Meet The Doomers

By Ben Bull
Published February 19, 2009

If you think RTH is nuts with all its Peak Oil examinations, take a look at the Doomers.

The Toronto Star's Cathal Kelly, aided by Hamilton's own Sheryl Nadler, chronicle the post-oil apocalypse preparations of two modern day survivalists, and attempt to explain just why they are so worried:

The high priests of the doomer set include the acerbic critic of suburbia, James Howard Kunstler, and Matt Savinar, founder of They envision the Peak Oil aftermath as something out of Mad Max. Chronic oil shortage will dovetail with urban violence, ecological degradation and financial chaos to create a series of cascading catastrophes. They expect the 21st century to look a lot like the 18th ... primitive and dangerous.

I once went to a WinterFest carnival in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square. A woman next to me set a cardboard box down on the floor, opened it up and hollered, "Free Teddies!"

Within 20 seconds the box was empty. As I leaned in to grab a fluffy Coca Cola bear, a middle-aged man charged me in the back and snatched it out of my hand.

I don't know about you, but if this is how people behave when they're trying to snag a free toy, I'd hate to see what the world is like when the oil runs dry. Maybe it's time to find me a boat...

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 19, 2009 at 15:47:00

I'm past oil scarcity. Wait until we start running out of fresh water.

But back to peak oil.... I used to read Kunstler's weekly diatribes, but I found him be repetitive soon enough. What I love about anti-peak oilers is that they somehow think that demand will never outstrip supply (technology will solve everything, problem solved). It's a non-renewable resource and as long as we're using it, there is going to be less to use later on and as long as we're using more than we discover, which happened decades ago, we're running out.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 12:38:41

I don't get it. What was the point of this article?

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By Chris (registered) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 13:34:22

Capitalist, follow the link to the Star story on some of the local Peak Oil survivalists. The article here basically says you think the Peak Oil believers are wacky in this blog get a load of these freaks. I really have to agree. Survivalists of every stripe are alieanted people; many of whom consciously feel marginalized and see such an event as their time to rule the remnants of the world. I admire the self sufficient and those who want to or are living in sustainable ways REGARDLESS of calamity or empowerment due to social collapse. I view survivalists as mentally ill for the most part except for the writers of survivalist books and those who profit from such delusions. They are just sleazy opportunists.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted February 24, 2009 at 14:47:21

I believe peak oil is a fact. However, I'm wary of lifeboat scenarios and Malthusian predictions. If anything, I think community will become stronger in many locations. There is a lot of waste produced by capitalism and the consumerist culture it instills in people through advertising and other forms of propoganda. (Actually, with flyers and neon lights, etc., advertising is itself a huge form of waste.) Hopefully, this waste will be the first thing to go. Fordism is already dead, ergo mass motoring is on it's death bed, peak oil or not. It won't take much time for working class commumities to realize that the mass motoring is a burden.

If the state-capitalist system fails to develop a "New New Deal" that is commensurate with reality of energy depletion - by investing in rail infrastructure, transit, agriculture - people will start to question their loyalty. As communities start to meet their own needs on a grassroots level, a dual power situation could develop.

Bring it on, I say.

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By winspire (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2009 at 18:30:35

Doomers or not, we had better start putting more attention on solutions than problems. This is not an issue that will go away with a growing population, but innovation has solved many problems before.

New ideas pop up occasionally, and I came upon this website earlier today and wondered about their product and idea for getting off the electric grid entirely. Anyone heard of it?

Seems like the $100 cost mentioned is too low, but even if it were higher, it would be far more than worth it if this magnet idea really works.

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By Junk Science (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2009 at 21:35:32

^ Christ Almighty. What DO they teach them in schools these days? There's no such thing as free energy, it violates the laws of thermodynamics. The "Magniwork" is nothing but a scam, please save your money.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2009 at 05:57:59

JonC >> What I love about anti-peak oilers is that they somehow think that demand will never outstrip supply

If oil gets too expensive, people will switch to some other energy source and the world will continue just like it did after Y2K. Remember that? But feel free to keep whining about the latest trend in doomsday philosophy, it's good entertainment for the rest of us.

By the way, when oil prices drop below $30, what do you think will be the next big scare we should all start worrying about?

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