Jan 14th, 2009 | By Aaron Newton
A wonderful vision of the future.
A Nation of Farmers: I wanted to start by asking about something I’ve heard you say in other interviews.A lot of other people, even some of the cheery folks, tend to talk about peak oil specifically in really gloomy, sad terms.You tend to talk about it as a potentially positive development for humankind, and I wondered if you could talk about why.
Albert Bates: There are a few reasons behind that I think everybody at some point has to go through the process of having the realization.That may come as kind of a rude awakening, or it may come as “Aha, I told you so!”, but at some point everybody goes through it. It tends to deepen as time goes on, and people have their own periods of weeping and gnashing the teeth, but then you have to cope, you have to get up and do something about it. I think the more important thing is to have an attitude that something can still be done. You can’t exclude the possibility that the future is still malleable, that there is still an opportunity for positive change if we exert our capacity or our abilities to do that.
I think it’s important to paint a positive vision for the future to galvanize the kinds of changes that people are capable of, rather than to focus on the various dystopias, which is all too common in peak oil literature. We’re going to have to talk about energy and energy descent, and that’s ultimately about energy ascent — which is to say re-energizing. Re-energizing communities and culture, re-energizing the way we go through our lives so that we’re much more of our human selves, so that the separation that we’ve lost with nature is repaired. And that’s the key to realistically embracing the possibilities of our situation rather than being overwhelmed by the kinds of challenges that our situation presents us with.