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Is Peak Oil the New Y2K?

With todays oil situation and predictions of a peak just around the corner, is peak oil the next Y2K? Jamais Cascio reminds us in Peak Oil and the Curse of Cassandra of the lessons learned from Y2K; Disasters were avoided by listening to warnings and acting upon them.

Y2K is a lesson in what can happen when sufficiently-motivated people around the world work hard to avert disaster. The key here is "sufficiently-motivated" -- without the Cassandra-like voices of Y2K doomsayers, fewer companies and government agencies would have given priority to the problem. Ironically, it was the very success of the Y2K disaster crowd that kept the disaster from happening.
When I compare Y2K with peak oil, then, my goal isn't to underplay the potential seriousness of the problem or insult the peak oil specialists. Quite the opposite, in fact; the peak oil Cassandras -- Kunstler included -- are perfectly positioned to trigger the kind of anxiety-induced focus needed to accelerate a move away from petroleum dependence. What I hope to suggest to them, therefore, is that they need to keep in mind that there's another scenario besides global doom and blind optimism -- a scenario in which their warnings work.

These warnings, argues Cascio, aren't meant to terrorize us, but to instigate lifestyle changes that will prepare and prevent disasters.

Peak Oil and the Curse of Cassandra is a part of our month long retrospective leading up to our anniversary on Oct. 1. For the next four weeks, we'll celebrate five years of solutions-based, forward-thinking and innovative journalism by publishing the best of the Worldchanging archives.

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I'll have to agree wholeheartedly there. Started thinking about this in a worse possible scenario at my family level. Solutions can be found. If I, as an amateur, can find solutions to food, albeit unpopular ones, then I am confident that teams of experts can find many solutions for society.

Posted by: Araqiel on 6 Sep 08

Excellent article. I agree. I saw the same think working at small freight airlines. At the companies that did not have fatal accidents it was common knowledge that certain safety oriented employees where just WAY TOO WORRIED ABOUT SOMETHING THAT NEVER HAPPENED!!!! Of course they were preventing the accidents.

Posted by: Daniel J Swanson on 6 Sep 08

Y2K was about a looming crisis of our own making. (We were too stoopid to use the bits and were setting ourselves up for it from the get go.)

Peak Oil is different in that its not US that defined the crisis.

Its the planet itself that has a limited quantity of oil for use (we're not even going to touch whether that is lucky for us or if we're already screwed with global warming drowning DC.)

Peak oil means that it no longer matters if you a "glass half full" or a "glass half empty" kind of guy because the issue is "the glass WAS full but its getting emptied now."

Ask yourself how much do you want to pay got oil. Now ask yourself how much are you going to have to pay for it.

Peak oil just means were at a tipping point we've known about since the sixties, but ignored 'till now.

Posted by: Charles-A Rovira on 8 Sep 08

Please visit the above site so you can sleep at night. It is proof that petroleum is constantly being produced deep within the Earth. It is called abiotic oil. The Russians have proven this concept decades ago and now are about the second largest exporter of crude oil in the world, where they previously were an oil IMPORTER.

Posted by: Allan on 8 Sep 08



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