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Getting Comfortable with Peak Oil

It is a fact that oil is a finite resource. It is also a fact that at some point we will reach the maximum rate of oil extraction know as peak oil. Some believe we have already reached this plateau. In the recent documentary Collapse, Michael Ruppert exposes evidence of why he is certain we have already reached peak oil. As one of the handful of people who predicted the recent collapse of Wall Street, Mr. Ruppert is not someone to be taken lightly. Even if we haven’t yet reached peak oil, there are few who would argue that peak oil is real and inevitable.

As Mr. Ruppert says in his interview with the Wall Street Journal:

It is not possible to continue infinite consumption and infinite population growth on a finite planet.

The realization that the fabric of modern society that is cheap oil will come to an abrupt end in our generation is a tough pill to swallow. When I first learned of peak oil five years ago, it took me about a week of woeful contemplation to choke it down. In the end, I managed to take comfort in a few of things.

First, we don’t know when it will happen. We need to take advantage of the time we have to reduce dependance on oil for essential things like food production. Fortunately, I feel this is happening. Food security is one of the top global issues and there seems to be plenty of movements afoot to help the situation. Community supported agriculture, sustainable small-scale farms, and a loathing for corporations like Tyson Foods and Monsanto are all steps in the right direction. It’s also good news that investments in renewable energy sources (wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, etc) has never been higher and there is a real push to ramp this up. After peak oil, it will cost a lot more to create this infrastructure.

Second, we don’t know what exactly will happen or how quickly things will change. At peak oil, most theorists predict that the price of oil will skyrocket, rising the price of nearly everything from food to electricity. Though it’s usually portrayed to happen quickly, it’s possible that the price of oil will take time to increase, allowing people to adjust to the changing market prices.

Lastly, there’s plenty of ways to improve your own situation should the worst case scenario unfold. My brother fears the worst. He and his wife plan to buy a farm in the next 5 years, generate hydro/solar/wind power, and eventually be completely off the grid (he is not alone). My plan is to move in with them. Actually, my 5-year plan involves a house in the city and a small backyard garden. We are actually considering moving to the country eventually, maybe a farm with some animals, but for now we are cautiously optimistic and enjoying urban living.

I have a hard time believing that all hell will break loose in an instant. I think that there will be time to adapt. Days? Week? Months? Who knows. But we are good at adapting. I believe there are hard times ahead within my lifetime. There will likely be misery and suffering on a unprecedented level. I imagine those who did not see it coming or ignored the fact will have the hardest time adapting. I’ve heard people dismiss the issue, saying they believe the human race will adapt and survive. Of that, I have no doubt. But will you and your family? My advice: think about it for a minute. You don’t even have to believe it. Just ask yourself, “What if?” What would you do? How would you adapt?

Learn More

There’s an incredible amount of information out there from educated, reputable individuals writing on this subject. Here’s a few starting points: