Peak Oil is not an enjoyable concept to consider, but it is a reality that will be changing our world and our lives. In a nutshell, the term refers to the fact that we have reached a peak in extracting oil from the planet, or we soon will. This peak is the halfway mark, which doesn’t sound too bad — but we have extracted the easiest oil there is to find and remove. After this, extracting petroleum will be more costly, both in money and in ecological impacts. There is widespread scientific and political agreement as to the reality of Peak Oil, although people do disagree as to the exact timing. If we haven’t passed the peak yet, it is coming soon. We can see ahead the sunset of the petroleum era.
There are many implications of this sitation. With oil becoming scarcer and harder to extract, we will be paying more at gas stations. All goods that are transported will cost more to be moved from, for example, China to your nearest big box store. Even road upkeep will be more expensive, since asphalt contains oil. Literally as well as metaphorically, we can expect more potholes ahead.
Most people aren’t paying much attention to Peak Oil. They may know what it is in a general way, but they are busy coping with work, family, and everything else on their plates. Some people are paying attention, and you can see a variety of reactions to Peak Oil online, including the whole spectrum of survivalists and those who believe the end of the world is near.
Fortunately, there is a growing group of people who are taking a good look at Peak Oil, climate change, and the world financial crisis. They are developing strategies for responding to these threats on a local level. Sustainable living, less dependence on automobiles, more local food production, and living more frugally are among the responses. The vibrant Transition Town movement is perhaps the best known group exploring these topics. There are transition initiatives all over the world; you can find out more about them at www.transitionnetwork.org/.
It can be depressing to think about Peak Oil, but if you do, you will have more opportunity to prepare for whatever changes may come. Informing yourself, reducing your debt, storing some basic supplies, starting a garden, riding a bike, and getting to know your neighbors are some of the simple things you can do. These activities are worthwhile and generally pleasurable in themselves, no matter what happens. If millions of us make changes like these, it will make a huge difference in how flexible our whole society is.
No matter what else you do, be sure to take time to enjoy your life. Enjoy your family and friends, enjoy just being alive, and enjoy the sunsets! Being deeply connected with what you love will help you manage the stress of living in these interesting times.