Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Peak Oil Might Best Be Seen as a Religion

This article was previously published on the Al Fin central blog

Life can be frighteningly uncertain, even in the most placid of times. In times of rapid change, uncertainty about the future can drive many people to the breaking point. Religious myths and beliefs have been very helpful for tens of thousands of years, in fending off uncertainty. Paradoxically, many of the most attractive and popular of these religious movements, have been religions of doom.

Modern times seem particularly uncertain -- perhaps because of the misplaced confidence modern humans have placed in their technology and science. Surely, they feel, if humans can walk on the moon, they can master the global economy, heal the environment, provide sufficient food and energy for all, and make the world a safe and certain place for everyone?

But as if to mock the scientific and technological prowess of humans, that great evil "uncertainty" continues to lurk outside the firelight, haunting our dreams.

Once one understands the disconcerting nature of uncertainty, it becomes easier to understand why so many people turn to doom as a shield and comfort. Doom has been the central strut of many religious movements because a firm belief in doom can vanquish uncertainty better than almost any other belief or attitude.

Here is a look at the religion of peak oil doom, as revealed at a recent "Age of Limits" convocation of believers:
The Age of Limits conference held at the end of May offered some new insights on how religion, as an organized institution, could play a key role in helping people deal with the collapse that the conference’s speakers think has already hit many parts of the world, including much of the US.

The speakers, collapsitarians all — Dmitry Orlov, John Michael Greer, Gail Tverberg and Carolyn Baker...

To paraphrase Orlov, if you want the government and your neighbors to leave you alone in the future, especially in America, then start a church. And that’s just what the sponsors of the Age of Limits conference did. _Peakoil.com
More at the link.
Below, old-time religious doomer and archbishop of the mass movement of peak oil doom, Colin Campbell, speaks at the New Energy Era Forum, another religious convocation of believers.
New Energy Era Forum 2012 - Dr. Colin J. Campbell by LocalCampus
Archbishop Colin Campbell at a Sacred Peak Oil Convocation

This 2012 talk by revered peak oil leader Colin Campbell -- who declared in 1989 that world oil production had already peaked -- illustrates the quasi-religious nature of a peak oil gathering.

One can get a good feeling for the "one true faith" nature of the true believers gathered together, huddled against the ignorance and uncertainty in the world beyond.

For these good disciples, doom is far preferable to uncertainty. Doom gives them special knowledge and a sense of purpose. Not to mention a sense of superiority.

For many people, religions of doom are addictive, and become integral to who they are as individuals. Attempting to reason with such a person is almost always futile, since reason is simply not in it.

Just accept the fact that such mass movements of doom give such people something to do, and a sense of self-worth and self-importance. That is better than having them sell crack cocaine on the corner to school children.

Those, on the other hand, who have something important to do, should probably get on with it, and leave the doom worshipers to their litany.



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