Peak Oil, Persuasion, and the World Meme

Many themes pervade the day-to-day attention span of the world's citizenry right now: terrorism, fear of Islam/Islamofascism/religious systems not your own, Asian growth, immigration, poverty, war, global warming/climate change--so many are called "important."

All of these ideas vary in importance, salience, and validity depending on who you talk to; but all are definitely a part of the din of noise we subject ourselves to every day.

It still remains my concern, however, that the pillars to the myriad houses of problems I list above are those of world energy depletion--namely oil and its peak.

This leads me to my main question, which I will address in this post: how and when are human beings able to cut through all of that noise? How can they be persuaded? Surely it takes place, people change their minds every day on issues. What insights can we claim from psychology to get those we care about, and even those we don't, to dig deeper to get to an understanding of the pillars of the problems we face, instead of trying to buy aluminum siding for a house slowly falling in on itself?

There are so many places to go in this post, however, I find the most interesting model to discuss is one that's been around a few years.

The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) distinguishes between the central route and the peripheral route as the two paths that can lead to attitudinal change (Petty and Wegener 1999; Petty and Cacioppo 1986).

The Elaboration Likelihood Model. Source: Petty and Cacioppo 1986.

The central route is typified by persuasive circumstances that require a great deal of thought and scrutiny of the attempted persuasion, and therefore are likely to predominate under conditions that promote high elaboration--or better said, higher amounts of thought/cognition.

What is elaboration? In this case, it is the "extent to which a person carefully thinks about issue-relevant arguments contained in a persuasive communication."

So, this elaboration means that ideas are scrutinized carefully, going beyond simple understanding. In turn, the receiver generates attitude relevant thoughts about the persuasive message they are being subjected to.

What motivates elaboration? Much of the theory of the ELM revolves around personal relevance and an individual's "need" for cognition (which obviously relates to sophistication), which is based on the ability to elaborate, which in turn requires freedom from distraction and sufficient prior knowledge. (In better words, the receiver must be able to understand information in order to be able to elaborate on it.)

Under the central route conditions, a person's unique cognitive response to the message determines the direction and magnitude of attitude change. The more actively one thinks about an argument, the more likely one is to use the central processing route. The strength and the direction of the argument also obviously plays a role in its persuasion capacity.

Ideas imparted via these central routes tend to be much more durable due to the congnitive changes they have on the person receiving the persuasive message. These are arguments based usually on observables (unbiased and empirical information) and things that can be verified by experience or multiple sources.

Peripheral route processes, on the other hand, require little thought/cognition, and therefore predominate under conditions that promote low elaboration.

This low elaboration means that there's little extensive cognitive work required for decision making because the receiver relies on a variety of cues to make quick decisions, and these cues allow us to travel along the peripheral route on auto pilot.

As one of my favorite book's authors, Bob Cialdini writes in Influence (a book I assign in my courses regularly, but here's a fair review), the peripheral routes reflect the too-often visited world of "Click, Whirr." That is, most of the messages put out by the media and received by those around us merely pass through this peripheral process simply because of information overload; therefore we respond using as many shortcuts as we can.

Add to that, the amount of information around us grows exponentially every day; sifting through it is, quite simply, a bitch. (which raises, in turn, questions about how much information citizens in democracy need, want, and deserve. I often find myself thinking about these quantities as three interconnected containers with the three chambers sharing only few droplets of fluid. But I digress.)

These peripheral processes often rely on judgmental heuristics (e.g., "the Supreme Court is always right") or surface features of a message (e.g., the number of arguments presented by peak oil advocates) or its source (e.g., the attractiveness of the source) to filter information.

Peripheral route persuasion is induced less by the substance of the argument, and are based more on emotional/affective response. These attitude changes can be rapid, but tend not to be very stable, and can be used to quickly (heuristically) dismiss or accept an argument.

These routes are not mutually exclusive of course, and there's no doubt that other factors play a role that I have not mentioned, namely sophistication, quality of message, and the like.

Also, in all likelihood (heh), the ELM's routes should be placed on a continuum and related to other important psychological ideas such as the schema, as well as the continuum between affect and cognition, which relates to the recent "hot cognition literature" and the like, but I have already typed a tome, so I will stop there. After putting just this model to the page, I can see there's a few posts that could follow this one.

So, dear reader, I pose to you this question: are we doing all we can to use the central route of persuasion? How else can we rise above the din of the less important noise using these psychological insights?


Petty, Richard E., and John T. Cacioppo. 1986. Communication and Persuasion: Central and Peripheral Routes to Attitude Change. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Petty, Richard E., and Duane T. Wegener. 1999. "The Elaboration Likelihood Model: Current status and Controversies." In Shelly Chaiken and Yaacov Trope (Eds.), Dual Process Theories in Social Psychology. New York: Guilford Press.

There's no doubt that your website here and your intelligent discussion of all kinds of aspects of peak oil and conected issues are doing a lot to inform people.  I know nothing about the oil industry and nothing about the technical issues but I've learned an enormous amount from your website alone.  I've been to many of the others and learn from them as well.  

Your explanations and discussions of the technical, geological and industry aspect of oil are clear enough that I can follow them and have an idea of what you're talking about.  If there's too many charts/graphics and its a very technical discussion, I do get lost but that's a small percentage of what I read here.

Just keeping the issues in front of the public on some medium/format is the only thing I can think of to get the message across.  More people, I bet are listening/reading since the gas prices have hit them in the past two years. The only way most people will listen and act is if it's something that really impacts thei own lives.  Just keep on doing what you're doing here!  the word about this issue will keep on spreading, unless you can get some celebrities/public figure to address this as Gore is working on the message of global warming with his movie "An Inconvenient Truth."

thanks for

Prof G:

How do I go about "persuading" you that the chart above is all wrong?

Humans generally do not "think" in the rational, deliberate way ascribed to them by the chart. That "model" of human behavior is highly inaccurate.

There are "specialists" in the art of persuasion. They live in Hollywood. They live on Madison Avenue. They live on K Street. They do not reside in the academic ivory towers (no offense, I really like professors --it's just that "persuation" of the masses is not within their bag of tricks).

Just last night, I saw a new Hummer ad campaign rolling out across my TV. A polite mother is waiting on line at the park by the slide for her 4 year old to get his turn. A more aggressive Mom cuts in line with her kid. "Hey, that's not fair." says the meek, polite Mom. Then she goes out and buys a Hummer. She is sick and tired of getting pushed around. She is out on the road pushing her weight around. Who's the big Momma now? Ha.

Do you "think" this ad campaign is going to sell Hummers? Stop being a meek, polite academic here. Tell us your true emotional reaction to this ad. Damn right this ad is going to work! No one is going to push me around anymore. I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! (--I think?)

The Hummer ad you've outlined is actually a perfect use of a low-interest appeal using peripheral cues: it corresponds very well to one side of the theory.

Alternately, a high-interest appeal using central processing: the classic print ads for the VW bug in the 1960's, explaining that it was so different it was smart to own.

Petty and Cacciopo's main point? Different mindsets need different approaches. They would not disagree with you.

The only way most people will listen and act is if it's something that really impacts thei own lives.  Just keep on doing what you're doing here!

Exactly.  Give people the facts, help them draw conslusions.  They will persuade themselves.

Give people the facts, help them draw conslusions.  They will persuade themselves.

You can fill the trough with facts. But when the horse is brought there, he may refuse to drink them. He may refuse to even notice them.

You mean, you can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think?
Arggh. Me thinks that be the sailordude's area of expertise. :-)

Cute one though.

Talk about specialization.
You can lead a whore to culture.

But it will be a waste of your time and money, in all probability. Trust me on this one;-)

Sailorphilosopher, now you have me utterly confused. I thought you were the culture. :-)
I am highly cultured.

But so is every even remotely well-socialized human.

Sociopaths and idiots and psychotics and infants are exceptions to this rule.

(And maybe lawyers;-)

Hey! I resemble that remark!
I usually fall back on an old idea that was taught to me about why people smoke and what made people quit.

People will almost always choose something that offers short term individual pleasure even if it risks long term individual pain. Despite our individual abilities to plan for the long term. This differs across issues, but IMHO we are still very much creatures of the moment.

Unfortunately burning fossil fuels is worse because it is a great short term pleasure and the long term pain will be collective, not focused on specific individuals that overuse it in the present.

OTOH, we can apply peer social pressure in the present to curb the immediate pleasure of wasteful individual behaviors. But that will only work in certain social groups that highly value environmentally friendly attitudes and without a mechanism to reward this type of behavior in other circles, it will largely remain a fringe group that does this.

Frankly, this is a collective leadership issue - people are going to continue to do what is in their immediate self interest until the immediate tradeoff is not worth it. Basically we need to internalize the cost of the future pain into the current variable cost (financial, social status, moral, etc) of using fossil fuels.

The dramatic reduction in smoking over the past 50 years has only be possible through:

  1. Hard scientific proof of the long term negative impact on personal and societal health
  2. Shift in public opinion that turned smoking from "cool" to "dirty"
  3. Hefty increases in the taxes on the per unit cost of cigarettes combined with new and better treatment strategies.

And yet we still have about 20% of the population regularly smoking...which is still better than 40-50% of years gone by...
I like your smoking analogy, since the ongoing description of our energy use as an 'addiction' is hard to refute, even if it's technically a little different. (Even calling it a "Chemical Addiction" is pretty near the mark.)

Anyway, as addictions go, I think that changing the habitual and monotonous use of such a substance, be it say Petroleum, Alcohol (in either form) or Tobacco is to me, akin to separating molecules that are in compound.  You can apply energy to break that molecular bond, but until you give the addict something else to replace it with, and I mean having it close at hand and readily resupplied, then the original compound is all too likely to reform.  Maybe I'm being too esoteric..

When I decided to really get out of the 'Soda' habit, over a few different tries, I saw that it wasn't about just pulling the Coke away, but putting something there in it's place, so that the empty spot wouldn't just be filled by another Coke, the way dirt was magically drawn to Pigpen in the Peanuts..

I talk about energy, to coworkers, to my family, friends, neighbors, and try different approaches in different contexts.  To the guys on my Video crew (ESPN Poker, Vegas).. I hop into the car with them as we trundle over to one Hyper AC'd hotel from our own (Very green, very green.. but my room is set at 72, and I didn't get the offered rent-a-car, but carpool with one of them each day.. Vegas busses are ok, too.), and say cheerfully, "Did I tell you that we're F'd?"  They know I'm joking, and they know I'm not, as I bring up the Oil situation again, but in a somewhat light tone.  They know that Ethanol is ~probably~ untenable, and that we're ~probably~ heading for the waterfall, and that we ~ought~ to be doing something about it.. and they want to, but I think they all "Already have a hobby"..  that's Bob's Hobby, the 'Energy' thing..

I've told neighbors about my 'intention' to get alternatives up on my roof, but I don't think that is anywhere NEAR as effective as it will be to have them see it up there.  (This Summer, after Vegas, I swear)  Actions speak louder than words, and neighbors can be acutely aware of each others' advantages and their quirks.. could take 'Talking about the Weather' to a whole new level, eh?

Anyway, I think seeing it happening in your own neighborhood, at your own office in ways that you can stop someone and ask about it will be a signifigant way of making it 'real' to people who only see it as an occasional News Item, and are just too stretched to take it to the next level themselves. It puts the other elements into the pan, so that the 'free-radicals' have something appropriate and new to bond onto, instead of going back to the prior 'solutions'..

Funny, I try not to preach at work, but the guys all know not to bring up oil, energry, the price of fuel, etc., lest they set me off!  It's not that they think I'm wrong, more that they don't want to think about it.
People will almost always choose something that offers short term individual pleasure even if it risks long term individual pain. Despite our individual abilities to plan for the long term. This differs across issues, but IMHO we are still very much creatures of the moment.

Exactly, and infortunately it is not going to change any time soon because it is somewhat "hardwired" in the brain.

See Breakdown of Will from George Ainslie.
Also of interest A Selectionist Model of the Ego: Implications of Self-Control and Emotion as a Motivated Behavior (same page).
As a quick summary, we are not rational creatures, we are not "in control" and even we try to this brings so serious drawbacks that one has to wonder which option is worse.

How do we fix the mess then?
How do we fix the mess then?

Same as fighting smoking!

Good hard scientific evidence.

Political leadership at all levels of government to promote efficiency and alternatives to oil

Social pressure against wasteful behaviors like suburban living, buying SUVs/Hummers, 6,000 sq/ft houses

Economic incentives to "do the right thing" and consume less fosssil fuels.

And of course large scale investment in alternatives!

"People will almost always choose something that offers short term individual pleasure even if it risks long term individual pain. Despite our individual abilities to plan for the long term."

One thing I have observed, though, is that when people are pessimistic or depressed they are even more short-term oriented.

how and when are human beings able to cut through all of that noise? How can they be persuaded?

When the pain of change is greater than the pain of 'staying the course'.    Right now, the course is oxidation of carbon.  

Eventually people will build things like
instead of ideas like "oh, oh we'll build nuke plants and THEY will keep the houses warm!" and if humanity isn't busy killing itself over a bit of carbon to burn.

One problem is the duplicity of elected leaders, thus allowing "conspiracy theories" to grow like weeds.  But like rasberries, one man's weeds is anothers fruit.   Because goverments and corportations have lied in the past and such actions are tolerated, such theories of what is going on are able to grow.

The problem in the future will be trying to keep cool.

We'll need highly efficient houses and nukes.

But most people won't be wealthy enough to buy high-tech high-quality German construction.

The problem in the future will be trying to keep cool.

Mr. Sailorman doesn't find a problem where he lives.

We'll need highly efficient houses and nukes.

The failure modes of nuclear power is the issue.   Unless you want to argue that man doesn't make m mistakes.

buy high-tech high-quality German construction.

It adds 10%.

re: Trying to keep cool..

I'd say, trying to keep stable.  Some places will be very hot, some very cold (UK if the Gulf Stream stalls), some a very chaotic mix of both of those, and very wet, very dry, very hungry, very angry, etc..

I have been thinking about this lately. I am not sure we can persuade people. Actually I have given up on trying to do so. I am usually more than happy to give my views/opinions on religion, politics, PO, etc. But I don't try to persuade anyone any more. I usually just try to give data points and leave it it at that.

People have to be open to the idea and it has to be effective points presented to them (in the chart I believe). Also repetition/reinforcing is benefical (WestTexas does a good job of this with his export model). In the end, the change of view is a long process.

I am also curious about why we believe things we do. It's interesting to see people here presenting facts to back up thier view of PO, while someone else (Freddy Hutter) will present facts to back up thier opposite view.

I'm not trying to change the topic to religion, but one thing I have thought after reading this site for a while is how 'evangelistic' people here are. It really isn't much different than Christians trying to convert others. "Why won't these people believe? I know I'll show them this and this and in a logical way, then they have to believe.  Ok, maybe I will print up some fliers and hand them out, that will get some attention".  Just my opinion.


I have found that 95% plus of the people who join the peak oil club fall into one of the following categories, often times two or three of them:

  1. They already felt the current system was totally wrong. Thus, accepting this informatiion is almost natural to them as it only buttresses their pre-existing world view that the current "paradigm" is f--ked.

  2. They have something to sell, be it a book, dvd, technology, or (in most cases) an ideology that seems like it might be a good response to this information. This could be anything from an apocalyptic religious cult type ideology to new urbanism to agrain community living to nuclear power to car free living to some form of ecofascism.

I actually happen to subscribe to some of the agendas mentioned above so I don't necessarily mean this in a derisive way. (New urbansim, community living, and of course, apocalyptic relgious cult style living)

You have to understand the brain is optimized for survival not for truth seeking. Humans' survival is dependent on being socially recognized in the tribe. The more social status you have, the better your chances of surviving.

Having an ideology or plan that you can convince others will benefit the tribe is one way to move up in the tribe's social network. So if a person has an ideology or agenda to promote that they can attach to a fact based, provable and demonstrable meme like peak oil, it's natural for them to accept it and then to use it to advance themselves in the tribal social network. Well, at least the aspects that help promote their agenda.

3. They secretly wish to be dictator.

Most of the folks who get into this with a desire to make their community a better place really are into it because deep down they fall into category #3. The desire to be dictator is not one that is socially acceptable so it gets sublimated (sp?) into a desire to make the community (or world) a better place. Peak Oil is picture perfect for this: it is a definable problem, it inspires fear even when presented in the most sober fashion possible, and people's natural reaction is to look for somebody or something who has a "plan." In steps he who secretly wishes to be dictator.

In all instances, however, the person sees themselves or people who share their ideologies/agendas/tribal affliations as being the new folks in charge. So even if the agenda/person is one I like, it doesn't change the basic psychological motivation.

(That was probably me three years ago but I didn't know enough  about evolutionary psychology to see that.)

The vast majority of people just want more BTU's (more money.) If they don't fall into one of the above three categories PRIOR to coming across this information they are extremely unlikely to ever accept it.



I came to po from an investing perspective, as have many others. Many that post on the yahoo boards are quite aware of the arguments.
Mostly seems hopeless to convince others, with few exceptions. Common reaction is glazing/shifting of the eyes... kind of like the monkeys, hear/see/think no evil. Need a hammer, best available is ever higher prices.  Note that by 1980 the perception had changed to expectations of ever higher prices... this thought is coming, and will eventually affect behaviour, just as it did then.  

As an aside, in the seventies the fraction of the s&P 500 held by oil and related companies went from 6% to 30%. Current is around 8%.

ROFLOL at you taxonomy.
I myself think there are 10 kinds of Peak Oilers:
those who count in binary and those who don't

jkissing: You hit the head pin in our bowling alley of attention getting. Nothing wakes 'em up like that old "Pain at the Pump". When that hits, they start howling like a pack of wolves. Otherwise, they are asleep with their "eyes glazed over".

"As an aside, in the seventies the fraction of the s&P 500 held by oil and related companies went from 6% to 30%. Current is around 8%."

what does this mean, can you please elaborate?

the companies that make up the sp500 change over time - some get really big, and others get really small and go out of business and are replaced by others.

sometimes all the stocks within a certain sector of the sp500 will go up more than stocks in other sectors (think tech stocks in 1999). what he is saying is that the market capitalization of the energy companies within the sp500 is only 8% of the total capitalization of the sp500. it peaked in 1981 at around 20%.

the implication being, that either energy companies have alot more upside to reach historical peak or non-energy companies have a lot more to fall. I am positioned on both sides of that (long energy, short most everything else)

TLS, how are you shorting everything else?  just curious..
You can short most anything, e.g. Standard & Poors 500, Wilshire 5000, etc.

BUT I never go short.

Because potential gains are limited, while potential losses are indefinitely large.

Thus, IMO, short-selling is a suckers' game.

No need to go short, you can buy put options (which expire in due course) or buy the new ProShares which rise in price as the market falls.  If you buy the ProShare 'DOG' (on the AMEX I believe), it goes up in value as the Dow falls.  Gotta like that stock symbol.

DOG finished at 69.90 today, a gain of $0.80, while the DJ Industrials were down 121 points.

I expect high reserve oil e&p's to appreciate at least 50%/year. Doesn't seem as if dog can do that well, unless the dow drops in half each year...

You are one of the wisest posters on this site. But that last comment is patently inaccurate. Short selling may have been a suckers' game in the past 50 years, but in a Peak Oil world, it will be a gold mine, and will outpace any traditional investment strategy if done correctly and wisely.

First off, you can short futures. The risk profile is almost identical to going long, it depends how and when you add/cover that makes the difference.

Secondly, you can short index products like QQQQ, etc. the risk of a buyout impacting the price dramatically is small.

I am much more confident in general stocks going down than I am in energy going up in the future. If hubbert method is half right we are talking about the end of growth as we know it and our financial model will have to be revamped. Retail and other stocks that sell premium items will get hammered -I am short HANS - Hansen Natural which makes Monster beverages and is valued over 10 TIME SALES..! As it drops I will add - I have made alot of money this way in a bull market - the bear market ahead will be much easier. Sure I will own my energy, wind, rail stocks etc, but I would recommend anyone who is involved in the stock market to learn how to short sell..

Prof G, in answer to your question, I have a brokerage acct at Ameritrade, and I just enter an order to 'short sell' instead of buy. If a stock is at $50 and you buy and it goes to $75 you make 50%. Shorting is actually in a margin acct - you generate proceeds from borrowing then shorting a stock which can earn margin interest or be used to buy/sell something else. (50% is typical haircut). If you have an acct, short sell 100 shares of QQQQ and get used to how it works - it will be a skill youll be happy to know.

I'm just adding to what was well said below.
Many parts of the energy sector are growing in value, not just the big names eg xom.  E&P's, service companies, coal companies, etc.  As these companies grow some become large enough to displace previous S&P companies, whether because the latter are weakening or not. So, the sum market cap of the energy companies currently making up the 500 is around 8%, having grown from around 6% a few years ago.  IMO, this trend will continue; imagine if, as todders are hoping, the perception that po is nigh becomes widespread.  Many will realize that if energy companies will do better, non-energies will do worse because consumers will have to cut back on everything else as they shift more of their spare earnings into gasoline etc.  So, many will want some energy stocks, and will asap sell the stocks they have now to purchase them. The strategy spelled out below by thelastsasquatch, carefully selling everything else and investing in energy, is just doing what all investors want - get there first before the crowd does.

I came to the po view 18 months ago. My investments have done exceptionally well... Hope my optimistic view of how we cope with po is correct.  My favorites now are ard and gpor - so far, have not tried to short the balance of the market, but might begin to dabble in it later.

Oh, Matt --

How did you know? It's Good to Be King! Tom Petty.

It's good to be king, if just for a while
To be there in velvet, yeah, to give `em a smile
It's good to get high and never come down
It's good to be king of your own little town

Yeah, the world would swing if I were king
Can I help it if I still dream time to time

It's good to be king and have your own way
Get a feeling of peace at the end of the day
And when your bulldog barks and your canary sings
You're out there with winners, it's good to be king

Yeah I'll be king when dogs get wings
Can I help it if I still dream time to time...

Just kidding! 

best Dave

I would agree that I had a sense that "this can't be right" and stumbled upon the motherload!
I think you are conflating the status quo with the human condition. Society has been ordered in other manners.
Just a few f'rinstances: The old Soviet Union. No one was going to be allowed to starve. No one outside the Part was at all likely to get ahead. 'Get ahead' was hardly a real concept. Party membership was limited & there were those who didn't want to play.
Hereditary aristocracy. The game is rigged. You can't do much to maximize your access to energy. Maybe you can try to suck up to the Earl or his household, maybe you can't even do that. Social mobility is purely a modern idea

Black America until quite recently. Any uppity black man who thought he could get rich or gain status got slapped down pretty quick. And there was enough fat on the land and family and charity that few starved. So status came from things like dancing ability, music, dressing sharp. Actually the mode of competition I'm describing here goes on at some level most everywhere.

There have been plenty of societies that didn't have money or used it only in ways so basic it didn't mean what it means to us.

There are all kinds of ways humanity has subsisted without the competition for status, money and babes you describe and we're still here.
As for changing the status quo I'm as dubious as you. I just think it's wrong to read all history through a prism of America ca. 2006.

"There are all kinds of ways humanity has subsisted without the competition for status, money and babes you describe and we're still here." is nonsense. Please name one example?

At the bottom, life exists to perpetuate itself and every animal, with the exception of a few odd balls like the New Mexico Whiptail Lizard, is in a constant search for sexual partners. And that means status. Onansis said it all, when asked why he had accumulated so much money, "Without women is would all be pointless".

Man always competes for status, because that gets the "babes". Money is just one form of status. Even in pure hunter-gatherer societies the most successful hunters give meat preferentially to women who they desire as sexual partners.

Man always competes for status, because that gets the "babes".

Yes, this is supported by research see Geoffrey Miller:

How Mate Choice shaped Human Nature

Aesthetic fitness: How sexual selection shaped artistic virtuosity as a fitness indicator and aesthetic preferences as mate choice criteria

And some more from the same...

We will never get rid of the Hummers or equivalent gimmicks tailored to the available energy ressources!
We will never get rid of the Hummers or equivalent gimmicks tailored to the available energy ressources!

I think it says that even in a world of electric cars, there weill be electric Hondas and electric Porsches.

Maybe those Tesla guys have it right.  A 4 second 0-60 appeals to this ol' monkey brain.

For gentlemen who wish to attract rich and beautiful women, the best investment you can make IMO is about $1,200 in a fine tailor-made suit from excellent light woolen fabric. Mine is done by the best tailor in the Twin Cities, a Lebanese guy who has done work for famous movie stars. A really classy woman will not date a man who wears a cheap suit. Believe me, there is a huge difference in comfort, and the tailor-made suit will last about three times longer than the average $700 off-the-shelf at a posh department store suit.

Also, Italian sportcoats that retail for $1,500 and up are nice. I shop at Goodwill and get them (almost new) for $1.29. My wardrobe is outstanding . . . to match my wit, brilliant conversation and superlative cooking skills. Oh, I can also sail circles around most other skippers, and this impresses sailorwomen no end. Fastest skippers get the lustiest and best women crew.

When/where there was no money, they just used social status or raw power as the examples you cite demonstrate. It's the same equation, just different numbers.

More sophisticated women will go for things like humor, intelligence, and the ability to get along with others. Of course, it is no coincidence these things are (largely) what determines a man's ability to procure resources in most any society.

So I'm not reading things through a prism of America ca. 2006 as I am the past couple hundred thousand years of human history.



I'll return to just one point. In many societies what you get, what you are going to get is fixed at birth. Fixed, rigid hierarchies. Yes, things slip if three geneations of the Count's family are pure dullards, or if a genius artisan/warrior/superstud appears. Competition of the sort you describe normally takes place only within sharply circumscribed bounds.
No comment at all on the desirability of such arrangements. They are simply common, normal to human history. You don't get to throw out history that doesn't fit your model.

I don't want to debate you at all. You're clearly a sharp guy and your opinions are worth something. May I instead recommend some reading? Some out-of-the-rut reading?

The Death of Adam, essays by Marilynne Robinson, esp. the essay 'Darwinism'. I hesitate to summarize her arguments at all as she is IMHO the best prose stylist currently working in English. Suffice it to say what is treated as biological science at TOD she puts as straight ideology/theology and you will be intellectually challenged.

The Elizabethan World Picture by E.M.W. Tillyard. None of the deathless immortal inscribed-on-our-neurons concepts/ideas discussed in TOD philosophy existed 400 years ago, much less 400,000. After Tillyard, you reread or go see Hamlet.

Mutual Aid and Fields, Factories, and Workshops, both by Prince Peter Kropotkin. Sure he's quaint, charming, terminally naiive. OTOH his field surveys of Siberia were a catbird seat possibly no other human has had. Lewis & Clark might have seen some of the same, Kropotkin saw more & used the opportunity. For anyone considering growing their own food or thinking about subsistence agriculture his view of the market gardens of Paris is mandatory.

A back to back reading of The Iliad,trans.Fagles and The Origin of Human Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes. Jaynes is a wacko (and has a bit of a cult following still so AlphaProphet should heed the style) and nothing he says can be verified/tested/demonstrated. After reading him you will wonder what if anything you really know about brain structure. And how you so easily know it. Read the Alexzander Pope trans. too, just because it's great and also to see what different results can come from identical text.

Yes good minds can go different places from identical text. When I see so many here singing the same song on biology/evolutionary psychology/brain strucure etc. that alone raises red flags.

That's enough.

Old Hippie wrote:

Yes good minds can go different places from identical text. When I see so many here singing the same song on biology/evolutionary psychology/brain strucure etc. that alone raises red flags.

Damn! You have certainly observed something I have not. I haven't observed a lot of biology, evolutionary psychology or brain structure on this list, but what I have observed, no one is singing the same song. If there is anything everyone seems to disagree on, it is those three subjects.

Methinks Old Hippie, that you are imagining things. And that most definitely raises a red flag.

You haven't even seen the topic come up yet you've noted that everyone disagrees on it.
Words fail.
I give up.
I wrote:

I haven't observed a lot of biology, evolutionary psychology or brain structure on this list, but what I have observed, no one is singing the same song. If there is anything everyone seems to disagree on, it is those three subjects.

Old Hippie replied:

You haven't even seen the topic come up yet you've noted that everyone disagrees on it.
Words fail.

You are absolutely correct Old Hippie, words do fail you, you fail to see them. At least you failed to see a lot. Either that or you do not know what the words mean. Then notice that I added "but what I have seen". Did those words fail you too Old Hippie?

I give up.

I agree with the remark by PhilM far below. Can we call off the pissing contest?
Yes, by all means, let's call off the pissing contests. Better yet, let's just not start them. If we have a specific complaint with some particular thing a person says, then by all means bring it to the attention of that person. But when someone attacks what many say without giving any specifics whatsoever, that just galls me. It makes me think I am probably among the many being attacked. But then I don't know what it was that I might have said since the person making the accusation gives no specific charge, just a broad brush attack.

So Old Hippy, if you are willing to stop doing that then I will not launch a defense or counter attack and a pissing contest can be averted before it ever starts.

When I see so many here singing the same song on biology/evolutionary psychology/brain strucure etc. that alone raises red flags.

Well, I think it's pretty obvious that many posters here take what used to be called a "sociobiological" position. I fail to see what was offensive about oldhippie pointing that out.
Just curious, what the hell is the "sociobiological" position? Can you describe that position?
I don't know if this bears on how smekhovo is using the term "sociobiological", but It prompted this thought for me:

On this list we have two distinct sets of contributors:  the technical and the social.  The technical contributors provide the hard facts about what's going on in the world of peak oil.  The social contributors provide thoughts on how people respond to the physical situation.  This thread, for instance, is dominated by the social contributors, while threads like the ones on OCS , rig counts or or Oil Shale are more technical in overall content.

For me the "biological" part of the compound term comes into play when we try and deal with what aspects of human behaviour can or should be considered "hard-wired", and thus less malleable in the face of changing circumstances.

I think both the technical and social approaches are necessary, or at least the social/biological discussions are inevitable: once we understand a problem, we're hard-wired to discuss fixes.

Have you noticed that the social threads are the ones where most of the doomer sentiments are expressed, and that those expressions are discouraged on the technical threads?  I think that's a good thing, so long as we have the occasional social thread to let those of us who don't feel there are viable global solutions vent just a bit...

Sure. Sociobiological thinkers see human behaviour and institutions as reflecting not the motivations people claim for themselves, but the drive to self-replication of their genes.
No conceivable way did I make a personal attack on you or on anyone else. For what am I to apologize? What is bothering you?
This started silly and it only gets sillier. Get some sleep.
Oldhippie, thanks for this post: I find it a breath of fresh air! I'm off to the library to try and track down the Death of Adam :)
Thank you.Enjoy.
Death of Adam is on order. Thanks.
And Mutual Aid and Fields, Factories, and Workshops, both by Prince Peter Kropotkin, should be available for download - Project Gutenberg, as a start. Mutual Aid is a well founded reply to anyone who is ever tempted to think Darwinism is some sort of justification for thinking that nature is red in claw, and such.

Though it may be fair to call Kropotkin terminally naive, it is intriguing that his scientific work is much more easily available to read for anyone interested than Dawkin's 'English' perspective in his very much copyrighted books.

Those wacky Russians weren't as wacky as it seems - but then, people trying to do what Kropotkin and company did are always rare - and ever so easily dismissed out of hand by those who feel no need to remove themselves from the pinnacles they believe themselves to be at.

Red flag warning, indeed - and I guess skipping over this thread makes sense.

Stalin, with malice aforethought, starved to death at least two million Ukranians in the nineteen thirties as part of his war on the "kulaks."

It is a total and absolute misrepresentation of history to assert that "nobody starved" in the Soviet Union. At the time of the government-imposed famines, Stalin exported grain to get gold and other things he wanted.

Why glamorize the Evil Empire?

The time of the famines and the "gold purge" as described by A. Solzhenitsyn and others was as bad as anything Hitler ever did. Also, on the scale of mass murder, most historians now rank Stalin above Hitler, some by as much as a factor of two.

For two good books on Stalin's atrocities read Robert Conquest's "The Great Terror" and "The Harvest of Sorrow". When these books first came out many historians questioned the accuracy of the high figures of death Conquest came up with. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the opening up of all of the archives, it turns out Conquest was being conservative.
On the other hand, it is true that life expectancy was much higher in the USSR, during the last 25 years of its existence, than during the criminal-democratic revolution of the 90s in Russia, or for that matter up to the present day.
I kind of agree with you.  I dunno, I've just never been the missionary type.  I love to debate, as I'm sure people have noticed, but I don't really want to convert anyone.  

Plus...I'm not sure it's possible to persuade most people, and moreover, I'm not sure it would do any good if we could.  

I think the only way to beat an idea is with a better idea.
How can I beat consumerism?

Well, I have a better idea:

  1. Tennis every morning when weather permits.
  2. Get on the water or the ice, depending on season. Sail, fish, cross-country ski, etc.
  3. Sex in the morning, sex after breakfast, sex before lunch, sex at siesta, etc. IMO people in modern civilizations are almost always sex-starved compared to people in hunting and gathering societies.

BTW, missionaries were shocked, SHOCKED to find out that "the primitives" all had sex all the time--even the old and ugly people. Even people who were married to one another copulated several times a day--and never (or almost never) in the "missionary position," which, BTW gives relatively little pleasure to women. The idea that women would get pleasure from sex was considered by most Christian missionaries as coming from Satan and something that had to be stamped out all all costs.

Missionaries have a lot to answer for.

(See, for example, the classic article, "Steel Axes for Stone-Age Australians," for an example of how missionaries casually destroyed a whole culture and society--not even on purpose, but it, and many other examples, happened.)

IMO for people used to "life as usual" the idea (in its full version, not a limited one like "supply is unable to keep with demand") is so shocking that you will be getting immediate denial in 99% of the cases. And denial will be mostly in regards to the potential implications, not the PO notion itself. A small percentage of them may come back to think about it at later time but in total it is a lost cause.

IMO in order for a person to grasp the message, he/she must have been thinging critically about the world we live, has connected some dots for what has been going on on the international arena in the past decades or at least has reached to the conclusions that there are some fundamental flaws in the world we live today. Like always you can convince people only in things that they have at least partially reached to themselves.


It was 9/11 that brutally knocked the blinders off of me. From that point forward, I was ready to finish connecting the dots and understand the far-reaching nature of Peak Oil...

So I guess I'm a Matt Savinar category-1 Peak Oiler.

Though the idea of being a dictator has some appeal... A benevolent dictator. I promise! Honest!

Interesting.  I wonder how many people came to peak oil via 9/11?

I don't think I fall into any of Matt's categories.  I am definitely way too lazy to either sell anything or be a dictator.  I guess that leaves #1, but I don't think that really fits, either.  I do think the system is @#$%ed, but that's a result of accepting peak oil, not the cause of it.


Wasn't your father telling you "get ready to eat lower on the food chain" back in the 1950s? That tells me you'd fall into category 1.

Rarely do women wish to be DICKtator. That's mostly a guy thing, although there are some exceptions.



Rarely do women wish to be DICKtator

Obviously you have never been married :)
Hey, girls this was a joke...

Wasn't your father telling you "get ready to eat lower on the food chain" back in the 1950s?  I wasn't alive in the '50s.  

My dad did tell me about Malthus, but I didn't believe him.  In fact, we argued for hours about it, more than once.

I do think the system is @#$%ed, but that's a result of accepting peak oil, not the cause of it.

Strange. Did you consider everything was OK 5-10 years ago?

I had been dimly worried about population since the 60s, and I was worried about pollution, etc., but I had no inkling about peak energy.  So I thought everything was not great, but definitely survivable.
Any society effectively choosing consumption (greed) as its most fundamental value is doomed in the long run. Be it because of PO or peak biosphere. Many societies have been around for thousands of years by mastering some sort of equilibrium with the environment, but unfortunately young, strong and unexperienced societies tend to outcompete and destroy them. See the native indians.
I wonder if ever there was a steady state society that relied on a usury based money system. Conversely, I wonder if there was ever a perpetual growth society that didnt.

I assert this all goes back to how money works. Usury drives surplus (can't pay back more money than there is haha, so how bout a bit of extra grain so I can keep my land?!). Surplus drives population increase (more food = more people). Fossil fuel detritus has become the enabler of great surplus and allowed this paradigm to play out even further.

I think it all goes back to usury money.

I became acutely aware of peak oil back in 1949. Why? Because the best and most intelligent man I have ever known (Everett R. Dempster) worried about it then. He bought an itty bitty teeny weenie little American car called a Crosley. It was smaller than a Mini-Cooper and got more than 30 miles a gallon, back when gas was about 20 cents a gallon.

Was Everett wrong. No. Just ahead of his time. (From him I also learned to hoard copper tubing, one of the alltime best investments I have ever made.)

Crosley! Great cars. Relative to other things so low production and plain odd they are available and lots of NOS service parts are available. The places that care for them are mostly still in Indiana & Ohio, if you live there Crosleys are abucket of fun & they keep going.
Was that Crosley engine the one that was on the "handybilly" water pump on our aircraft carrier?  Idea was that when we took a kamakase you cranked up the handybilly and got gobs of seawater to slather ineffectually into the inferno until it got to a magazine and the whole ball of bang went straight up with you on top of it.  --But good for morale--. Ran like a banshee and put out highly enthusiastic squirt. Overhead cam?

Now seriously, folks, how come we  (homo S) can cooperate pretty good when little band of brothers  in tough situations re kamakaze and such like, and not when in tough situations like now? How about forming just a lot of little bands of brothers-and sisters-?

I do not suggest military solutions, but the military experience, organization, training and psychology can teach us, IMO.  ProphetofDoom notes desires to be dictator,  Sure.  Also exist desires to be hero, not to forget.  But leadership req'd.

In Plato's "Republic," to be a philosopher-king you first had to do a minimum of fifteen years as a "guardian," i.e. soldier, sailor, or police person. To Plato (and also other ancient philosophers) the idea of nonveterans having qualifications to lead was to inane to even consider. Aristotle even said the the vote should be limited to those who bore arms (or had put in their time as younger men).

However, many men fought as long as they were strong enough to walk with armor on, well past age 60. If Socrates had not become known as a philosopher, he would probably be remembered as one of Athens most decorated and bravest soldiers; he did a heckuva lot of fighting against the Spartans. Plato also received medals or the equivalent for exceptional bravery in battle. Socrates was a hoplite, Plato in the cavalry, and I seem to recall that Aristotle was sort of in the reserve, but because of his friendship with King Philip and then Alex the Great was able to have fun doing science and philosophy rather than get bloody in battle.

I think we'll see that, when the energy threat is as hard to deny as a screaming kamakaze.

Obviously we are not seeing massive "proactive" mobilization right now.  We are seeing a testing of ideas (hydrogen, hybrids, tar sands, ethanol, biodiesel, ...).  It's pretty nice that the list of "tries" is as long as it is ...

So I anticipate that some clue or event will shock people into getting serious.  If you want to blue-sky it, you can think about how effective that at (or post) peak response can be.

I think the jury's out.

Pretty much, yeah.  I thought we were headed for a Star Trek future.  Yes, my dad is a scientist and a Malthusian, but I thought he was wrong.  I thought technology would continue to increase exponentially, and keep ahead of population and resource issues. Hey, it always had in the past, hadn't it?

I voted Republican.  I joined the Air Force.  I was more than willing to take my place in the military industrial complex.  

Then I grew up, I guess.  ;-)

you have my vote :)

Regarding 9/11 - I realise it was a shocking event, but I'm not sure what is the "balance" - how many people started to ask question, and how many preferred to live in the cosy world of illusions (now complemented with the war against all those evil terrorists that are coming to get us).

Outside the US, 9/11 was met with a lot of sympathy, but frankly said with a too little surprise. The US game in Middle East had been visible for decades and a reprisal in one form or another was simply waiting to happen.

Given that, 9/11 did not change my world views in any way - I simply realised that the game is reaching the shootout phase. And with the discovery of PO several years later I realised why. The rest of course is history...

Interesting.  I'm in Canada, and accepting that all was not kosher with the official explanation of 9/11 was the start of my road to Peak Oil.  I was a global warming skeptic at the time  (Bjorn Lomborg was a minor hero of mine...)  Accepting that TPTB could BS the world about something so large and important as 9/11 made me ask what else they might be BSing about.  That led me to reexamine the actual state of climate change science, and the simple question "Where's all that CO2 coming from" led ineluctably to Peak Oil.

It's amazing to develop a worldview in which 9/11, the Iraq War, GW, PO, Faux News and the sale of the US national debt to China all have their places in a single framework.

... all have their places in a single framework.
Are you implying that there is an "Intelligent Design" behind all this madness? If so, I think you credit the naked apes with way too much skill and capability. Randomness in a madhouse explains it much better.
Not at all.  I'm simply saying that the underlying facts of overpopulation and the resulting massive energy use are triggering a large number of very different physical and social events.
BTW, speaking of the 10-1/10+1 day,
Do you realize that today, 10-3/10+3 is DDY Day?

(Double Dan Yergin day. 2x $38 =$76/bbl, today's price crossing on the NYMEX)

See comments by thelastsasquatch and AlphaMaleProphetOfDoom for some thoughts which I share. But further, I no longer believe that convincing the majority is even the correct thing to do. Clearly, the majority  of people will not reduce their footprint nor will they reduce their total numbers. The result of such behavior must be overshoot and the result of overshoot is always death. As someone else once noted, we can reduce our numbers ourselves or nature will reduce them for us. All else is candy coated bullshit. And since we refuse to reduce our numbers (and the resulting footprint), it thus becomes inevitable that nature will do it for us. So I just go on about my business and no longer try to convert people for reasons as noted by thelastsasquatch and AlphaMaleProphetOfDoom.

My sole goal now is to survive as much of what is coming to see what comes after and to enjoy myself as much as I can along the way. If there were a significant enough group of like-minded people interested in taking specific actions, I might be persuaded to assist them or join them. But in general I see nothing for the statistical majority except death, whether that comes in my generation or my children's generation or my grandchildren's generation. I cannot deter the lemmings from their chosen path so I won't give myself ulcers trying. Either nature will change their minds the hard way or nature will cull them. In either case, it's beyond my abilities to impact.

Clearly, the majority  of people will not reduce their footprint nor will they reduce their total numbers

Except, in the Western world, the birth rate is falling and in many places (Japan, Italy) is causing a fall in population and associated demographic problems. I believe the same is true for the USA, net of immigration (disclosure: I was once an immigrant to the USA but have since returned to Europe).

The key seems to be feeding everybody AND educating the females. Feeding everybody is necessary, but not sufficient. Witness Saudi Arabia.

Also, IIRC, Germany and Sweden are reducing their footprints and have plans to do so even more...

I believe the same is true for the USA, net of immigration

Yes.  The U.S. would have Europe-like growth rates if it weren't for immigration.

The McPaper had this article today:

Society switches focus away from children

In 1990, the most common household type was married couples with children. Now, single, childless households are the most prevalent.

And today, more women in their 40s are childless, the report says. One in 10 were childless in 1976; in 2004, it was about one of five.

Although Whitehead says Americans aren't "anti-child," she suggests that a society indifferent to parenting will further aggravate current attitudes and account for what Whitehead calls "the cultural devaluation of child-rearing."

"People who are rearing children and have children in the household no longer represent the dominant force in society or politics," she says.

I really think that these are the issues we can make the most headway on.  We'd be going with the flow, rather than against it.  Many people want fewer children, or even none, but there's a lot of pressure to have kids, even now.  I think they'd embrace the idea that chosing to be child-free is not selfish.  

And immigration is of course a red-hot topic right now.

Haha, McPaper! Nice one...
also known as the "multi-colored fish wrap."  
variation: "a television program to wrap fish in"
A psychology major told me their vending machines were so different from standard newspaper vending machines because they were designed to look like a TV.
Even as population declines in some few countries, those same countries are seeing carbon emissions rise, raising their footprint even more, hence the whining about being unable to meet Kyoto targets, and nevermind more serious proposals for constraining environmental impact. Look at consumption patterns in those nations with slightly falling populations.

Further, is educating females actually sufficient? Your post exemplifies a thought pattern I've seen elsewhere - one of "if only we could hold the line where we are now all will be fine" but that's not true. It just delays judgement day a bit because those same finite resources are still being depleted, though perhaps not at the maximum rate possible from a slightly higher population.

Historically, homo sapiens and our immediate ancestors occupied an ecological niche measured by a few tens of millions of individuals for the last few million years. Only within the last 10,000 or so years have we seen these numbers swell and even the period around the birth of Christ only saw population measure in the few hundreds of millions (300-500 million seems to be the common estimates). And that limited population destroyed the ecosystems of Greece and the Fertile Crescent so it was not sustainable at 500 million either. Yet today we have 6.5 billion people all dependent on a highly intertwined set of complex technological systems all built upon rapidly diminishing resources. It cannot be sustained this way even if we froze population right now.

I fully expect most people to fight to find some way to maintain the status quo. To expect otherwise would be expecting them to deny how their genes have progammed them. It can happen in rare instances but is not the norm. And no, when you fail (because you most assuredly will), I won't say I told you so. I may not be here and you may not either.

"And no, when you fail (because you most assuredly will), I won't say I told you so. I may not be here and you may not either."

Exactly so. An unusual amount of realism being expressed on this thread.

Greyzone, thanks for your comments. I was not saying that everything is OK at 6.5 billion on the planet with 5.5 billion of them aspiring to an American lifestyle that they don't have. I could echo many of the sentiments of the doomers in terms of the damage we have done to the planet so far. My comment was to point out that in fact there are modern day examples of populations stabilizing or even decreasing and examples of nations choosing to reduce their enviromental footprint. Is educating females enough? Are we close to being sustainable? Hell, no!
Hello JN2,

Don't forget that Hans Seleye's General Adaptation Syndrome [GAS] and other factors, such a Zimbabwean mothers disposing of newborns and clogging the sewers, are also contributing to population decline.  These factors will be significant postPeak.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Education of the females..

In the US, we need to put some more emphasis on the boys.  The girls are doing much better, but certainly the whole pool could stand a rising tide.

It comes down essentially to the concept of relative fitness in biology. We (as are all animals) are hardwired to compete for resources. Oil, as you say, will be a collective problem when it runs out, so it is a classic tragic of the commons problem - if I save oil, someone else will just use it and we'll run out anyways, so I might as well make my life better off.

The trick will be to persuade people that they should change their lifestyles because its better for THEM not because its better for the planet. If everyone were to realize theyd be happier with a smaller footprint (and we probably need all the Madison Ave tricks and marketing to make this happen), then a voluntary powerdown of sorts can be accomplished. It will never happen by governments telling or advising people to conserve, because the world is too big and its easy to cheat.

I tend to take the Matt Savinar perspective on this.  People first compete for necessities, then for status.  Most people in developed countries have sucessfully competed for necessities, so they next work to improve their status.  If it weren't for this status competition, and the corresponding marketing that goes on to feed the competition, most people wouldn't be driving cars/trucks at all, much less driving vehicles such as Hummers.

With due respect to the ELM model above, I don't think people think about this competition that much.  Their satisfaction maximizing function could be described as "I have x dollars, I saw this on TV and one of my neighbors bought it, so I will buy it too."  Notice that while there is a momentary consideration of cost, there isn't even much thought given to the longer term budgetary considerations.  If they have the money at the moment, and want something, they buy it.  

It doesn't look as though people think about the long term ramifications of this competition at all.  That is someone else's problem.  Or put another way, "there has always been gas, there will always be gas."  Given that in their minds "there will always be gas", it's easier to believe that higher prices are a form of gouging than that oil is becoming harder to come by.

Trying to convince the public isn't likely to be very effective in the short run.  They will come around when their "x dollars" don't buy much of anything; put another way, they will choose to compete in a different status game when they are clearly failing in the former one and a new one is available and appealing.  The Oil Drum plays the tremendously useful role of spelling out the facts.  When enough people see the reality spelled out, they will start creating the new status game  for which other people will eventually sign up.

Status and access to neccessites are, in my mind, almost the same thing.

Let's imagine TOD is a tribe of 2,000 people and the amount of bandwidth available to the tribe is about to diminish.

Well how do we allocate the rapidly dwindly supply? Unlike the good ole days, there is not enough for everybody to post to their hearts delight.

Well, first we probably impose some type of rationing scheme whereby we ask people to limit their posts to only on-topic information. At some point, however, that is not going to be enough as the supply keeps diminishing.

Do we just give each registered member a certain amount of bandwidth?  Perhaps but does it make sense for the good of the tribe to give somebody who only posts conspiracy theories cut and pasted from elsewhere the same amount of bandwidth as someobdy who posts well-researched original information not found anywhere else?

(Keep in mind if we don't come up with a good scheme here some other tribe will and will kick our butts)

My guess is that whatever scheme evolves it will come down to the posters with the greatest status in the tribe getting the most bandwidth. (Which also menas they get the most females.)

So in human organizations, social status and access to necessities are highly correlated. In the modern world, we use money as an indicator of social status. 9/10 times, it is accurate indicator. Not always of course.



Which also means they get the most females.)

Oh.  Joy.  


Relax, being the Alpha-Female I'm sure you'd have your pick of the men.



(Hint: Just don't ask her to meet you at Wal-Mart)
Obviously, WE Peak Oilers, with our superior rational intellect are above the crass thought processes of the masses. Humph. ;-}

But then again, how come we resort to emoticons?

The sense of humor is an utter mark for intelligence :)
Taking yourself too seriously and open-mindness do not go together...
Ergo pool hall humor is the pinnacle of human intellect?
Wanna hear my record-setting, longest fart?
Here it goes:

Like I said. We are the sheeple. We have seen "them" and they are us.

If you find that funny I would harldy say you have a sense of humor :P

That's what is funny: you thinking that I'm thinking that it is funny :-)b
Actually I did not, just was not sure about whether your previous post was ironical or you seriously did not agree about my statement for the sense of humor... obviously it was the former :)
Man: "Hey baby, wanna see my bandwidth?"  Woman: "Yikes!! That's some bandwidth you got there!
I wouldn't be holding my breath for people signing up for the new status game. Let me give you an example:

I rarely give talks but if I give another, I'm considering doing something along the following lines. The question will be "When will the paradigm shift occur?" My response will be to hold up a picture I pulled off a major league baseball player's "My Space" page where he and some of his teammates are at a bar surrounded by some ridiculously hot women.

Then say, "the day women like this start showing up to conferences like this is the day the paradigm shifts."

Those of you who've been to any peak oil meetings/conferences realize production will have long since peaked and fallen off to a trickle before that day comes.



I have a cartoon somewhere around my office, from years ago, titled "Boom Days."  

A dorky looking guy is walking down the street with two gorgeous scantily clad women, one on each arm.  A police officer pushes a bystander out of the way, saying "Get out of the way you swine!  A geologist is coming!"

These days, the caption would read, "Get out of the way you swine!  A drilling contactor is coming!"

Matt, your comment is both hilarious and true. I would only add that I firmly believe in our lifetimes that organic farmers with Macgyver skills will get the hot chicks over financiers and baseball players.

(Note: clearly I have some work to do - last time I changed my cars oil, I put it in the transmission instead..Lord, may CERA be right...)


Here's the link to the pic I'm thinking of using:

The picture I had in mind is the one in the comments section posted 3/23/2006 at 7:12 PM. Reason being I'm not even into the hot blonde bombshell archetype of woman but that picture sill got my attention. The two guys in the picture are players for the Baltimore Orioles. (Markakis and Loewen)

I found that via a blog I read when I really need to get my mind off the end of the world: It's maintained by six major league baseball groupies who spill the beans on the who, what, and when of their adventures. Good lord it is the most and I mean THE MOST scandolous corner of the internet bar none. Take for instance, the post entitled "Brokeback Dugout."

I'm amazed they haven't been sued but I guess that would really bring the skeletons out of the closest. For instance, what if David "Big Papi" Ortiz of Boston Red Sox isn't REALLY Big Papi? What would that do to the sales of "Big Papi Salsa."? (he has his own brand, really)

Like I said, the paradigm will shift when women like those pictured in the link above start chasing men who grow champion sized squash instead of those whot hit tape measure homeruns.



LOL!  Thanks for those links.  

I need something baseball to tide me over the All-Star break...

So does this mean my "sensitive 80s guy" act will still work for the time being?
I suggest you get to the batting cage.
Hello AMPOD,

Great stuff.  May I suggest in the early postPeak years that hot women will flock to these guys that are very well known for incredibly long tape measure homeruns?

Babe Ruth on Detritus steroids

Can you think of anything more studly than an Earthmarine putting one out-of-the-park at 1.5 miles?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Depends on whether you see a Pamela Anderson or someone entirely different as your ideal partner.

Also, is it an act?

"Love yourself.  It'll be the beginning of a lifelong romance."  Oscar Wilde

Given what I know about the unfolding PO situation, Xena, Warrior Princess, is starting to look more attractive all the time... ;o)
I definitely went for the Strong Woman.. whew! She is tough, dedicated, smart, and don't get between her and our daughter.  But she chose me.  What a lucky guy.. and I didn't even have to pretend to be tough, or rich, or a dictator..

"And when I find that Hard-headed woman,
I'll know my life will be as it should.."
cat stevens

I used to laugh when I heard that song, as I've surely got a hard-headed woman!  When she gets going, best get the hell out of the way!  But I do often think that I could not have a better partner if the bad times come our way, as we've seen some of those already and I know how capable she is.  

If I were to try to imagine the single thing that would give me the biggest advantage in a world suffering from the kinds of things we discuss here, I'd be hard pressed to come up with anything more important than the right partner.

Hello TheLastSasquatch,

Well said. In Asimov's Foundation: "The Mule" had the power to alter stimuli response [genetic drives] in others--thus enabling him to become the primary oppositional force to the Foundations control of predictive collapse and directed decline:

Obviously, Asimov created the Mule for dramatic effect.  I think a more realistic Peakview is too use the Mule to augment social change.

If one recalls that the Foundation series was modelled after the rise and fall of the Roman Empire-- it is not an imaginative stretch to consider Jesus as the ancient counterpart to Asimov's Mule--he was considered the primary meme changer to the prevailing social status quo.

I like your idea of Madison Ave. and other psycho-social orgs becoming the postPeak 'meme changers' to create a universal appetite for Powerdown.   I would like to read more on your thoughts on a 'carrot' to complement the entropic 'stick' of decreasing FF supply.

But can a societal creation of a 'scientific carrot'  function without corruption; a reversion to a Jesus or the Mule?

The problem is: does that mean we are headed to the mind control and political designs of Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and H.G. Wells literary writings, or can we hopefully create a more perfect cooperative style through education and the creation of new social norms for behavior?  This seems to require much thoughtful consideration of proper feedback loops to keep from spiraling out of control to the exclusive benefit of a privileged few.  Alas, the lamented need for benevolent philosopher-kings since Platonic times.

In my speculative Foundation postings, I try to create situations where non-evident 'common sense' market controls distorts implied demand: ie, like raising electricity rates far faster than normal 'invisible hand' processes, thereby drastically minimizing the burn rate, but helping to gain time to maintain grid uptime and sustain grid spiderweb area maximization.  Obviously, this is the 'stick method', but a properly designed 'carrot' can be tremendously helpful.

If people understand the Tragedy of the Commons: can this create a broader collective desire to vastly expand their definition of 'inclusive fitness' or the reverse?  In short: can we create a global demand for 'united we stand, divided we fall'?   Will Madison Ave & MSM shift to this new meme, or will they continue the drive for '3 Days of the Condor' scenario?

Jay Hanson has written about a 'society of sloth', but incentivizing it is the difficult part.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

This comes at a very opportune moment (meme-ent?) for me, as I've just completed the first draft of a 50-slide PowerPoint talk called "The Perfect Storm".  It's intended for intelligent lay audiences, and it links Overpopulation, Climate Change and Peak Oil through the central theme of the positive feedback loop between human population and energy use.  It ends up with a bunch of suggestions for action.

This talk is going to require very high elaboration indeed.   In order to motivate my audiences to process it, I'm hooking the "Solutions" section onto the pains they are already experiencing, fuel prices and pollution.  I'm also emphasizing that these are not new issues to anyone in my audience.  Everyone has heard the climate change drums beating, and this gives an opportunity to leverage that growing awareness into an awareness of Peak Oil and its implications.

Peakguy's three factors in the acceptance of smoking as a problem also apply here.  A talk like this can go a little  hard on the science (especially emphasizing levels of consensus among scientists and using cool graphs).  It also uses the shift in public opinion over GW to help paint PO as "another aspect of the same problem set".  Finally, it uses recent increases in fuel costs as both evidence and incentive to change.

I hope to deliver it at community association meetings, possibly at appropriate municipal events, in my own workplace and in private gatherings - anywhere there might be a receptive audience.  Initial audience receptivity to the type of information being presented is fundamental if we want to start breaking through with the PO message, though.

This meme will never catch on in the mainstream because all of the various permutations of powerdown are basically asking people to do the following:

  1. men to make less money

  2. women to be attracted to men who make less money

(Money = potential access to energy)

It simply ain't going to take hold.

You can think of the human brain as a computer that was optimized through millions of years of programming to do one thing: extract energy out of the environment. Imagine trying to get a computer to do something it was simply NOT programmed to do?  



Powerdown also asks mothers and fathers to give their children less.  Less food?  Less clothing?  Asking mother bears to starve or freeze their young cubs for the good of the tribe just is not going to happen.

On the other hand, convincing men and women that they can have more status and more access to resources if they fail to procreate in the first place IS something that is already happening.  Times are going to get tough.  Do you really want to have five more mouths to feed at home when you're not even sure that you'll have enough food for your own?  

No, that won't happen either; blame evolution.

Women will continue to be attracted to men who can monopolize power and money for their offspring, and if that means killing other men and stealing their resources, that's what it will be.

Warlords and slaves, more likely than organic energy efficient socialist kibbutzim.

My successful tactic with women has been to say truthfully that I will be faithful to them because
  1. sequential monogamy simplifies my life and
  2. it is nice to know that one's children's are one's own without going to the DNA test;-)

Works for me. Sex in the forties, wow, was I ever precocious!
Sex in the fifties, better and better.
Berkeley sex in the sixties and seventies--whooptidoodle!!!!
Sex in the eighties even better, as was sex in the nineties.
Twenty-first century sex is the best of all . . . . so far.

BTW, please do not ask me what my friend Virginia persuaded us to do on a hot July day in 1948 under the dock at 51 Lake Ave., White Bear Lake. I never kiss and tell;))

BTW, please do not ask me what my friend Virginia persuaded us to do on a hot July day in 1948 under the dock at 51 Lake Ave., White Bear Lake. I never kiss and tell;))

Careful, Mr. Sailorman.  That's somebody's grandma that you are talking about there.

With her precocity (We had been "playing doctor" etc. together since about age 4) likely a great grandmother by now. She came from the wealthiest family in town; they had three live-in servants.

Wonder if she is single now?

I should look her up:-)

White Bear Lake.
I'll have Duane kep an eye out for ya.
Look at "Life on the Mississippi" by Mark Twain. The house I lived in (which is still there) was built at almost exactly the same time that Twain visited.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his crazy wife used to get roaring drunk on regular occasions at the White Bear Yacht Club.

Personally, I belong to the "Black Bear Racing Association" which gets its name from the fictional "Black Bear Yacht Club scathingly described by F. S. F.

BTW, the Commodore is the sexiest woman I know, a mere stripling of sixty.  And single;-)

Thank you for the link to that site. I'm a big wind-power plus tons of lead/acid batteries fan, but some of this solar stuff could be fun . . . except that for three months of the year we do not get much sun, whereas we get some pretty good winds most days all year round.
Another way of making the same point.  I don't have children but I can imagine if I did. I want my kid to have the best I can get him so when the time comes he can kick the ass of the kid down the street in whatever the endeavor is: scoring touchdowns OR growing squash. That way he gets the best females and I get the best grandchildren.

In order to provide him with those advantages I need to make certain investments, be they in his health, his education, his nutrition, etc. Those investments take energy.

My neighbor, of course, wants the same for his kid. So this sets up a competition.



In all seriousness, before I got married I checked back three generations on my wife-to-be, who came from brilliant, beautiful, athletic and successful stock. We had four marvelous children, at least two of whom are smarter than I am.

After eighteen years of marriage my wife left me for a much richer man who--she thought--would support her in a style to which she would like to become accostomed (rather than a $40,000/yr. community college instructor who rode bikes everywhere, let the grass grow, and bought used cars for $1,000 with over 100,000 miles on them, then kept the car for seven or eight years and another 80,000 or so miles on it.). Well, I got the kids and have been living happily ever after.

She became an obese alcoholic and had a nearly fatal stroke at age 51.

Live right.

It makes sense.

Study philosophy, especially the Greeks and also the Roman stoics.

I find "The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius" helpful, along with the complete works of Epictetus.

I checked back three generations on my wife-to-be,

go and look into the difference of the nutertion of the 'rich' of the 1400's Europe vs the peasants.  

The better fed grandparents ment the kids were better off.   Taller, stronger, better brains.

While Alpha is talking about squash...actually having land and good food may actually matter....if the govenrment doesn't take it away in taxes and 'redistribute' it to agria-business.


I have only two requirements, both are easily researched: "tall like Gabby, fast like Flojo."

You see, my goal is to optimize my offspring's athletic prowess. In order to do that, I need to make up for my particular athletic deficiencies: average height (5'10) and slow foot speed.  Hence the ideal mother of my children would be tall like Gabriel Reece the volleyball player and fast like Florence Joyner the sprinter.

I have enough brains and personalilty for two people so I'm not quite as concerned about selecting for those qualities. =)



My father was five feet, three inches tall and built like a Neanderthal, with a twenty inch neck, size eight hat size and enormously powerful muscle. I'm a skosh over five feet nine inches tall in my socks, and my son is a bit over six feet four inches tall.

My ex-wife was a phy-ed major, five-feet ten inches tall, and one of her uncles played professional basketball.

My eldest daughter was women singles tennis champion of our little city back when she was in college, but I can still wipe her off the court in straight sets. My son refuses to play tennis with me, because he says I hit the ball too hard.

My middle granddaughter at age seven shot a song bird with one of the archery sets I gave her, and she has been spearing big fish since about the age of three. Her father is an outstanding bow hunter, firearms hunter, fisherman, carpenter and is brighter than most Ph.D.s I know.

Choose your spouses (spice?) with care. Have lots of kids to improve the quality of the gene pool; that is what I did, and now I can look forward to a life of luxury when I become old and decrepit in another fifty years or thereabouts and have my high-earning children to lavish gifts on me. (BTW, my youngest daughter is the second strongest woman I have ever known; she is thirty one years old and earns in the low six figures. However, she is short and not slender. She rides horses and I think can straighten horseshoes with her bare hands. She does not think it feminine anymore to go into biker bars and out arm-wrestle those fat beer-bellied Harley riders with the twenty-five inch biceps.)

I just love to brag competitively about my kids and grandchildren. Mine are the bestest.


Do you speak Spanish, or Portuguese? Maybe you should move to South America! Although people are not so tall there, I think there is a very healthy gene pool in many areas. In northern Peru, typical young males are much more athletic than here in the states. I was blown away trying futilely to play 'futbol' with a group of them at a picnic in Trujillo, Peru last month.

And most of the women in northern Peru, while also being shorter than north american ladies, besides rarely being more than a little overweight, have lovely wide behinds and narrow hips, perfectly designed for bearing healthy children. Trujillo has the sexiest women I have ever seen, anywhere, and they, and people in general there, are super friendly as well.

The relative height advantage you would have there is just one of many advantages in the dating and mating game compared to the same in USA. So you'd have a very good prospect of finding a lovely woman to make healthy, athletic children with. And land and real estate is cheap...

Then there is Brazil of course - probably you, and most internet-linked males, have already seen many pics of lovely Brazilian bundas as well.

I am moving to Peru this fall - it is amazing the options cheap jet fuel gives us privileged few these days; the tales I might (or might not) tell to my grandchildren one day.

- Paul

For wit and sense of humor and sensuality, Jamaican women are as fine as any in the world. Many are stunningly beautiful when young, but then except for the upper classes almost all of them get very fat and jolly as they age. And talk about libido . . . .
If men who consume less could be perceived as cool, ie assoicated with higher social and general intelligence, greater adaptability and therefore greater mate value, women might be attracted to such men.  Of course, the lower consumption would need to be perceived if possible as voluntary.  Involuntary poverty has never been cool.  

Even so, we are talking some major culture changes.  But such has existed at least at the sub-culture level (say Old Order Amish).  

So, guess I basically agree.  It is not gonna happen, at least not soon.  

If men who consume less could be perceived as cool, ie assoicated with higher social and general intelligence, greater adaptability and therefore greater mate value, women might be attracted to such men.

Oh gosh. Shall we live to see that.

Involuntary poverty has never been cool.  

All the fashionable estates had a hermit.

Matt - I agree. Except for when cultures measure of relative fitness changes from money to something else. A post coming on that concept. (It hasnt always been money you know...)
Right then it will just be whatever the currency of the realm is. In our society money is the best proxy we have for social status. In 50 years it might be something else.



In 50 years, it might be who has the most oil drums that are full...
To succeed with beautiful, witty, and brilliant women:
  1. Get them in a small sailboat with winds in excess of 20 knots.
  2. They become totally drenched and hypothermic.
  3. Offer hot-buttered rum.

Works almost every time.

Of course, it helps to have a great sense of humor and also to be a great cook. I have found that in many cases, the way to a woman's heart is through her stomach. Most of the women I courted could not boil an egg. I, on the othere hand, can easily whip up a gourmet meal in half an hour. They are OVERWHELMED with affection for this gesture.

Trust me.

Learn to sail.

Also to cook.

I just knew you'd get back to this topic sometime...but Don, I have a question, what will we do with all the extra time on our hands in a Powerdown society?  Something aerobic that doesn't require electric fitness equipment?
When gas is ten dollars a gallon, we shall have more GAS, Great Aerobic Sex.

I do not advise having sex while driving. It is almost as dangerous as talking on a cell phone while driving;-)

I don't know from sailing, but I can attest to the attractive powers of culinary skills.  You don't even need to be a "good  cook".  I have two signature dishes that I call "bait":

The first is pheasant breast on a bed of braised leeks, smothered in a sauce of champagne, whipping cream and Stilton cheese. The second is a mushroom soup, made from a mix of four or five kinds of dried mushrooms reconstituted in Madeira, along with fresh mushrooms and shallots, boiled in chicken stock, pureed and smoothed with whipped cream.  After that, as long as you use your imagination at the stove, they will think you a kitchen god and reward you appropriately.

It worked even before I owned oil stocks!

Energy Program on CNBC Thursday 8:00 P.M. Eastern time:  

Survival Guide:  Addicted to Oil

The message is going mainstream. Sally Quinn in Newsweek writes:
the oil story is pretty simple. The world is swilling petroleum faster than new fields are being discovered. For now, enough is still being pumped to meet the growth in demand--but just barely. The United States can drain Alaska dry and dot the ocean with oil rigs, but we can't drill our way out of this global hole. Production is declining in most of the countries outside the OPEC cartel, even with new sources such as Canadian tar sands. At some point--perhaps in the next few years--OPEC will also be pumping at diminishing rates. "There may be a limit to supply," U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told an international forum last month. "There is a perception of concern about what's going to happen in the future."
Sums it up nicely. A meme must be repeated many times to be effective. It took a bunch of mainstream articles to get people talking - for better or worse - about ethanol.
"It took a bunch of mainstream articles to get people talking - for better or worse - about ethanol."

I call BS on this.  It took an opportunitity for politically well connected big agribusiness to make huge amounts of money to produce the propaganda, even when the actual scientific facts of the current process are poor.

ADM's ethanol plants don't burn ethanol, they burn coal.  They are greenhouse polluters attempting to "Greenwash" themselves while pickpocketing the Treasury.

A meme must be repeated many times to be effective.

Yup, the old W W W meme

... We Waz Warned

The problem that you are going to run into is that "elaboration" of the Peak Oil concept requires a lot of time and effort in regards to independant research.  Many of the conversations on this page are fairly advanced; there is a community of experts here that are equipped to engage in high-level, specialized discussions that are not very accessible to the average uninitiated reader.

Most of us who continue to lurk here have found that the Oil Drum requires a little extra "homework".  I personally have spent hours upon hours researching the basics of chemistry, electricity and economics, and this is all on top of a pre-existing formal education in political science and international studies.  

In other words, I fit the "demographic" of people already disposed to being interested in Peak Oil.  I don't mind delving into the scientific details, or devoting large amounts of time and energy to the topic.

When you mention the peripheral route, I think you fail to mention the power of suggestion, or the allure of argument ad nauseum.  The blurbs and soundbites of the mainstream media or government press releases ARE INTELLIGENTLY DESIGNED.  Although they offer little to persuade their audience via the central route, they are deadly effective in ensuring that their message has a pervading impact.  

Personally, I feel that a thorough understanding of this must come from the Cognitive Scientific perspective, in which psychology is just one aspect.  Game theory, or especially linguistics (specifically Chomsky's voluminous efforts on the topic of propaganda) are all topics that the "agenda setters" are concerned with, so if we intend to fight them on their own turf, we need to concern ourselves with these studies as well.

Ultimately, you need to fight fire with fire.  While well-constructed, scientifically valid arguments may be the MO of people on this board, they stand no chance against the modern PR machines of corporations and governments  that can afford to spend millions on research and demographics, looking for the perfect phrase to create the perfect spin.  In essence, getting your point across to the MASSES requires exploiting the loopholes of human cognition, and not appealing to the higher functions of thought......

Thank you for an excellent post, Dr. Goose.

While well-constructed, scientifically valid arguments may be the MO of people on this board, they stand no chance against the modern PR machines of corporations and governments  that can afford to spend millions on research and demographics, looking for the perfect phrase to create the perfect spin.  

I think you're dead right on this.  Mainstream America won't be convinced by charts and graphs.  Mainstream America can't read charts and graphs.  

This is not the realm of logic.  This is the realm of Madison Ave., or political spinmeisters like George Lakoff.  

Michael Moore is a peak oiler.  Maybe he'll do a movie on it some day.

I put this out there a couple of days ago, it's more relevant here

have you ever read this book
it's a real eye opener
and here's an interesting page that starts to show how hard aramco et. al. will work to sell the status quo

Maybe he'll do a movie on it some day.
Notice that no one was listening to Al Gore until he employed the power of Hollywood to get the sheeple to notice him.

The Movie is the Message.
That is the Inconvinient Truth of our times.

Herbert Blumer, Soc 101, Sept. 1956:

"I have studied some 3,000 articles on attitudes. In them I have found nothing to help explain social change or collective behavior."


The study of attitudes is empty.

Better to study Blumer, Shibutani and others in that tradition, maybe Neil Smelser, too.

Just my opinion;-)

RE:  Herbert Blumer, Soc 101, Sept. 1956:
"I have studied some 3,000 articles on attitudes. In them I have found nothing to help explain social change or collective behavior."

There are more recent efforts to understand collective behavior such as polarization of opinion in social groups.  For example, the recent article on a possible oil price bubble linked references to Didier Sornette's work including Self-fulfilling Ising Model of Financial Markets.  Another recent attempt to reflect social imitation in financial market behavior is in An overreaction implementation of the coherent market hypothesis and option pricing.  The Ising model description of polarization of opinion in social groups was first proposed by the German physicist Wolfgang Weidlich whose work is briefly described in a review of his bookSociodynamics: a Systematic Approach to Mathematical Modelling in the Social Sciences.

Yes, there is some good recent stuff out there.

The three people I named, however, are giants of sociology.

I'm biased, but I prefer giants to pygmies;-)

So you want to convince the public?

If you look to the past for great shifts in public beliefs and behaviour patterns, you will find a common theme. One example involves the sixties.

Several factors, I believe underlie the attitudinal changes that mark most people's memories of that turbulent time. First, and foremost is the element of social belonging. Most people are drawn to political and religious ideas not because they believe that there is an invisible sky being or that Joe Blow will make their political dreams come true, but because they believe they will find friends within this particular group. For many, those initial exposures come through family and manage to stay with them for a lifetime, never being significantly challenged. For others, the family is not the source of happiness, and they create their own vision of the world and offer it to others: they gather allies to themselves.

You can see this process in action in the sixties as a series of youthful rebellions from the late forties, through the fifties, to the early sixties spurred on by copycat emulation. As it happened, the emulation of the sixties revolved around social and political issues. For most of the young people who became engaged in the free speech movement, the hippie movement, the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, this joining process was motivated not by higher political and social ideas but by their need to fit in, the need to belong. Now, this is not to say that once they assimilated they did not actually believe in their particular movement, on the contrary they made great, often dedicated, foot soldiers. (By the way, this balkanization of the political momentum has caused the paralyzed Democratic party.) Every one of those young adherents felt their cause deserved attention above all others and that thinking carries on today. And it is not limited to the Democratic party. Think of all the flavors of what is essentially the same religion. People kill each other over these minor differences, so effective is this need to belong to a tribe.

Now, the sixties is a special case in that the media actually helped spread this movement. They came to understand the purchasing power of these youth and began to target them with programming and commercials that reinforced their ideology. This is what is happening today with the Republican party and its right wing noise machine, except that it is a bit more ideological in content.

So, how does this relate to getting out the story of peak oil? Well, the problem is that most people already belong to a tribe known as the fat ass, consume like there is no tomorrow tribe -- the Hummer Tribe. This is a really fun tribe. It goes to the beach in its Hummer towing a skidoo, commutes to a fabulous job making war machinery, and then gets totally hammered at the local dive while hitting on the women members of this tribe. It is hard to get people to leave their tribes, especially the fun tribes. That is why it is so easy for "terrorists" to recruit. They are recruiting from tribes that are suffering from the predations of the Hummer tribe. Their tribe spends most of its time looking for work, for food, for meaning. They are hungry, repressed, and tired. Their clothing does not match the ads that loom out at them and they are jealous. That is what advertising is all about. It makes you want to be part of that tribe. But as hard as they try to become a member of the fun Hummer tribe, they cannot. Why? Because the Hummer tribe cannot exist without the poor.

So, you can talk to a Hummer tribe member and tell him all the facts and that member will either reject you outright for any number of specious reasons, or they will nod and perhaps even agree, but in the end they will shake your hand, climb back up into that Hummer and drive twenty miles to their McMansion and go to blissful sleep. The next day, they may have a passing thought about the information you imparted, but it will fade.

What will ultimately change their behaviour will be outside inexorable physical forces. They lose their job. They cannot afford gas for the Hummer. They lose their house. Their money becomes worthless. The government starts a nationwide draft for both the army and a corp of "volunteers' who will be called upon to build whatever the government deems it needs in the "long emergency." Then, I believe that that member of the Hummer tribe will look around, remember what you said and then blame all the chaos around him on the terrorists.

Perhaps you are on to something there.  I happen to be in my mid-20s, which means that I'm in debt: mortgage, student loans, car loan.  When I talk to other mid-20 year old people, they have no problem grasping peak oil.  They have no problem understanding that there is a finite amount of oil in the ground, and that eventually the Hummer tribe's party will end.  It isn't their party.  They're too in debt to party.  Some of them even can grasp the urgent nature of the problem.  

Even if they understand the nature of the problem perfectly, including the urgency of the situation, you may see absolutely no change in behavior on their part.  You see, us young'uns don't trust our government to do anything to upset the lives of the members of the AARP, so there is not much point in lobbying.  We don't see much point in public protests over peak oil.  Protests were something that our parents did, and we saw how little long-term result was achieved.  Furthermore, we perceive people older than ourselves as set in their ways.  Why should we bother to ask the vast majority of the population older than ourselves to change when we're pretty sure that they won't?  Furthermore, we're pretty sure that money talks, and we don't have any, so our ability to change the behavior of members of our community is small.  With Jevon's Paradox and the Tragedy of the Commons at play, there is not much point in reducing one's ecological footprint if nobody else will.  And for the last straw, did I mention we're all in debt to our eyeballs?  We're too busy working, another day older, another day deeper in debt to the big box store.  What, exactly, did you expect us young'uns to be doing differently than we are already doing?

If you want to change the behavior of the young'uns, first you must change their perceptions that they have nothing to offer, and that they can not make a difference in the wider world.  You must also offer hope.  Show us something worth fighting for.  Show us something worth living and dying for, and we might let you join our tribe.  Only when we have ownership can we make a difference and have hope.

I love that it is incumbent upon some "other" to provide a vision of something worth fighting for. Even if you request that come from someone who may or may not be your age, why are you even asking?

The average American, old or young, belongs to the Hummer tribe, or at least believes that he or she will eventually belong. They already either have it "all," or they expect that they will get their share.

Since this thing worth fighting for has already been defined as the Hummer lifestyle, anything I offer will be seen as inferior.

As far as changing the minds of the "young'uns," they are already tribe members of the Hummer crew, just like the "old'uns." The perception that "young'uns" are somehow different from "old'uns" is a media created consumerist manipulation.

Because all humans are susceptible to the tribal mentality, each tribe that decides to exclude the physical facts due to their membership in a particular tribe is only doing what every tribe member in every tribe would do.

It takes a flexibility in thinking processes to be able to take in new information and compare it to reality and then discard the tribal memes.

For instance, who is it that goes to war? The "young'uns." Why? Because the have the belief that they will not be the one who dies, that they are implicitly immortal. If any person, young or old, truly understood in their hearts that their chances of mortality rise enormously beyond background deathrates, there would be no war. We have had millenia upon millenia of war and yet people continue to fight. Why? Inflexible thinking processes.

Everyone loves the abstract ideas like democracy, freedom, and hope. They are warm and fuzzy. MMMMMM   mmmmmmm MMM. So soft, so cuddly. Who wouldn't want to jump up and do the right thing for a big handful of freedom or hope or democracy. But abstract ideas do not sate the lizard brain. When you are on the ground in the middle of a fire fight, you can give two shits about abstractions. All you care about is the pucker factor. And here is where the rubber hits the road.

Suppose I told a bunch of "young'uns" and "old'uns" and maybe some "between'uns" that if they believe in peak oil they will get everlasting happiness forever!!

Would they suddenly join the cause?

How about if I promised them no more Hummers or a lower caloric intake, or the possibility of working in the fields for the rest of their lives? Would they join the cause?

How about free downloads for life? Or all the denture cream you can eat?
Would that do it?

No. I have no VISION. That is a corporate thing cooked up to replace cost of living increases and disappearing pensions. It is an abstraction.

All I have are the physics, the scientific studies, the best minds and the likely outcomes--none of which are cast in stone.

Don't join my tribe or anyone else's tribe. The last thing we need it the continuation of the joiner culture. Don't join the peak oil discussion because you want to be one of Matt's dictators, or one of the Hummer people, or anything else. Don't join just to make some nifty keen friends. Use your mind. Analyze the information. Think.

Oil depletion will take care of itself. The dieoff will take care of itself. Nature is quite capable of flushing the system all by itself.

All the worries about debt, and corporate jobs, and irrational concerns about whether one is old or young will float away on nature's upcoming douche.

who is it that goes to war? The "young'uns." Why? Because the have the belief that they will not be the one who dies, that they are implicitly immortal. If any person, young or old, truly understood in their hearts that their chances of mortality rise enormously beyond background deathrates, there would be no war.

There would still be war, to the young outsider tribal membership is more important than the increased but perceived as modest chance of death.

Powerful writing. I read your comment through several times. Thanks.

First, and foremost is the element of social belonging. Most people are drawn to political and religious ideas not because they believe that there is an invisible sky being or that Joe Blow will make their political dreams come true, but because they believe they will find friends within this particular group.

Amen bro
Only cowards "cut and run" from the herd.
Heroes "stay the course".
Heroes make the "ultimate sacrifice".
It's us versus them.
Pick your side.
Love it or leave it.
If you're not with us, then you're against us.
We are not going to let them push us around.
We are going to show 'em whose boss.

Welcome to my school yard.

MB, you're bright and most surely have something to offer. But it is up to you to figure out just what that is. No outside vision required.

As an aside, it seems to me that by buying into student loan and mortgage debt, you've sort of stumbled into the Hummer culture all on our own. Education and home ownership are two fundamental bricks in the foundation of Hummerdom--they help ensure that you'll consume vast resources to stay ahead on those things. Seems like you're as locked in as many 30-somethings, 40-somethings, etc (I'm guilty!). Think about it. Maybe when Peak Oil matures, and the world's economy founders and great hardship spreads, you'll be free enough from your current life to find the new "vision" that you're wired for, all for yourself.

Ah, perhaps I'm just being too Hollywood here...

Sometimes people need a leader. I vote for Matt. :o)

PM me and I'll tell you where to wire your assets so that they can be put to used creating a sustainable future.



I'll tell you where to wire your assets

I'll offer you a 50% return of your inital investment in 6 months!

Mother Bear,

In a separate open thread you may want to post some more specifics of your situation and solicit the board for general advice.

I suggessted a 24 year old recent grad do this a while back and she got some very good input. (This is the one who said, "I'm a city girl! please tell me I'm not going to have to shovel dirt over my #2!!!")



Actually, you should not shovel dirt over #2.

You should sun dry it and then use for fertilizer.

The Chinese have been doing this for at least 6,000 years.

Last time I looked, there were more Chinese than anybody else.

You've hit on some interesting points.

I'm also in my mid-20's and your right, plenty of younger people don't have trouble grasping the things we are facing as a society. I even had someone tell me about peak oil at work. Part of the reason for this, at least for me, is that this topic has been discussed since high school. I remember seeing a documentary called "the people bomb" in school, talking about overpopulation. Being from an engineering family I remember conversations about how the economy can't grow for ever and that we need to change to something not based on "growth". I also remember being told that the problem isn't that the world will run out of oil, its that before it does, it will be so expensive that burning it in cars would just be stupid.

The thing that concerns me is why I should expect "someone else" to lead change. Why not just take action because I want to. Maybe no one else will but at least I've changed the only person I can, me.
For example, I changed all the lights in one apartment I lived in to compact fluorescent lights. Some people asked why bother since there was no independent metering in the building. The province I lived in (Nova Scotia) is almost completely powered by coal, so saving energy will help the environment. Most people I talk to sadly see shared power in a building as a good reason to use as much as they can. That part of Jevon's Paradox everyone seems to understand. "If I don't use it, someone else will anyway, so why should I use less?" That seems to be self-reinforcing.
I've moved to Toronto now, and have even given up my car (a reasonably new GMC Sonoma). Public transit here isn't too bad and I made sure to live close to the subway system. Sometimes I miss having a car, but less and less as time goes on. What I have noticed is how massive a sinkhole for money a car is. I know some people with McJobs that earn less then the monthly operating cost of the Sonoma when I had it.
I do benefit by not having a car. I'm not out crying about "the high price of gas" or demanding the government "take action", especially against "the greedy oil companies". I can go to a quality grocer for food and live in a nice neighborhood in the city with 24 hour transit access. I'm walking more and saving money.
When the media asks what people are doing about high gas prices they say "I just have to cut back on the food budget and go to the cheap grocer to keep the mini van going". I'm always amazed how the food budget seems to be the first most people cut.

I don't think the "AARP" crowd has as big an impact in Canada. Here everyone expects something for nothing, not just old people, and they want the government to pay for it.

If enough people are enlightened enough to change themselves, others will eventually follow. Of course, if you're frustrated no one has yet, just get a lawn chair and wait outside the local gas station during hurricane season. There's a certain amount of amusement in watching people line up for gas, leaving their car idling and then either getting in fistfights over their place in the cue or freaking out over speed of service. Toss in a few gas-and-dash sprinters and you have a front row seat to a preview of the long emergency.

On the Psychology of Peak Oil  - Peak Communicating

Over the past several months I've had the opportunity to make a few brief presentations about Peak Oil.  As a member of the planning committee for the recent North Bay Energy Vulnerability Summit - please refer to my report posted on the Energy Bulletin (, I've been  privileged to speak in front of local city and county officials in the hope that they would attend our event.  Although the turn out was somewhat less then initially anticipated, we none-the-less felt the event was very successful.  

However, I'm left with mixed feelings.  Since I did a lot of the initial outreach, I guess I took it a little personally that so few local leaders actually showed  up  

Recent frustrating attempts to communicate with friends about peak oil have also left me wondering about  our communication and presentation skills.  This has also led to my questioning the responses of the listeners.  In particularly, to what extent is their response a "projection" based on their own personal dynamics? (listener bias).   To what extent am I, as the presenter, unconsciously responsible for contributing to the difficulty.  

On Understanding
According to interpretation theory, to the extent that authentic understanding is possible, the presenter must first examine and then bracket out his/her own hidden biases, assumptions, and motivations.  Presenters must also look at their own emotional context.  

The "message" can be easily distorted or corrupted by the messenger unless great care is taken to separate out ones prejudices and emotional baggage beforehand.    This process is never complete, there is always more "stuff" to look at.   However, the better we're able to confront these biases  the less likely we will "contaminate" the presentation.   To the extent that we are able to bracket out our pre-existing biases, motivations and emotions from the presentation the more likely the response to the content is a projection of the listener.   Authentic understanding occurs when both the listener and presenter each try to bracket their hidden biases, etc. and a fusion of horizons begins to take place.

Presenter Bias/Context
There is some part of my psyche that's drawn to doom.  My interest in Peak Oil however is not just a convenient theory that fits nicely with my personal demons?  Did I just happen to run into a interesting theory (the next big crisis) that fits my neurotic style?  Do the Peak Oil "experts" ask themselves these same questions?  

Why can't we get more people to believe what seems so obvious to a a growing number of us?  We have legitimate, valid concerns and their truth lies beyond the emotional dysfunction of the messengers.  

Local Peak Oil Discourse
After 9/11 as a nation we seemed to become emotionally consumed by fear and anger  (revenge?).   As I started to get more interested in Peak Oil,  I mostly kept to myself about it.  No one wanted to hear it.  Eventually, I started to channel my concern into action.  I begun talking with friends less familiar with the subject (I'm a quick study and was able to master the basics of the material fairly quickly).  Yet I still wasn't always able to get my message across.

As an active member of my community, I've also been privileged to occasionally be spokesperson about  Peak Oil.  I don't seem to have any difficulty communicating the "facts" as I know them.  The facts seemed to speak for themselves.   The information seemed trustworthy, reasonable, and persuasive.  I thought my delivery fairly balanced and not overly emotional.  Yet despite the dire implications, my mobilization efforts have so far ranged anywhere from lame to futile.  So what the problem?

Locally, I've found lots of really smart people - committed, involved, some ready to come to blows over whether hybrid cars are a good or evil - which bio-fuels are ultimately helpful or harmful?  I'm no tech wizard and don`t presume to have the answers here but the level of discourse was disturbing  (sometimes childish).  

It seemed obvious to me that our first priority should be to mobilize more people.

Unfortunately, the response I often got was  "we'll discuss this at next months meeting - put it on the agenda"  

I argued passionately for a different agenda - pressed folks about the sense of urgency - my experts where saying peak oil was just three to five years away - perhaps sooner.

I understand that people don't like to hear bad news but I care enough to speak up when the situation demands it.   I've been pretty concerned about the Peak Oil issue for some time.  Admittedly, I'm a little emotional on the topic and occasionally a bit gloomy.  

I've also been listening to pop psychologists and guru's tell me not to take life too seriously for a long time now - guess I haven't been paying attention.  "Lighten up,  it's only life!"

Toward Authentic Understanding
I know a fair amount about myself and enough about how crazy a human mind can get to realize that authentic understanding requires tremendous effort.  So much of what we experience is an unconscious projection.  Things are usually not what they seem - ulterior motives, hidden agendas, unconscious neurotics styles and sometimes serious pathology play out before our eyes.  

It's important that we learn to listen without judgment and learn to communicate in more open and supportive ways.  We also need to examine ourselves a bit more, discover our deeper motivations, uncover our unconscious defenses and develop the emotional maturity and intellectual integrity demanded by our situation.  I'm not real confident that this will happen in time to mitigate the problems we face yet this seems essential to our ability to navigate the transition.

Yet the facts about Peak Oil seem to cry out for immediate action.  Why has the response been so disappointing?  Reasonable, sincere people have been warning us for years now about a number of serious issues.  Collectively, we should have been listening and begun mitigation efforts sooner.  

Why isn't a well crafted, thoughtful, reasonable presentation enough to convince people to take action?

Peak Grieving
To more fully understand  we must also look at the non-rational forces at play.  Those that both help and So, why isn't a well crafted, thoughtful, reasonable presentation enough to convince people to take action?
hinder us should not be quickly dismissed or their power underestimated.

Fear, ignorance and our deeply held beliefs about the world are all difficult obstacles to overcome    
Deep insight  is required (the willingness to suspend our assumptions and at least consider the possibility that we indeed might be projecting biases and/or in a state of denial about things).

One of the non-rational forces that hinders us is our collective inability to grieve.  Or perhaps, stated differently, we're a culture locked in a stage of grief known as denial.  

How does a species grieve the loss of its progeny, it's future?   While I'm not a parent, my guess is this might be similar to the experience of loosing a child - a horrible thing to think about and exactly why we don't - few are willing to go there.   I'm suggesting that the mere contemplation of such an event is so emotionally overwhelming that our innate defense mechanisms refuse to allow us to experience it emotionally.   It's too painful to even consider - so we don't, despite dire warnings from reasonable and respected experts.  Severe dramatic global catastrophe is not only emotionally numbing but the socio-economic and cultural transformation required to prevent disaster also inhibits the necessary behavioral changes required to avert it.  

Cultural transformation is only possible once we begin to honestly recognize how deeply sad and scary the future looks.  The more we ignore that future the worse it will get.  Unfortunately, we must first overcome our denial, at least some degree of it.   How do we "bracket out" our denial?

As I come to terms with my own grief about the future, experiencing its different stages, I'm starting to better recognize how we each react differently, at different times, to the reality of looming crisis.

Collective Grief
From the perspective of a psychologist, I've come to view much of our collective response to current events as analogous to grieving.  Our reactions can be viewed in that context.  Grieving involves well documented "stages" (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) which can occur at different times, not always sequentially.  We might even "re-experience" a stage and/or experience several at the same time.

Deep despair work - grieving for a dying planet and/or  the end of civilization as we know it might take some time.  Time is, unfortunately, not on our side.  Denial is one of the more common stages where people can often become "delayed."  

Denial can also be viewed as "healthy" response to a difficult situation or event  - to an extent,  a certain degree of denial serves as an important defense mechanism necessary to our daily survival.   However, it`s unconscious effects may be difficult for us to recognize and it`s power easily underestimated.  This fact more then any other causes me to worry.  I often loose confidence in our collective ability to turn the ship around in time. As yet, no one I know has figured out how to expedite the process of grieving and/or overcome our collective denial.

Willingness to embrace such heavy pain - to allow oneself to grieve requires a great deal of courage.
It may also require the ability to suspend our assumptions and "beliefs" long enough to entertain the possibility that a worst case scenario is entirely possible.  

We might need to do some  "as if" playing and pretending  - serious playing in which we are existentially touched and emotionally effected by this experience  (allowing ourselves to experience what it would be like, to imagine a horrific future, to consider it a realistic possibility).   I recommend doing this not to encourage or support that reality but to recognize the more shadowy aspects of being and honor ourselves enough not to suppress any thoughts.

I believe that you give power to that which you deny and are most afraid of - that it ultimately takes more energy to suppress something painful (we pay a heavy price by avoiding painful truth).   Sometimes the
only way out is through.  

We must also somehow not get too pre-occupied or overly identified with this darker stuff  lest we be paralyzed by despair.   Ultimately we want to affirm and visualize the brightest future we're capable of imaging.  Warning folks about potential danger is not mutually exclusive of this.          

Authentic grieving requires that we endure an experience which seems unbearable - so incredible, unchangeable and final.  The process takes as long as it takes - sometimes years, perhaps an entire lifetime. My point here is we need to figure out how to "midwife the transition" (re-localizing away from fossil fuels in an eco-friendly manner) while supporting, nurturing, respecting, and honoring each other through this unprecedented time. Our collective future on this little planet might require an equally profound spiritual and emotional transformation along with profound lifestyle changes. Therefore, we might want to cut each other a little slack, not expect perfection and be more ready to forgive that imperfection in ourselves and others.  

Hope and Denial
Denial reflects a complex process when used in a psychological context.   Our ordinary "self"  - our normal  human consciousness reflects many variables and dynamic forces.  

For many people who are just starting to understand our current global predicament all the dire predictions must seem a bit overwhelming, frightening and hopeless.  Therefore its too emotionally overwhelming  for most folks to seriously consider the possibility of a worse case scenario actually occurring.   Have compassion for those who aren't able to take in all the ramifications of your message.  However urgency requires us to forge ahead - move on with your truth to a more receptive audience.  

There may be some "truth" out there but it might be dismissed as another crack pot, doomsday conspiracy theory or its reality accepted but not the conclusion or remedy ("technology will save us" - a rationalization, another stage of grieving).

Telling people in denial that they're in denial doesn't cut it - it's like confronting a paranoid patient about his delusion - the delusion is not rational. (that's why, to our rational minds, the delusions seem "crazy").  

Sharing hopelessness authentically with integrity ("from the heart") will not comfort most folks. You're just increasing their anxiety levels to the point where psychological defense mechanisms might prevent them from considering of any serious threat to their cognitive harmony.  

By definition, someone who is in denial is not consciously aware of the experience (they will generally refuse to consider that possibility if confronted).  Awakening from our collective and individual denial tends to be a gradual process.  Intellectual honesty, personal integrity and a courageous and dedicated pursuit of truth are prerequisites.  

Unfortunately, an actual traumatic event can also serve as a wake up call (similar to waking suddenly from a vivid "nightmare") - this type of "shock to the system" is a much less desirable way of breaking through someone's defense mechanisms.  Trauma is not a cure.  It leaves its victims more emotionally crippled then their prior state of denial.  Hoping for a severe enough event to occur so that a majority of people wake up from their collective denial in time is sadomasochistic.   If Katrina didn't sound a loud enough alarm bell one wonders (and dreads) what it might take?  

To some extent we're all in denial,  how could we be otherwise?  For many people, the threats to our species are so great that they're unable to permit themselves to be emotionally effected by it.  This deep level of denial resembles what is clinically known as a dissociative disorder in which the avoidance of a traumatic event leads to individuals literally creating and maintaining their own reality.  If we were able to move beyond the veil of cognitive dissonance  (for we have no reference for the scope and scale of the crisis unfolding) we would be quickly overwhelmed.

Natures feedback mechanisms are often too subtle for us to notice.  Denial along with day to day distractions and rationalizations help to keep us "deaf, dumb and blind."  Unless we turn down the sound, and crank up the hearing aide we may not hear the alarms sounding.    

The way I dealt with my grief was to let go of hope.  This does not mean I gave in to hopelessness and despair, rather this reflects a deeper spiritual insight.  For me it's about surrender, faith and humility and letting go of outcomes.  These "insights" reflect my understanding and experience of the dynamic openness of Being.    

This led to some degree of acceptance.  Of course I'd let go of hope - letting  go of outcomes helps me accept whatever comes my way.  Yet I still feel compassion for this "realm of reality" in which we dwell - I still intend to persevere, survive and help mobilize my community and region!  

Whether we survive as a species or not (no guarantees) there's no doubt that the earth will go on, with or without us.  

Offer your truth with humility and integrity, let go of outcomes and lighten up - it's only life. Don't expect the information you share quickly "convince" others.    At best you may be able to plant a few seeds.   Qualify remarks by first discussing theories about denial and listener bias - share some of your own biases as presenter.  



This is going to sound like I'm a bragadocious a-hole but here goes. I have the following:

  1. the best education in persuasion money can buy (U.C. Hastings College of the Law)

  2. one of the top peak oil sites on the interent that has been cited by Roscoe Bartlett, Richard Rainwater, etc. .

  3. a relatively social and outgoing personality. (As an example, I worked as a tour guide all through college. You can't do that type of thing unless you're generally outgoing and very good with the public.)

And guess what? I have never and I mean NEVER had any success at public peak oil evangelism. At the risk of sounding bragadocious, if somebody with numbers 1-3 listed above can't get it done, who can?

I think trying to convince others who are't already "in the club" is probably one of the least productive use(s) of your time possible. There is virtually no ROI of any kind on such efforts so far as I've been able to ascertain, other than being able to report back to the peak oil club that you attempted to convince others. That might provide you with some social status ROI here within the peak oil club but my guess is achieving that wasn't your goal when you went out to talk to people about this.

Remember, in the end you are essentially telling everybody some permutation of the following:

  1. You're going to have a lot less buying power in the future.

  2. If we want to get through this, men are going to have to be willing to voluntarily lower their own buying power

  3. Women are going to have to start being attracted to men with less, not more, buying power. (buying power = access to energy)

Is it any wonder most reports of people's efforts at outreach sound almost identical to yours: "I tried my best to do outreach, had all my facts and charts, did everything the best I could yet still did not achieve much of a ROI."



Another example of what the alpha speaks of.

FITTS I think most Americans know that something stinks, but here's the challenge. Remember the red button story?

In summer 2000 I was at the Spiritual Frontiers Foundation International, giving a speech entitled "How the Money Works in Organised Crime" about narcotics trafficking, etc. etc. The Department of Justice says that we -- Americans -- launder $500 billion to a trillion dollars a year. I asked the audience, "What would happen if America stopped being the world wide leader in global money laundering?" A hundred people (who go into the woods for three days once a year to help work on evolving our society spiritually) said that the stock market would go down & we would have trouble financing the government deficit & so our taxes would have to go up or our government checks might stop, because the $500 billion to a trillion would go to Switzerland and Singapore instead of here.

"Okay," I said, "imagine a big red button up here on the lectern. If you push this button, you can stop all hard narcotics trafficking in your neighbourhood, your city, town, county, state & your country tomorrow. Who'll push the button?" Out of 100 people dedicated to evolving our society spiritually, guess how many would push the button? One!

I asked the other 99, "Why would you not push the button?"

They said, "We don't want our mutual funds to go down, & we don't want our government checks to stop, & we don't want our taxes to go up." Right then the CIA & Department of Justice had full "democratic" authority & popular support to facilitate narcotics trafficking.

Unlikely that I can advance the discussion in terms of human psychology. However, I thought it would be interesting/helpful to decribe my own experiences in discussing current energy issues within the investment community. I am a portfolio manger of an energy sector fund that we started in 2000 when we became convinced that the fundamentals of supply (OPEC and worldwide difficulty in supply increases) and demand (unabted growth in demand from developing counties) were real. In this strategy, we have partnered with one of the world's leading energy analysts and PO advocate.

Our investment record over this period has been excellent. We have likely made at least 50 presentations to individual investors, pension and retirement systems, foundations, endowments and their respective investment consultants. In most cases, our suggetsion that the fundamentals of energy (oil) supply and demnad are likely to have significant influence on public markets have been routinely dismissed. Advancing the idea of PO awareness (regardless of our beliefs) has been met with unbelievable resistance and a complete unwillingness to consider, much less accept teh concept. This seems even more interesting as we do not attempt to convince the investment community that PO is upon us. We instead merely discuss the idea and its possibilty as a potential impact on all investments.

I could go on attepting to detail the litany of responses challenging the energy supply/demand thesis. However, they can genrally be classified into the following:

  1. Current fundamentals do not indicate anything about actual supply and demand and prices are simply a reflection of Big Oil and OPEC's continued "gouging", i.e. .there is no issue about oil supply.

  2. Current fundamentals are sound, but energy is cyclical and as prices go up, we will find and produce more, leading to a glut - early 80s all over again. (We have been battling the prediction that oil will be <$30/bbbl for 4 years now.)

  3. The idea of PO is "doomsday" theory and since all doomsday predictions have so far (in thier lifetimes) not come true, none can ever be true.

  4. A corollary to the doomsday argument is that we are smart enough to solve any problem even if it is peak oil production - technology will save us. (I must insert a particular example here: one investment consultant, when hearing our discussion about the idea of peak oil asked if we knew who Andy Granatelli is. According to this consultant, Andy won the Indy 500 with a turbine engine that was just as fast but much more fuel efficient. He suggested that oil will never be a problem because we will all soon be using turbine engines for transportation.)

  5. The final one is more of a catch all - because the idea of PO or higher and higher energy costs are unpleasant and folks simply don't want to hear much less talk about it. There is an amazing reluctance to engage in any meaningful discussion/debate about PO.

I also think part of the problem is a combination of energy ignorance coupled with a beleif of energy sophistication and understanding - a deadly combination. Most people simply cannot fathom the effect of the ecomonic development of a population in excess of 2 billion people. Forget a discussion of decline rates and Hubbert's curve. At the same time, because we all put gas in our cars, we all think we know a little something about oil.

Amazingly, these issues are not limited to our experiences. We remain fascinated that the investment community as a whole appears to reject energy reailty. Yes energy stocks have been outperformers for the last few years. However, at the end of the first quarter of 2006, energy stocks represented 9.5% of the S&P 500. At teh same time, institutional investors maintianed only a 6.6% allocation to the energy sector.  

Sometimes, I ask this question: Is there a set of facts that, if true, would cause you to conculde that PO was a real possibity that might pose significant investment ramifications? The answer is often: No.

. attempt thteh  this bsic  n energy suu  aruWith only      

This stuns me, even though it shouldn't. The archetype of person you're talking to likes to fancy themselves "in control" of their destiny. This information reveals how much that is NOT the case.

Ironically, if they would listen to you a bit more they'd actually be able to exert a bit more control over their destiny via their investments.



Investors are optimists by nature. The idea of PO and the possibility of a continuous depression it may lead to is too hard to contemplate for an optimistic type of person.

But at the same time some or most of the investors are very cool-headed and rational players. Allow me to speculate a little bit and suggest that for some of them the denial reaction has been a well-trained response, aimed to lead competitors (other investors) in the wrong direction. I am sure at the back of their minds some or most of them recorded the investment opportunity which going counter to the herd will present, when the proper time comes. I believe you will start receiving a lot more calls in future.

3. The idea of PO is "doomsday" theory and since all doomsday predictions have so far (in their lifetimes [and to the best of their current recollections]) not come true, none can ever be true.

Big Picture Taker,

Perhaps it is prudent to refer your friends to the Goodraven psychologist (see a couple of notches up above this post) for some consultation?

Did it ever occur to them that, if a doomsday prediction had come true, they would not be sitting there having these ridiculous thoughts?

How many good citizens of Pompei are sitting in at these "fundamentalist" investment meetings and relishing in the same delusions of invulnerability?


By way of follow up to my earlier post, I thought I would pass along the energy outlook being professed by one of Wall Street's respected investment research providers. At least with regard to financial markets, this is what is out there. For starters, I wonder if they are familiar with the concept of a decline rate.

I relaize I am tossing red meat to the pack of hungry lions, but the debate must be advanced.

Jul 11
2006 1 of 3

There continues to be a flow of questions and concerns about Saudi Arabia's oil production capacity and whether its output has indeed peaked. Many journalists, analysts and bankers have hawked this assertion for the better part
of 2 years. We continue to be on the opposite side of the argument and, in fact, detail projects on the following page (which we originally published April 11th) that collectively raise the Kingdom's capacity by about 40%. As a separate note, the argument made about "peak oil' has been extended into the non-OPEC supply chain which stands sharply in contrast to our forecast for 2006 and, of course, 2007 (we see non-OPEC supply growing by 1.6-1.9 mm
b/d net for next year).

Saudi Arabia's Total Oil Production

Crude plus all liquids including share of Neutral Zone output
Jan-94 Jan-96 Jan-98 Jan-00 Jan-02 Jan-04 Jan-06

Manifa is a 40-50 billion barrel
field. If developed, initial output will
be 1.0-1.5 million b/d of Saudi
Heavy crude.

Zuluf is a field lying in about 80 feet of water with approximately 10 billion barrels. It currently produces
400,000-450,000 b/d of Arab Medium. Plans are being
considered to add another 200,000-300,000 b/d.

Nuayim in central Arabia may be developed at an initial flow rate of 100,000 b/d as early as 2009 with another 50,000 to 100,000 coming on soon after that.

Shaybah began producing 500,000 b/d of Arab Extra Light
crude in 1998. Production will be expanded by another 250,000 b/d in 2008 and there are discussions about adding another 250,000 b/d after that.

These three fields constitute the Khursaniyah project due to bring on 500,000 b/d initially in 2007.

Haradh came on stream in April 2006 at 300,000 b/d of Saudi Light crude oil.

Khurais comes on stream in 2009 at an initial rate of 1.2 million b/d of Saudi Light crude oil.

One good solid healthy reason for denial is that it keeps you from worrying about insoluble problems.  Peak Oil is one such problem, and that may be why it's so hard to get people to open up to the idea.  A well-crafted, rational presentation simply makes it abundantly clear that there is no reasonable expectation of a solution.  The problem is too big, too complex, too far advanced and too deeply rooted in fundamental human psychology.

This is the conclusion I am left with after finishing the first draft of exactly such a reasoned, comprehensive presentation.  The fact that there simply is no way out for the majority of our species (and many others) is rendered inescapable.

Faced with this, people have one of two reactions.  They may say, "Things this catastrophic just don't occur in real life.  You must be fundamentally mistaken, so I don't need to worry about it."  Or they may say, "I get it, but the consequences are too horrible to contemplate, and I can't fix it anyway, so I'm simply not going to think about it."

A close acquaintance who "got it" several years ago recently told me that his understanding of the scale of the problem and the lack of a realistic solution space has ruined his life.  Not being able to stop thinking about a problem with no solution can be a horrible way to spend your days.

GliderGuider, you hit the nail on the head. Compared to the consequences of Peak Oil, all other events in human history shrink to insignificance. It is a truth too terrible to bear. So we who know try not to think about it and those who do not know will not even listen to our warnings.

But a few who do know find comfort in the silly, very mistaken belief, that they can fix things. Ignorance is therefore bliss even when you are aware of the problem.

Actually, most people have one of these two reactions: technology will fix it, or God will fix it.  Most mainstream Christians in the United States have a problem believing that God's plan for their life involves death of 9 out of 10 people in their community by starvation or exposure within their lifetime.  No... they believe that their sins will be visited on their children, but not on them.  Is hope a version of denial?
Actually, I think global warming is way more depressing than Peak Oil.  In any event, however, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. A whole lotta knowledge can even be more dangerous as it can, indeed, come close to ruining your life. And we expect to be able to sell people a concept that could very possibly ruin their lives?  

This is stuff is just way too depressing for most people. As well as it should be.  I think, however, there are a ton of solutions to peak oil. Unfortunately, most of them will also lead to more greenhouse gases. The Chinese have one "solution" in the form of coal to liquids. This, of course, will lead to other problems which will require additional solutions.

There doesn't seem to be a way outta here, as Bob Dylan would say.


I can relate to this strongly. In many ways my life has been changed by PO knowledge, and not always for the better. In regards to planning my future, I'm not sure what a rational decision is anymore. Ouch.

I always think twice before I try to discuss PO with anyone who's not already understanding of the situation. It doesn't make me feel all that good about myself if I'm bringing someone else down in such a profound way...


You are 100% on the money here. Knowing the truth is greatly overrated. If fact, if there is a such thing as future/past lives, I'm telling my future self, "don't bother asking questions."

My theory is that anybody who comes to grips with ALL the facts typically does what Jay did. Once he saw there was no way out, he retired from telling people.

I feel as Jay does and am mostly trying to figure out how to leverage my notoreity to finance my own preparations, albeit it in a way that is line with the "tribal norms" of places such as TOD, the LATOC readership, etc (Thus far I've started a small solar equip outlet)

As far as your friend's emotional state and to anybody reading this who feels the same way: your brain is an incredibly flexible thing. If you simply step away from all your PO materials your brian will eventually (4-12 weeks) begin to rewire itself so that you largely forget about these matters. You won't forget the facts themselves but the emotions that come with them will begin to fade. They won't totally fade but it will be enough that you can return to your "regular" life.

There is no point to thinking/worrying about something that you either:

1. can't escape


2. can't leverage to benefit yourself

So unless your in the oil biz, the renewable energy biz, are starting an apocalyptic religious cult, or something along these lines, there is little ROI to worrying about these matters beyond realizing you should lower your expenses and get your fat ass into shape.

At the same time, I've found many people have major reporting problems. They might blame their knowledge of these catastrophes for ruining their life, their marriage, etc.  The reality more often than not is there was something else about the person that led to the ruin and this is just a more accetable thing to point to then one's own shortcomings.



Anyone with some discretionary money can leverage this knowledge to their benefit. I'm heavily invested in various Canadian energy plays and doing quite well.  Whenever the oil price goes up, I become more attractive to the opposite sex...

About dissociating yourself from PO news for a month or three, that's easier said than done.  There's something sinisterly seductive about having an inside track on TEOTWAWKI.  If in addition you have oil investments (as my friend does), you are hopelessly trapped.

In the current issue of Scientific American is an article describing the brain activity when thinking about political candidates. It found that in those who identify strongly with either the Dems or GOP the brain centers which do most of our logical thought processing with were not active. The emotional areas were very active. Extremeist cannot be persuaded to change their opinions through logical arguments. Those in the middle may be people who are either overwhelmed by the self contradictions of politics or just plain apathetic. I for one have grown disappointed by the Dems failure to achieve what they claim they are in favor of.  I am utterly resigned to the fact that the GOP will never claim to be on the side of peace or social fairness. It is going to take a serious failure of the market to mitigate peak oil effects to get enough people to change their political beliefs so progress can be made.

Cool. So you are a shrink:

From the perspective of a psychologist, I've come to view much of our collective response to current events [i.e. Peak Oil] as analogous to grieving.  Our reactions can be viewed in that context.  Grieving involves well documented "stages" (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) which can occur at different times, not always sequentially.

But are you stepping back to truly diagnose our "collective response"?

An individual patient of yours may have crazy irrational thoughts circulating about his head in some sort of obssesive compulsive way (OCD). Maybe the notion was injected into his head that there are illegal immigrant germs entering his body and that he must close off the borders at all costs and keep washing away at all suspect spots? As an OCD sufferer he will repeatedly focus all his energies on this same one meme, never being able to pay attention to more important problems that truly threaten his non-negotiable way of life.

Or maybe your individual patient suffers from a paranoid form of schizophrenia? I must preemtively strike at "them" who hate my freedom before they come after me, because it's true you know, that "they" are all plotting and planning to get me and I must establish a homeland security program to get them first, over there, before they come here and get me.

Or maybe he has delusions of grandeur? I am of nationality X and of religion Y and we shall always overcome because we are the best, the brightest, the ones with the most ingenuity, and besides, "we" were always victorious in the past.

Do all these memes sound familiar?
Are they not the memes that circulate about in our collective head?
Is not the whole country crazy and obsessed with one irrational thought pattern after another?

So how are you going to get the message through about this "Peak Oil" problem or that "Global Warming" problem? Your collective patient has a huge attention deficit problem (ADHD) and anxiety problem. He is not grieving. He is not even listening.

Thanks Goodraven, a very good read. For what it's worth, while I totally get the need for introspection ... I'm not connecting with the grief aspect.  That might just be me.  Hmmm.  Am I opportunity driven?  I see tremendous opportunties for adapatation to peak oil.
The synergy between the source of the elaboration and the biases of the audience is an important factor.  For example, I know some in the business class who were persuaded by the likes of Matt Simmons and Boone Pickens.  Others who believe what Jim Woolsey says because they trust him.  One would think that the conservative republicans would listen to a message from the likes of Rep Roscoe Bartlett, but I think the elaboration suffers from lack of a supporting chorus (he is still too much of a lone voice).  Most of us probably like to do our own research (although in the end we are trusting someone who gathered the data or made the arguments etc) but I think most people, once they are told clearly by someone they trust, will then alter their attitude.  The problem now is also that there are still many contradictory messages being sent from all sorts of directions so people may hear different things from multiple sources that they trust so they choose the one that either reinforces a preheld belief or that requires them to worry/change the least.    
I don't think there is any way of "waking" the general public and the vast majority of people will never understand what hit us...

I assume you are talking primarily about First World Audiences with access to modern media including internet - but no matter really.  The subject is too complex for most people and their lives also too complex for them to take the time to try and understand Peak Energy and Peak Matter... and once The Pain starts individually people will not be interested in ANY rational explainations - they will grope for the Easy Answers and find some scape goats to punish.

I think if you look at history, This Time will not be Different... "Popular Mass Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," "Manias, Panics and Crashes" and other texts like these give the rhyme, reason and rough guide to the future of our Present Mass Delusion of Eternal Growth.

Quite often when I explain Peak Oil to somebody, they listen and nod, and then say something along the lines of "Supposing you're right, what's the solution?"

And the best answer I can come up with is this: "There is no solution. We eat, drink, dress, and construct shelter out of oil; when the oil is gone, most of us will die from thirst, hunger, and exposure, and the rest won't resemble us at all."

And that's the ultimate problem: all social interactions, explanations of Peak Oil included, take place within a certain social ethical framework and rational mindset, which requires all problems to have solutions. Proposing that lots of people will die is tantamount to proposing murder.

Peak Oil has a genre, and that genre is tragedy. But tragedy is not admissible into modern, rational discourse. So the fallback is to make into a farce: if you aren't allowed to make them cry, why not make them laugh?

That's exceptionally well-put.



"There is no solution. We eat, drink, dress, and construct shelter out of oil; when the oil is gone, most of us will die from thirst, hunger, and exposure, and the rest won't resemble us at all."

I agree there is no 'solution' in the sense that most people think - 'how can we continue as we are with minimal disruption'.  

However, if you truly believe there are not even 'less tragic' outcomes possible based on potential courses of action, then why are you even here ?

Never mind, I just realized that you said you are here to make people laugh.  My bad.  
Or cry, if you happen to be OK with tragedy.
To raise my inclusive fitness in the short term.



How goes your polyganous cult/commune where the beautiful divorced trophy wives compete for your affections and eagerly turn over all their assets to you as their conservator or guardian or trustee or something like that?

Your a lawyer.

The goal of lawyers is to transfer income and wealth from nonlawyers to themselves.

Get busy.

Get rich.

Have fun.

I'm started a small solar equipment business to finance my cult . . . I mean "commune."  Thus far, it has gone quite well even though I only have 2 products for sale.



Would you please provide a link to the website where you advertise your two products?



I'm not here to pimp my site. Just do a google search for peak oil and look at the top couple of sites not LATOC.



Well, that's some approach to people :)
Thats an intresting thought. Suggestions for reasonable peak oil preparations makes people more receptive to the peak oil problem.

If some of them already are in place and you thruthfully can say that more can be done of both familiar and new things it is more likely that the message will be recieved and more things done. This means that the alreade most peak oil prepaired regions perhaps will doing most new peak oil preparations.  

(And they already have an established industry who will benefit from it, the dreaded energy, biomass and recycling industrial political complex!  1/2 :-) )

I have a suggestion that I cant handle myself due to moral and lack of social skills. How about lying? Tell people that there are solutions and get them going implementing some of them, its something even if it isent enough. It will make some difference somewhere and we dont yet know how fast the problems will develop. Now I am starting to think about how organized religion works... :-/

That's exactly the approach I'm taking in my communications. People are already thinking along these lines due to the Global Warming meme, so it's easy to expand their personal solution space just a bit, and refocus it on the oil use itself instead of just the waste CO2.  Once you have them thinking about that, their mental doors seem to open up a bit to the idea of oil depletion.

The lying comes about when you try and push the solution space up the social ladder - from individual actions to municipal, national and international scales.  The higher you go, the clearer it becomes that effective large-scale solutions simple won't (or can't) be implemented.  Trying to paint "Reduce global economic growth" as a feasible solution is like trying to put lipstick on a pig.

So I stick to emphasizing personal actions that people are already thinking about.

The municipial and national post peak investments ara of course meant to provide for outgrowing others or at least not fall as far.

I could argue for valuing other things higher and getting rid of harmfull things but not trying to reduce growth, I want more of what is good, not less.

The problem is that growth is the problem.  Anyone who is serious about avoiding catastrophe, whether they feel it's happening now or will happen in 30 years, has to recognize that slowing, stopping and reversing growth, species-wide, is the only answer.  Just as we can't drill our way to more oil, we can't grow ourselves out of the box we're in.

If we don't change our growth patterns, Mother Nature will change them for us.  And we won't.

I think the only good way out of this trap is to redefine what is valuble and counted as growth.

I can not have any other reasonable opinion since I want more resources for myself and if I get them I will try to make them grow.

Is building wind turbines, or solar power plants, growth?
I'm using "growth" in a pretty pedestrian, classical sense here - economic growth as represented by measures like GDP.  So wind turbines and solar cells count, but only a little at the moment.

The top-level problem as I see it, is that the standard implication of human growth is "using more stuff all the time".  From that POV, having more wind turbines and solar panels is growth, but it doesn't help solve the problem unless having more of them results in us using much less of other resources.  The resources that are saved as a result should be critical ones, like oil and copper, and the volume of their reduction should ideally be greater than the extra resources used to make the WT and SP.

I don't think there is any other quantifiable proxy for growth at the moment than GDP - certainly not one that will be accepted by the people that drive resource consumption (i.e. the financial departments of large corps and governments).  If you have an idea, I'd love to hear it.

Why not just say "fossil fuel consumption?"

There a connection between such consumption and GDP, but it is nonlinear.  And GDP is not directly a problem.

Even if we do get Madison Ave. on may not be as easy to persuade people as it used to be.

Lost in a mass of niches

The advent of 300 channels and the Internet has fragmented audiences - and the explosion of choice has left us poorer

..."We're leaving the watercooler era, when most of us listened, watched and read from the same relatively small pool of mostly hit content," Anderson writes. "And we're entering the microculture era, when we are all into different things."

The political effect has been particularly noticeable:

Politics in America has become polarized for many reasons, but a big one is the fact that people can now filter the news and opinion they get to avoid exposure to ideas with which they disagree.

I think once the official production numbers start seeing actual decreases, we will start seeing more mentions of the issue in the press. Until this happens (a lot more mentions of the problem in the press), it is an uphill battle talking about the problem.

Without press coverage showing a real problem, people think the problem is many years away and not worth worrying about. Quite often, people think the person talking about peak oil is a little crazy to be worrying about something that no one else thinks is a problem.

I am still trying to tell the story - mostly to people who can undertand graphs and are willing to do a little reading. This is my four-page version of the story, translated especially for the insurance executive. Use it if you find it helpful.

This is a good opportunity to plug George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant.  This book has an incredible value-per-page (it's short) on the subject of changing people's minds.  It's written from a politically "progressive" position that I don't entirely agree with, but the theories of linguistic psychology that Lakoff puts forth are relevant to any political position.

The focus of the book is on the idea of "framing" a position, which is putting your ideas in a context that will be readily assimilated by your audience.  In the context of the goof Prof's chart, framing comes in before the "motivated to process" question is even asked.  If you present a position that is outside of your listener's frame, it will simply bounce off, regardless of the weight of evidence or even their own self-interest.  The Republican's have known this for a long time, and it's part of the reason that they are able to get their low-middle income heartland base to support them consistently, against their own economic best interests.

If you're interested in the question being debated here, you must read this book.

I second the recommendation.  Worth reading, if only to see how you're being manipulated.
I'll third it, in fact, framing, priming, etc., was exactly where I was going with the next post.  Damn you.  :)
you should all read Influence by Cialdini as well.  You talk about an easy read where you actually learn something...
I recommend the most successful self-help book of all time:
"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.

I read it, and for me it worked.

"I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, 'Where's the self-help section?' She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose." -George Carlin


as posted above, and everyone understands, denial is the primary way that most people are dealing with peak oil. you can rationalize it all you want, but i think we're "stuck" at that stage because we're simply not at a painful enough point yet. why would anyone accept the consequences of peak if it means giving up that career , that house, that car,that life.....this is not going to happen until the pain gets much, much worse. $3 gasoline is only an inconvienience. gas was so cheap and still is so cheap...i grew up in the sixties,and no matter what anyone tells you, the main motivating force behind the 60's revolution (besides drugs) was the draft. the draft created the true feeling of inequality in the middle class..that was the pain that catalyzed change. there will also be something in the future like that. ...then people will suddenly become receptive....but in the meantime, i wouldn't despair. i think the message is getting out,big time. it just doesn't happen overnight. people will absorb the message but do nothing about it , because the pain is not great enough...yet...but it will be.
because the pain is not great enough...yet...but it will be

Depends whom you ask. For the world's poor, Iraq, Iran etc. PO is already here and the pain they experience and will experience hardly can be compared to the difference between paying 3 or 4% of your income for energy. The pessimistic part is that those guys have the least power for changing whatever of significance, while the most affluent will obviously be the last ones to change.

"In better words, the receiver must be able to understand information in order to be able to elaborate on it."

Maybe that should read thus:

In better words, the receiver must be able AND WILLING to understand information in order to be able to elaborate on it.

Maybe I need to be more forceful when talking to the people close to me (mostly family) about PO. They may be attentive enough about the latest family gossip, but if I mention anything PO-related, I usually get the impression that they didn't hear me. But I don't feel like screaming at my mother....

A lot of folks aren't stupid; they could easily grasp the issues involved here. But they're too preoccupied with the trivial crap that society somehow has convinced them is important. It's enough to make you scream.

There's a lot of volume increase right now, across the spectrum..

'If you want to get someone's attention, whisper..'

another trick to communicating is to approaching it with questions instead of answers.  In other words, the old idea that people who are seen as 'good communicators' are usually good listeners.  So what questions would you try?

Hmmm, I'll give it some thought. Thanks for the suggestion.

I know preaching and evangelizing turn a lot of people off, and I'm not the type for it anyway, so I don't take a preachy or soapbox approach.

Actually, I DO "whisper" by simply dropping in the occasional remark when the context is right. But nobody takes the bait.

At your urging, I'll try to think of a few questions....

Oh, here's an idea: "Mom, this may be my last trip to the States. If all this Peak Oil stuff is really true, I may not be able to afford it again."

Not a question, but it ought to get her attention. Might work with some friends as well.

Another reason for non-acceptance - death.

Russian teenagers jump into the fountain at Manezhnaya square in central Moscow, June 2006. Russia's oil-driven economic boom is causing a steady reduction in suicides...
"This reduction is linked to the stabilisation of life... due to oil," the newspaper quoted Vladimir Voitsekh, a researcher into suicide at the Serbsky Psychiatric Institute, as saying.
"But if the oil stops flowing the standard of living will again fall and the number of suicides will increase," he said.

see the Monbiot quote in the top right hand corner...(you might have to refresh a few times...)
Hi folks, this is my first post. I've been lurking for a while and feel like speaking up.

Isn't the issue really "There are too many of us"? If we were fewer, there would be less competition for the oil; that might stretch out the peak and the decline for a lot longer. The notion of peak oil, and a solution to it, implies that terms have been set: how do we solve our energy problem without anyone being made uncomfortable, or worse, dying?

Let's assume the underlying problem, overpopulation, is accepted. How do you persuade people that fewer of us are better than status quo or more of us? And, by the way, you need to go, while I should stay. My family, and my friends, should also remain while yours should leave with you.

It seems to me that ninety percent of the population needs to die over the next 40 years, and of the remaining ten percent, many need to be trained to handle the toxic waste (radiation, etc.) that will begin leaking from neglect, dispoiling the environment. That would be a tough scenario to sell.

Any volunteers to go early? Didn't think so. Some problems are insoluble by humans; that's where nature will come in and handle the problem for us. Just because a problem is caused by humans doesn't mean there is a human inspired solution. If we could ask nature what we could do to help solve the problems we have created, I suspect the short answer would be "smaller footprint, please."

Exactly. Somebody asked me what they should do to become more sustainable and help the planet heal.  I told them "go jump off a bridge."

One of the reasons I shy away from giving people "answers" is that I'm not willing to take the steps necessary to make these things a reality in my own life.



so is THIS what the PTB might be thinking then?

  1.  we're ok, as long as we can string this out to let the Boomers die off.  The US has relatively low pop growth after that and their consumption will be reduced by technological advances/green tech.  

  2.  The Boomers taxes on their retirements will settle the deficit and restore strength to the dollar.

  3.  The US can use Mexicans as cheap labor to replace the work force while whitey sits in their mid-level service jobs waiting to die.

  4.  The US can use Canada as a cheaper energy source via the oil sands, etc.

  5.  Thus requiring the need for a CanUSMex super state/free trade zone with one supra-governance structure where US autonomy is compromised for a standard of living.
I don't think that TPTB are that monolithic in their plans for the future. I don't even think that the interests of various groups coincide to such extent so to come out with a certain programme; I would just agree that the predominant pressures are very well matching the points you make.
There is an old adage that comes into play, more often than not, when governmental powers have to make decisions: When in doubt, do nothing.

I think the PTB will appear to do "something" along the way down; just enough to satisfy public demand for action, at each "bottoming plateau" as we power down. Talk will always be about "the worst is over; it's all up from here." That's what will keep the PTB the PTB.

The enormity of what is ahead of us doesn't lend itself to a "problem/solution" outcome that can be planned for decades ahead. Does the government start buying up land for graveyards for all the dead bodies that will need dealing with? What elected official will even discuss that possibility? I don't even like writing about it.

Democracy worked well for passing out the "free lunch" on the way up the population curve; I'm afraid it won't work so well on the way back down. People will demand a dictatorship, a "strong man" to solve their problems (as if they're solveable) as the preferred government, and, indeed, that may well work better as we pare down the numbers. Unpleasant, even to contemplate.


I go back and forth on what devious plans I attribute to TPTB. What I have concluded is that there are several factions of TPTB. It makes it hard to discern who is doing what.

Sort of like how we have the CIA faction, the NSA faction, the FBI, and the DOD factions when it comes ot domestic spying. I imagine all of them are spying on us, albeit with slightly different intentions, goals, techniques, etc.

Then on top of them there is spying by corporate entities such as big software companies.



The Boomers taxes on their retirements will settle the deficit and restore strength to the dollar.

Settle the deficit?   Let us believe in Leo Wanta then!

As long as you are looking for a way to  settle the debt - why not the Leo Wanta story?

I completely agree.  If there were fewer humans the vast majority of the issues, if not all, that currently threaten our civilization would not be significant at least not in the near term.  At a world population of 1 billion we would not be pressuring oil or gas supplies, the climate could absorb the industrial production and CO2 emmissions of such a population much easier, and the breeding pool for catastrophic disease would be less.  
Because human society is hierarchical, it's possible to leverage persuasive efforts by targeting the individuals and groups with influence over the others. What worries me is that in a economic regime of increasing scarcity, the elites are too busy playing musical chairs to focus on managing problems for the benefit of people in general.
Humans are incapable of cooperation.  They are predatory pack animals, no different than wolves.  They follow an alpha, they fight for territory and food (resources).  This is what Goering was saying when he said what the Nazis did could happen anywhere, in any form of government.  "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.  It works the same in any country."  

When you finally realize we humans  predatory pack animals, and not some "divine species" separated by some higher level of thought, understanding resource wars, and the simpe things like our love affair of boxing, for professional athletes, Terminator, everything makes sense.  We need are led by alphas.  We attack when told to attack.  There are no "bureacracies" to overcome, only enemies.  The only problem we face is finding the right alpha.

You say we are incapable of cooperation, but by definition pack animals cooperate for the pack.

We are primates though, not wolves (or Klingons).  Sometimes we act as a vicious pack, sometimes we don't.


The distinction that needs to be made is within or without the tribe.

Within our percieved tribe, we are great at cooperating particularly when it means eliminating another tribe and taking their stuff.



I think the issue of persuasion has a very close relationship to the whole issue of the concept of hydrocarbon "addiction".  One of the problems with applying the addiction concept to oil is that most of the processes that are described by clinicians as addictions are recognized as foreign within the relevant cultural context (at least in the broader as opposed to narrower contexts or subcultures--eg. say upper middle class professionals versus college fraternities).  As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I have had much opportunity to at least attempt to persuade young people that their primary cultural objectives (job, education, marriage, etc) are at odds with a sub-cultural value of getting high. Even then, the lure of sub-cultural status, especially as it affects perceived access to peers of the opposite sex (ie, it is "cool") can make this VERY difficult.

The problem with persuading people that oil dependence is a threat is the fact that this dependence is squarely WITHIN the dominate cultural paradigm of endless growth and the acquisition of status and the associated furtherance of mating and successful parenting opportunities. So in that sense you are attempting to persuade people that an entire cultural edifice or way of life is heading for a ditch.  This is a very tall order. In the model of persuasion presented, the result is some pretty negative/aversive elaboration resulting in anxiety resulting is potent stimulation of defenses--ie, all the reasons PO is wrong--Mr Yergin and Mr Lynch are experts and they say it is all hooey. Better known as DENIAL. In the end most people will find some other potentially rectifiable reason for falling energy supplies at LEAST until the mainstream authorites recognize it and even then more general acceptance will probably be slow in coming.  I would not hold my breath!  

Just opened up this month's Esquire and there was a short one page q&a with Amy Myers Jaffe of the Energy Forum of the James A. Baker III Institute.  It admitted there was a problem due to surging demand and anticipated oil discoveries not panning out.  It went on to focus mainly on the potentials for oil shocks from Nigerian or Venezuelan oil strikes, the Iranians mining the Straits of Hormuz, terrorist attack knocking out oil export facilities in Southern Iraqi, terrorist attack knocking out Abqaiq, or persistent bad weather in the Black Sea interrupting Russian exports (?!).  One of these events happening was thought to be quite likely.  Solutions?  Getting rid of the crazy-quilt of gasoline blends among the states and brushing away environmental concerns in favor of more drilling.  (After all oil didn't wash ashore after Katrina.)

While no mention that the overriding problem is geological decline, the admission of a problem with "anticipated oil discoveries" is perhaps a baby step in advancing the manner that TPTB is putting info. out there.  (I imagine someone working for the James A. Baker III Institute is representing a voice for TPTB.)  The biggest mystery to me is how much those who should be in the know are purposefully hiding information from the public and how much is self-delusion.  Anyone know any more about this Amy Jaffe?

As far as the steps toward educating the public, I see it as:

  1. There is a problem with oil supply--I think most people realize this.
  2. The problem is not an artifical shortage created by oil company conspiracy--I don't think we're quite there yet; although I hear this less than a year ago.
  3. The problem is not solely one of surging demand but lack of supply.--There is starting to be acceptance of this.
  4. Supply will, in the near future (if not already), start declining--from which there's no recovery. --That's the crux of the issue, ain't it.  Unfortunately, I don't hear much in the mainstream media yet on this.  Snippets now and then, but nothing to overcome the notion that we can drill our way out of it.
Back to the theory ...

PG is right: there's stuff we can learn from here. To oversimplify, the world is divided into two groups: those who have high interest in a topic, and those that don't.

High-interest route to persuasion
The people interested in a topic (like peak oil) will take in almost unlimited information, think about it long and deeply (central processing), come to some conclusions. They will discuss, set up blogs, meet at conferences, petition their congresspeople. If you try to shortcut the logic with these folk, or feed them insufficient information, you'll get a backlash (i.e., no persuasion). Many of these people also have an inherently high "need for cognition"--they want to think, and seek out mental challenges. Examples of peak oil communications for high-interest group, using central processing:

  • The Oil Drum
  • Most books: Twilight in the Desert, or The End of Oil would be at the extreme end (in a good way)
  • Video like The End of Suburbia

Low-interest route to persuasion
The people who are uninterested in a topic are, simply put, uninterested. You can feed them an encyclopedia of information, and they won't take in or consider a word. Some of these people also have an inherently low "need for cognition"--they don't want to think, or don't want to think about something gloomy like peak oil. Fox News is designed for this group.

One can send peripheral cues to these people to implant an idea without much effort on their part. Music, motion, colour, and emotional appeals are commonly used for this. The Nazi propaganda machine was probably the most effective user of peripheral processing that the world has ever seen: Fascist architecture, faux Roman standard-bearers, elaborate events filmed by Leni Riefenstahl, racist films and cartoons, Gestapo uniforms designed by film costumers. It sounds trivial when you lay out the elements, but look at the results. Please note that most modern American politics uses a lot of peripheral communication. Jimmy Carter used a central route; Ronald Reagan used the brilliant "Morning in America" peripheral route. More recent examples should be obvious to you.

I can't come up with many good examples of peripheral-processing stimuli for Peak Oil.

  • "Will you join us?" campaign from Chevron
  • James Howard Kunstler is very cerebral, but he uses emotive doom scenarios well. I'd put Matt's LATOC in this "mostly central with peripheral cues" camp as well. (Note Matt's post above on his perceived effectiveness.) These ideas could be adapted to pure peripheral processing.
  • Climate change is doing better at this, with "The Day after Tomorrow" showing what could happen at a gut level (but leave your critical reasoning at home, please).

I do agree with PG that there is a lot we can learn here. But if you don't like Petty and Cacciopo, perhaps Kahneman and Tversky will sit better.
Yep, K&T are worth reading as well...

For those of you who don't know, here's some cites:

KAHNEMAN, Daniel and Amos TVERSKY, 1979. Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk. Econometrica.

KAHNEMAN, Daniel and Amos TVERSKY, 1992. Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

BARBERIS, N.C., M. HUANG and T. SANTOS, 1999. Prospect Theory and Asset Prices.

I prefer the second piece, the first piece you mention (1979) was pretty narrow.  The later piece extends the theory a bit.  

Here's the abstracts, if you're all interested:

Kahneman and Tversky, 1979.
Abstract: "This paper presents a critique of expected utility theory as a descriptive model of decision making under risk, and develops an alternative model, called prospect theory. Choices among risky prospects exhibit several pervasive effects that are inconsistent with the basic tenets of utility theory. In particular, people underweight outcomes that are merely probable in comparison with outcomes that are obtained with certainty. This tendency, called the certainty effect, contributes to risk aversion in choices involving sure gains and to risk seeking in choices involving sure losses. In addition, people generally discard components that are shared by all prospects under consideration. This tendency, called the isolation effect, leads to inconsistent preferences when the same choice is presented in different forms. An alternative theory of choice is developed, in which value is assigned to gains and losses rather than to final assets and in which probabilities are replaced by decision weights. The value function is normally concave for gains, commonly convex for losses, and is generally steeper for losses than for gains. Decision weights are generally lower than the corresponding probabilities, except in the range of low probabilities. Overweighting of low probabilities may contribute to the attractiveness of both insurance and gambling."

Tversky and Kahneman, 1992.
Abstract: "We develop a new version of prospect theory that employs cumulative rather than separable decision weights and extends the theory in several respects. This version, called cumulative prospect theory, applies to uncertain as well as to risky prospects with any number of outcomes, and it allows different weighting functions for gains and for losses. Two principles, diminishing sensitivity and loss aversion, are invoked to explain the characteristic curvature of the value function and the weighting functions. A review of the experimental evidence and the results of a new experiment confirm a distinctive fourfold pattern of risk: risk aversion for gains and risk seeking for losses of high probability; risk seeking for gains and risk aversion for losses of low probability."

Barberis, Huang and Santos, 1999.
Abstract: "We study asset prices in an economy where investors derive direct utility not only from consumption but also from fluctuations in the value of their financial wealth. They are loss averse over these fluctuations, and the degree of loss aversion depends on their prior investment performance. We find that our framework can help explain the high mean, excess volatility, and predictability of stock returns, as well as their low correlation with consumption growth. The design of our model is influenced by prospect theory and by experimental evidence on how prior outcomes affect risky choice."

So basically a giant billboard of J-Lo's ass next to word "peak oil" would be more effective than writing a book?



if you like J-Lo's ass, yes I suppose so.
if you like J-Lo's ass, yes I suppose so.

Or think you have a chance with said buttocks  (Edited for the under 18 readers.)

Sadly, you do get it (in a reductionist sort of way).

But when you refer to J-Lo's ass: did you mean Puff Daddy, or Ben Affleck?

For those really interested in the science, or rather psychology, of persuasion, you can do no better than read the very best book ever printed on the subject. I found it so fascinating that I read it twice. Several years between readings of course. It is "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini.

There are certain disturbing things we simply would rather not realize. Because it is preprogrammed and mindless method of responding, automatic consistency can supply a safe hiding place from those troubling realizations. Sealed within the fortress walls of rigid consistency, we can be impervious to the sieges of reason.
Robert B. Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

amen.  you did see that I mentioned it in the post...?
Well no, sorry but I did not read the entire post. A fault of mine is that I tend to take short-cuts also.

Right now I am busy trying to find that book again. It is somewhere around here but I cannot lay my hands on it right now. But I will find it.

I remember the part about the doctor who was a member of the cult that was supposed to be taken up in a spaceship. The spaceship failed to show of course, then they sent a message by "automatic writing" explaining why. At any rate, the doctor explained that he just had to believe. He had given up everything, his practice, his friends, everything, he just had to believe now. He could not go back.

The moral of that story is, the more you have invested in your bleief or world-view, the less likely it is that you will ever give it up. A priest or nun, or a preacher, who has his or her whole life invested in a belief system, is totally immune to any argument to the contrary.

Most people have everything invested in life as it is. They will not listen to any argument that life as it is is about to go away. No, it can't, everything depends on life continuing on as we know it. We have too much invested in the world as we know it to even contemplate the idea that it may all may soon collapse.

Wolf packs don't cooperate, you either comply or get your ass chewed off by the alpha.  People are no different.  Now, as for other primates, we haven't evolved that far yet.
This computer game is great.

Intellectually stimulating.

Just like debating society at school.  Where are those Christians?

The world mediated through a computer.  Never seen an oil field, or an onion field.  Psychology by numbers. Binary.

Is prof. goose really avian? Is westtesxa (typo just to 'fit in') in a state?

But, really - when can we shoot the enemy!

The interesting subtext to this conversation is that while people agree it's hard to pitch "peak oil" - the varieties of messages being sent under that banner is quite broad.

I mean, I believe in "peak oil" but I haven't accepted a lot of "peak oil" arguments, myself.

(FWIW, I quickly noticed that all you can do is lay the groundwork, give some background so that when people see clues develop they'll have the context.)

Why is it that you can't get involved in a theoretical discussion here without some very shrill Darwinians trying to take over and shut down the debate? Shouldn't you be out lifting weights or something rather than becoming pasty-faced sitting at the computer all day?
More seriously, for a topic that comes with a sociology/ psychology tag there seems to be very little actual sociology in the replies....nothing about institutions, not much about the media, nothing about many well-educated people here but no connection between that and the ability to process peak oil arguments and the absence of quality education (by this I don't mean simply having a degree)and the inability to understand geological limits etc.
Any card-carrying sociologists out there?
(Please no inclusive fitness replies to this...I've heard it all before. Yawn.)
I lifted yesterday. I'm doing a whole set of new stretches/drills to clear up old injuries. So today I'm recovering in pasty faced nerd mode.



If you want a discussion instigate it. Many things won't fly here, shot down for ???  Just insulting the audience won't get anything started, they've been insulted before.
It's not an infinite market of philosopher-posters. Just a group. You know a smarter one, post it on your way out.







Media, locally, is on fine form around here as oil hits 75.  

80 - 90 - 100...?

Too hot!  Too cold!  Hungry?

In 'The West' we're ahead of the game - believe me.
Sod Kasparov - he wants to be on our side.

Economic pain does not mean death here.


PO is a broad church.  

Choice, Church, lead and follow.

I bought 1000 barrels today.  What will they be worth tomorrow?

Just thought I'd relate a little news ... very little, but this really happened.

I was out mowing the grass a few weekends back with my corded electric (come to think of it I do do a few things differently from most people), and a woman who was trundling a stroller full of toddlers down the street, came over to congratulate me on not burning gas. I think she saw the Al Gore movie or something. Anyhow, the times they are a changin'.

For what it's worth, I use an electric mower mostly because I don't like walking around the yard in a cloud of hydrocarbon fumes. You get used to wrangling the cord after a while.  


If I may be so bold: what are you REALLY after? As somebody who has studied psychology, you are no doubt aware that what people say they want and what they really want are often times two different things.

Are you after greater awareness/discussion in society of our energy situation, more prominence for The Oil Drum, or something all together different?

I posit that greater awareness of these matters across all segments of society would only serve to crash/shatter the financial markets straight to the ground.  Something that would not be kind to those in non-essential academic departments or other non-essential parts of the economy like selling books and dvds.

In fact, if the crash were severe enough (I think it could be) then sites such as TOD (and LATOC for that matter) might cease to exist due to economic and time constraints on the proprietors, the contributors, and the posters. Or they might exist but in greatly cannibalized, scaled down versions.

I suspect we'd all be too busy scrounging or working second and third jobs to be writing about and discussing these matters if awareness of these matters was to significantly increase as a significant increase in awareness would cause the economy to tank.

I realize the irony of this. As they say, be careful what you wish for.

If you're after more prominence for TOD, that is a different story. Maybe an ad campaign, or more red edit hits or a lucky link or two from a major traffic blog like

Personally, I think we're in a bit of a "sweet spot." Sites like TOD and LATOC will enjoy more traffic, prominence etc. up to a certain point at which time the economy will be in such shambles nobody will have time to log onto to discuss these matters or buy a copy of End of Suburbia.

So I'm not hoping for THAT much greater awareness. A little bit? Sure. But too much and we all lose our jobs/hobbies.



Does Stuart's old "Hubbert Theory says Peak is Slow Squeeze" post suggest this kind of panic and crash?

I appologize to the Prof for not having the chops to answer her core question, diagram, and aricle, but I suspect the Prof meant "peak oil" the more narrow (Hubbertian) sense.


Even a slow reduction of 2-3% per year can have disastorous effects over 5-7 years.

However, even that is missing the point all together. The markets are basically hallucinatory scoreboards. They tank once people UNDERSTAND the long term supply situation. This could occur 5 years before the peak, 5 years after, it's really anybody's guess.

If PG gets his stated wish as I understand it to be (more awareness in society), that day of reckoning arrives sooner not later. That may not serve the short-to-medium term interests of those of us on this board.

I posit we've been in the "long emergency" since 1971. So yeah, a "slow collapse" is likely. Problem is we're 35 years into it and things are likely speeding up.

ONe problem with a slow collapse is it gives radical militan reactionary ideologies time to germinate and spread. So even though most of us are more psychologically comfortable with the concept of a slow squeeze, we may not be accounting for the collateral effects of a slow long squeeze such as a radical militant form of religion spreading to the point where it influences the White House and much of Congress. (Gee, sound familar?)



I accept peak oil theory, but do not think that longer range outcomes are predictable by me, you, or anyone else.  I am cautiously moderate (neither optimist or pessimists), but I am open-minded to changing conditions.

I won't bore you (or take this thread off-topic) with my rationale, but I think it is on-topic to point out that neither one of us has convinced the other in the last few months of posting.

So what does "teaching" peak oil mean?  Does it mean teaching that there is a problem out there, and that people should know the range of concerns?  Or does it mean "teaching" someone a specific outcome, and specific concern?

Excellent point. What is each of our goals here. Is it to learn, to teach, to evangelize? And to what degree do those conflict?

I am here to learn, but I do hope I get some other people to see my view, if not to agree with me. I don't think I am righter, smarter or better than anyone else.

In this regard, I do find it a bit arrogant to say one is here to teach, or to show those ignorant fools (sheeple) the way.

No one has the answers to what society should look like or do in reaction to peak oil. No one knows the future either.

This breakdown is reflected in tolerance of other opinions. If the objective is to exchange views,  tolerance is essential. If it is to evangelize, tolerance may be a hinderance.

I find it a bit arrogant to say one is here to teach, or to show those ignorant fools (sheeple) the way.

Believe it or whatever, I fully agree with you.
None of us is better than other people.
We are people.
We engage in mindless feces flinging and cage shaking and shrieking and penis display at this blog site just like all the other monkeys do at the other blog sites. Once in a rare while our outbursts are punctuated by rational discourse about scientific facts, socialogical studies and educated predictions based on models we develop here. There is no way to prove that any one predictive model is better than all the others and that one of us knows better than the others what the true outcome will be, what the future will be.

Over all though, TOD is a great place to visit and learn much from all the wise sages that stop in here to share their thoughts. Thanks Professor G for an interesting lesson plan.

"We engage in mindless feces flinging and cage shaking and shrieking and penis display at this blog"

And I thought you weren't reading my posts.

Nah. Maybe I've given up on sex and doing Sudoko puzzles, but I'll never quit you Jack. :-)
A very fair question, Matt.  What am I after?  What's the goal?  

In all candor, I don't know that there is a goal that I am working towards.  I have just always felt like, from day one, that this was something I needed to do down on the inside--feel free to call bullshit on that--but it's true.  I feel a drive like I/we have to try to cushion the landing, or at least prepare enough people to see what is coming, that when oil hits $400/bbl, we will have thought this all through.

That being said, sure, I am slowly coming around to the path dependency of all of this.  Still, from the beginning, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the many actors, angles, and outcomes of this whole thing, to think it through.  Not necessarily to game it out, but to try to help nudge the process towards a more favorable outcome.  

Can LATOC or TOD do that?  Fuck if know.

The reason I continue to try to push for organic growth (my recent push on reddit, etc.) is that I want to get as many smart people (using the good old route of cognitive complexity and the central route of persuasion) as I can in here to help do all of the thinking that needs to be done, and with as many perspectives as possible, while we can still afford to be diverse.  

I think we all see a day coming when diversity of opinion may be a lot less welcome.

I guess that's the difference between you and me, Matt.  I still have a little hope left...

respond more later, bill clinton is all over peak oil books like their thick-assed interns:

fast forward to 8:30

I bet clinton reads this forum. He kept talking about conservative geologists.



I have hope my cult will be thriving at some point, but for global or national society? Nope, none at all.

May have something to do with our backgrounds. I got the funniest email from a very well known attorney, at least well known in certain circles. He writes to me to say he's suing the crap out of a big defendant (who I'm leaving unamed) and plans on using the $$$ to build a lifeboat community. I'm like hell yeah bitch!



Sometimes you can cut the gloom with a knife around here!

The impact of TOD and LATOC is already far bigger, worldwide, than we can or will ever know.

The posters at TOD are now a worldwide community, and we are only the tip of the iceberg. We have thousands of additional readers, plus everyone's families, friends, colleagues, neighbours and students. We get millions of hits: compare this to the first 3 printings of Twilight in the Desert which totalled only 44,500 copies. Knowledge, perspective, and even some wisdom is diffusing far and wide.

I think of sites like LATOC as sort of society's versions of a skin rash. If it's proliferating it means there is something more fundamentally wrong with the body.



Prof G,
Thanks for the well done lesson plan.
And have faith ....
If you blog it, they will come.

I posit that greater awareness of these matters across all segments of society would only serve to crash/shatter the financial markets straight to the ground.

Yeah, it could happen. We've seen runs on the bank before, and it is not pretty. My guess is that it won't happen soon because there are a lot of things insulating people from the reality of the situation (mainstream media, pronouncements by oil companies and experts, the fact that we can still buy anything we want, plain old denial ...). Look at the absurd level of buy-in that the invasion of Iraq got. You can't fool all of the people, but you can fool more than enough of them.

Speaking of my own motives, I want one outcome from my peak oil explorations: to figure out strategies that result in more responsible consumption behaviors, and then to puzzle out how to make that behaviour happen. Will that solve our problems? Of course not. But it is ethical, good for the planet, and may buy us some time as we muddle our way towards an outcome.

If TOD and LATOC become less relevant in the future, we move on and help in other ways, equipped with the knowledge and insight to do so. You are a lot more altruistic than you let on, and there's always a need for that.

I don't think it will happen anytime soon either. But if it did, then we'd have problems.



I know that PO will put definitely a huge challenge on society with an outcome which will change a lot of things for everyone of us.

But generally speaking I don't believe that any problem, as huge as it might be can't be solved. Surely, our capitalist system has inherited some very bad habits stemming from its historical background, mainly in Europe. We will have to do some serious reframing of premisces founding our societies. PO is also an opportunity to sharply adress some fundamental processes. That doesn't mean we have to throw away everything.

Solving the problems lying ahead, if we want to do it in a coherent manner avoiding as much sufferance as possible, will only be possible if we can make the most complete diagnosis. I know that from experience. I very well know that, because most people don't want proper diagnosis to be made. They have exactly the same arguments as yours. And if they don't go into deep diagnosis, most action is inappropriate.

And I also know that if we don't go into proactively solving these problems, we will face an entropic decline which could bring us to extinction, for which mankind is fully equiped as we should remind everybody.

So we should go to the step of full diagnosis, which must begin with ourselves. Without awareness of the situation, how can we progress into that direction ? To avoud a panic reaction, we should ensure that raising awareness is made in an asynchronous way. This would allow people to attain a critical mass in which we could then shift our priority system.

Anyway, you provocatively ask whether we should go on knowing that by doing this we would precipitate a collapse such ? But isn't that already the outcome if we leave the world on idle ?

Really Interesting Thread...

Perhaps the most interesting and insightful vacation I ever took was to Hudson's Bay. (I'll be back to scout out prime beach front there eventually)  The social development of Inuit societies was completely geographically related.  The farther west away from the ocean with its birds and fish as food (Away from Baffin Island and Greenland) the lower the development of higher social skills.  It was all about food.  If everybody had to spend all their time working to find food, there wasn't any time to "develop" art, writing, etc.

If there ever was a good example of excess food/energy, it's Goose's analysis of "Persuasion". If you're hungery, all that's going to matter is food. The only other thing that matters is that your kids and their kids survive.  The Inuits had the politically incorrect solution to that problem.  $3.50, $5.00, $10.00 gas won't effect the average American, Mexican, or Chinese/Indian family chasing the SUV dream until it's obvious to them that their retirement dreams are hopeless and their kids lives will be more difficult, if not disasterous compared to the current generation.   Then the Sh** will hit the fan...

I think that the best ways to stimulate people awareness of the "peak oil" issue can be summarized into three words:
PRICE, PRICE and PRICE again. Only when prices of oil and gasoline will become so high to be a burden on the consumers habits and their way of life they will understand what are oil and energy for our economies and welfare. The pinch of a high price is much more powerful than thousands of words.
Price is about all we've got going for us, just wish it wasn't being blown on tar sands, arms, and pieces of paper. Did Shackleton burn the boats to keep warm?

On us being disadvantaged by the markets tanking, I don't think so, at least not in the medium/long term. Hubberts slow squeeze will involve an awful amount of cannibalising what wealth we have: sending too small/old capital equipment to scrap, deforesting peri/far urban areas to heat inefficient houses, continuing manufacture and uncontrolled release of toxics. Markets tanking would stop some stupidities and force adaptation sooner (even with fascism), leaving more in place to work with.


Faschism would provide an opportunity for unlimited mistakes...
Throughout history, countries have tended to turn to dictators in time of crisis.

The Romans even had in institutionalized, with the proviso you could only be a dictator for six months and then lost special powers and were answerable at that time for any crimes or abuses of power while dictator.

Then came civil war, Marius and Sulla and finally to clean up the mess, Julius Caesar, dictator for life, which was an oxymoron under traditional Roman law.

The local Swedish procedure latest practiced during WW 2 is to temporarily suspend the democratic process and run a coalition government with representatives from all established parties.

But this solution depends on some goodwill, it is as far as I know volontary, we have a very weak constitution. The initiation of it depends on the political process and can probably be informally influenced by our powerless king. Our king and queen have no formal political power but immense reserves of goodwill.

The same kind of solution is mirrored in most (all?) municipialities normal boards and emergency groups. They use to have representatives from all the largest parties or coalitions. In normal times the election might change the majority and it provides continuity and having the opposition close makes for better quality decisions. In extreme times you also need diverse opinions and to have as much of the population represented as possible.

Our present prime minister have accumulated personal power close to the limit of our weak constitution and made the prime minister seat into almost a precidency. A few steps further and we have a dictatorial situation but I dont think or rather hope that the socialist party would allow that. The opposition leader is quite good at keeping the four party coalition togeather and is more of a traditional low key compromising Swedish leader while the current prime minister is more along the "brukspatron" local-all-powerfull-CEO tradition that either is quite good or hated.

Our current strong political leader for our government is talking alot about PO and PO preparations and things get done. It is of some comfort to me but I would not want him to have all of the power even if he does good from a PO point of view. And I do not think PO will give a WW 2 level of emergency unless there are a lot of wars started over it.

Apropos of fascism and suspension of constitutional checks and balances during dire times, see Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben's STATE OF EXCEPTION (2003; translation published by University of Chicago, 2005). This is a small, but conceptually very dense, book. Agamben writes very well, but be prepared to read with a pick and shovel. There's a lot packed into this little book.

Agamben argues that "...the state of exception tends increasingly to appear as the dominant paradigm of government in contemporary politics." He sees the democratic principle of the separation of powers as having everywhere today largely collapsed. "At the very moment when it would like to give lessons in democracy to different traditions and cultures, the political culture of the West does not realize that it has entirely lost its canon."

Strong stuff. Sobering. The book makes one think about the political culture in which the coming energy crisis will play out.

VAZ, I have read this book and will attest to its insights, as well as its requirement of field gear, including implements, to get through more than five pages per sitting.
I've seen a lot of hand wringing throughout the blogosphere about what will curb the USA's gasoline use.  Clearly $3 a gallon hasn't curbed snot.  I bet if gas was a "cash only" product, no credit cards allowed, we'd see a sharp drop.  Credit cards are the only thing keeping a lot of folks riding the roads.  
Gasoline is only part of the marginal cost of transportation. The average cost includes cars depreciation and ordinary plus extraordinary mantainance. These latter expensens weigh much more than gasoline, for the time being. For these reason gasoline demand is so slowly affected by the increase of the price. Once you have bought a car you will not leave it aside only because the price of fuels is growing. But slowly affected does not mean unaffected, it takes time but the price effect will display its influence.