This is one of my favorite posts and worth repeating. I ran this way back in 2008, but want to get an updated response. As people become more aware of our diminishing oil supplies and learn about the dangers of fracking, oil disasters and such, our collective understanding over the years will change. I hope.
I promise this isn't going to be a Peak Oil blog all the time, I just wanted to put something down that I was mulling over in the shower. That is, why do people respond to Peak Oil in the way that they do? Why does it seem like there is a strong gender difference in how people react to the coming energy crisis?
Humanity has a great history and tradition of believing that their generation is the one that's going to bite the dust. Each generation has this belief that they will witness the next coming of Christ, the end of days, or some other catastrophe or apocalypse. For some, I think there's the idea that people have reached some point either because they've earned it or because, as my paranoid Grandmother used to say, "it's Sodom and Gomorrah out there".
The majority of people writing about Peak Oil and, therefore, proposing their version of the future are men. Perhaps it's the extremists that stick out and are what people remember, but I've heard many complaints about the whole prediction that Peak Oil = Social and Economic Armageddon. Several of you stated so in your comments to yesterday's post. I, frankly, think this prediction is ridiculously inaccurate. I like to think it's because I subscribe to a certain logic about how the world works. Others might argue that it's because of my gender.
Of the women writing about Peak Oil, the predictions are much more metered. The conversation revolves mostly around preparation. I find it similar in concept to that whole "nesting in" period right before a woman gives birth. It's like instinctually women know some trauma is coming and need to prepare by making the home comfortable and clean and storing up food and supplies. Nothing panicky, just getting things done. If the home is set up right, we somehow know that we can handle pretty much anything to come. Even if deep down we're scared shitless.
The male reaction must be based on something else because for many male Peak Oil writers out there, it degrades quickly into Ramboism. Load up the shotgun, honey, this is going to be bad! In fact, I would argue that many actually welcome this breakdown of society. But what could this be attributed to? Bear with me here while I stereotype half the population.
The human male, over the last several centuries, has been stuffed into a society where all their evolutionary self-preservation instincts are kept under lock and key. Not to reduce a gender to hormones (although I just did above with females), but over tens of thousands of years men spent their days physically fighting for power, physically overtaking women and killing other animals to survive. I would argue that modern society is a vast improvement over this, but you can't instantaneously remove thousands of years of genetics primed to succeed in this environment. Realistically, we're only a couple piddling generations out from this "lifestyle".
So, faced with the potential disaster of Peak Oil, why do some men so rapidly carry out the thought experiment to survivalist mode? There's a definite romanticization of living off the land, tribalism and protecting the women. Is it because the desire to unleash all those things that, presently, aren't socially acceptable is so strong? In these survivalist scenarios, the men get to scratch that evolutionary itch. I think it's safe to say that fantasy is one thing, but the reality is that most modern men are ill-equipped to deal with the violence that comes with anarchy.
Of course these are all just gross generalizations, but then again why am I hunkering down into gatherer mode, dehydrating strawberries and stockpiling peanut butter? I sure as hell ain't pregnant.
And now that I've completely stereotyped everyone, I admit that you can't reduce people down to instincts only. But, I do think it's important to see where people are coming from, what their motivations are, conscious or otherwise and take that into consideration when reading someone else's predictions. It's all a crapshoot as far as the future goes, but it helps to process the unknown when looked at this way.
What do you think about this? Did this help or do I need to lay off on the rum cache?