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 are uncomfortable or contrary to our current beliefs.
I began last week’s post with a variation of these questions:
How do optimistic projections from ExxonMobil’s “The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040” report—which I highlighted in that post—square themselves in the face of the oil production challenges suggested by the news excerpts which were also included in that piece? How long do those opposed to climate change and peak oil implications dance away from the unpleasant truths?
What is the benefit beyond avoiding painful discussions today? At what point do those contrarian viewpoints give way to a recognition that there is more than enough evidence already in play to make those challenges both very real and quite formidable now?
How does postponing not just acknowledgment but any and all efforts to come to mutual understandings and a commitment to work cooperatively in addressing these matters make it any easier or better for anyone?
I suggested at the outset of this series that I did not want it to turn into yet another exercise in mocking those who do not accept the implications of peak oil. A legitimate argument could be made that I’ve failed in that objective.
A fossil fuel-driven-and-made-possible life is all any of us have ever known. There are virtually no aspects of commerce, leisure, transportation, or consumption which do not depend in some part on inexpensive, readily-available and easily-produced fossil fuels. That is most certainly not going to change dramatically overnight, but the situation we’ll soon be facing simply isn’t going to get any better if all we’re counting on for many more years is even more inexpensive, readily-available and easily-produced fossil fuels.
One-sided stories or news features serve many purposes. Unfortunately for the public, serving their interests is rarely if ever one of the objectives … or outcomes.
Several months ago, one of this year’s better features on the subject of peak oil was offered by John Kaufmann in his article entitled: The Energy Independence Illusion. It’s an excellent read [adapted from a presentation to the World Affairs Council of Oregon this past march] for anyone interested in this topic. [Any quotes here are from that article unless noted otherwise.]