Last night I read from cover to cover a brand new book, Peak of the Devil: 100 Questions (and answers) about Peak Oil by Chip Haynes.
Chip is a guy who lives with his wife in Florida and has been following the Peak Oil discussion since 1997. I have only been aware since 2006. (Many people think they are aware but they only have a vague notion of what Peak Oil is and what it means--and these notions are mostly wrong).
Chip has it down and he has been preparing for it for some time. This book is a helpful primer for those who are catching up. He answers 101 questions and spends about a page and a half on each. Here are a few:
1) What's this peak oil thing you keep jabbering on about?He answers the questions with a sense of humor. Actually, the sense of humor was a little annoying at first, but after about a quarter of the way through, I began to appreciate what he was saying and how he was saying it.
14) What do you mean "peak export"?
23) Will natural gas help?
34) What about an electric car?
42) Is there anyway this is not bad news?
55) What can I do about this anyway?
73) Does my life have to change that much?
81) What can we do as a nation?
82) What can my family do?
91) Will this be a problem everywhere?
96) What do I do first?
He is a real person (like your next door neighbor--if your next door neighbor had 37 bicycles) who will be a great guy to have for a neighbor when things start changing.
Most folks who take seriously Peak Oil are considered "doomers". (Haynes prefers the term doomslut). But he actually takes a "middle road" position. He acknowledges that we are in for a really rough ride ("interesting times") and we have no idea of the specifics. He writes:
I coined the phrase the "Dim Ages" some years ago to counter the more extreme doomers who were already predicting the total downfall of all civilization as a result of peak oil. There were people happily chortling over what they saw as the fall of modern man and a return to, quite literally, the Dark Ages, with no power at all for anyone. Mighty heavy stuff there. I guess they thought they were somehow immune to the proceedings.He has a lot of practical advice but mostly in the line of being aware and of making small changes for a life in which energy and life itself will be much, much more expensive.
Me, I don't see it quite that way. My admittedly limited view of the future sees us headed for a time of less, but not a time of none. Not the Dark Ages, but maybe the Dim Ages. I believe we will always have a certain amount of limited power and ability to continue to some degree, but obviously not a we have over the last fifty or sixty years of energy excess. I do not envision the downfall of governments and countries, but I do see a lot less interaction between all concerned....
....I keep comparing where we're headed to where we've been, and do believe that's a valid comparison. One hundred years from now may well look like one hundred years ago, if we're lucky....
....Look for changes to come in small doses at odd times. There's not going to be anything like weekly news alerts on the subject of peak oil or a monthly scheduled power-down to the next lower level. It's all going to be very uneven and mostly unfair. Those with the most will have the most to lose, and they probably aren't going to like that very much. I wouldn't either. pp. 199-200
He offers this book with a human touch, like a dad or funny uncle would to high school or college students. It is for that audience that this book could be most helpful. It will also be a helpful book to give to family members and friends as an introduction to Peak Oil. After all, your friends and family members already think you are going bonkers so it is helpful to show them that there is at least one more out there like you.
The sobering fact is that Chip Haynes isn't bonkers. He is writing about something real and something current and something that will affect every human being on Earth. This book will help us think about the practical aspects of being aware and of creating flexibility for an uncertain future. He writes:
It's tough to say with any certainty what each of us will be facing, and it will be a little bit different for all of us....No one wants to be the Grinch at Christmas, but putting this book in a Christmas stocking may be the most important gift your loved ones will receive this year.
....For now, read what you can and plan what you will, knowing that plans were meant to be changed, just a our future most certainly will. A future of less oil is not what we were planning on, but it's what we're about to get. It's what we will all have to deal with, and how you deal with it will determine your future. p. 216
That and a bicycle.