World Made By Hand and the writings of our buddy in a trailer in Nevada have made me see peak oil differently over the past few months. I am starting to see why people worry. Though maybe for different reasons.
There is so much hype and "science" around this topic that I am not even going to look at that perspective. Lets just for the sake of the discussion agree that there is probably a pretty finite (or slow repleting) supply of oil and sooner or later we will start to run out of the stuff. Personally I do not think this would lead to a Mad Max type situation.
Human beings have long been able to adapt to a new situation by using technology. I have thin skin, no fur and modest fat reserves but live pretty comfortably in a place where there is regular snow for about 4 months of the year. How do I do this? I live in a warm place and wear heavy clothes when I go outside. Our capacity to create technology that allows us to survive, if not live comfortably in many austere environments.
People talk about how X amount of oil is needed to produce or transport food and a sure reason everybody would die if we got more than 12 fewer barrels of oil next year than we did this one. I just don't see that happening. We have other means of providing energy to do all sorts of nifty things energy does. Most of the reason we use oil so widely is that it is so cheap that other alternatives are not currently cost effective. Interestingly that flows well into my next thought.
I am not particularly concerned that the world will get sucked into endless resource wars to the bottom or everybody will starve to death. However I do have serious concerns about what this would do to our economic model. Obviously JIT delivery and shipping goods incredible distances would no longer be effective, maybe even for the better. However if the price of energy skyrocketed it would drag the price of everything else up as well. From heating a home to buying food and manufactured goods prices would really hurt people. This would in turn lead to more unemployment and pretty quickly a sort of vicious cycle of taxation, increasing costs and rising unemployment.
I don't know what this world would turn out to be but I imagine it would take a serious turn for the unpleasant somewhere.
In the grand scheme of things peak oil is low on my list of concerns. Somewhere in the area of hyperinflation or a global pandemic and just above zombies or the UN invading America. How am I preparing for this? Well the general food, water, medicine, arms stuff covers a lot. Also I am slowly but surely working to acquire the skills (and stuff to make the skills work) so that I can have a couple back up career options.