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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Hijacking Reality

I attended a peak oil mini-conference recently hosted by the Green Party of Texas.

It was surprising to see see so man people in one place, who are interested in Peak Oil and resource depletion. I suppose I was half expecting 12 weirdo's sitting in a circle and swapping conspiracy theories. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the disaffected conspiracy crowd always seem to be early adopters of any issue which predicts problems for humanity.

The crowd was roughly 100 people... Everybody from college students, housewives, blue collar guys, seniors, and even a few young children. So my conspiracy-nut fears soon dissolved amid this mixed crowd, and my attention shifted from the crowd to the message being delivered.

They screened The End of Suburbia of course, and conducted breakout sessions for those of us who had seen EOS already. The session I attended was presented by members of the Green Party sponsors. It began with a somewhat rambling introduction to peak oil, with frequent interruptions from a well-intentioned, but very annoying young lady with some agenda I never did quite catch. This was followed by a Green Party pitch, complete with little brochures and hand-outs. Much what I had expected I suppose. I didn't identify myself to anyone because I wanted to see the event from the perspective of a newcomer, and to avoid co-opting their time.

After the sessions and screenings were finished, a round-table of Green Party affiliates answered questions and made short presentations. These were focused on solutions and activism messages among a panel of around 8. I didn't know any of the speakers myself or by reputation. Urban planning and energy friendly homes were the mainstay of the Q & A.

That's when it dawned on me...

The people who organized & presented the seminar were "piggy-backing" on the Peak Oil buzzword as a method of promoting their own agenda... just like the conspiracy nuts I had anticipated. I could have attended this entire event, and never actually understood what Peak Oil is really about. Not to discount the mostly worthwhile goals of these groups, but it became clear that Peak Oil was not really among them.

One session speaker offered Mad Max DVDs for newcomers to understand post peak life...

I rest my case.

It reminded me of a favorite Simpson's episode actually.

Homer: "Okay, okay, it was me. I'm sorry I blew your secret! But you don't know what it's like to be a nobody! I just wanted to bask in your reflected glory! Reflected glory!!"

Kim: "Homer ... you betrayed our confidence. I just don't think we can be friends anymore."

Homer: "But ... where will I bask?"

Alec: "Anywhere but here.'

Homer: [puts his hand on Ron's shoulder] 'Come on, Ron. We're not wanted here. ' [Ron removes Homer's hand] 'All right, I'll go. But the next time you want someone to remind you which brother is which, or smell your hair while you're sleeping, just remember ... old Homer won't be here anymore!'

It's our greatest strength... & our worst failure.


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