While the global financial crisis (GFC) has the shortest time horizon for systemic disruption, the effects of our upcoming peak oil crisis (PO) should never be marginalized. The way I see it, there are three major reasons why:
1) The GFC and PO are inter-connected: systemic deleveraging that is ongoing from the GFC will feed back into energy supply shortages in the future, 2) the energy crisis is likely to make the disruption and devastation from the GFC feel like a walk in the park for billions of people and 3) the awareness of this crisis, and therefore any mitigating responses at large scales, is completely lacking and most likely will never appear until many people have already been priced out of energy access.
The best we can really do right now is tell ourselves and our local communities, physical or virtual, why we have arrived at this dangerous point in history and what we can do to begin protecting as many people as possible from its consequences. The latter is why The Automatic Earth has decided to place so much emphasis on its new Lifeboat section, where people with specialized knowledge and experience can contribute to the community. There is no perfect or even near-perfect way to insulate oneself from these energy risks, but, for those with the available means, the time to start doing so was yesterday.
For those who are looking for a very accessible explanation of the peak energy crisis, for your own learning experience or to share with others, the following animated video from Dermot O’Connor of Incubate Pictures is an invaluable resource (h/t El Gallinazo and the Post Carbon Institute). It uses simple and effective animations to explain many different aspects of the crisis, ranging from the original formation of our fossil fuel inheritance to its rapid depletion, the concept of energy return on energy invested (EROEI), the inadequacy of “alternative energy sources” to offset net energy declines, the intersection with peak finance and much more. It is only 30 minutes long, so you won’t get a ton of in-depth analysis, but it is still a great tool for the uninitiated and initiated alike.