Thursday, February 7, 2008

Peak Oil Denial

Most peak oil psychology discussions begin with a summary of the 5 stages of loss/grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. My impression is that most people never get past denial. Peak oil is not something that we HAVE to confront every day. It's not a cancer in our bodies, causing pain and impelling us to go to chemotherapy treatments. Most American people can live quite comfortably denying peak oil for quite some time, at least until gas is $5/gallon. Maybe even then.

The peak-oil aware report their anguished attempts to communicate with loved ones, random people and others. "Don't you get it? Everything must change!". Nope, sorry. I'd like to just get through the day without losing my s^&t. The 70's provides a very handy denial-enabling mechanism - the failure of the world to end after the Oil Embargoes. This strategy is mostly used by the Boomers, since members of my generation (X) rarely have a memory longer than 5 years. That may also be due to the fact that our history classes start in 1496 and end before we get to 1950. Stuff that happened after 1950 might be considered controversial, at least here in Oklahoma.

So those of us who would rather not risk anguishing ourselves over the pig-headed peak oil denial of others, create BLOGS instead! My blog is a great way to deal with Stage (4) Depression. Let's just skip anger and bargaining and get to Peak Oil Depression.

Before depression can really begin in earnest, implications of Peak Oil should be internalized. The Depression candidate should realize that one can't do jack s&^t in America without fossil fuels. Cars run on oil, obviously. So does the truck that brought you the Whoozit and your Pepsi. The high-fructose corn syrup in your Pepsi was grown with chemical fertilizers (made using the Haber-Bosch process from fossil fuel feedstock), and harvested with giant farm equipment running on oil, processed using electricity (generated from coal or natural gas) and put into an aluminum can which was mined and created using oil. Ditto for all products you might buy in the store. Did you know that plastic is made from fossil fuels? So right about when you realize that the only thing you can do "conventionally" without oil is walking around naked and shoeless in your backyard, then you are ready for a good old fashioned Peak Oil Depression.

Peak Oil Depression often begins with a semi-antagonistic hedonism - Screw it, I'm gonna get my sushi and margaritas while I still can!! (I speak for myself here). This might never get old for some people. Others feel the emptiness of mindless consumption and realize it is partially the cause of this GD mess, and move on to a new more frantic stage of Depression, which I call "Scheming".

Scheming is a highly adaptive stage of Depression, and I recommend it. It stems from the urge to not let your 6 month baby starve in the cold or be eaten by Reavers (kidding, partially). Maybe, if you scheme hard enough, you can even help out your family who never listened to you (See Denial, above) when TSHTF and they would then have to eat crow and be grateful for your Scheming skills.

Scheming takes a lot of time if you are going to do it right, since the folk in my generation have never learned how to do anything by hand, from scratch or without the use of the Internet. Let yourself be motivated rather than demoralized by the realization that your 75 yr old gtandparents could survive easier than you could when TSHTF . This is because they know the difference between a turnip and a rutabaga and know how to line dry clothes.

Scheming usually involves a lot of listmaking (which, if you become a dedicated Hausfrau reader, you will soon be subjected to). Lists of things to buy, things to learn, vegetables to grow, technologies that work without electricity, places to move which are no doubt superior to your current location, people you will be inclined to let move in to your PO lifeboat when they lose their homes, etc, you get the picture. This exercise can be highly satisfying as well as useful, and no doubt can become dangerously obsessive. Dangerous because your spouse may whack you when you wake them in the middle of the night with a proposal to buy a $400 grain mill.

After a good bout of Depressive Scheming you are ready for a little Depressive antidote, known as taking action, and which can be counted as part of the Acceptance phase. Even just a wee bit of action, like buying a big sack of rice or a 10-degree rated sleeping bag can be very therapeutic in warding off lethargy or misery.

So, we come to the focus of the newly inaugurated Peak Oil Hausfrau blog: Scheming and Action. How does a Hausfrau in the urban suburbs prepare for peak oil on a budget and without moving to a big ole farm? How does a Hausfrau with a time consuming baby learn to garden, preserve the harvest, bake, cook, clean, defend and care for her family in a world of declining energy availability? How does an undercover Peak Oil Hausfrau slyly promote low energy activities and purchases to family, friends and strangers without scaring, depressing and antagonizing these folk? How does a Hausfrau manage to mangle so much grammar and yet entertain her readers? We shall see.

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