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Peak Oil

Causes

Peak oil has slowly bubbled up into the U.S. mainstream media since many alternative media outlets have covered it more and more as a potential cause of economic slumps many parts of the developed world experienced from 2008 onwards. According to many peak oil pundits, crashing financial markets and sub-prime mortgages which people couldn’t afford were symptoms of a much deeper cause which has continued for decades. Overtime, what began with an oil crisis in the 1970’s was postponed by new well discoveries throughout the eighties as an atmosphere of leftist experimentation with appropriate technologies gave way to more politically conservative attitudes throughout the 80’s. Even though innovation in many so called green technologies was stifled after two decades of progressivism, computer technology which still depends on many surpluses of oil refining and drilling continued moving forward without delay.

Overall, peak oil doesn’t mean that oil will completely run out any time soon but is just a definition for times when more energy will be expended to extract lessening amounts of petroleum from the ground. As explained above, the first oil crisis resulted from less energy surpluses being available to support increasingly industrialized lifestyles within the U.S. around twenty years after world war two ended. Many people living there may remember these decades as a time when exotic drugs and many other forms of societal experimentation was put in practice by hippies and vagabonds. What’s still not know about this time is whether these countercultures were subconsciously responding to looming environmental crises in the decades ahead or not before being cast out of the limelight as more conservative attitudes took hold throughout society overtime.

Effects

Even though much of America seemed to be at it’s peak after wars from previous decades ended during the late 40’s, it became evident that not all was well beneath the country’s calm façade in the years ahead. As the eighties passed into the nineties and the nineties faded into the 2000’s, the effects of peak oil were beginning to be felt again by just about every segment of society since the 2008 oil crises that started with stock market crashes, foreign wars, and Deepwater rig explosions, continues to gradually effect many developed countries today. As the effects of the 2008 crises continued, increasing technological efficiencies allowed more high tech technologies to continue operating alongside financial systems which support them by using less electricity even though they’re still manufactured through processes which require large amounts of energy, bureaucracy, and centralization.

Many statistics also suggest that the U.S. has had many false economic recoveries throughout the 50’s onwards because it uses 25% of the world natural resources even though only 1% of the world’s population lives there. As oil shocks continue rippling throughout the developed world, many other symptoms have also been seen in the form of gradually rising living expenses which put many people into debt. Today’s rising living costs also result from times when many people who couldn’t afford homes bought houses through high interest loans around the early to mid-2000’s. From 2008 onwards, the word debt has also become a popular catchphrase for today’s crises whether it’s through money or oil that’s been wasted by individuals, governments, and multinationals ignoring limits to unlimited economic growth.

After many years of uneasy calm throughout the nineties, which was preceded by periods of prolonged economic and ecological crises through the seventies and eighties, it’s become more obvious that central banks took advantage of ignorant sub-prime buyers who were swindled into deals which were too good to be true. Even though previous generations of baby boomers ran up economic and ecological debts millennials will pay for, today’s millennials probably would have made similar choices to delay looming crises which will play out through the decades ahead since it’s typically human nature to take paths of lesser resistance whenever they’re offered. Even though short term gains which lead to long term losses through environmental and economic crisis today are rooted in an inability to efficiently remove oil from the ground these mistakes can, at least, be learned from in time. As of now, the main issue surrounding peak oil is that many economic issues are seen as purely economic rather than ecological. Of course, since the entire economy is dependent on an ecosystem with finite resources which are distributed in ways which cause artificial scarcities, many more people are now paying attention to what environmentalists from the sixties onwards said as ages of temporary energy abundance gives to way an age of limits.

Solutions

There really are no quick fix solutions for peak oil if most data and claims from many of its advocates is accurate. Instead it should be seen as a dilemma which, if looked at correctly, can be turned into an opportunity to reconsider the roles many modern technologies and financial systems which support them play in people’s lives. Peak oil also offers an opportunity to examine modern consumer culture from a deeper perspective since, as written above, the way people interact with one another on a daily basis has been a root cause of why artificial scarcities get amplified by advanced economies dependent on scarce amounts of oil. Alternative currencies and healthier ways of farming through permaculture have also arisen as a response to crises the planet experiences today but can’t really achieve their fullest potential unless the consumerist culture of infinite profits on a finite planet gets discerningly examined overtime.

Learning a wider variety of skills will also come in handy as the future becomes more uncertain. No one can really predict the future since it’s as unpredictable as people but anyone can see potential pitfalls as well as opportunities then adjust their lifestyle accordingly. Skills people learn as times change don’t necessarily have to be things that they’re passionate about either since many individuals practice passions for their psychological benefit rather than out of a need to make lots of money. Furthermore, figuring out ways to not be effected at all by peak oil, especially for people living in more industrialized nations, will likely be impossible unless another planet like Earth was available for everyone to move to. One of the best ways to prepare for the times ahead is to learn some type of skill that you know you can do well even though it may not be a passion then get good at it until someone pays you for it.

Having the ability to trade it for a more autonomous, or even frugal, lifestyle overtime may also be a large benefit to you as living costs increase. Learning how to market your skill through well written resumes, in person meetings, or possibly even social media could also come in handy since a book called, What Color is Your Parachute, explains a variety of practical ways for people to sell products or sell themselves during life transitions like career changes. Face to face meetings with people that you’re forming some type of long term professional relationship with are also generally more sustainable than meeting anonymously online. Even while College costs increase, degrees can still hold value too if you know how to use them to your advantage and are able to pay off debts from it without accumulating too much interests on loans. Overall, nothing written here is really new since much of what’s explained above is common wisdom that’s being re-discovered as changing circumstances give more people an opportunity to re-evaluate how they relate with the world them.

Conclusions

Peak oil itself also doesn’t need to be seen as a crises but, as stated earlier, an opportunity to re-examine roles different economic systems and technologies they’re built upon play in people’s lives. Oil crises aren’t entirely a problem in and of themselves either but have been worsened by ways people have responded to them overtime. Having face to face conversations about methods for adapting to different challenges and opportunities that changing environmental and economic conditions cause can also be very productive, or even therapeutic, for people who’ve come into contact with the more unsettling aspects of how industrializing societies function. Even though many politicians are probably doing their best managing an inefficient system of complex systems which have allowed central bankers to run up massive debts while bored forty year olds past pictures of half-naked kittens with angry eyes online, humanity is still going through a learning experience.

Sometimes, learning then setting out to create something different from what has already been learned in the past, whether it’s an idea, product, or lifestyle can be awkward and even somewhat unsettling. People make mistakes but, if they’re learned from, errors can be seen as lessons rather than losses. As many systems which run people’s lives change, stories in the form of conspiracy theories have also proliferated in order to make sense today’s world. Even though more of them are turning out to be true every day it’s helpful to remember that history, along with all its conspiracies, is just a story. As explained above, everyone is creative enough to tell unique stories then define their own narratives through life since that’s the beauty of being alive. The idea that certain groups which control the world hold complete power over you is also another story in itself since it can be helpful at times but debilitating if this type of story becomes an obsession. Overall, what’s happening now is that many older stories which made sense of the world are slowly breaking down. History has been full of times when people reoriented frameworks they use to relate with reality and this time is no different even though the pace of change seems to be happening faster. In the end, what should be taken from all of this is that no one on this planet is completely imprisoned or enslaved, unless they’re actually in a prison, since many self-imposed prisons develop within the mind from stories that people tell themselves overtime as they echo throughout history.

Technology | Society | Environment


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