Earlier this week I spent a while looking through some of the early posts I put up on my original blog, The Archdruid Report.  Maybe it’s just the

Beyond the Peak

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2022-09-21 18:00:46

Earlier this week I spent a while looking through some of the early posts I put up on my original blog, The Archdruid Report.  Maybe it’s just the rose-colored reactions of middle age gazing back on the follies of youth, but it all seems so innocent now. I was part of a movement in those days, the peak oil movement, which hoped to shake people out of their fond delusion that an infinite amount of fossil fuels can be extracted from a finite planet. The last attempt along those lines, back in the 1970s, was far enough in the past that many of us managed to convince ourselves that this time, we could get people to notice that the laws of physics really do matter.

We were wrong. There’s no kinder way to put it. While we helped some people to grapple with the hard realities of fossil fuel depletion and come to terms with the consequences, they were very much in the minority. Most people dismissed the peak oil message out of hand.  They had plenty of help doing this, because a certain loud fraction of peak oilers ignored the hard lessons of history, and insisted that fossil fuel depletion would cause the entire world to crash to ruin sometime very soon.  Those of us who knew better, and said so, were shoved aside in the rush to proclaim the apocalypse, which inevitably failed to arrive.  That failure was then systematically used to discredit the movement as a whole. It’s an old, ugly story.

Yet the apocalypse follies weren’t the only factor in play. At least as important was a set of counterarguments that claimed to take fossil fuel depletion seriously but claimed to offer a solution—or, more to the point, two solutions. Neither of them were actually workable, but people bent over backwards not to notice that.

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