Dear Peak Shrink,
I first became aware of Peak-Oil nearly two years ago after I went looking for a site to disclaim a preposterous abiotic oil claim in a debate I was having with an American about the obvious reason behind the Iraq war (I’m an Australian). I found the lifeaftertheoilcrash.com site and was immediately informed and enlightened (a link from there took me to you). I’d worked in engineering in petrochemical plants for a decade and suddenly understood the reason so much maintenance had been so miserly.
At first I was in shock and desperately began to search for every site/book related to the issue only to find the naysayers had much less legitimacy and poorer math than the proponents. I must admit I became depressed when I found it difficult to get even family members interested in such a pessimistic future event, but, I’m a particularly tenacious type and managed to convince everyone close, including friends, that disaster looms.
Then, of course, I had to deal with their shock and horror; the only way to do this is was to offer them various options for surviving the fall, something that I’ve been constantly studying and reworking since I became aware… I’ve pretty much joined every group there is around the world, helping to educate and inform others of the impending crises in the near future, and, preparing for changes both locally and nationwide.
I may have become an optimist of a sort, at least when it comes to the survival of those nearest and dearest – geographical isolation being one small bonus. My own wife was one of the last to join the “believers” so, clearly, convincing others is always going to be difficult.
My life has certainly changed since awareness. All geopolitical events are now shaded and jaded and I spend less time arguing moot points and now only look at the big picture. For instance, I absolutely detested G.W.Bush until I realised that his murderous war and destruction of the American standard with state-torture etc. was just the frantic reaction of an informed oil-man, now I couldn’t care less. America will not be spared the collapse and will likely suffer more than most other western nations, sadly I have some American relatives who are harder to convince and who may not make it during or after the collapse. While there is virtually no hope for most, there remains some measure for those who take stock and make preparations. Despair only comes when all hope is lost, so don’t despair.
Persuasive Petrochemical Engineer
I think most of my readers would be interested in knowing how you finally got your wife on-board, and what the experience was like before that happened. How did it strain the two of you to be on “different pages” so to speak. I’m also curious about what changes you’ve made that you feel best about? Which recommendations would you make to anyone in your area or in your situation?
Finally, I’m curious, if you’re willing to share, what types of approaches you’ve used to discuss peak oil with family and friends and which were most effective/least effective. What kind of “survival options” were they most open to hearing about? I know these are questions so many of my more isolated readers are interested in knowing, in order to connect with their own doubting family and friends. Many have been deeply discouraged in their attempts.
Thank you so much for writing, and I look forward to any additional insights you’d care to share.
Dear Peak Shrink,
I don’t know if I’m able to advance an approach that’d be easily used by others when trying to “convert” them to Peak-Oil and the ramifications that follow. I believe it was easier for me because of who I am; one who is normally optimistic and who is also pragmatic to a nearly absurd degree – I’m not the sort of person who suddenly starts to declare “the sky is falling and we’re all doomed” without exploring all the possibilities.
Thusly my wife was shocked to here the “news” initially and tried to avoid discussion until it was unavoidable (I spend an inordinate amount of energy on this topic and it’s hard to escape when you have to live in the same house.), eventually resignation set in and she had to deal with the knowledge in her own way. That’s a very personal thing to do and each of us deals with it in their own way, I think I skipped several of the downward “steps” myself, even with concerns over my children’s future, though most others wouldn’t.
Some friends had difficulty taking it in, or even believing it, while others were quick to assimilate; interestingly it was those friends with higher education who found it easier to believe (I have a very strange circle of friends by anyone’s measure, some are heavily credentialed while others are decidedly not.).
Nonetheless, I’ve been able to get them all into the circle, albeit with a degree of difficulty. With those who didn’t take to the information as quickly I was able to describe various shifts in oil prices and economic movements beforehand, eventually they decided to take a closer look. At the same time, I must say, several of those who were finally convinced took a fairly defeatist attitude saying that they’d “go down with the ship” until I pointed out “the options”.
The best recommendation I can give regarding conversion is to approach the uninitiated carefully but surely. Don’t give up when they lose interest in the topic, wait, then bring it up as often as other related topics, such as the price of gas or oil, pop up. When the topic does arise make sure you have facts and figures ready. Also give them options when they “bite”, plans A to C or Z, these can include everything from preparation for a powerdown to storing supplies for the crunch and relocation in the event of societal collapse – people don’t like having zero choices. There are no approaches that are better than others as they all depend on too many factors, such as how well you know the other person and how they’ll deal with bad news.
I’d say the best survival options are all of them. Fortunately, here in Australia we have a lot of public transport with an electric rail system that could be used for food movements and we have a lot of natural resources to draw on. I’m able to point this out when a look of dread passes across the face of a new local convert. If they live near the coast they have access to fairly decent fishing. If they live inland they may or may not have access to arable land and fresh water, if not they can relocate when it hits the fan. Preparations can include storing non-perishable food to adding water tanks to buildings, there are many things that can be done though there may be some things we’ll have to do that will be very hard to do when the time comes, a lot will depend on how much mass hysteria interferes with the best laid plans.
I hope this has been helpful, I remain hopeful,
Have you had success speaking with family and friends about the need to ‘power down’? Send us your story at PeakShrink@peakoilblues.com
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