By Roger Diamond

If I tell you there is a storm predicted for tomorrow night that is going to blow your roof off, you’ll listen. If I pass on a rumour your boss will fire you next month, you’ll also listen. But if I tell you your pension fund will collapse in twenty years time and you’ll be left penniless, will you listen? Or if I say that the earth’s remaining oil supplies are getting harder and more expensive to extract and that your lifestyle will change over the next decade or two, will you listen?

Environmental scientists and environmentalists struggle to communicate their cause and it’s not for lack of trying, nor for lack of knowledge or a clear message. It just seems to be that changes that may take place in many years time simply do not spur people into action. The issue has to be real serious and real NOW before most people will take notice.

If you give a person the choice of no electricity in thirty years time or a wind turbine NOW, they’ll take the “no-electricity-at-some-point-in-the-future” option. However, if you give the same person the choice of no electricity NOW or a wind turbine in their living room NOW, they’ll take the turbine and wear it on their heads! Why the difference? If they don’t don the tower of power they’ll be in the dark NOW! It hurts and it’s immediate.

This is the problem with the peak oil message. It’s very indirect and most importantly, it’s NOT NOW! The 2008 oil price spike brought peak oil out of the closet, but not for long enough for it to transform our lives and affect us badly. The economic collapse that closely followed the oil price spike immediately diverted attention away from basic resources and to fiddly financial matters which, most importantly, affected people badly and immediately. And so the brief showing of oil issues has been overshadowed by superficial paper games played by bankers and (something that rhymes).

So this brings me to the point of this article — why am I bothering to even write this if I know that nobody will listen? Well, not nobody. Some people will take notice and hopefully dig a bit deeper or at least keep their ears to the ground for the next piece of news that could confirm this picture. So, I must be in this game with the knowledge that most people will not be interested. Unless.

Unless there is a way to connect the dots and show people how peak oil will affect their lives very soon, if not already, then we will have to accept that the message will be lost to the average person. So I come to the realisation that knowledge is only one half of the equation — communication is the other. In fact, both knowledge and communication are themselves only half of the total picture, for these both lie on the side of the communicator, whilst on the side of the recipient is understanding and action.

Let me then hope that my knowledge is correct and that I can communicate it, not only clearly, but in a way that reveals the relevance of the information. After that I’m afraid, it’s up to you to understand and to take action. Ready, steady, go!

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