“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” Mark Twain
Michael Brownlee, co-founder of Transition Colorado says, “There is just a markedly greater degree of denial here in the U.S. with things like fossil fuel depletion and climate change and economic decline.” Probably not surprising in a country where 5% of the world’s population uses 20% of the energy.
“Denial is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.”
Denial is why Transition movements in the U.S. have difficulty gaining any real traction. According to Mr. Brownlee, again, in an article in the Fall 2010 issue of Yes Magazine, “There’s much less a sense of community and connectivity here. It makes it more difficult for people to think in terms of self-organizing as a community around these issues.”
But even where efforts towards energy descent have made marked progress, denial raises its ugly head. In the last four years New York City, under Mayor Blomberg, has added 250 miles of bike lanes to facilitate the uses of bicycles for urban transportation. Anyone who has spent time in European cities such as Copenhagen, where huge posses of bike riders dominate the streets, might think this was a great leap forward. Not the motorists of the Big Apple. “Surging bike ridership has created a simmering cultural conflict between competing notions of urban transportation. Many New Yorkers object to bicycle lanes as sudden, drastic changes to their coveted concrete front yards.“He’s taking away my rights as a driver,” Leslie Sicklick, 45, said of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.”
We want our cars. We don’t need no stinking bike lanes.
Nobody wants to think about what might happen if the “peakers” are right. Writer Jim Quinn lays it out again here “The US Military, the German Military, and the UK Department of Energy have all done detailed studies of the situation and come to the same conclusions. Social chaos, economic confusion, trade barriers, conflict, food shortages, riots, and war are in our future.”
Chris Nelder descibes reaction to Peak Oil using the Kubler-Ross stages of denial:
1. Denial: “There’s plenty of oil out there, and we can drill our way out of this.”
2. Anger: “Why aren’t those bastards drilling our way out of this?”
3. Bargaining: “Well maybe ANWR, the continental offshore, the tar sands, and slightly more efficient cars will fix it.”
4. Depression: “Oh man, we’re screwed, it’s too big a problem for me, I might as well give up.”
5. Acceptance: “I’m ready for the second half of the Age of Oil and I’m going to find a way forward.”
Or Kubler-Ross as applied to the Lummi Island Ferry:
1. Denial: We’ve had a ferry for 100 years and should have one for 100 more.
2. Anger: Gosh dang County is incompetent and the Lummis are greedy.
3. Bargaining: More people would ride if the County reduced rates but how about only $2 more?
4. Depression: They’re going to raise the rates anyway and the Lummis aren’t through dicking with us.
5. Acceptance: Maybe we should come up with some kind of realistic, sustainable, long-term plan for island transportation.
“Denial — is the only fact
Perceived by the Denied,” Emily Dickinson