Peak Oil & EvPsy
Peak Oil Overview
Evolutionary psychology and peak oil:
A Malthusian inspired "heads up" for humanity.
-- by Michael E. Mills, Ph.D.
"Oil peaking will be catastrophic, beyond anything I have seen...
We are about to drive the car over the cliff and say, `Oh my God,
what have we done?' "
-- Robert L. Hirsch, Ph.D., US Department of Energy consultant.
"It’s a perfect storm headed our way -- a steady rise in global demand
for oil crashing up against an increasingly limited supply of economically
-- William Chameides, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental
Science, Duke University
" ... (we) cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term
security, on a resource that will eventually run out."
-- President Barack Obama, 3/3/2011
I initially developed this webpage for my students, especially those in my Ecological Psychology course. The goal was to provide a succinct overview of peak oil, and a "heads up" about the social and personal challenges that we will need to confront in the near future as oil reserves and oil production gradually go into decline.
As of now, we have no renewable energy source nor combination of sources that can replace the amount of energy we have been able to get from oil. That is, renewable energy cannot produce even a small fraction of the energy that is needed to power industrial / technological civilization.
Most people are unaware of this, and learning about it for the first time comes as something of a shock.
Unless some new "energy scientific miracle" is discovered very soon (e.g., some new energy source as game-changing as, for example, nuclear fusion) the oxygen of modern civilization -- energy -- will be thinning over the next several decades.
The world's debt-based economies, which depend on ever increasing economic growth to survive, will be gasping for air.
This web page is divided into the following topics, which will be explored in turn:
- Ecological overshoot as a general problem in population biology.
- The possibility of avoiding a human Mathusian collapse via a Kurzweillian "techno-fix"
- Peak oil as a an example of human ecological overshoot.
- Possible economic and social scenarios following peak oil.
- Contributions by psychological science, and evolutionary psychology in particular, that may help to mitigate these problems.
To listen to an audio of these webpage, click on the link or right click to download MP3.
If this is your first introduction to peak oil, you may wish to bookmark this page. It is a bit much to take in all at once. You may also wish to return to view some of the video clips that you might skip over on the first reading. And, psychologically, it takes some time for much of the information that is presented here to really sink in. All of us living in developed countries have always had cheap gasoline readily available. It is difficult to even imagine otherwise.