Rarely a day goes by in which I don’t mention the looming fossil fuel shortage to acquaintances or people I’ve met in passing, on plane flights for instance, and I’m easily talking about hundreds of people here, of all ages and backgrounds. Even at dinner parties I raise the issue. From these discussions, the only thing I know for sure is that these people are now avoiding me like crazy. Actually, that’s a joke, for the reality is that they were avoiding me way before I’d ever heard of Hubbert’s Peak. That’s a joke too, I hope. Actually, what I have been able to conclude, with reasonable certainty, is this:
Firstly, these people mostly seem to agree that shortages are coming. After all, what else may they believe when you ask them the following set of questions?
Do you believe oil is a finite, nonrenewable resource? Are we continuing to consume this resource? Is total global consumption increasing or decreasing? Is that consumption depleting the resource? Is it reasonable to expect that, someday, the rate of consumption will not be met by the rate of supply?
Secondly, people don’t have a clue as to when the shortages will start, but if pressed they will admit that it may be sooner than later.
Thirdly, people believe alternative energy sources will provide their needs. Photovoltaic solutions are the most often mentioned.
Fourthly, people believe that the future, as far as the global supply of oil is concerned, is beyond their control and they’ll deal with resultant problems as they arise.
Fifthly, most people don’t dwell on the issue. They’re too busy worrying about their jobs, their relationships, and their mortgages.
Am I bothered that most people don’t share my concerns about the looming shortages? No. I believe that such worry would serve little purpose other than to increase Prozac sales.
Am I personally doing anything to deal with the looming shortage? Yes. I’m building an energy efficient home, which I’ve called the Pineridge Project, complete with a greenhouse that will allow my family and I to live comfortably, without access to the grid or a superstore. I plan on retrofitting a truck to run on ethanol, which I hope to produce in-house.
Do I believe others should do similarly? Yes. But I believe that it would be impossible for more than 1/10th of 1 percent of North American families to incorporate my ideas, or similar ones, prior to oil and gas shortages becoming chronic.
Within my extended family, to whom I’ve been preaching a need for proactive action for close to three years, absolutely none of the fifteen households are planning on doing anything to minimize the impact of oil shortages.
On this list, I’d venture to guess that less than 1 in 20 are taking any proactive action to deal with the coming oil crisis.
I suspect that the almost universal apathy regarding oil and gas shortages is a human trait. If people were to hear that a killer meteorite was on a path to destroy the earth, I believe that they would react to that information exactly the same way they react to the possibilities of looming oil shortages, by doing nothing and by not worrying.