by Roger Diamond.

“The world is coming to a catastrophic end!”

How does that statement make you feel?!

Let’s try “Certain elements of our society are likely to be placed under major stress and perhaps stop functioning optimally.” Feel different about that prediction? Two totally different sentences that could have the same meaning, but certainly do not produce the same emotional response within one. Language is our primary communication method and how we use it determines how well our message gets across.

There are many messages out there and the bulk of them are total nonsense, such as the message displayed on most billboards, that by buying product “x” you will transmute into the person in the poster and obtain their dreamy and carefree or passionate and fun-filled lifestyle, whatever the exact product and version of marketing is being used. Other messages are political, economic, sporting or related to any other of the myriad sectors or sub-cults of our society. We are literally bombarded by information, of which this little page of words is yet another contribution.

The interesting thing is that there is no perfect way of getting your message across, because the variables that control the effectiveness of your message are many, but include the content of your message, the medium you use and of course the recipient.  You can be certain that for one single message, there is no way of practically nor intellectually reaching every person out there.  The converse is that even the most pathetic attempt at hurling a molecule of information into the wide open world will reach at least some people. As they say, some people will believe anything you tell them.

How does this all relate to peak oil? Well, the peak oil message is not terribly complex, yet neither is it overly simple. It is however, not the most palatable message, yet does seem to be rather urgent. As a result of the urgency, some people lay on the heavy doom and gloom in an attempt to induce some mitigatory actions into the reader, yet due to the general recalcitrance of people to change, this does not really work. Also, a highly unpalatable message is often just spat out and the last tastes washed down with something distracting.

On the other hand, a formal tone can lose many people in the niceties of language and the urgency does get lost. As stated before, there is no perfect way of communicating. Environmental groups, and I count peak oil largely in that stable, need to learn the simple way of targeting the means of communications (content and medium) to the target audience. The message has to be packaged in a 100 different ways if you’re speaking to a hundred different groups. Know your audience and speak to their values. 

Peak oil is probably affecting you now, but being a Thought Leader reader you are probably able to weather the early part of this storm. When the winds really start blowing, even the wealthy and smart will find their comfort zones under just a little bit of pressure.

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