Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Peak Oil - instinctual reactions

Peak Oil CampI 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?


The Crone at Wits End said...

CC, I have grown up being very much influenced by my Great Grandfather who raised five kids as a single father through the depression and WW2 in England. So for me to see the 'signs' out there brings out the indoctrination that I learned at his knee;

learn to grow, learn to preserve, learn to repair and learn to do without.

Pretty good lessons to learn no matter what our gender or time we live in, don't you think?

Good post btw :)

ruchi said...

I think there are several separate groups of enviro-bloggers:

Personal Sustainability-women
Environmental Policy-men
Global Warming Science-men
Peak Oil-men

Basically, the women seem more interested in personal issues, which might reflect a number of things, including the fewer numbers of women in environmental policy or the sciences. I'm not sure though if the survivalist predilection is only a male domain. I've heard several women talk about how they were storing food and guns, and building fences.

That, incidentally, is why the survivalist thing drives me crazy. I think when you're talking about Camp TEOTWAWKI, people are naturally going to focus on themselves. I don't mean to disparage people who want to store food, guns, and build big fences, I can see where they are coming from. In a world where apocalypse is imminent, really, the only rational thing to do is to build up your supplies, and then defend them.

But that's why I disagree with apocalypse scenarios. In my opinion, the only way we are going to survive the crises of peak oil and global warming is we reach out more, build community, and especially focus on sustainable development in the developing world. Meaning, unless we're willing to help the Chinese and Africans, we're screwed.

I believe peak oil is real, but I don't believe it's going to result in the apocalypse. Renewables are becoming better and better by the day, and as the price of oil goes up, the better solar is going to look.

Market forces don't work absolutely, but unless the government starts subsidizing oil in the manner of Venezuela, I think our weaning from oil will be much less bumpy than the survivalists think.

Okay, that was LONG and rambling so I'll shut up now.

Unknown said...

Peak oil is real no doubt about it. Do women prepare for it differently from men? I would have to say yes. It also depend of what type of a woman, samething aslo apply to a man.

All in all what we need to do is prepare and help other to understand how serious our situation is -- I am quite sure government doesn't care -- nor will help us.

Burbanmom said...

I agree that Peak Oil is real. It's a fact. However, I don't think the scenario is doom and gloom. Far from it. I see it as a grand opportunity for governments and individuals alike to FINALLY begin investing in renewable energy sources.

I don't think we, as a society, will revert back to cavemen (aside from those Geico dudes). I think instead will we be forced to hustle ass and create a whole new economy. Too bad we didn't start this ages ago. Also too bad that many leaders STILL aren't starting and are, instead, focusing on glueless band-aids such as off-shore drilling.

Just my $0.02

e4 said...

Wait... Did you just call me a pregnant chick?

But seriously, you're probably right to some degree. But if we look past web traffic, James Kuntsler there's probably an Albert Bates lurking in the background. I don't run across that many guns & spam types, but a lot of the male voices are doing graphs and policy proposals and satellite imagery. So maybe girls = local solutions, boys = global solutions. I don't know.

In my view, global "solutions" are what got us into this mess in the first place. Besides which, they take too long, and always have to filter through politicians and satisfy the lowest common denominator.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Warning: this is going to sound really sexist!

The guy who wrote Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, theorized that Men like to be heroes, like to find the answers to BIG problems and save the day. Good observation on his part, I'd say. What he DIDN'T say (as far as I can remember) is that so many of those Hero moments would not really even be necessary if men were more planful, and cooperative instead of competitive. We've had decades of warning that all this trouble was possible, but since it wasn't THE MOST PRESSING issue, it wasn't yet HERO time! Men create situations where they can then be heroes. This is on a micro and a macro scale! Their "armegeddon" take is another extension of that thinking.The threat has gotten bigger than their scope of control, so they reformulate it to a scenario where they can get their psychological need to be heroes fulfilled. See, I warned you that this was going to be sexist.

Step Back said...

Interesting observations.

From this man's viewpoint, women view the world in a "social" context while men view the world from a "gadget" context.

IOW, when faced with a problem, a woman is going to ask herself, what friends and family can I gather around me to help me face this problem, not as a loner, but as part of a cohesive group; because "together" we can overcome any and all problems.

By contrast, a man asks himself, what gadgets (shotgun, solar panel, math equations, etc.) can I arm myself with so that me and my gadgets will overcome this next problem?

Admittedly, this is a stereotype, but it gives the overall sense of how the male and female brains operate differently. Women are more limbic, men are more reptilian. Neither one is "rational".

Adrienne said...

Hm. I'm female, but I definitely think it's going to be doom & gloom & chaos. Because if some of us who've prepared have food, and some don't, those who are hungry are going to decide to get the food one way or another out of simple desperation.

Oldnovice said...

I'm totally jaded on the apocalypse thing simply because when I was doing Y2k remediation on mainframe computers I visited a few "doomer" sites online where "Y2k CANNOT BE FIXED!" was the prevalent theme. Good people were taken in by the doomerism, several of whom basically gave up their lives to Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Jim Kunstler was one of the doomers who evangelized during this period his apocalypse leanings and Sharon's glowing reviews of him being "prescient" led me to discount everything she's said about peak oil, but it goes further than that, because everything's connected. Greenpa wants people to think and suggests they read Sharon. Folks on cheapskating sites have read Sharon and now, pretty much EVERYBODY in both the cheapskating and environmental areas of online life are at least reviewing "doomer" theory, which is extremely contagious in its FUD mongering.

I find that just as sad now as I found it sad that people couldn't believe in technology's abilities in the period before 2000. So, as much as I HATE Evangelism, I suggest that people at least consider checking out Peak Oil Debunked. JD isn't actually suggesting that Peak Oil isn't real, but suggesting that the Peak Oil advocates are maybe ignoring the data that doesn't conform to their apocalypse theories (which is exactly what the Y2k fearmongers did).

There's nothing wrong and everything right with self-sufficiency, learning new ways to do things, etc., but I really hate to see the fear mongering again, so have spoken out on every opportunity, no doubt establishing myself as someone who "doesn't GET it". I "get it", but I think that our harnessed ingenuity as human beings combined with conservation will get us through this and on to a path that will safely move us forward in the 21st century rather than back to the 19th century.

Connie said...

Crunchy, first, I didn't see yesterday's post or comments so I'll go there next. I am sitting here snorting and gaffawing.

I'm currently nesting (not NOT preggrs) more than my 7 month pregnant neighbor and I find myself getting frustrated that she isn't nesting too.

Seriously, I have baby chickens in my husband's workshop, and a 1/2 acre garden across the street, and yes peanut butter and don't forget the matches. I feel as if I'm packing for some enourmous trip into unknown and foreign terretory - checklists and lantern lights and sleeping bags stowed.

I too read about the guns and ammo and I wonder if that too shouldn't be on my list - maybe shoot me a deer or something, but it is so far down on the list after hand cranked grain mills, solar power heater.... that I can't imagine walking into the local (large) gun shop and gettin' me one of those puppies. Reading all those things about maurading hordes makes me think of hiding the excess rather than shooting someone over it.

I however have been making the men folk work in the garden this week (OK, one day) as it needs new furrows and we're all in this together. I might as well have been standing on a soap box waving some enormous whip.

I peaked at Ardous's comment and yes, work on local systems is part of the plan (especially for those of us doing Sharon Askey's Independence Days) but that's harder than it sounds - I can't control whether others think that PO is a hoax or whether they want to participate in such a thing. I plant seeds of conversations, make contact with the very small conservation group in town but try and not sound like a nut case.

I could, and do, go on and on about this, but I'll sit down now.

Joanna said...

I think to a certain extent I agree. There does seem to be devide in the sexes. But then I (female) do think there is a risk of crime rise post oil if people fear the easy life is over. Already oil theft crimes are rising in the UK and technically the oil price rises recently are nothing like what could come when the world *realises* about peak-oil. Or maybe I've watched too much Mad Max over the years...

Anonymous said...

I'm female, and I'm largely on the gloom & doom side, not because humanity doesn't have the capacity to overcome messes like this, but because I think there's gonna be a terrifically rocky period of adjustment, and despite everyone's best efforts, people will be caught totally unawares. I am definitely working on personal self-reliance and community building, but I doubt it will be enough to allow a smooth transition.

I have to admit, though, what I'm most worried about is everyone who believes that the technology fairy really is going to save us. The various problems with up-n-coming technology not withstanding, and setting aside the cost of ramp-up (economic & environmental), how will we be saved? I like Jared Diamond's thoughts on this, that almost every significant problem we currently have is due to technological innovations. Why do we imagine that suddenly, today, technology will magically start fixing our problems without bringing myriad others in it's wake? The technology fairy is both a boon and a curse--be careful what you wish for.

Squrrl said...

Okay, I am starting to HATE the term "survivalist". There are some words that I wish didn't exist, just because I wish there didn't have to BE a word for people who think women are equal to men or that the environment is important or that we should make preparations to ensure that we friggin' stay alive if something bad happens. I wish the distinction didn't have to be made.

Sorry...more relevant to the post, yes, I do think that there are differences in how men (as a group) and women (as a group) prepare for the possibility of crisis, though the exact line between culture and genetics is one I'm not interested in drawing, and both certainly factor in. Certainly I focus on family preparedness, and am in general a very domestic person. I don't think this excludes community work, though, and both I and my husband have been trying to build a sense of community (without which basic groundwork I don't see how anything else can happen). We're both utter cynics when it comes to politics and the larger population, though.

Personally, though, I feel there's a larger difference between those who think that things will basically be okay for most of us and people who don't than between male and female. It's clear to me that I'd be a doomer by your standards and the standards of other posters here, and that has a good deal more influence on my actions, I think, than my gender.

(Oh, and I was too damn achey and exhausted to nest when I was pregnant.:-P)

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I led my college class on a field trip to a little place called New Harmony Indiana, a little town with a long odd religious history and lots of Museums.

It was built in the early 1800s by the Rappites, a bunch of religious folk awaiting armegeddom. They discouraged folks marrying or having kids because they thought it was unfair to the kids who would be too young to understand the coming Armeggedom. They had a lot of guns, and a massive supply of gold, because they wanted to be able to start travelling to Jerusalem at a moments notice.

But they built a solid community. They supported one another. They were the first real settlers this far west. They played nice with the Indians. Those troubles didn't really start up until after the Rappites left. When Indiana became a state they were key players in the statehood process. Their gold reserves became the first bank of Indiana. Then they sold out to the Owenists, a community of idealists that bought New Harmony from them, and the Rappites moved again and built another town from scratch in Pennsylvania.

My point is this, I'm on the gloom and doom side, but not as doomy as some. But when you look at past Doomist movements, well some have been embarrassing or tragic flops, but some have done really good things even if there doom didn't quite come about as predicted. In a very real sense, Doomers built Indiana
-Brian M

Sam said...

I do have a slight bent toward survivalism, but its based more on learning how to survive without anything rather than learning how to survive with a basement full of food and guns. After all a Katrina could hit the basement and then what? One of the things I'm worried about re: living on the W. Coast is whether the earthquakes will damage any canned jars of food.

I shared your post with your husband who agreed with you, and said "Men are masturbating over their power fantasies, again, and women are taking action."

Sam said...

I meant *my* husband.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Beany - that's pretty much what "my" husband said too, so maybe you were talking to him :)

logic11 said...

I am male, but not a "50,000 rounds of ammo for every gun in your bunker" type... I believe in community as the most effective method of preparation. I also believe that we really need to use the strengths of both sexes and avoid the weaknesses.
As a male, I am inclined to "The shit hits the fan... everybody follow me" type thinking. This is probably pretty destructive, since usually a reasoned approach works better. On the other hand, my fiance is inclined to a "everything will be fine, can we just stop focusing on the negative so much and go hang out on a patio and have a few drinks" attitude.
The positives on the other hand: When I see a problem I immediately leap into action trying to correct it. If I don't know how, I start researching and learning. I am however fairly lazy, once I have a solution in hand I tend to not do all the steps... I solved it so the problem is done, never mind that I haven't actually planted and harvested all the food I need, I planted and harvested enough to prove that I can do so, and I know I have the land to do it, and given basic analysis I know that I have the time to do all of it... now I'm going to do parkour because that's fun! My fiance actually finishes the job, even if she didn't make the leap to discover how to do it, and she helps me to finish it as well. She puts in the time, she organizes not just the current project, but all of the projects, in ways that mean they work together. As a team, we are very effective, as individuals, far less so.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Traverse - Oooh, parcour! Now that's fun.

Anonymous said...

That is so funny. I see it happening in my own house! Let me preface this by saying that while I have been learning about the various aspects of our addiction to oil for a few years now, my husband is kind of a novice. He knows it's expensive, but doesn't really know about all the political and societal nuances. Anyway, I'm trying to grow more of our own food, and preserve it, and you know, just know how to survive and be more independent. My husband, on the other hand, has been stockpiling wood in the basement, so that we'll keep our house warm for the winter. After watching something about oil, like the History Channel's "It Could Happen Tomorrow" he talked about using his hunting rifle to keep the neighbors out of our garden and wood pile. It is funny, though, that I'm concerned most about food (yum...) and he's concerned most about heat for the winter.

Let me add, now, that I don't personally subscribe to gender stereotypes. As a female who does best in math and science, and could explain special relativity and argue the possibility of time travel and life on other planets(don't get me started!), I hate to be pigeonholed into a "nesting nurturer." But the reality is, this is what's happening in my house!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think the macho doomers are just playing status games with each other. There are a lot of men who don't play that game, but they mostly stay out of the PO debates so you don't see them.

Women can play or not play, because the macho people assume women aren't legitimate players anyway.

maryann said...

In general I think men and women handle problems differently, men tend to need to react and fix it, women I think need to talk it through, look at the facts and work on a plan to change it. This is why I stopped venting over bullshit to my husband and will just call my mom, my husband tends to react and come up with some unrealistic head on fix while my mom will talk it through or even just listen.

As fas as peak oil, yeah, I think we'll probably run out but people survived for a large number of years without it, life will change but it just does, we just need to be able to change with it. We didn't always have cars or even glass in windows for that matter, but people found ways around them. I see the biggest problem is people's attitude toward change, some just think they shouldn't have to, and they'll be the ones with problems when change happens, they won't have a choice anymore.

It's me said...

I'm a "honey, where's my AK" kinda girl myself. It could be the USMC background though. More likely, the background doesn't make me macho, but it does make me freak unless I have several contingency plans. I believe in plan Alpha, plan Baker, plan Charlie... well, you get the point.

My husband isn't even concerned about PO. Not in the least. He thinks it's mildly charming and quite typical for his "hippie wife" to stockpile food (and whiskey, don't forget whiskey) and plant a garden, but he and his conservative and clueless friends aren't concerned.

So we aren't so much along gender lines, more alone "informed and aware of something else out there" lines.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

I read an interview with Kunstler once where he said he was not storing up any food, and I thought, well how much do you believe in what you are writing?

I think that sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul. (No, I didn't come up with that quote :).

I am female, and a bit doomy n' gloomy myself, but I don't see that as any reason to do NOTHING. I still think we should get prepared, try to mitigate our impact on the planet and help our families. As Sharon would say, "Be the Fairy Godmother".

I do agree that most of the survivalist Rambo types I see on the web are male - but maybe the women with guns are just smart enough to keep quiet.

Anonymous said...

The comments are good exploration of all types...etc. I am just glad the talk is happening this way. As far as I am concerned...labeling is useless but 3 levels of self-sufficient prep makes sense based on Katrina and the Midwest floods(notice we haven't heard much about their struggles lately)...earthquake shed (I am in California)with three weeks of stuff (as per very mundane sites suggestions)...develop a 1 year pantry...saving money, prepared for fuel shortages (trucking to markets) and the long term storage for "doom" insurance or during a devalued dollar into tangible commodity...yes, a gun too and I am female...but knowing how to use tools and doing with less and self reliance is something we did as a is just this 30 year greed Ponzi scheme is coming to and end and it matches up with PO and developing climate change...transition is happening and I like the conversation that is happening here...busting out of denial

Anonymous said...

A very nice blog, along with your goods4girls work.

If this IS the Deanna Duke whom I took classes with at SJSU, a shout out from a friend in Holland.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Yo, this is the Deanna from SJSU. Is this Jonathan or some other person? I can only think of one person who would be living in Holland...

Anonymous said...

Good memory bella! Drop me an email so I can catch up with you. T4phage2003 AT

logic11 said...

The arch druid report ( ) tackles this frequently. The post I linked to is actually about the tendency of people to view the current issues with civilization as a fix. the arch druid is male, but very thoughtful and unlikely to stockpile ammo.

As to the guns thing, having been a civilian in a war zone, I don't like them. Learning how to use a bow instead... and hey, the ammo is way easier to make ;)

katecontinued said...

Personally, I think the macho doomers are just playing status games with each other. There are a lot of men who don't play that game, but they mostly stay out of the PO debates so you don't see them.

Women can play or not play, because the macho people assume women aren't legitimate players anyway.

What Rosa said - with emphasis mine.

jewishfarmer said...

I'm a cheerful ray of sunshine, and I think peak oil is total nonsense. I can't figure out why Crunchy is trying to suggest I have anything to do with it.


Sharon, who, if it is any consolation, didn't give a shit about y2k.

Anonymous said...

Crunchy, that nightly shot from your cache is good medicine.
Having lost my spouse a few years ago, I am adapting with boobs under the ghillie suit. ;).

Theresa said...

I really like what thecrone's great grandpa said back in the very first comment about learning to grow, preserve, repair and do without. This fits for me with the whole 'Theory of Anyway' that Sharon sometimes talks about on her blog - it's a theory that I've often thought is the best way to go whether PO is 'real' or not (I'm a believer). Basically, the Theory of Anyway says that the right thing to do, is to live sustainably, not wasting or over-consuming, or wrecking things for future generations. In sum, we should be doing these things Anyway.

When I talk about sustainability issues in those terms with people, they can't help but agree, and then we have found common ground. I guess I'm a typical female then hey? Always looking for how to make those connections on common ground! :)

Joyce said...

I honestly think debt is going to be the trickier thing for most people to navigate. If jobs are lost because we're having to transition to new energy systems, having your mortgage paid off might be the single best thing any of us could be doing to prepare for that time. And if it isn't a rough time, you're that much further ahead. That's our focus.

Anonymous said...

Crunch, this is SUCH an interesting observation... I haven't been paying any attention to the gender of the bylines behind all the peak oil articles out there, but I think I will now. Can you think of any writers in particular that really demonstrate this divide? I totally want to write about this in the National Post... I've got a weekly green column here now... maybe I could even interview you for it, officially :)

Robj98168 said...

Alls I know is the human race has adapted time and time again. I think the human race will adapt again. I dont agree with you arduous on women alone on personal sustainabilty, and I don't agree with the ramboism statement- there are a lot of us with exterior plumbing doing our part for peaceful transition. And Yo I dont talk like rambo. And to paraphrase Austin Powers- Ballardites- small hands, smell of cabbage!

Anonymous said...

You know- I've thought about this subject quite a lot. I've noticed that in general there are differences between how men and women are approaching this whole issue. The men, in general seem to be of two kinds- either trying to find a way to "fix it" with some sort of techno-fix such as home brewed hydrogen etc, or else Rambo types intent on stockpiling ammo. Women mostly seem to be concentrating on issues such as food, clothing, canning jars etc- home-centered stuff.

I've noticed that some PO related sites are very "male"- from Kunstler to The Oil Drum- very few women involved on these sites it seems. While the Oil Drum is mostly respectful in tone it is very geek oriented and not into the "soft"stuff- some frustration experienced over there over Sharon's articles which didn't have charts, graphs and equations to back up her writing. ;-) Kunstler's site is mostly inhabited by potty-mouthed guys it seems.

That said, I do think that males today are sort of in limbo-they have been bred by centuries of evolution to be warriers and hunters and there is litle to fight or hunt in todays urban and suburban environments. So yes,I think some guys really do find the whole notion of collapse or whatever to be really exciting. They want to be living the way they imagine their ancestors did to some extent, and not sitting at a computer all day in the office. Spearing a mastedon or something for dinnner is more what they are meant for perhaps?

That said I do feel somewhat resentful as it often seems to methat I am an alien in the built world we inhabit. I don't think that women would have designed much of what our built environment looks like or how it functions;not that they couldn't do it, but they wouldn't have. So I think that most of what we have today interms of technology, infrastructure, petro reliance, etc has been the work of men- and now men are mostly deciding how to "fix it". There are some men who are advocating for change in our way of living, and I understand these men, but mostly it seems that the decisions are being made by those men who are no different than those who led us to this point in the first place.

I think in order to see real change we would need to be a society that would look both to women and to those different thinking men for our visions of where we should go. But it ain't gonna happen I'd say....

Oldnovice said...

I just ran into one of the Y2k Jim Kunstler articles for those of you who see Kunstler as prescient.

Oldnovice said...

Hotlinks don't seem to work anymore, so type this:

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, CC. My husband was the one who turned me on to the idea of peak oil, several years ago. I thought he was nuts, so I made a film about it to try to understand it better. I ended up meeting Jan Lundberg and Mike Ruppert and a few others of the gang. I even went up to visit Mike Ruppert in his carefully mapped out location of Ashland, where the town could gather at the pass there, guns a-blazing, and keep all the starving Californians from coming up to bountiful Oregon. (LOL, didn't work out so well for him up there!)

Anyway, I used to LOVE Kunstler, his early books about suburbia changed my outlook on urban planning. But now I can't read him anymore. Because I am not interested in the doom and gloom. I was interested Sharon's words about his being frightened - very interesting.

All three of these guys are different, as is John Michael Greer - who may fall closer toward the feminine in your theory.

One thing that I have always found interesting is the constant watch for signs that one is right about one's predictions. That this fact and that fact prove that the end really is near, and just how they've predicted it. Interestingly the end is always near but never quite is here (thankfully).

I don't know where I'm going with this ramble except that I agree - there is definitely a gender difference. Is it instinct? Men are the warriors, women are the protectors?

I can tell you that my husband has completely changed his viewpoint, and now believes much more as I do: that we're not falling off a cliff, we're on a steady slow decline. So I wonder if it's really ALL men, or just the vocal few?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to add one more thing: the term peak oil. Back in the 80s and early 90s in college, we talked a lot about oil depletion and the effects that will have on the world. But when my husband started talking about peak oil, it sounded like an elitist term. 'Oh, you don't know about peak oil? Well, let me enlighten you.' Or, 'ha - so-and-so politician just said oil depletion but he really means peak oil - I wish he would just say it.' Who cares about the words, isn't the general idea the important part? And why must it be treated in such a coded way anyway? (Is that a guy thing, too?)

I know the idea of a peak and decline is important to understand the severity and complexity of it, but I don't think the term helps spread the word. I wish we could use a term like oil depletion, or something that is more accessible to the rest of the population.

ruchi said...

Hey, Crunchicita, could you also point us in the direction of books on peak oil? Preferably ones that don't take place in Camp TEOTWAWKI, because then I will get angry, and stop reading even if there is good stuff in there. I am arduous like that.

Chile said...

I have been drifting more towards the doom 'n gloom camp but it's not just because of peak oil issues. If peak oil was the only problem, I think humanity could deal.

But, we've also got climate change upon us, exacerbated by burning up all that oil that's now got us into peak oil. If we just had climate change, yep, we could probably deal with that.

But wait, there's more! We've got economic problems stacking up the likes of which haven't been seen since the Depression, and with a global economy, we're all in it together. A much larger human population than were here in previous times of shortage means less available resources per capita, and let's not forget the distribution problems.

You still get more with this package! Peak precious metals limit solar upscaling. Electrical grid degradation doesn't bode well for the kind of reliable power we've become accustomed to.

And, if you order right now, you also get peak clean water.

We've got a whole boatload of problems on our doorstep, most caused by high human populations, greed, and overconsumption.

So yeah, I think we will see TEOTWAWKI. The world we know is changing. Will technology save us? Who the heck knows, but I'm not going to count on it. That's why I stress making preparations to live life more self-sufficiently. It's kind of nice that this happens to also be cheaper, usually, result in a lighter impact on the earth, and is a satisfying fulfilling lifestyle.

Now excuse me while I go slug a shot of limoncello to relax, and then clean the kitchen so I'm ready to can lemon zucchini relish with a friend tomorrow.

Hanley Tucks said...

"Of the women writing about Peak Oil, the predictions are much more metered."

Uh-oh, I thought I was a boy. I guess, going from my take on peak oil, I must have been wrong. ;)

Your generalisation is a good one, though, CC. There's a lot of macho wanking around, from the ARSE Brigade (assault rifles & spam-eaters) to the Kunstlers of the world.

I don't think we're facing doom. I think of it as, energy is the income of our society. When your family looks like losing one source of income - a job, a business - you can focus on trying to squeeze the last few bucks out of it, or you can just go looking for a new source of income to keep your family going. Same with society - we need to find a new source of energy income.

Luckily, we have it, we don't need any new inventions. But just as getting a different job or starting a new business will sometimes lead to some changes in the way your family and home are run (different hours, less or more money on transport, etc) so too with energy.

Now, some people when their income is changing, they don't cope very well and things turn nasty for their family - maybe the family even breaks up. And sometimes things just don't work out for them, and they have to make do on less. And I think the same is true of society and its energy income.

So that's why I think that we face some hard times, but not doom, that if we're smart and creative and work hard it'll turn out alright. But if we're stupid and unimaginative and lazy and desperately hang on to the old stuff, we could be in trouble. Not doom, but trouble.

It's interesting what people have said about men focusing on the Big Solutions, and women on the personal scale stuff. There's some truth in that, I think. Me, I think of these things as parallel. I can't do anything without the community - and a country and the world are just big communities - and the community can't do anything without me. Well, they can do it without me in particular, I meant the general me, individual people.

For example, if I want to reduce the energy I spend on transport, I can ditch the car and use public transport. But I can't do that unless the community has provided it, and the community won't provide it unless I'm going to use it. So the individual and the community are working together in a complementary way.

I dunno, I've always been a "middle ground" person, so maybe I'm doing that with the "male" and "female" ways of looking at these problems, too.

Hanley Tucks said...

Hmmm, on thought I could put my musings more briefly:

There is no doubt we'll come out alright through peak oil, climate change or anything else: the only question is how much misery and chaos we have while the change is happening.

Anonymous said...

I used to be made fun of and called the "Prophetess of Doom and Gloom" because I used to warn various friends and family (in the 1990's no less) to be prepared for Earth Changes (now called Climate Change). I've seen visions of it in my dreams/meditations a lot for many years. While PO is part of that, it's not what's really going to ruin people's lives as you can see even from just the Iowa floods. (And not to be a buzz kill, but people on the west coast should have a plan of action for the future in case you need to relocate - I've seen that a lot, too).

My husband's family is in WA, OR and CA and when I've brought up this topic, they don't really want to talk about any kind of preparation or back up plan so I've dropped it with them but sent an xmas gift one year of a few important items. Wonder if they still think it's nonsense or not.

I told them to store some bulk foods, some water, a solar portable radio, sleeping bags, gas in gas cans for the car to leave, etc. Most of my family lives in NY and is not hurting for money at all so they did not like me talking preparedness when they thought it all a farce and could buy their way out of anything (so they think).

I decided to keep my mouth shut on this topic and have done a pretty good job of not speaking about it these past 5 years. I was sick of being thought of as a freak. I did at least get my mom to store a 3 day supply of food and necessities since she moved to Florida and has dealt with hurricanes.

My husband and I have stored bulk foods, put food up in various ways, are growing an extended garden this year, have extra bedding for 4 or 5 beds for guests to sleep on, have a water filter to filter the nearby creek's water, herbal meds, firewood for our 2 fireplaces,etc. I am, as the old saying goes, "tying the camels" but living my life normally. We have taken some amazing vacations the past 2 years to beautiful, natural places we wanted our son to experience before anything might change there.

I try to focus on living in the moment and being grateful for what I have, willing to share and not being fear based which is what my husband is good at keeping in check for me and he's in agreement with me about being prepared in our home for us as well as being able to have the family show up at any time.

We both like having the food, supplies and skill set between the two of us to really do almost anything to live off the land and survive - and teach others to do so as well. That feels good.

What I am constantly amazed by is how people like us are such an extreme rarity still and so many walk around oblivious to what is really going down around them. Just watch people in the grocery store and you'll see what I mean. Complete oblivion. They are the ones I feel so sorry for but it's their choice to become aware or not. This is what I've learned by not talking about it anymore - except a little here and there in passive ways on my blog and probably more so this year.

This is why I like Sharon's blog so much, she really hits you over the head with a sledgehammer but gives you the info on how to help yourself so if anyone asks me about it, I direct them to her site!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Thistle - I sent you an email.

Rob - Funny how your only comment in yesterday's post was all about having to come up here and shoot up us Ballardites. Interesting passivism.

Arduous - I'll get a book list going that doesn't forecast death and destruction, but still covers the nitty-gritty.

Chile - Get a grip woman! Think thin film solar rather than PV. And maybe 2 shots of limoncello.

Green with a Gun - Thanks for the link to your post. You've earned an honorary pair of boobs. Now, you'll never have to leave the house.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Old Novice - Holy balls, that link you posted on Kunstler's take on Y2K is friggin' heeelarious!

Apparently, certain theatre majors don't understand how 'puters operate.

Anyway, substitute Y2K with "Peak Oil" in his article and it's oddly similar to his latest rantings.

Prophet or profit?

Oldnovice said...

Holy balls, that link you posted on Kunstler's take on Y2K is friggin' heeelarious!

Apparently, certain theatre majors don't understand how 'puters operate.

Anyway, substitute Y2K with "Peak Oil" in his article and it's oddly similar to his latest rantings.

Prophet or profit?

I saw a FEW profit financially through book sales and survival gear, but most doomers are looking for validation.

Other sites of interest include: Greenspun's Y2k forum. It's got all the doom you'd ever want combined with all the discussions offered by experienced homesteaders, survivalists, etc. It's defunct now, of course, but you can probably find all the answers to questions you might have on preparedness there. Exit Mundi provides the most comprehensive doom CATEGORY information I've seen on the web. Click on the oil pump to get your "fix" of doom on peak oil. Click on some others and you'll see the same Mad Max scenarios discussed. I don't see an icon right away there for bird flu, but it's been a popular "doom" topic since 2004 or earlier. I saw several Y2k doomers just migrate right into bird flu as the latest reason for prepping, never even considering the error of the first. The logic is "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day." You're right, too, that it's a "fill in the blank" format. Someday, for SOME reason, people are gonna need to have (insert your choice) and *I*'m gonna finally be recognized as important because *I*'m the one who warned them that they'd need to have (...). Until that time, the people who listened live in fear, uncertainty, and doubt, but that's the price you pay for survival.

P.T. Barnum was right.

Anonymous said...

Oldnovice -- I love the names for the categories in Exit Mundi! I don't really want to read most of them, but wow...

Chile said...

Crunchy, there are problems with the thin film solar options. It pertains to a correction to one thing I stated before - it's not precious metals that are needed in thin film, it's rare earth elements. When my research is done, I'll be posting about this. :)

Jennifer said...

Yesterday a drug dealer ran through our neighborhood. Literally. My next door neighbor and his daughter were sitting on their front stoop while the children played and all of a sudden someone comes tearing out of the back yard, runs across the street and into the neighbor's yard and beyond. We soon learned the full story and the kids spread the news to other neighbors in fearful excitement. We all came out of our houses and chatted and caught up and by the end of the night we had planned a block party.

There's only so much of this gloom and doom I can take before needing to take to my bed for the afternoon. I just don't have time for the people who want to bar the door against the neighbors as though they were a horde of zombies. I think, by and large, more people will plan with their neighbors than against them. Perhaps with a few nudges, ala Stone Soup which I recently read to my daughter, or even a fleeing drug dealer.

Meanwhile I'm choosing to learn the skills of self-sufficiency: frugalness, cooking from scratch, gardening, sewing, etc now while I have time to learn in leisure. I find these things fun and useful. Someday they may be more necessary than a hobby.

So I'm strongly in the feminine camp. I'm also honored and tickled about Camp TEOTWAWKI.

Price said...

This post rocked my glad I checked in at Sharon's today and scrolled down the page a bit.

The gender aspect in peak oil discourse? Hmmmm...well, over-generalizations can be problematic...but I'm inclined to think there may be some "there" there. Hmmm...thanks for the perspective--never noticed it before, but it clicks. It'll be rattling in my head for days and days...

(Non-sequitor babble (sorry!!!)...but re: Mars v. Venus book...there was a recent NPR story about a female psych. researcher who found evidence that the roles and attitudes described in that book have parallels in homosexual pairings. So, she thinks it's a relationship thing...not necessarily a gender-based thing...wish I had a link...)

Donna said...

Most of what I know about peak oil comes from Kunstler, so I found that link on Y2K very educational. ;-) Thanks, Crunchy. That said, I tend towards the gloom scenario. It may not happen as soon as people think, but I think the best case scenario is that it's going to be a rough ride, and I'm not sure personal stockpiling is going to help much. We're all on this planet together.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read all the comments because I had read so many and not one addressed PO in any way that was meaningful. I realize the question was why men and women deal with it differently, but how do you address that without addressing what "it" is? It's impossible, in fact.

A few people stated opinions about PO, but not one offered any reason why, and certainly there was no support of their positions. For the sake of this post, I'm going to assume the majority, a large majority, were women.

I think we all know women tend to solve problems in terms of relationships and men in terms of logic, efficiency, etc. This pretty much explains why most people addressing this are men: it's a problem to be solved that has been awaiting a wider acceptance of actually being a problem. We've hit the tipping point on that, so now women have a reason to act: protect the nest. Not being as inclined to jump to confrontation, it perhaps makes sense.

But lets get back to "it." I firmly believe a world with mroe female leadership can only be a good thing. Look at the Iriquois, for example. But, ladies, you've got to know what you are protecting from, don't you? So, let me toss some thoughts:

1. We are at peak. Period. See the Newsweek article this week on Saudi Arabia if you doubt it.

2. Energy = GDP, historically.

3. Current paradigms are built on eternal growth. Can't be done without some very big changes: different energy sources, greater cooperation, etc.

4. Collapses have, and will, happen. Just wishing it isn't so doesn't solve the problem. Never in human history has the entire planet been so interwoven and at so much risk. PO and Climate Change can end our civilization. Will it? Don't know. But either has the power to do so. (This is basic complexity and Chaos theory.) And Climate Change can actually make us extinct.

Everything I have stated in #4 is addressed by basic biology: systems go through bom and bust. They rise and collapse. Are we separate from all other animals? I say no. Collapse will come. There is really nothing I can see that argues against this being the time it happens.

#5. Time. If PO is now, there is no time to adjust, as per the Hirsch Report.

#6. I agree this is an opportunity. Despite my generalizations above (for the sake of argument mixed with a bit of reality), I don't think you can fairly say men are reacting to this in a guns and ammo way. Few, in fact, seem to be doing so. Most are trying to rally community, family, friends. I think this is such a huge problem that we will see large numbers of people/groups trying like hell to pull out of this nosedive. And we can. I have serious doubts we *will*.

So, ladies, know this problem is dire. You won't solve it by ignoring it's there or that it's filling half the room. At least, I don't think you can. Get to know at least the basics of the various issues involved. It may not behoove you to get deeply into the whys and wherefores. I can see how that might disrupt your natural mental/emotional processes. But allow yourself to face the beast eye to eye.

My 2c.

Crunchy Chicken said...

ccpo - I was hoping to get people's general impressions on gender-based reactions to PO without going into the gory details. I'll be torturing everyone with many posts on that later.

And, no, definitely not all men are reacting with a guns and ammo attitude (as you can see from several comments by men here). Just some of the more vocal ones.

I don't have as bleak an outlook on things as you do and it's not from just wishful thinking, but based on research. I'll be explaining that more later in future posts.

"PO and Climate Change can end our civilization. Will it? Don't know. But either has the power to do so. (This is basic complexity and Chaos theory.)"

I would argue that PO is more a stochastic process rather than one based on chaos theory.

"And Climate Change can actually make us extinct."

Well, a number of things can do that, but I'm not losing any sleep over it yet. That doesn't mean that I haven't changed my behavior, but I'm not driven to spiral thinking.

Anonymous said...

Crunchy Chicken,

Here is a good solution to peak oil when it comes to transportation -- The Surrey Bike.


mudnessa said...

My only opinion (mostly because I am pretty uninformed on this topic) is NEVER lay off the rum cache!!!

Anonymous said...

CC said: "ccpo - I was hoping to get people's general impressions on gender-based reactions to PO without going into the gory details. I'll be torturing everyone with many posts on that later."

Well, I did that, didn't I? :) And, to paraphrase, we have not yet begun to get into detail!

""PO and Climate Change can end our civilization. Will it? Don't know. But either has the power to do so. (This is basic complexity and Chaos theory.)"

I would argue that PO is more a stochastic process rather than one based on chaos theory."

I wasn't talking about PO, I was talking about collapse. Either way, I'm not sure "stochastic" vs. "chaotic" is a meaningful distinction. One "stochastic" process is a stock market, which are well-modeled using chaos.

Anyways... Mars, Venus... Pluto gettin' freaked by Goofy...



Anonymous said...

Yes, you're right, there's a great deal of men out there writing blogs talking about peak oil, and 'going all rambo' etc. There's a lot of them that very much do feel like they're _looking forward_ to the idea of societal collapse.

But they are a very small number of men. Not a representative sample.

It's like how the vast majority of violent crimes are committed by men. But only a very small fraction of men (No idea, but I'd guess less than 5-10%) ever commit a violent crime.

Whatever trait you care to measure, women tend towards the moderate, and men tend towards the extreme. The tallest and shortest people on record have been men, for example.

There's a lot of things that could be causing this, and we can have a lively discussion speculating as to why, but men tend to extremes of any bell curve.

Chris Nelder said...

I have noticed and pondered the sharp gender differences in response to peak oil as well. Here's how I see it.

Scenario: A man, a woman and their child are walking through the forest. Suddenly a bear jumps in their path and roars at them. What do they do?

You know what they do, without a moment of forethought: The man looks for a weapon and a way to confront the threat. The woman puts herself between the bear and the child and seeks to protect it.

I think in many ways--generalizing, now--peak oil is exactly like that. Men are hardwired to be alert to a threat and to defend their tribes. Women are hardwired to guard the nest, and make sure there is an adequate supply of the necessities of life: food, shelter, water. Beneath the veneer of our modern societies and attitudes, those hardwired impulses still lurk.

Step Back said...


That is an excellent analogy. Both the man and the woman are choosing a "tool" by which to deal with the perceived problem. The man may choose a rock or a stick as his "tool". The woman is creating a social circle as her "tool". If the bear is a grizzly, neither of these tools will be effective.

Same with oil. Unless there is an infrastructure in place of sufficient caliber to make an impact, none of the panic choices are really going to help.

At the heart of it, all women and men are naked vulnerable creatures. We need "tools" like shoes and clothing in order to survive at the most rudimentary of levels. What differs between the sexes at the more complex tool choosing levels is that women gravitate towards social tools (i.e. let's form a perma-culture community to deal with the Peak Oil bear) and men gravitate towards loner tools (i.e. let's build a nuke reactor to deal with the Peak Oil bear).

The tool choosing propensities of the two genders differ, but in the end they are both choosing a tool.

And as mentioned for the case of the grizzly bear, unless the man already has a rifle of sufficient caliber and enough time to aim and use it, neither choice is going to help.

Step Back said...

Oops. No edit function. 2nd paragraph should have been last.

Robj98168 said...

I'll tell you- I have never been one to be influenced by my gender. Maybe thats because my gender is the root of so many problems today. Nor am I a nesting pregnant female. A lot of the things I do I do because I like them. I learnedd to make Jam because I like homemade jam. And I don't see any other way to get it. I sew buttons on my shirts and actually hem my own pants (albeit not with any great skill) because no one else is gonna do it for me and I am too cheap to pay a seamstress or seamster to do it for me. Maybe I am dreaming of being Martha Stewart- hell I don't know. All I know is I learned my attitude from my father. I learned cooking from my Mother. CHalk it up to being raised by liberals!

Anonymous said...

As a male, I am glad to stumble upon this blog to balance out my heavy diet of male-authored PO media. Gender differences in awareness/response to PO are real. There are some gun-toting peakists out there - but as Heinberg says, "You've gotta sleep sometime". I think a "lifeboats" strategy will be more viable than a "bunker" strategy.

IMO, women tend to respond more to personal stories about rape and murder victims, or someone like Cindy Sheehan protesting the Iraq War - as one who it has affected personally, than they do to macroeconomic issues. Global commodities such as oil have been at the root of much of modern warfare. Since few societies ever draft women for the army, the messy geopolitics of oil and how our political leaders choose to deal with it, is something that females are more privileged to remain detached from.

In the age of oil, the physical strength of males has never been more worthless. But the value of female beauty (and male desire for it) has suffered no concommitant obsolescence. Simultaneously, fossil fuels have created an economy where sedentary professions are the norm and in which women are often superior to men. A post-oil economy will require more manual labor. I hope that the gains of the Women's Rights Movement can be sustained as we shift towards an economy that increasingly requires us to get our hands dirty. If we are to survive the bottleneck of population overshoot, it is crucial that women see themselves as something other than baby-factories.