Marcellus, NY, United States
Marcellus, NY, United States

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Lambert J.G.,Next Generation Energy Initiative Inc. | Lambert G.P.,Next Generation Energy Initiative Inc.
Sustainability | Year: 2011

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. © 2011 by the authors.


Lambert J.G.,Next Generation Energy Initiative Inc. | Hall C.A.S.,Next Generation Energy Initiative Inc. | Balogh S.,Next Generation Energy Initiative Inc. | Gupta A.,Next Generation Energy Initiative Inc. | Arnold M.,Next Generation Energy Initiative Inc.
Energy Policy | Year: 2014

The near- and long-term societal effects of declining EROI are uncertain, but probably adverse. A major obstacle to examining social implications of declining EROI is that we do not have adequate empirical understanding of how EROI is linked, directly or indirectly, to an average citizen's ability to achieve well-being. To evaluate the possible linkages between societal well-being and net energy availability, we compare these preliminary estimates of energy availability: (1) EROI at a societal level, (2) energy use per capita, (3) multiple regression analyses and (4) a new composite energy index (Lambert Energy Index), to select indicators of quality of life (HDI, percent children under weight, health expenditures, Gender Inequality Index, literacy rate and access to improved water). Our results suggest that energy indices are highly correlated with a higher standard of living. We also find a saturation point at which increases in per capita energy availability (greater than 150. GJ) or EROI (above 20:1) are not associated with further improvement to society. © 2013 The Authors.

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