Predicting the Psychological Response of the American People to Oil Depletion and Declining Energy Return on Investment (EROI)
Oil has played a crucial role in the United Statesâ€™ continued but increasingly tenuous economic prosperity. The continued availability of cheap, high energy return on investment (EROI) oil, however, is increasingly in doubt. If cheap oil is increasingly constrained, how might that impact the American psychological sense of personal and national well-being? We employ general systems theory and certain key paradigms from psychology and sociology to predict the possible societal response to global peak oil and the declining EROI of whatever oil is produced. Based on these frameworks, the following three defense mechanisms seem likely to be employed by individuals and groups within society if and when confronted with stresses associated with declining oil availability. These are: denial of oneâ€™s passive helpless state, desire to establish a scapegoat, and arousal of affiliative needs and increased subgrouping. A groupâ€™s â€œsurvivalâ€ is a function of its unified sense of direction and the stability of necessary interdependencies and linkages. We suggest that the ability of the U.S. society, taken as a whole, to adapt to the stresses derived from the declining EROI of oil will increase during periods of moderate stress, and then decline after reaching its maximum ability to cope with stress. The integrity of interdependencies and linkagesâ€”power, communication, affect, and goalsâ€”must be preserved for continued social unity. Americans will need to acknowledge the reality of biophysical constraints if they are to adapt to the coming energy crisis.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Hecht, Jason, 2001. "Classical Labour-Displacing Technological Change: The Case of the US Insurance Industry," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(4), pages 517-37, July.
- David W. Conrath, 1973. "Communications Environment and its Relationship to Organizational Structure," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(4-Part-II), pages 586-603, December.
- Bentley, R. W., 2002. "Global oil & gas depletion: an overview," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 189-205, February.
- Belk, Russell & Painter, John & Semenik, Richard, 1981. " Preferred Solutions to the Energy Crisis as a Function of Causal Attributions," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(3), pages 306-12, December.
- Ayres, Robert U. & Warr, Benjamin, 2005. "Accounting for growth: the role of physical work," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-209, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:11:p:2129-2156:d:14703. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.