The path to “end of the world” thinking is well trod, most heavily so in times of oppression, uncertainty, and corruption. But perhaps some of us can recognize how familiar is this dark road, resist the natural urge to repeat the story once more, and remember that there are many routes into the future other than the one toward the lowest common denominator. _Pattern Literacy
Some of the most popular doomer movements have fallen on hard times recently. Old arguments are being recycled and revised to replace the failed prophecies of the past. Goalposts are being moved to grant defeated doomers more room to maneuver.
The debate over whether we are running out of oil sometimes resembles the medieval controversy over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. By redefining the size of the pin and the agility of the angels, today’s “peak oil” proponents have managed to continue the argument.
The characters have changed though. Matthew Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert, casting doubt on Saudi oil production, died in August 2010, and the Oil Drum website closed down last September. __ Robin Mills
Back in the early 2000s, it was excusable to believe that oil prices could only go up and up and up.
Back in 2008 for example, talk about oil at $250 per barrel was new normal. Today’s oil fear is let us say $150 per barrel.
But natural gas in the USA at today’s price of not even $4 a million BTU prices this gas at $23 per barrel equivalent. Put another way do you prefer whisky at $50 per bottle or $15 for a product, whisky, with a basic production cost of below $5 a bottle ? __ Andrew McKillop
As cheaper natural gas begins to hit the world stage, the economics of energy suddenly changes. And despite the doomers’ wail, it looks as if cheaper global gas prices are on the way.
It is only natural for persons with time on their hands to obsess over things like doom, Justin Bieber, and other time-killing trivialities. And of the modern varieties of doom, peak oil armageddon and global warming apocalypse are two of the most popular modern obsessions for the retired, unemployed, and other leisure classes.
Why do so many of us dwell on doom — besides the fact that so many world leaders are incompetent clowns?
… catastrophism is largely a manifestation of our primary cultural myth: that all things end with suffering, death, and then resurrection. Belief in apocalypse is programmed into western civilization. Given our heritage, “the end is nigh” is the nearly unavoidable personal and collective response to times of uncertainty and rapid change…
… Peak Oil writings are sprinkled with predictions that billions will die, civil order will collapse, and even that civilization will end. Scientists, too, aren’t immune. During geologist Ken Deffeyes’s Peak Oil presentations, he displays the words “war,” “famine,” “pestilence,” and “death”—the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
… One fascinating aspect of doom scenarios is that they have evolved over the centuries to suit the times. Once you get familiar with the history of apocalypse stories, it’s no surprise that in our technological age, technology—and not a god, an emperor, or the stars—is the bringer of the end. __ Pattern Literacy
As for global warming apocalypse, the only rationale for believing in climate doom has been the gloomy projections of computer models. Those models are rapidly losing all credibility with honest climate scientists and the better informed members of the public.
Just as “there is a sucker born every minute,” so is there a doomer born every minute. But since prophecies of doom routinely fail, there is also a reformed doomer born every minute.
The most popular types of doom on a popsicle stick are unlikely to occur this century. Still, although we should hope for the best, we should also prepare for the worst. Prep for a wide range of disasters of variable length. Focus on foods with long storage life, clean water and water purification, fuels for backup heat and power supplies, trade goods, medicines, modes of defence, and backup shelters — including portable shelter. Maintain your various forms of transport and keep escape routes updated in case you need to “bug out.”
It is never too late for a dangerous childhood.
Update October 2014: Neo-Malthusians suffer loss of face