Responding to Peak Oil Prophets

Here’s an interesting essay from CommonDreams.org (via Peak Oil News) by University of Hawaii professor Shepherd Bliss on four recent books that address the peak oil issue (among other things): James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century, Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and Richard Heinberg’s Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World and The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies. Bliss describes the three authors as “prophets” of sorts, and wonders if we will respond with either dismissal or action. He also list four options specifically for the US offered by South Africa’s Cape Times:

1. Compete for remaining resources through wars. Hampshire College Prof. Michael T. Klare describes this option in his recent article The Intensifying Global Struggle for Energy and earlier in his book Blood and Oil.

2. Wishful thinking that the market or science will come to the rescue.

3. Acknowledge that we are in the early stages of disintegration and seek to preserve the most worthwhile cultural achievements.

4. “Powerdown” by reducing energy use drastically through conservation, economic sacrifice and population reduction. Heinberg describes this as “the path of self- limitation, cooperation, and sharing.”

I think recent discussions of new paths for energy use show a growing awareness of the unsustainable path we’re currently following, but I don’t have a clue at this point whether we’ll answer a call to action or stick our heads further into the sand…

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