Realistic thinking: Peak oil and the Environmental Challenges Ahead

This is a re-post from Dimitri Orlov’s site, and I think this 30 minute animated clip explains the issue of peak oil – peak everything really – in a succinct and relatively non-threatening way:

Is your foot on society’s growth accelerator, or on the brake? Does the simple calculus of the situation prompt you to action, or immobilize you with fear? Will you wait until the situation becomes dire, or be proactive? Become the change that you seek in the world, or be tossed on the current passively? I think whenever faced with the sort of information in the above video, we are challenged to consider our positions about such things. Some would immediately move to push it away and deny, and that is also a choice, though perhaps not a conscious one.

Another film I saw recently which was provocative and perspective-changing was Cool It. I had heard all sorts of negative press about ‘the skeptical environmentalist’ and went into a viewing of this film expecting to dislike Bjorn Lomborg, and instead found to my surprise that his position is a reasonable and rational one and that he actually makes a very persuasive argument. That in turn led me to reflect on the way an idea can be seized upon by the media and various groups to support their agenda, and how my own impressions were colored by that and not the actual words or thoughts of Lomborg.  I also reflected on the time I saw Gore’s Inconvenient Truth a few years back and came away at the end a little disturbed that after making his case about all the environmental horrors to come, Gore essentially suggests we buy energy efficient light bulbs and a Toyota Prius to feel better. It was as if he was mostly trying to scare people and not actually effect real change, that we could somehow consume our way out of any problem. It seemed a little weaksauce, as they say.

Lomborg is not skeptical about climate change as a man-made phenomena, he’s skeptical about the solutions being proffered by the world’s governments and their negotiated agreements. And he has some realistic ideas about how we could do much more real good in combating the challenges ahead and spend quite a lot less to achieve that good – at the very least, he re-frames the conversation away from doomsday scenarios. The problem with incredibly dire negative predictions about the future is that they tend to engender numbness and inaction on the part of those who hear them, especially when the message is pounded home time and again. Here’s a presentation Lomborg gave, about an hour long, and which features in the longer film and will give you a sense of his position:

What kind of society do we want to leave behind? What kind of legacy as a maker do you want to leave behind?

On another, and totally unrelated note, today marks the 500th post in the Carpentry Way! It’s a bit hard to believe actually. Thanks for your support!

6 thoughts on “Realistic thinking: Peak oil and the Environmental Challenges Ahead

  1. Bjørn Lomborg does what I really like, looking objectively at things and then take a decision. The new danish government has just removed all funding from Lomborgs Copenhagen Consensus Center. According to the british newspaper The Guardian the new danish prime minister told Lomborg off the record “Bjørn you are probably right, it just pays so much better to be against you” and I guess this pretty well sums up the situation.

  2. Per,

    thanks for your comment, and sad to hear that about the Danish government's decision. Perhaps there are certain interests who welcome the prospect of spending billions per year and achieving very little? Reminds me of another large industry…


  3. Koot,

    a big thanks for your comment and kind sentiments! I appreciate that you have been coming by the blog pretty much since inception. Hopefully the next 500 posts will keep you visiting.


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