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 false, says psychiatrist Philip Corlett of Yale University School of Medicine.
For oil industry officials and/or their media acolytes to pretend that all is well with our prospects for maintaining not just an adequate, but more importantly, an affordable and readily-accessible supply of the same quality fossil fuel supply (oil, specifically) is an understandable strategy—if making profits no matter what is the sole objective. As a statement of respect for the public and social responsibility, it is wildly irresponsible.
Fossil fuel—oil in particular—plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat; to the means by which we transport ourselves; to the creation and availability of the innumerable products we need and use; to the availability of and development of the just-as-countless services we rely upon; to everything else we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element.
Just look outside your window and appreciate all that our ingenuity and technological prowess has created. But consider also the output and process of both creation and use. Multiply that by countless millions of locales and hundreds of millions of other individuals and organizations doing the same, dependent on that same finite and ever-depleting resource. No consequences to any of this? Seriously?
The facts are being taken hostage in an ever more intense war over deep values, particularly about environmental issues.
Among other facts I raised in an earlier post in this series suggesting that the pro-fossil fuel camp is working double-time to try and convince an unknowing public that all is well in the oil supply world was this observation:
But all is not well with the oil sector. Between 2000 and 2012, $2.6 Trillion USD was invested in oil infrastructure CAPEX, with no gain in oil production (this data includes shale oil production in USA).¹ Global crude and condensate production has plateaued since approximately 2005. The problem with this is world population is 13.8% larger now than in 2005 (7.4 billion people 5/2/2016 vs 6.5 billion in 2005). Increasingly unconventional sources of oil are being used to meet demand, where these sources are expensive to extract and struggle to meet the desired quantities.
UNDERSTANDABLE, BUT NOT HELPFUL
We take comfort, if that’s the right word, in our realization that climate change and reaching the peak in oil production are not problems which will land fully formed on our doorsteps next Tuesday; so we think we can set it aside until some undetermined date in the future after we’ve dealt with all of today’s problems. Perfectly understandable. Perfectly inappropriate.
As the evidence presented in that prior post made clear, real-world factors about the challenges and conditions of ongoing fossil fuel production give lie to the feel-good pronouncements that all is well. All is not well.
So while protecting and reinforcing the free-market-heals-all status quo is a fundamental aim of traditional conservatism in the corporate and media world, the facts they and we must accept is that we are now on the downside of conventional crude oil supply, and what’s generated as a substitute has inherent drawbacks. Higher costs, technological challenges, and inferior quality are but a few of the key factors now playing a greater role in determining the availability and affordability of our future energy supplies.
Idiotic assertions that peak oil advocates are insisting that we are running out of oil is a convenient tactic to soothe anxious supporters, but that lie has a limited usefulness. Instead of enlightening the public that we will be facing significant challenges in the years to come and that planning/preparation now, while resources are plentiful and available/affordable enough to do so effectively, they continue to be fed a stream of disingenuous nonsense.
When vested interests with outsize economic and cultural power distort the public debate by introducing falsehoods, the integrity of our deliberations is compromised.
Statements about the total resources underground are impressive, and certainly designed to put to bed any worries about future supply. They are meaningless, but no one in the industry or their Happy Talk media cheerleaders bother pointing out that saying it and then producing all of those magnificent, impressive totals are vastly different subjects. But it certainly plays well to a crowd eager for any tidbit to ease fears, keep things simple, and reassure them that all is well.
People reject scientific evidence when it does not fit their worldviews and values, challenging governments to make evidence-based policies that do the most good for the most people over the long term, but also respond to short term pressure from small but loud and politically effective advocacy groups….
And that puts us all at risk, because as the issues grow ever more complex, we increasingly need our leaders to make well-informed decisions that not only respect our values, but also do thoughtful justice to the facts.
Reinforcement of their own beliefs—either on their own by repeating the same “facts” they’ve been relying upon, or securing needed reassurances from authoritative sources—are making it that much more difficult to find common ground. While “successful” in providing support for what they need to maintain the conservative status quo, over the long haul it simply makes things more difficult for everyone.
Ignoring the factual truth about anthropogenic climate change means we are dramatically limiting the opportunities and choices of future generations.
That’s not our best choice….
~ My Photo: Myrtle Beach, SC © 09.28.12
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. Former USDOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari
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Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being