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Peak Oil Matters

A fresh perspective on the concept of peak oil and the challenges we face

  America’s tradition of anti-intellectualism puts a low premium on careful thinking, allowing the substitution of slogans for analysis. The current presidential campaign should be evidence enough of how true this is. But there is another reason for resistance to careful thinking; it can be difficult and distressing, especially if it leads to conclusions that […]

  Now would be an excellent time to ponder for a moment or two just how many more problems we want to create, how many more options we want to take off the table, and how many burdens we want to inflict on ourselves by continuing to roll down the same highway without full discussions […]

  The tendency to justify the system may interfere with a clear evaluation of environmentally damaging aspects of the socioeconomic status quo and prevent a person from becoming dissatisfied and from taking action to correct environmental problems or stop destructive cycles

  The urgency with which the United States and the world treats energy issues has to do in part with whether the public thinks there is a problem. And, Americans don’t think there is a problem with low-priced energy as is evidenced by a political past

    Scientists say there’s a tension in the brain between responding to new information and resisting overwhelming amounts of conflicting data—and the latter can prevent opinion change. Altering opinion depends on using different psychological methods tailored to different types of belief.… ‘There’s not much convincing people,’ even when the beliefs in question are purely […]

    It’s a lot easier to seek confirmation than information. So not only does the online world provide less information, it provides more spin and distortion of that information from an online empire of advocates that enables us as never before to find the voices we agree with, and to ignore anybody else.

    As cognitive dissonance theory would predict, people tend to avoid information that is dissonant with their current beliefs and seek consonant information …, especially when they are already committed to a particular position … and/or the information is self-relevant. [Citations in original] *

    Energy and the economy represent just two self-relevant domains that people can feel uncertain about, both in terms of how they operate at a societal level and how people should act on them. This kind of unfamiliarity can be problematic for day-to-day functioning, and can also be psychologically stressful.

    We … [confront] a previously unacknowledged factor that may contribute to the perpetuation of environmental apathy and inaction, namely, the motivated tendency to justify the status quo, especially in the face of threat. Confronting global warming and environmental destruction requires facing up to serious threat, not only because of the scope and unpredictability […]

  Without a serious revisiting of the questionable optimism that dominates any dialogue related to longer-term world oil supplies, without a harshly realistic scrub of the facts, we face unnecessarily large energy policy risks.