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Environment

Peak Oil Meets the New Age

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorJune 6, 2010 5:02 PM

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The NYT uses the Gulf oil disaster as a hook to examine the peak oil "collapsitarians." Some of them are a bit overwrought, it seems, and want to do more than rub their worry beads. Fortunately, there's a new cottage industry catering to their anxieties. The theme of the NYT story can be gleaned from this opener:

As oil continued to pour into the Gulf of Mexico on a recent Saturday, Jennifer Wilkerson spent three hours on the phone talking about life after petroleum. For Mrs. Wilkerson, 33, a moderate Democrat from Oakton, Va., who designs computer interfaces, the spill reinforced what she had been obsessing over for more than a year "” that oil use was outstripping the world's supply. She worried about what would come after: maybe food shortages, a collapse of the economy, a breakdown of civil order. Her call was part of a telephone course about how to live through it all. In bleak times, there is a boom in doom.

Indeed there is. Click on the link for that telephone course. Check out its marketing pitch:

How do you feel about the current unraveling of industrial civilization and the coming transition? Do you long for a place to discuss your feelings, thoughts, and methods of preparation? Do you long to feel less alone as you live with all you know?

Now that's some serious fear mongering, served up with a soothing New Age veneer. Sure enough, click on the instructor's bio and homepage, and you'll learn that she's a former psychotherapist, whose latest book is called Sacred Demise: Walking the Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization's Path. What's that sound you hear? The wonks at The Oil Drum retching in unison. Because I'm sure that's just what they want, their high-minded debates on overshoot being co-opted by pseudo-spiritualist claptrap. Still, you gotta admire that singularly American can-do entrepreneurial spirit. If industrial civilization is going under, someone might as well cash in on the collapse.

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