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Retro: Peak Oil and the Curse of Cassandra
Alex Steffen, 28 Aug 05

Is Peak Oil the new Y2K?

It may be, but not in the way you're thinking. As Jamais points out in Peak Oil and the Curse of Cassandra, the Y2K "alarmists" weren't really wrong, they were successful: they managed to get enough people to pay attention to the problem that the worst consequences of the Y2K problem were fixed. People then assumed that, because airplanes didn't start falling from the sky on New Year's Day, 2000, that it had all just been a case of the Chicken Littles. Jamais suggests that folks warning of the challenges we may face as we come to the End of Oil may be regarded in a similar light in the future, for similar reasons, and that this is really just fine:

So here is my advice to peak oilers: after all is said and done, you're going to be ridiculed, just as the Y2K people were (and still are) ridiculed. Not because you were wrong, but because you were right enough to keep the disaster from happening. In 2025, when most people in the world are driving cheap, Chinese & Indian-made battery/fuel cell/bioflexfuel hypercars, relying on smart agriculture to reduce or eliminate petroleum fertilizers, and using bioplastics as raw fabber materials, those reminded of the "peak oil" scare are going to look around and say: "Peak oil? What a bunch of nuts. Look -- nobody actually drilled in the Arctic Wildlife Preserve or off the California Coast, ExxonMobil went out of business because nobody needed their liquified coal "oil," and people were more freaked out by oil at $60 a barrel than at $120 a barrel. Where were the wars, the starvation, the collapse of civilization and the ATMs spewing out money we were promised?"

When you hear them say that, feel free to smile and nod, and know that you were right.

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Comments

Lovely and so apropos.


Posted by: Michael Slavitch on 29 Aug 05

I had the same thoughts on this topic


Posted by: donna Hemingson on 30 Aug 05

The Y2K'ers were definately wrong about the coming doomsday scenario.

They were claiming the world was coming to an end. That was not necessary. All they had to do was point out the oncoming complexities. They could have been fixed without fearmongering.

The same is true for peak oilers, whom I often find to be very rude and disrespectful people. Nobody needs to hear any 'falling sky'-theories. It's not gonna happen. Just tell the world that it's important to switch from oil to renewables, and that will be enough.

Just my two cents.


Posted by: Jay on 31 Aug 05

No doomsday necessary but Y2K was a good excuse for an emergency preparedness drill. So was the tsunami and now the hurricane repurcussions in New Orleans.

And then there's the war....

It's beginning to look like John Brunner's _Sheep Look Up_ crossed with _1984_ or a bad mixture of Jack London's _Iron Heel_ and _The Scarlet Plague_.

If peak oil is already happening it may be a very quick ride to the bottom of the barrel, the way global capitalism works these days.

It looks like for the coming fall and winter it is wise to act as if peak oil is happening if only on purely economic terms, (i.e. caulking, sealing, insulation, solar, wind, all of the above; fuel efficiency check-ups for the vehicles, the correct tire pressure, clean air and oil filters, tune-up, all of the above).


Posted by: gmoke on 31 Aug 05



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