Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, took issue with the Peak Oil catastrophists in some articles he wrote for magazines in 2006. Obviously, Hemenway is no oil company dupe. I see him as someone trying to give us a soft landing option precisely through his leadership in the permaculture movement.
There is no doubt that oil is running out. But to believe that it will surely bring the end of the world, you must believe that:
1. Our demand for oil is unchangeable and is not significantly affected by price.
2. We are so badly addicted to oil that we will watch our civilization collapse rather than change our behavior.
3. Significant oil conservation is not possible in the time frame needed.
4. Even with conservation, demand will be more than oil plus alternatives can possibly meet.
5. Society is so fragile that it cannot withstand large shocks.
These are the significant beliefs needed to be a Peak Oil catastrophist. Each is false. Let’s look at them.