if indeed the approaches here are overwhelmingly biased by the fact that the site is comprised of mostly upper middle class, white, engineering types.

Clearly, if there are any solutions to the problems posed here, it won't simply be solved by the dominant group that posts here.

On a related matter, I wonder what you think about Yes! magazine, which seems to do a pretty good job of being involved with environmental/energy issues while, at the same time, addressing the perceptions and needs of the more diverse overall community.

I think part of the problem is that it is rather difficult to get the dominant culture at TOD to actually admit that it has the problem of being affluent, middle aged white dudes. It gets frustrating for minority cultures (and I'm a lot less minority culture than Venus, above) to have to explain that what the world needs may not be more engineers to bring it to perfection ;-). I can understand why many people might find it annoying.

Think about the women who are active in PO circles, especially the ones who don't just do food, but who do energy as well. I would be willing to guess that Leanan, Gail, Carolyn Baker and I (for examples) are all on the aggressive side for women, and used to doing the toe to toe thing with men. I'm regularly lauded by men as being feminine and motherly for a peak oil advocate, but most women would probably rate me on the fairly butch side ;-) of the female scale - and you have to be to hang out here.

Yeah, it would be great if more women and minorities wanted to tilt at windmills here, but we've all got limitations on our time and energy. Me, I love this site, but I feel like some of us have to do the work of getting the word out to those who aren't white, male, athiest/agnostic and upper middle class - there are, believe it or not, a lot of them. Frankly, I've been saying for years that TOD and ASPO have as much trouble getting the message out as they do in large part because they are all shooting at the already over-served upper middle class pale male audience. Amazing what you find when you look elsewhere ;-).


I think part of the problem is that it is rather difficult to get the dominant culture at TOD to actually admit that it has the problem of being affluent, middle aged white dudes.....

Yeah, it would be great if more women and minorities wanted to tilt at windmills here, but we've all got limitations on our time and energy. Me, I love this site, but I feel like some of us have to do the work of getting the word out to those who aren't white, male, athiest/agnostic and upper middle class - there are, believe it or not, a lot of them.

The dominant commenter-culture of any site is an emergent characteristic. Are male, white, or atheist posters to be advised to post less, or to not speak their minds?

Moreover, if the reason is that females, the religious, and the nonwhite have better things to do with their time than post to TOD, how is that a problem with the site?

There's an element of having it both ways here. There are many sites with overwhelmingly female commenter participation, but none I'm aware of which deal with the same issues. (if there are, please share links!). And if they do exist, are they flawed thereby?

I think the internet has opened up a social outlet for middle-aged men, and that is why they are found here. It is a lot easier for women to make friends in the real world than it is for men, which I think is one reason we congregate online.

I didn't really think about it until the survey, because two of the most frequent personalities here are women (Gail and Leanan).

One thing I find strange is that on LATOC, it seems to be a closer to 50/50 split. I wonder why women seem to like that site more, even though it is even more doomerish.

Eloiburger - No, but you could think a little bit more about what y'all say, sometimes. No need to do the endless discussion about how women only value men for their money, and clearly don't understand peak oil, no need to jump on newer people who are trying to find out basic things that you already know and are bored by, and perhaps less rapid response hostility in general (and please understand I am not speaking of you personally - this is to the majority viewpoint posters) - if you cared. The immediate "well, it isn't *our* fault that women don't come here" bit has some truth - and some untruth.

When I mentionecd better things to do with their time, I meant not "than understand peak oil" but than "explain that the worldview of the white dude is not the only one and deal with the inevitable smackdown that goes with an aggressive guy culture of disagreement."

I happen to like boys clubs, actually - I always have. I like the culture of TOD myself quite a bit, and I like the arguments. But the reality is that I know myself to be somewhat unusual among members of my gender. Thus, I can't say I really blame people who say "ok, dealing with this (the rapid fire hostility, the discussion of my loved ones as stupid sheeple, the assumption I'm a sheeple if I believe in a diety, the assumption I have a wife who does the shopping, the assumption we're all white...whatever) is too much work."

Again, it would really depend on what TOD participants have for goals - if you all want to keep talking to each other and the teeny, tiny number of people in minority cultures who find it worth the effort, cool. Were it me, I'd think "hmmm...the wider the audience the better the chance of impact." But it isn't me.


Sharon. I am right smak in the center of the typical type here, except in the 3 sigma upside age slot, but I sure wish more women would speak their mind. After I met you at the Yellow Springs conference a few years ago I rushed home and told my wife and daughter what a great speech you had given and that I had even got to talk with you a bit afterward. Both of them, very speedy people, reacted in a way surprising to me ( yet again!)- What! ol' Poppy here is still chasing wimmen even in his dotage? I had thought they would take comfort in all the things you were advocating, and which they were already doing.
But that was a bad example. Women do seem to be able to surprise me over and over, usually shocking me out of some indefensible mindset I had never thought to examine before. For example, my speedy ladies mentioned above, think it is a bad idea to have maybe 5 billion people just go and die for lack of prior planning, of the kind they spend all of each and every day doing. As for me, looking at the planet as a place for intelligent life to get another go at getting over the chasm called power-before-wisdom, I tend to think of the great die-off as a good idea. Maybe because it ain't me gonna be doing it. I myself will just keep going on and on- just like I done before. Right.

...incredibly broad generalizations with discriminatory undertones ranging from racism, sexism, xenophobia and others, as well as unrealistic faith in bourgesie politics and the use of all too many convnenient boogeymen in the guise of other countries.

Well said. Thanks for speaking up.

I hope you'll post more often. The aspects of the culture here that you speak of will only change if people challenge them consistently.

I would encourage you to jump in if you have other points of view that you want to see expressed. Altering dominant conversations simply will not happen if you don't speak up.

Are you waiting for someone else to do that work?

I'm a male. As you would know being an avid reader, we have a couple of female editors.
I don't know why but posts by Gail and Leanan seem to be the most I look toward to reading.

I would bet more than I can afford, that the majority of male readers and posters feel exactly the same.
Don't be afraid to post because you are a female. Join in, give it to us males, let us know what you feel, know and expect.

I wish I could debate the topics on TOD with my wife, for a few reasons I can't so I appreciate the female input which I can identify here. I'm very sure you would be appreciated and treated with respect if you chimed in with your opinion.

Females for (perceived) security reasons like to read and remain anonymous.
Remember you are anonymous, have your say tell us what you think or simply want to know more about and/or maybe put us males in our place.

So yes, the information, as I've alluded to above is invaluable, but in the formulation of approaches and potential solutions, as well as causes and issues are where I generally break ranks with many, not quite all, of the oil drum community.

That break, is in my mind symptomatic of how/why many peak oil advocates, environmental awareness groups, and others pursuing similar projects in the USA, are overwhelmingly white, heterosexual, and middle-class and consistently failing to connect with minority, disenfranchised, and poor communities - which are obviously those that stand to suffer soonest and perhaps most.

I don't see how, "They offend me, so I'm not going to talk to them," moves things along. I'd love some help, for example, in pointing out exactly what you are saying. I just wrote a long post on making solutions relevant to those without money and/or resources.

Oh, and I'm white male, but not got much money, and am not in any science field. Still, not a minority here, I suppose, but I am where I live. It doesn't keep me from speaking out where I live. And, yes, making waves makes my life harder, but who ever expected it to be easy, right?

I encourage you to speak up.


The TOD has some technical arguments which I find too thick to follow, especially when math is involved, but I like the efforts to reason scientifically and am able to understand that. As a psychologist, I try to integrate scientific reasoning and knowledge with intuition and perceptive understanding. I generally post when I think my background can add something to the discussion (delusions, social psychology of group decision-making, grief, anxiety, fear). What I value most is the those who post articles with data which tells me what is going on with world production of fuels.

I'm a 67 year old female and I read TOD everyday. I also was aware of the gender gap but was surprised at the numbers. I also only comment when I have something to add about which I have expertise (passive solar design for example)although I've been obsessed with energy since the early 70's when I read Limits to Growth in Grad School and first learned that US oil production had peaked. I have no real life experience in the oil world either industrial or academic but I like reading a lot of the posts and comments. Sometimes the discussion gets over my head (high level math, statistics, oil production expertise) but that's what I love about this site. I learn stuff I didn't know before and I appreciate that some of these discussions reflect state of the art thinking and analysis which is really pretty thrilling. Mostly this is a pretty civil place to spend time also. TOD rocks!

I am a 58 year old white female and I read TOD everyday but rarely post,so there may be more female lurkers than you realize. My husband and I have known and believed in PO since we heard about Hubbert's Peak back in the 70's. Almost no one we know is aware of it and the coming problems, so that is why I come here. I feel like you guys are my peer group. Even the arguments are welcome, at least you're talking about stuff that matters. To show you how bad it is, my brother is a geologist at MMS and yet he believes there is plenty of oil out there, it's just not being tapped for a variety of reasons. And he's a very smart guy! So keep up the good work, it's greatly appreciated!

On Question 10...religion/spirituality

It is interesting that this was far and away the question that the most people did not answer.

Perhaps it's because the choices were not well chosen. I would have included Buddhism and Hinduism, which have far more adherents worldwide (the latter especially in the English speaking world) than, say, Judaism. And since adherents of both religions may or may not feel that they "believe in some other form of God", they may not be properly represented in the responses.

"Diest" is in any case not a correct term for someone who has a "belief in some ... form of God". Nowadays that should be "theist." (A diest, more or less, is someone who believes in a God revealed through reason instead of scripture.)

Instead of using "diest" I would suggest using this choice: "I am religious or spiritual in another way."

sorry - I didn't articulate that in intro - that question was added midway during the survey period on suggestion of a reader -so first day (of 2.5) of survey didn't get that question...


Nate, please do not express sorrow for not pandering to every irrational belief system. This site is all about reason and logic. By definition, "faith" is the idea that "truth" can be learned without evidence and proof as understood by the scientific community. And, the idea that "science" is just another "religion" is not a concept that the majority of TOD contributors would embrace. It is hard to understand how any religious belief can make a positive contribution to the discussion on TOD.

People of "faith" might be more inclined to appreciate evidence and facts as understood by the scientific community if they don't have to self-identify as holding beliefs that cannot be supported by scientific methods. Hopefully, TOD helps some folks shed thier delusions.

Your intial instinct to avoid the question was a good one. Perhaps, in the future, that question should be left off the survey as it's only relevance to PO is as a source of delusion that contributes to preventing meaningful action. The study of religion is extremely important - but mostly as a way to understand how it has helped cause the current crisis.

IMHO the argument can be made that "science" actually is just another religion when the limitations of scientific knowledge are not understood or accepted. The scientific model of reality is not reality-it is the best model of reality that humans have come up with so far. Centuries ago the model wasn't so refined.

Hi BrianT,

I would agree that there are people who really do not understand even the basics of the scientific method, and yet they "believe" much of what they hear from the scientific community - I suppose you could lump these folks in with the "faith" people.

But, this does not imply in any way that the scientific method of trying to discern reality and truth is comparable to reading some divine scripture.

A major point of science is to recognize that we have limitations and that discovering the reality of the universe is a quest - and, for many of us, that quest is a source of great satisfaction.

Like others who are posting on the survey results, I am a regular reader of TOD, though I never comment. I find TOD to be refreshingly mature and intelligent, as well as rational, which is to say reading TOD is like drinking cold water after a day’s slog through The Magic Kingdom. I am a middle-aged white male owner of a small manufacturing concern, but fortunately live in Hawaii, where I am surrounded by a diverse and multi-ethnic culture. Like many others who took part in the survey, my outlook from PO is somewhere between doomer and die-offer; still in depression, but in a way glad to be alive to witness so profound an event. Even if very few of my friends or family see it coming.
As of now, there are no other issues, and unfortunately little we can do. Concerns about GW/population/ethnic/gender/age/sexual identification/healthcare/etc pale against the need for a secure, well-stocked bunker. There will (may) be time to re-form the committees after the worst has passed. I have a garden, but no illusions I will be able to protect it. I have no gods, but I drink more than I used to. Thanks for being there…

In my mind, the strength of this community is the variety of expertise, i.e., it's not just petroleum geologists. There are knowledgeable posters on most fields even remotely related to peak oil. I read the posts here for a long while before bothering to register an account. What prompted me to do so was encountering an unexpected topic on which I could contribute expert knowledge: mass extinctions, and the Permian/Triassic in particular. (Don't think I ever introduced myself, but I'm a 28 year old marine [paleo]biologist, still finishing my Ph.D and studying in one of the world's premier astrobiology programs.)

Well said-
Please contribute your knowledge, as this is a topic they interests me also.

Another husband and wife team here.... although he isn't registered here, just me.

I mostly read. I don't think I've posted since one of the old farming discussions a while back. There are... significant differences between farming in the Midwest and in New England. And I don't have an engineering background, so really not much to say when a lot of numbers are posted.

In the past I've found the information and thoughts posted interesting and informative overall, but quite frankly I've been busy with various preparations for the future, and learning to do things differently. But Sharon A. posted about the campfire series, so I thought I'd check in and see what that is.

I'm astounded so many (apparently) well educated TOD readers actually believe a trace gas (CO2) is more likely to drive planetary warming than the sun, which provides 99.9999% of earth's energy input. Do sensitivity analysis and research the impact of energy density distribution variations on atmospheric coupling with regard to climate change. This is neither hard to do nor hard to understand. Just because the models don't take these and many other factors into consideration, doesn't mean we have to ignore these obvious dynamics. Read(and really think about)what the IPCC has to say about CO2's Global Warming Potential (GWP) today, and in the distance future, relative to other atmospheric gases.

That's OK. We're astounded so many (apparently) well educated TOD readers actually keep repeating the obviously false claim we believe a trace gas (CO2) is more likely to drive planetary warming than the sun, which provides 99.9999% of earth's energy input since nobody believes the sun plays no part.

We (meaning I) are also astounded you went all the way back to IPCC III when even IV is already pretty much out of date. Was that point not covered in IV?

This is neither hard to do nor hard to understand.

I beg to differ. Since by (apparently) doing so you have come to the wrong conclusion, it must be somewhat difficult.


"all the way back to IPCC III (2001), when even IV (2007)is already pretty much out of date" I love these types of agruments. The message, "yesterday's (and I mean quite literally yesterday's) science is worthless". It's reminiscent of George Orwell's "1984". Thank you for making that fiction real.

Perhaps an interesting question for the coming next survey would be something like this:
Do you think that within the next 10 years a technology like nuclear fusion -hot or cold-
or very cheap solar PV will emerge and help to make the transition away from oil a little easier ?

fleshing out a new pardigm is apretty nerdy thing. This requires spare time and status int he social hierarchy to oppose it effectively on its own terms. The scientific/economic paradigm cannot be opposd effectively by outsiders as that opposition would not be taken seriously within the social circle to which they belong and would therefore be ineffective. The insiders are of course almost always de facto white middle/upper class males with a very high level of education and /or industrial/business/academic experience. Dissidents are those who have been into the holiest of holies and see that it is an empty charade. The poor slaves are disnterested(minorities, wives,the poor and uneducated, etc.) So if The Soviet Union or Wall Street or Big Oil, etc. are to be brought down then only from the inside by credible people who know the systm inside out. Farrakhan or Gay activist web sites preaching PO/Transition have, I would think, less street cred at the WSJ level or in universties or think tanks. So if number crunching rationalism is the control instance, the religion of the day, then only the fellow high priests can disprove the pseudo religion of growth economics.

This tuth will ring intuitively true to all the oppressed and exploited and stressed out minorities, spiritual minded, impoverished. It is like when somebody puts out a new scientific survey that proves th utterly obvious and everyone just laughs. Only an autist (nerd in white scientific coat) could have denied such common sense. Somehow the propaganda machine has got us all lost in the matrix of this autismus. We have to wake up our intuition, our female spiritual side. There have been too many nut cases running around killing lots of people people during full moons because of the whole suppression of real human needs in this screwed up society.