A new article in Harper’s Magazine caught my attention, one in which the writer visits his first convention for the “apocalyptic” wing of believers in Peak Oil - those who think that global ruin is inevitable and imminent. The writer, who appears sympathetic to the group and their beliefs, makes a comparison somewhat like the one in my thread title, and the more I think about it, the more apt I found it. Here’s some of the points of comparison I thought were particularly interesting:
The modern world is "wicked."
For Peak Oilers, this is the conspicuous consumption of Western/American culture, plus the general lack of will to explore alternatives up to now, not to mention conceptions of global overpopulation.
This wickedness will cause the inevitable, imminent end of humanity as we know it. Everything we know and love right now will disappear, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it.
The Peak Oilers described in the article forsee the collapse of civilization from the lack of oil. They believe in the works when it comes to results: no transportation of people or goods anywhere (that’s not first class cruise luxury expensive), no plastics or natural gas-based fertilizers, millions upon millions dead from oil wars or starvation (as the food supply to suburbs dwindles to nothing).
Every alternative that’s been discussed in the media or on these boards has been pooh-poohed as too little, too late. The peak is already past, or is coming within the next few years, and it’s far too late for anything to be done. All that I mentioned above will come to pass.
However, we should welcome this upcoming catastrophe.
The author describes how the audience broke into a standing ovation when one speaker described a scenario similar to the one mentioned above, and it was pretty worst-case and dark.
For it will herald the creation of a better world.
The author describes the hope in many of the convention attendees: that the “post-oil” world will be more agrarian, more spiritual, more commune-like, more simple, more sustainable. IOW, a “hippie utopia,” in my view.
But only for those who heed these words, believe, and repent right now.
Of course, if you really, truly believe that the worst of Peak Oil is coming, and is unstoppable, you can hardly live the way most people do. Why train in technology? It’ll all be useless soon. Why save for retirement? By the time you’re of retirement age, paper money will be useless. Gold is a highly sought and bought commodity at these conventions. One convention-goer mentions that, despite having grown up in urban areas his whole life, he’s learning to slaughter pigs. Another considers New Zealand the best place to start human civilization anew. Yet another expects to be living on a lifeboat by 2007.
Now here’s my questions for debate: is the comparison I (and the author) make apt? What are the differences between the two kind of “rapture” beliefs? Should we take the Peak Oilers more seriously because they have hard science behind their beliefs?