IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/gam/jsusta/v3y2011i11p2129-2156d14703.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Predicting the Psychological Response of the American People to Oil Depletion and Declining Energy Return on Investment (EROI)

Author

Listed:
  • Jessica G. Lambert

    () (Next Generation Energy Initiative, Inc., 32 First Street, Marcellus, NY 13108, USA)

  • Gail P. Lambert

    () (Next Generation Energy Initiative, Inc., 32 First Street, Marcellus, NY 13108, USA)

Abstract

Oil has played a crucial role in the United States’ 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 one’s passive helpless state, desire to establish a scapegoat, and arousal of affiliative needs and increased subgrouping. A group’s “survival” 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 linkages—power, communication, affect, and goals—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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jessica G. Lambert & Gail P. Lambert, 2011. "Predicting the Psychological Response of the American People to Oil Depletion and Declining Energy Return on Investment (EROI)," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(11), pages 1-28, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:11:p:2129-2156:d:14703
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/3/11/2129/pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/3/11/2129/
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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 306-312, December.
    3. Bentley, R. W., 2002. "Global oil & gas depletion: an overview," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 189-205, February.
    4. David W. Conrath, 1973. "Communications Environment and its Relationship to Organizational Structure," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(4-Part-II), pages 586-603, December.
    5. 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 517-537, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Kamp & Hanne Østergård, 2016. "A Systematic Approach to Explorative Scenario Analysis in Emergy Assessment with Emphasis on Resilience," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-11, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    energy; EROI; Maximum Power Principle; stress; Psychological Defense Mechanisms;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. 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). General contact details of provider: http://www.mdpi.com/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.