Peak Sheen (or how $10 gasoline will save the world)

A few nights ago, I decided to torture myself and watch a movie about “peak oil” cleverly titled, “A Crude Awakening”.

I say “torture myself” because what can I do really? Drive a Prius?

Whatever, America is an oil society. George W. Bush got it right: we are addicted to oil. Almost everything we do involves oil. I’m not saying that Priuses aren’t great and a step in the right direction. The problem is that even if everyone was forced to drive a Prius tomorrow, and assuming our historical rate of economic growth, oil demand would rebound to current levels in only a few years.

It’s not going to be as easy as switching the car you drive. No, the real solution to our “addiction to oil” will be something closer to what Charlie Sheen is going through right now.

Some sort of ugly, embarrassing, strung-out withdrawal but without the glamor and pornstars.

“A Crude Awakening” debates and dismisses each of the major alternatives to oil: solar, wind, biomass, nuclear and hydrogen. Of these, hydrogen seems to have the most promise. Too bad a “hydrogen society” won’t be a viable alternative for another 30-50 years.

Until then, things don’t look pretty. In fact, one of the dudes featured in the movie was being interviewed in front of emergency crates of water manufactured by “S.O.S Food Labs”.


It was late. I was watching the movie alone. My mind began to race.

“Wonder if oil wars are our only future.”

“Dad drove a huge Plymouth in the 1970s. Is he a dick for doing that?”

“Are my kids going to become some sort of oil slaves?”

“Jesus. Am I already an oil slave?”

“Do I need to stock dried goods? Dehydrated vegetables?”

“Where can I buy a horse? For transportation?”

Like a good American, instead of freaking out any further, I just turned off the movie. I needed to smile. I pulled up the Charlie Sheen ABC interview.


I got to the part where the interviewer seemed to cast doubt on his ability to stop “using.”

“How do you know you won’t relapse?” she asked.

“Because,” he said, “I blinked and I cured my brain, everybody has the power.  It’s just because, you know… Can’t is the cancer of happen. Can’t is the cancer of happen.”

“Maybe Charlie Sheen is right,” I thought, thinking about the movie again. “Maybe we’re just saying we can’t change, get off oil, but we really could. Can’t is the cancer of happen. Yeah… Nothing is going to happen if we keep saying we can’t do it! Maybe we can have a hydrogen society in only 10 years and forestall world disaster! Maybe we need more leaders like Charlie Sheen!”

Charlie Sheen brought me back from the edge. Mind sufficiently calmed, I quickly fell asleep.

But the next morning, the movie re-entered my mind. Over breakfast, without telling my wife about the movie, I said, “I could totally see moving up to a quiet farm somewhere. You know, a small plot of land, grow our own food organically. Some chickens.”

I didn’t tell her my ideas about buying guns and stocking food.

“Really?” She said, rubbing her very pregnant belly. “I can’t.”

Trying to give the idea momentum, I continued. “Wouldn’t it be great to wake up, hear roosters, see dew on a meadow?”

“No.” she said. “I like our life here. All of our friends are here. Our family is close.”

“Yeah but what happens when trucks…” and here my voice cracked before I blurted out, “stop delivering food out here?” Shit! I reached for my fork, averted my eyes, and tried to play it cool.

The weapon of choice in Italian households.

But my wife was staring through me. She was quiet for a good 10 seconds, just staring at me, rubbing her belly menacingly. I could hear her hands going “swoosh, swoosh” over the fabric.

“What are you talking about?” She took a step towards me. She was holding a wooden spoon. “My god,” I thought, “I’ve angered a pregnant Italian woman and she’s holding a wooden spoon.”

Clearly, I was in danger.

She raised her voice, waving the wooden spoon around like some crazed conductor leading a group of crack-addled Charlie Sheens playing piccolos. “You’re getting all paranoid and crazy again?” Slam! The spoon hit the table. “While I’m eight-and-a-half months pregnant?” Slam! “Remember when you had me split our savings between 6 different banks and bought bullion?” Slam!

Ah, memories of 2008…

I got the fuck out of there and head back to my cave, the office. I closed and locked the door.

The first thing I noticed, was oil creeping close to $107 a barrel. Searching for the reason, I read an article about $200 crude calls changing hands.  Then I read about the upcoming “Saudi Day of Rage.”

$200 oil. Wow. Days of rage. $10 gasoline. Man! The movie was right! We’re at the beginning of the end!

I tried to calm down. Thinking back to the night before, I thought about Charlie Sheen. What would he say about this? I bet he’d say that worrying about $200 oil was boring and normal.

Could $200 oil actually be good?

Sure! $200 oil is only bad if we want to continue on the exact path we’re on, but that path is ending. Changing isn’t going to be an option. There are finite amounts of oil under the ground. That’s just a fact. “Drill baby drill” is nothing more than a weak slogan and useless policy unless it’s coupled with huge commitment to developing other resources as well.

If $200 oil gets us thinking harder about hydrogen, or about solar, or does anything to shake the entrenched interests in this country that are standing in the way of real change, then that’s actually a good thing.

The alternative is that, like the pre-awakened version of our friend Charlie Sheen, we continue chilling with pornstars and “banging 7 gram rocks.”  Then when our heart explodes in a couple of decades, we’re not going to have anyone else to blame but ourselves.

Not the liberals. Not the conservatives. And not the other terrorists.

Wonder if cars can run on #tigerblood?


For more tips on rationalizing the coming apocalypse, kindly follow me on Twitter.

Exit music.


3 responses

  1. That post WW-2 Plymouth was the way it was then. It was “the state of the art” and needs be just ‘let be.’

    These electric cars will be cussed and discussed in 10 or 20 years for the vast environmental damage caused by the mining of the lithium and other Rare Earth metals. Think in terms of destruction of 20% of South America and 15% or more of the arable land and usable water of East Asia. That is the minimum trickle-down environmental damage to be expected.

    The cure for the environment is the reduction of the human population. No problem. Education and technology. As any given unit of the human population improves its status its birth rate drops like a rock. Read Azimov’s “Foundation” series. There is a huge increase in human population reaching out to the stars, then. . . nobody feels the need to have kids or wants to mess with raising them and the planets become desolate with only the left-behinds of humanity. So it will be. Maybe in only one or two more lifetimes.

    Gas is replacing oil in a lot of applications. Oil is already in surplus. The problem is not quantity of resource but the need for necessary scale of operation. The Markets will sort all this out. Keep your seatbelt and parachute straps tight.

    I changed enough diapers in my time; attended more than enough after-school events to support the kids; paid college tuition; it’s all Love. Hang In; enjoy. When it’s over all that is left is the memory. Maybe you will be lucky and get to repeat it all with grandchildren. If anything, the second time around is even more fun.

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