Category Archives: Social Change

If earthquake preparedness is a stretch, peak oil preparedness is a pipe dream

I’ve spent some years thinking about–and preparing for–how I see our world changing in the coming decades. Some months ago, while doing my personal quarterly planning, I realized that I’d missed something big–huge in fact. I’d missed my preparation for the NOW in terms of earthquake preparedness.

I can speculate about how trends in availability of fossil fuels, and net return on energy, are changing the world. And it’s just that–a big guess. But the reality of earthquakes in California and the Pacific Northwest is far from speculative. It’s geology. From what I’ve been reading, in the 1000 year view it’s very predictable that these areas get BIG earthquakes (I’m talking 9+ magnitude) every few hundred years give or take. So it IS going to happen, we just don’t know when. And it’ll be a big deal when it does happen.

The funny thing is that in spite of that degree of science and certainty (there aren’t any earthquake deniers that I’ve heard of), getting people to take earthquake preparedness seriously is like pulling teeth! And we’re not talking “change your profession, learn to grow food,” we’re talking “buy some emergency kits, strap down your furniture, and make a reunion plan.” Not rocket science, but also not particularly common, either, if you ask around.

Thus it shouldn’t shock me too much that there is just so little interest in looking seriously at energy trends and saying “what does this mean, and what should I do about it?” To really embrace those questions takes a lot of abstraction, imagination, and courage. It is the few who are really looking at this, and it is a tremendously unpopular topic, other than amongst these few.

My instinct, in part informed by the late Ed Friedman, is to work with the willing and the capable who are energized by these questions, rather than trying to “convince,” “change,” or “bring along” the reluctant. I bet this is by far the highest probability way to move things forward–to work with the willing.