free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 127. PEAK OIL: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

127. PEAK OIL: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

In my opinion, this is the best argument against peak oil causing the collapse of modern civilization: it's too good to be true. The idea that we could be magically released from the stifling, inane rat race which governs our lives is appealing -- so appealing in fact, that we should be very suspicious of it.

The post-peak utopia is not going to arrive for the simple reason that it is a utopia.

Read the above sentence again, and let it sink in. Both the hard doomers and the softer relocalization peakniks like Heinberg deceive themselves by failing to fully appreciate the weight of that statement. They are allowing their hopes and their dreams to color their sober judgment.

Here's a case study, killJOY from peakoil.com:
I don't hate America, but I do hate the government. I can't wait for it to collapse.
Naturally, killJOY is damn sure that peak oil will collapse the government. By an amazing coincidence, reality is going to obey his wishes.

My thinking is that the government is not going to collapse, because it's too good to be true. Think about it carefully and see if you don't agree. It's a very strong argument -- a sort of wisdom, something an old man would say to you.

I get skeptical when people start talking about the "good side of peak oil" -- like my friend bart who (understandably) longs for: "healthy, delicious food; beautiful, hand-crafted tools and homes; satisfying relationships and communities. "

It's a chapter out of Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents. Industrialism, crass consumption, debt-based fiat money, the rat race, the gubmint, environmental devastation... Whatever your peeve with the modern world is, peak oil is going to wipe it off the face of the earth, and lead us (after the "Tribulations", of course) into the New Jerusalem.

It's a form of wishful thinking, and that's why the rejoinder "too good to be true" is such a good argument. It's like cutting the Gordian Knot. It's an argument without arguing, and it's effective.

Look at killJOY. He said " I can't wait for the government to collapse" months ago, and it's gotta be demoralizing now, what with Colin Campbell pushing peak oil back to 2010. Waiting for peak oil to lay waste to industrialism, globalism and government is like waiting for Godot, or Jesus. He never comes. What makes you think you're so special -- that you'll live to see The Endtimes?

It's like a child with a lottery ticket, telling his mother. "I'm gonna be the winner, Mom! I Just know it!!"

There's no argument to prove to the kid that he's wrong. He's just having a hyper, emotional response, and you have to help him calm down. You can't reason with him about it, because he'll just keep confabulating.

The best approach, of course, is to tell the kid: "You're not going to win. It's too good to be true."

The message: You're over-excited, son. It's better to calm down. The world doesn't work neatly like that. It's messy, and sloppy, and full of friction and tenacity and delay. The "good guys" don't win.

20 Comments:

At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 9:09:00 AM PDT, Anonymous popmonkey said...

JD, i'm not even sure where to begin.

Your blog has always been a reasoned, fact searching response to the worst case PO theories. it's been a voice of reason and moderation among widely differing and fanatical sides of the PO debate.

until now.

it'll be interesting to see this post get linked to by latoc and other doomer sites as proof that you're a lunatic, something i don't believe.

in one post you've damaged all the good work you've done so far.

#127 makes is not based on any real facts (except maybe for the odds of winning a lottery).

it is not based on moderate reasoning.

if it was meant to be funny, it fails even on that end.

it's just weird and pointless semantic fluff.

it deviates drastically from previous 126 posts. it is without value or meaning and ends.

i think i actually understand the sarcasm of what you were trying to get at here, but you've failed, and readers who may be making their first stop here will not get it.

my problem with #127:

first off, you need to define Peak Oil for us again because it's getting awful murky.

second, define what it is that POilers consider too good to be true. all POilers? or just the doomsters? and which ones?

are you, for example, saying that a 1 to 2 decade recession is too good to be true? how about nuclear war between china and the us? what about the US invading iran? all too good to be true?

what about the Peak Oilers who believe that a dramatic rise in petrol prices will bring about stricter measures on personal transportation, cleaner fuels, and possibly even save the environment? also too good to be true?

if all these theories turn out to be "too good to be true" doesn't that mean that there's another one: people continue driving and polluting and multiplying.

isn't this in itself "too good to be true" by your ambiguous definition?

so what exactly *is* your point of view?

whether you like it or not, your blog is a popular one as evidenced by the visits of "Mr. Popularity Seeker" Matt Savinar, it's position in the blogosphere, and the moderate individuals who contribute to the commentary and take part in your PO google group.

i think you owe it to people like me, who point others to your blog as a voice of reason among the gloom, to reject your temptation to wax semantical and stick to the hitherto reasoned, fact based "debunking".

i normally look forward to each of your posts, but this one blind sided me. it's just plain goofy.

utopia is a very strong word and i can't think of too many folks who see the other side of the peak as utopia. maybe the big guns, maybe the fascists with their twisted, self centered futuristic viewpoints. but the average person who is worried about PO is not looking at any utopia but a future rife with growing amount of pain, environmental damage, war, and is looking for ways to mitigate it, not dismiss it with such a bizarre reasoning.

what happened? too much sake?

~pop

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 9:16:00 AM PDT, Anonymous popmonkey said...

feh... i think i failed to let the first sentence sink in before going off on a rant.

the key being:

"...peak oil causing the collapse of modern civilization..."

ok, looks like you have definied your POV and this invalidates a lot of what i say above.

i still feel this was an unnecessary post because it deviates from your usual non-semantic non-philosophical approach to debunking the doomsters.

please stick to the facts man!

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 10:26:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, this one is almost as bad as the one where you tried to convince the reader that oil could go to $2,600 a barrel and the shipping of food would be unaffected. That and the one where you said the war in Iraq is not about the oil. Good going you fool.

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 10:29:00 AM PDT, Blogger EnergySpin said...

Hi popmonkey.
I think JD meant to say that doomer POilers (the ones who cannot wait before the rape, looting, killing, die-off starts) are exhibiting a particularly simple way of thinking. It is the way Hollywood portrays successful problem solving strategies: one that involves graphic violence, and ends with the good guy killing (always in a spectacular fashion) the bad guy(s) (e.g. government, civilization, neighbours).
This can also be seen a manifestation of the intense indoctrination by apocalyptic religions in the western world.

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 10:34:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Matt Savinar said...

I do visit JDs blog quite often as I find it incredibly entertaining and sometimes even laugh-out loud funny. It's almost as if he is trying to make fun of himself half the time.

The mix of straw man arguments, ridiculous personal attacks where he accusses people like Richard Heinberg and Colin Campbell of being greened up hate-mongers, arguments where he so botches his point I have to think he is winking at the reader who "gets it", outlandish headlines like "nobody cares about Peak Oil" & "peak oil is dead" along with the occassional intereting factoid such as the bit about the South African Defense Force commandos who work as SASOL employees, makes for some fun reading.

I say "keep it up!"

Best,

Matt

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 11:36:00 AM PDT, Blogger James said...

I think JD missed the mark here, but that's the point. He's human. If you think that JD, or any other PO source (from optimists to doomers) is infallible and always 100% right, then sorry, but you need to get your head examined.

I think a follow-up post to clarify what JD was trying to say would be very useful...

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 12:50:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Food for thought: What we predict is shaped by what we want to happen. For example, the more tolerable you think a post-dieoff world would be, the more likely you are to interpret the facts as supporting dieoff.

I think that may have to do with what JD was trying to say.

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 2:35:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's perfectly clear what the point is, and Kunstler is the best example: he wants a different world, one where his urban planning dreams would be realized. For him, peak oil collapse would be a good thing. Of course, people like Savinar aren't so clear. Perhaps Savinar's exaggerating to scare people into listening, or perhaps he's just making a career for himself - I still haven't figured out whether he deceives himself into believing his exaggerations....

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 3:06:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

I do visit JDs blog quite often as I find it incredibly entertaining and sometimes even laugh-out loud funny.

Why don't you link to it from LATOC so your readers can join in the fun too? It seems kind of selfish hogging it all to yourself. ;-)

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 3:17:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

It's perfectly clear what the point is, and Kunstler is the best example: he wants a different world, one where his urban planning dreams would be realized. For him, peak oil collapse would be a good thing.

Thanks anon. I was thinking the same thing. As much as I like and agree with Kunstler, he's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I too would like to see the car go by the wayside, but I'm realistic enough to know that that is extremely unlikely. Like I said in the post, "the 'good guys' don't win".

Read Kunstler on Y2K:
http://www.kunstler.com/mags_y2kassess.html

He was 100% sure Y2K was going to take down suburbia, just like he's 100% sure peak oil is going to take down suburbia. His analysis is contaminated with his desires.

 
At Tuesday, October 11, 2005 at 3:58:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That URL looks like it ends in "Y2K Asses". Funny.

 
At Wednesday, October 12, 2005 at 1:08:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is your whole point just that "collapse" will not happen?

What about those who are concerned about less dramatic senerios, such as an economic recession or depression?

By your reasoning a depression would almost certainly happen, because it would not lead to collapse and no one wants just a depression??

Actually I don't know what your reasoning is.

 
At Wednesday, October 12, 2005 at 9:22:00 PM PDT, Anonymous popmonkey said...

james, of course! but it would be interesting to find out if JD can admit when he's wrong. Colin Cambell can >:P

espin, ya, that's a very good take on it.

 
At Thursday, October 13, 2005 at 6:26:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Wildwell said...

There’s no doubt some people are looking forward to peak oil because it would produce a ‘better world’, whether that’s from an urban planning viewpoint, to getting rid of people they don’t like, to watching corporations get their comeuppance or capitalism break it’s back. Really what this translates to is ‘The current world model is not really what I’d like so bring it on’.

The reality of any major problem is always a compromise because while some may not like blacks, others do, with some may not like Walmart, others might. Put ten people in a room and they’d come up with vastly different perfect world models. Some would come up with utopian ideas, other very socialist ideas and the odd person might come up the concept of breakfast in bed with 3 large breasted women every morning, non stop MTV and orange juice coming out of the taps.

As for collapse, in some countries that’s happening now with a combination of bad political management and high all prices. Rich countries won’t be affected as much as people think, they have the science and the capital to effect change and cope.

 
At Thursday, October 13, 2005 at 8:06:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that 3 women with large breasts, or women with 3 large breasts?

 
At Thursday, October 13, 2005 at 1:23:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Wildwell said...

Depends what you've been talking the night before - probably anything after spending a night on PO.com lol

 
At Thursday, May 11, 2006 at 8:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger mealymind said...

JD

For someone who claims to agree with Kunstler -

+++As much as I like and agree with Kunstler+++

you don't spare an opportunity to level perfectly false allegations against him.

The link which you gave to prove that he was convinced Y2K would collapse society hardly did that at all.
The closest he gets to revealing that belief is -

++The phenomenal lack of apparent problems with electricity grids and nuclear plants and basic infrastructure all over the world that ensued on the rollover came as quite a shock to many of us who had reasoned that something had to give++

I'm afraid this s a pretty typical example of the way you make many points. Sort of come up with wild claims and then include any facts that may contain two or three similar words or sentences while not actually bothering to really analyse their meaning.

Keep up the good work, like Savinar I'm much amused by your attempts to 'factualise' your optimism and constantly rejig your condemnation of peak oil.

 
At Friday, June 23, 2006 at 2:17:00 AM PDT, Blogger cynic boy said...

Well this site is probably having it's desired effect,which is to pacify the plebs,so they can head back to wasteful consumer lifestyles safe in the knowledge that they and their 2.4 pasty kids can carry on this ridiculous consumption parade forever and a day.
I hate to rain on your parade but,you all need to wake the fuck up!!!
If you think the next generation will be able to travel from their Mchouses to their pointless paper shuffling Mcjob in their suv you need your head examined!
I am definitely looking forward to peak oil so that all the mindless,brainwashed aberzombie and finches will get their long overdue reality check!!!

 
At Monday, October 15, 2007 at 11:38:00 AM PDT, Blogger Bitbrain said...

"I am definitely looking forward to peak oil so that all the mindless,brainwashed aberzombie and finches will get their long overdue reality check!!!"

Wow... ummmm..err.... I remember watching some kind of zombie horror move back in the eighties where a group of teens were blowing away zombies in a shopping mall.

However, the previous comment was definitely the best example of the
original point of Post 127.

Viva Suburbia!

 
At Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 4:37:00 AM PDT, Blogger French Wanderer said...

"What makes you think you're so special -- that you'll live to see The Endtimes?"

It'd not be the end of time. If peak oil ever comes, it will only be the end of a certain time and form of civilization.
An other thing: a lot of the doomsdays kept thinking that it could be better after...In fact, it will certainly be worse.
Apart from that, nice to read a blog which do not fall in a science-fiction scenario!

 

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