You are Not Alone, or Crazy

One of our Peak Moment Conversation viewers wrote,

“I am a vicarious ‘environmentalist.’ That means I wish I could live in an ecologically sustainable lifestyle. It’s very hard though when one’s partner thinks one is being ‘too extreme.’ My extremism includes walking to town for 30 minutes instead of driving by car for 20 minutes and riding a bicycle to the grocery store (25 minutes versus 15 minutes).”

It can be hard to live by one’s values without support from someone, and all the harder if one’s partner does not support it. A friend in our community is suffering because her partner and best friend both have asked her NOT to talk about peak oil or climate change — and she feels very concerned about these. It’s painful for her, and lonely, to be cut off from discussing with her intimates her deeply-held feelings about these global environmental concerns.

It can be lonely when you’re ahead of the crowd, particularly when the information you’re aware of is discomforting. It’s so easy to think we’re crazy when the world around us disagrees with us. But hang in there: our western consensual reality is hugely in denial about environmental realities — and thus IT is insane. It’s folks like you that ARE sane. You are part of the forward edge: aware and changing your life.

Friend, you are not alone. I think you can see that when you watch the Peak Moment Conversations. Our guests are people like you, “ordinary” people doing what they can. Their actions may seem small, especially with such enormously big problems on the planet. Your biking rather than driving may seem small. But your caring and your actions DO make a difference. If each one of us did something similar… the planet would feel the difference. Does feel the difference.


  1. Thanks for the tip. I took a look and found quite a number of Peak Moment shows on Technorati–how cool! Welcome to Peak Moment….glad to have you with us. –Janaia

  2. The powers that be have a vested interest in our NOT knowing that energy supplies are declining, and thus everything about our way of life will be radically changing. Since cheap energy drives the economy, its decline means business-as-usual can’t continue. But I have sympathy: it’s so much easier to be in denial.

    When the economists and those in the know start saying it’s happening, we ought to sit up and notice. Here’s from an article by Mark Hertsgaard at

    “Though largely unnoticed by the world media, a decisive moment in the peak oil debate came last September, when James Schlesinger declared that the “peakists” were right. You don’t get closer to the American establishment and energy business than Schlesinger, who has served as chair of the Atomic Energy Commission, head of the CIA, Defense Secretary, Energy Secretary and adviser to countless oil companies. In a speech to a conference sponsored by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, Schlesinger said, “It’s no longer the case that we have a few voices crying in the wilderness. The battle is over. The peakists have won.” Schlesinger added that many oil company CEOs privately agree that peak oil is imminent but don’t say so publicly.

    One who does is Jeroen van der Veer, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell. Without using the term “peak oil,” van der Veer warned in January, “After 2015, easily accessible supplies of oil and gas probably will no longer keep up with demand.”

    “The peakists have won.” Pretty solid validation fom somebody who ought to know. So keep up the worm bin and the gardening, install the compact fluorescents, and think about how to reduce your energy usage by 50% and more. And how to support your neighbors in growing food, sharing tools and rides.

  3. My husband’s family has been involved in the petroleum industry for decades, responsible for opening the north slope in alaska, and another is an ‘environmental engineer’ for a major oil producer, stationed in africa.

    I know exactly how you feel. I’m lucky in that he’s all for organic gardening (or anything that’ll save money and reduce the amount he has to mow) He puts up with my worm bin, very excited about LEDs and alternative fueled cars… but he refuses to believe that global warming is all that, or that we’ve reached peak oil… and he keeps sending me articles to prove his point…

    I just look at him and say… well, if I’m wrong it’s a hell of alot better than if you’re wrong… I think we should be prepared. (but then he was never a boy scout LOL)

    Thanks for the great work, Janaia.

  4. “To be the change we wish to see in the world” seems the perfect middle path. Leading by example, and feeling more content in your life, surely spills over into your relationship and other elements in your life. It might be an interesting topic for the students who are learning English from you, too.

  5. Stuart M. says:

    As the person who wrote to you about being a “vicarious environmentalist,” I would like to thank you for your encouraging thoughts. The latest blowup in our relationship occurred when I showed my wife a brochure for a vacation hotel which specializes in organic farming learning experiences for its guests. “I’m not going to work on my vacation!” she said. I have decided not to put pressure on my wife to change, but rather to “be the change I want to see” in her.

    I have taken many steps to “be the change” that my wife hasn’t even noticed: I have changed many of the lightbulbs in the house to energy saving lightbulbs, I ride my bicycle to my workplace, I turn off the heater when we go to bed, I wash the dishes with hot water, but rinse them off in cold water, I only shower every three or four days and wear the same clothes in that time (yes, I do change my socks and undies daily). Thanks to the many inspiring conversations I have watched here on, I plan to start a worm composter, grow some vegetables in flower boxes, and stockpile some non-perishable foods for that “rainy day” that is sure to come.

    I think these actions are all significant. I notice I have cut my car’s gasoline consumption in half with my bicycling. I smile as I turn off a staircase light that has been left on, AGAIN, a light that now only uses 12 watts instead of the original bulb’s 60 watts. The outside light my wife insists must be on all night long only consumes 8 watts instead of 40. Our heating oil use is down, water use is down, my feeling of contentment is way up!

    My wife? Well, she has too many good sides that I just can’t do without! I have decided not to push things with her “beyond the point of no return.”

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