What’s Peak Oil?

Out to dinner with my friend the other night I casually referred to Peak Oil in a discussion. We were talking about topics that might be potential articles on Earth Thrives. As it turns out he didn’t know what Peak Oil was. Hadn’t heard about it and didn’t mention the fact until I had rolled on to another topic.

This friend had spent at least the past two years running a company whose focus sales demographic was the triple bottom line business, and so I assumed that he of all people would know what peak oil was. Turns out I was wrong.

Over the next week I asked another ten colleagues and friends if they knew what Peak oil was. I expected that they would know when I asked and was not prepared to find that all but one of them didn’t.

I shouldn’t have assumed that my friend or anyone else, for that matter, has the same knowledge that I have. This is not to say that I am amazing, but more to show that my foci are unique to my interests. We all have our own interests which lead to what we read, look up and study in depth. The topics that I have spent more time with include (but are certainly not limited to):
Urban gardens, Peak Oil, sustainable communities, organization development; leadership development, GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), socially responsible business, alternative economies, and local living economies.

While I have spent that last two years immersed in the world of green and sustainable while working on my Masters degree from Goddard College in Socially Responsible Business and Sustainable Communities, not everyone else has gone as in depth in the same topics, even industry professionals.

Let’s face it, many people still think of sustainability as a topic that stands on its own, when it is really a lens through which you see the world.

So, don’t assume that if you bring up something like the Andersonville Study in a conversation about why buying local is important that the person you are talking to has a clue to what you just referred. Ask if they have heard about terms, studies, and topics that you otherwise might take for granted that they know. It will help you to educate yourself as well as others and that is what we need to have happen in order to build the breadth and depth of our information.

Big Yellow Taxi

What a great opportunity we have in our everyday lives to educate others about ‘going green.’ Teachable moments are often given to us several times per day.

I think that sometimes they pass not because we have not taken the opportunity, but because we do not know that there is an opportunity there.

Big Yellow TaxiIn the words of Joni Mitchell…
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till its gone”

Let’s not make that mistake. Let’s work to have discussions with those around us. You can educate without pontificating (instructions to follow.)

I know that I feel totally immersed in the green movement and sometimes when someone asks me ‘what’s new?’ I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. This also happens when asked ‘what can I do?’ There is just so much and so many way to answer that. I think that the main difficulty is because it is hard from an open statement like that to judge a person’s level of knowledge and understanding.

My suggestion is instead of waiting to be asked, begin a conversation and listen – really listen – to where a persons interests lie. Ask them questions. Eventually you will find the intersection of your knowledge and their interests and will have a natural opportunity for discussion that is not forced.