Sunday, August 20, 2006

Another Peak oil analogy – a kid leaving home

The other day I was thinking about how much better the world is going to be once we kick the oil habit, and another analogy on peak oil optimism occurred to me.

Peak oil is like when a kid, or rather young adult, is forced to move out of his parent’s home for the first time.

Here’s this hypothetical young man who has so far lived his entire life under the caring roof of his family. Through his childhood and adolescent years they have supported and nurtured him. They helped him as he made his way through school and more recently through university. There have been problems along the way, but for the most part life for him has been pretty damn easy. Though he may think he had it tough at times and doesn’t yet realise that overall he has had life pretty easy up to this point.

But now he’s about to graduated from college and suddenly things are uncertain. He’s got to go out on his own, find a job, find a place to live, feed himself, and pay for everything himself. Suddenly the sheltered life he’s been living with his parents seems so much safer, comfortable and easier then the real world he is entering.

But then he makes the transition. It was a little painful at first. He went through many gruelling interviews in order to find work. He had a hard time finding the right place to live, and his new home isn’t as nice as his parent’s home. He had some troubles feeding himself and learning how to cook. He found himself getting take-out food far too often.

However after a while he became acclimatised to his new life. Now he’s enjoying working and all the benefits that come from having a proper income. He’s stopped eating unhealthy take-out and worked out how to maintain a healthy diet. He’s started saving for a deposit on his own home and understands that the dive he’s currently living in is only a stop gap measure. He thinks that in the future he may even end up in a home much nicer then his parents.

Yep, now that he’s made the transition, he realises that life is vastly better then it ever was when he was living at home. He thinks back to that time when he was forced to move out and wonders what the hell was he so concerned about?

A future without oil - it's going to be great

And so too will future civilization look back to the end of the oil age and wonder what the hell we were so worried about (well, the doomers will anyway). Sure, the transition is going to be difficult, sometimes even painful. But once we’ve made the transition, once we have a sustainable world that runs of clean and renewable (or unlimited?) energy and resources, we will realise that life is vastly greater then it has ever been before, and that the peaking of global oil production (just like this kid being forced to move out of home) turned out to be the best thing that could possibly happen to us.


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