Hey, Prof. Goose from The Oil Drum here. As I mentioned in my first couple of posts, there are many constituent parts of the peak oil/energy issue. These parts include production, consumption, policy, mass psychology, environmental/green concerns, corporate/business interests, geology and exploration, and finally alternative sources of energy.
One of the things we've been doing at TOD is trying to talk about the little things that we can do to make the ride down Hubbert's Peak a little flatter, allowing society to come in for a soft landing. If we can reduce the consumption of petroleum-based products, thereby lowering demand of petroleum, we can make the plane at least level out instead of go crashing into the ground at high speed.
The problem is what scholars in economics/political science/public choice call the free rider problem as related to the tragedy of the commons, the idea being that it is completely irrational for individuals to use as much of a public resource (the resource/energy pool) as possible unless they have rational incentive (deeply held societal norms or state coercion to govern the commons) not to do so.