Saturday, September 27, 2008

Peak Oil Preparation: Educating Family, Loved Ones, and Friends

Peak Oil will soon generate problems for individuals and families around the globe: unemployment; bankruptcy; inability to pay for heating oil, higher education, mortgage, and rent etc; the need for family members to share residences and expenses; violent street crime even in previously safe neighborhoods; the separation of family members (due to high airfares, the high cost of gasoline, or gasoline rationing); and anxiety and depression.

Families that have a common understanding of Peak Oil problems can provide mutual support and group problem-solving, and they are more likely enjoy life and survive the Peak Oil catastrophe. Young people who understand Peak Oil are more likely to study what makes sense for the future. Informed people who are unemployed can work collectively for their future and use their resources for contingency planning, instead of looking to panaceas and technological fixes.

Educating family, loved ones, and friends about Peak Oil and its impacts is a formidable challenge. Most people believe strongly that a national commitment and technology will solve energy problems and support a stable economy. Denial concerning Peak Oil is pervasive at all levels of society. Frustration in educating family members about Peak Oil is common, as revealed on the Peak Oil Blues website.

It helps to remember that people avoid the reality of Peak Oil from weakness, not strength. Peak Oil is personally frightening and many fear for family and friends. Educating about Peak Oil is the right thing to do, so be patient. It sometimes takes weeks, months, or years to get through to people. Learn from the experiences of others on the Peak Oil Blues website. Here are some ideas to consider in educating family, love ones, and friends.

Studies by major independent government agencies and scientific organizations are the most credible sources for convincing many people that Peak Oil is real and will have serious impacts soon. I wrote a 48 page Peak Oil Impacts Report based on such sources, and the sources can be referenced directly from the report (which can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed). It is hard to deny studies by the National Academy of Sciences, U.S. General Accountability Office, U.S, Congressional Research Service, and major scientific institutions. Many governments have sponsored Peak Oil studies. Use these authority symbols to your advantage.

You can tell your family or friends that Peak Oil is a serious issue that you personally need to discuss with them, and that you want them to read the report for factual information in order to have a well-informed conversation.

The report was written by a recently retired professor of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire, where he was director of the Master of Public Administration program for many years. In that capacity he worked with hundreds of local, state, and federal officials on government planning. Based on this report, he gave a Peak Oil presentation to the New Hampshire Town Managers Association last January and a variety of audiences in Albany, NY in June.

If the report is too long or complex, start off with some articles in newspapers or magazines that you can print and ask them to read and discuss, for example: Fortune Magazine, BusinessWeek, The Times (London), The Wall Street Journal, MoneyWeek, Scientific American, and the Wikipedia Encyclopedia

If they read short convincing articles, you may then convince them to read the 48 page report. You can also ask them to read the first page summary of the report and the summaries of the report by the U.S. General Accountability Office, which is covered in my report.

Also convincing are the following websites: U.S. Representative Roscoe Bartlett, who is a respected conservative Republican Member of Congress; Simmons and Company International (see his speeches), Jim Kingsdale, Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas - USA, and Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas – Ireland (see the Newsletter) .

The September 2008 ASPO-USA Peak Oil Conference included a very credible group of speakers, including Neil King Jr., the international energy reporter for “The Wall Street Journal.”

An Internet search of the term “peak oil” yields some 4,400,000 hits.

Energy Bulletin” provides much scientific information and a Peak Oil primer.

The “Transition Movement” and Portland (Oregon) Peak Oil Task (and other cities’ efforts) show that some towns and cities are planning to prepare for Peak Oil.

There are many videos on Peak Oil on Google or Yahoo.

If anyone asks why more people don’t know about Peak Oil, the following explains this conspiracy of silence. Both private and national oil company executives and their allies in business and government have lied to the media and public about oil reserves in order to create an image of corporate financial growth. This has increased their salaries, stock investments, stock options for retirement, and large consulting fees to produce phony research. The media and government officials have believed the lies and have conveniently avoided giving the public bad news about the future. And most leaders and people across the globe believe that there must a new energy source for continued prosperity and economic development, so why worry about Peak Oil?

Patience is a virtue. It takes time for people to think about how vital oil is for the economy and what life will be like without oil in the future. Patience -- even many who are aware of Peak Oil are in denial about the future. They accept Peak Oil, but not its impacts. Patience -- belief systems that were developed over a lifetime are difficult to change. Patience.

In the comments option, please offer additional ideas for educating family, loved ones, and friends about Peak Oil.


yooper said...

Hello CJ! Very good article. Sometimes when presenting people with a very unpopular or unpleasant concept it's best to take "little stabs" at a time. After enough little stabs, either the recipient will want more or not. If it's "their" idea into wanting more, the more likely they'll be willing to listen and learn...

Here's a deep thought you can try on for size from Jay Hanson. He contends the most people cannot come to terms with thoughts of collapse/decline because it's simply not in their genes. After thousands of years of continual conditioning of expecting a better day (growth) for one's offspring, some are simply incapable in contemplating ANYTHING related to decline...Simply not in their vocabulary..

Could it be that because of this, that we are "preordained" to follow this course of action? Something to think about...

Btw, I liked your report, very convincing..

tresho said...

My basic teaching tool to move people away from complacency is this: to simply point out how the "best and the brightest", the highly-paid and highly educated, the prominent voices in the media all completely missed the significance of the housing bubble and the resulting credit crunch, which has been getting worse since at least August 2007.
They did not understand what was going on at the time, they did not understand the early signs of the downturn, and they do not understand what to do now that the crisis is obvious and worldwide. No one can deny this with a straight face. At least now there is widespread recognition of the problem.
So why should we trust what the same sources have to say about Peak Oil?

MsMaverick said...

Dear Clifford, I wrote this post about a year ago.... as an imaginary scenario...actually an overdramatization of a power outage that left us totally helpless but drove the consciousness up of how very real and frightening life could become.
I predict the peak oil crisis will be similar to financial debt crisis when it hits. Everyone will say- how did this happen so quickly and so pervasively? The Queen will ask her government- how come no-one saw it coming? And those who have seen it, like the economists who warned about the financial debt parcels and were laughed out of the room, will protest...but, but, but we produced all this research, reports predictions...and no-one wanted to know!
How can we change that? Or are we wired to ignore it because we know its impractical for all of us to come and live with you in the safety of a little village in Mexico, which wont remain small the moment more than 5000 people take up your invitation?
I will put this again on the agenda of AMPLIFY, the Innovation & Thought Leadership Festival that i produce in Sydney, Australia from 22-26 June, and see if just the usual suspects rock up. Is there a TED talk on this subject to your knowledge?

Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D. said...

Hi Ms. Maverick,

Thanks for writing. The power of denial is strong, especially when technology is the religion of most people in the so-called developed nations. And many people have been taught in schools and university that the sun's energy can be harnessed to save us.

I have sent the best information to people I know personally as scientists, and they ignore these ideas about Peak Oil and how it will impact them.

Many people have resources and could easily buy some land here, but very few have done so.

Best regards,

Cliff Wirth