For Tad Patzek, Peak Oil - not climate change - poses the greatest risk to human health and survival on Earth.
The chair of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas and co-author with Joseph Tainter of Drilling Down: The Gulf Oil Debacle
and Our Energy Dilemma, Patzek does not deny climate change or the notion that the human use of CO2 has helped caused it. It's just that climate change has already been set in motion, and it will take 80,000 to 100,000 years to reverse it. This is, the Polish-born Patzek says, "for us, an infinite time."
In the grand scheme of things then, the more immediate threat to human health, economies and quality of life is when our transportation systems' need for oil outpaces our civilization's ability to refine it.
"People need to realize that this is a finite resource, and using it in the crazy, irresponsible ways we use it today is in fact suicidal - suicidal within one generation," Patzek says.
Communicating complex scientific realities and telling people bad news is difficult in a world where people are increasingly distracted by the requirements of daily life and the offerings of an enormous amusement industry. But we either choose to change our consumption now or soon we will have no choice.
"Take your picks," Patzek says.