What’s the real problem here?

Seeing and saying the problem in order to solve it

I asked a friend for feedback about the Transition Monday website and it’s content and she said:

It’s a hard time at present isn’t it – with people focusing so much on Covid they cannot see past it to anything else – I suppose we can only focus on one big problem at a time.

I agreed and wanted to add,

But I wish I could get people to focus on the biggest and most unrecognised problem of them all, our addiction to petroleum?

But I didn’t say this out loud, because most people are either in denial or not aware of the magnitude of this problem.  

I’ve been wondering what it it would take for leaders to acknowledge this addiction to life with fossil fuels. And what it might take for followers to acknowledge the many ways they keep enabling this addictive behaviour to continue?

For instance, how many leaders in the past 30 years have promised faithfully to reduce their nation’s use of fossil fuels, only to have it increase massively under their watch? How many have dismissed the huge problems caused by this increase in fossil fuel use on the land, in the air and water, despite knowing about them? How many have deflected blame onto others – “it’s his or her fault” – or made comparisons – “but, we’re doing much better than them” – or  false agreements like, “This is our last drilling operation,” “We’ll stop by some year in the future when it’s too late, and another person or administration will be in charge and people will have forgotten.” These are all symptoms of addictive behavior.

How many have enabled this addictive behaviour by making excuses for them like: “He/she/they can’t because they won’t get re-elected,” “We’ve got to keep him/her/them in office; otherwise we’ll get someone worse,” “They’re doing the best they can; it’s the other people who are bad,” “Don’t rock the boat; she/he/they are the best hope we have.”

In the meantime, the increase in the use of fossil fuels continues to negatively impact on all aspects of our ground, air and water, while its availability for assisting us to transition to a sustainable and viable future diminish.

In many cases of addiction, people have to hit rock bottom before they see the problem. We don’t think there’s a need to hit rock bottom.

Let’s ask our leaders, “if there was to be a disruption in energy supplies in the next few years, as is likely, what’s the plan? Given most of our transport fuels are dependent on oil, and much of our food production is dependent on oil, how are you ensuring our food security?” “How can we develop self-sufficient local production, without the use of fossil fuels? Can you help us? Can we help you?

Let’s ask ourselves, “What would we be the results for us, for our family, friends, community, nation, and world, if there was a major disruption to oil supplies? What would we like to do about it? What would we like our local communities and our leadership to do?


When people have an addiction, the most difficult part is acknowledging the problem. Once they see the problem, and say it, they are well on the way to overcoming it. And it’s known to be easier to overcome addictions, when people are connected. As Johann Hari says, “The opposite of addiction is connection” (Johann Hari)

We can address our addiction to fossil fuels together. Let us know what you think? Questions and challenges are always welcome.


In this clip Obama is cheered for signing the Paris agreement to reduce fossil fuel use and in almost the same breath he is cheered for making US the largest oil producer.

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