If nothing else, we’ll need to recognize that, like climate change, Peak Oil is not some event looming on a distant horizon. Peak Oil is happening now.

We must guard against the notion that Peak Oil’s impact (like climate change) is just a one-time, cataclysmic episode “scheduled” to happen but only at some random time at an indefinite point sometime long into the future. That thinking suggest we can put off dealing with it until “later.” Conventional crude oil production peaked a decade ago. The short-term bump from tight oil production in recent years changed the totals for a brief period, but the the main issue is unchanged.

Media and industry spin may alter the perceptions of reality, but the efforts won’t change the reality. Peak Oil is already here! It’s not just about barrels of production totals. It’s what happens to a modern society powered by a finite fossil fuel resource drawn down every day to provide energy for a nearly-infinite number of needs, products, and demands.

The B team cannot match what conventional crude oil has provided all of us for more than a century. We’re now cruising along atop a somewhat steady (?) plateau of crude oil supply while feverish exploration continues, but a finite resource is still finite.

And inferior substitutes with their assorted financial and production challenges are still inferior substitutes.

The fact that peak oil’s impact won’t be obvious to all but the most rigidly delusional by next week, or next month, or next year, or for several years thereafter won’t alter the fact that what has powered modern society over these many decades will not be as available, affordable, or plentiful to power modern society in the years ahead. If we’re all waiting for a one-time collapse, then we’ve got a long wait ahead.

All the supply and demand factors which contribute to the slide down the other side of that peak in production rate are now in place. So if the treadmill is keeping status quo for now or for a couple of additional years, we cannot afford to fool ourselves nor let others attempt to do so.

Even the most casual thought about how much, how often, and for how many purposes we depend on this finite resource in countless ways each and every day for each and every one of us should be enough to awaken us all to the fact that the supply of a finite resource has by definition a built-in limitation, and “endless” isn’t part of the conversation.

Tweaking one aspect of our own lifestyles or the needs of industry and government and commerce and transportation to adjust a wee bit to an ever-diminishing resource won’t cut it. We shouldn’t expect [or fear] a mass transition from fossil fuel-powered existence today to a non-fossil fuel-powered existence tomorrow. But we won’t have the luxury of picking and choosing what sacrifices and restrictions we’ll tolerate, either. An overhaul of how we’ve powered ourselves to this point in history is going to take a bit more than the efforts of a few for a few weeks .. a lot more.

That may not be anyone’s preferred message, but the sooner we recognize the truth, the sooner we get to work on the adaptations we’ll be obliged to make soon enough. Better it’s a choice made freely in advance than a compulsory one a day too late.


~ My Wife’s Photo: Sunset at Good Harbor Beach, MA – 07.05.09



We face a choice going forward. There’s a kind of false dichotomy, a false choice that we’re being presented between policies on the left or policies on the right. It’s not left or right, it’s forward or backward. It’s a choice between investing in the future, leaving a better future for the next generation just like parents and grandparents did for us, or ignoring these hard choices and sentencing the next generation to a lower standard of living, to fewer opportunities, and a future that we could do better by. Michael Brownlee

Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas,
Envisioning Better Tomorrows


Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being


I invite you to enjoy my two books [here and here], and to view my other writings at