Living on the banks of denial

Thursday, May 01, 2008

From a commentary on the Oilism site of Chris Neldner:

How long have we been living on the banks of denial? And it slightly depressed me today to discover that I wrote an article by that very title back in September 2005, which I could have written today:

Energy will continue to get more and more expensive. In a short while, you won’t be able to afford to fill the tank on an SUV. You will learn to like wearing sweaters, and living without A/C. If you live in a big city or a suburb, you will probably have to move. If you’re in one of the red-hot real estate markets in the US, the value of your property will take a couple of sickening drops. Your money and investments will devalue. You will find it increasingly difficult to buy—or even get—food. Water will get scarcer, more expensive, and harder to clean.
I really can’t blame the media for their reluctance to face up to peak oil. It’s an unpleasant concept and it immediately strikes fear into one’s heart.

I have often reflected on how coming to grips with peak oil is much like the process of grieving, as identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. In peaker terms, I’d describe it like this:

Denial: “There’s plenty of oil out there, and we can drill our way out of this.”
Anger: “Why aren’t those bastards drilling our way out of this?”
Bargaining: “Well maybe ANWR, the continental offshore, the tar sands, and slightly more efficient cars will fix it.”
Depression: “Oh man, we’re screwed, it’s too big a problem for me, I might as well give up.”
Acceptance: “I’m ready for the second half of the Age of Oil and I’m going to find a way forward.”