Elasticity and Collapse

The economy continues to falter under the burden of a World Without Oil. The shortages and outages are forcing almost everyone to try to adapt. Many people and businesses are elastic – they are trying alternatives to oil, such as carpooling and consolidation. Many individuals, families, businesses and in some cases entire industries, however, are finding that they have no good alternatives to energy from cheap oil – they are inelastic. This lesson investigates the factors that define elasticity in relation to oil – factors such as lifestyle, geography, setting (urban, suburban and rural) and community. People have begun viewing transportation in a much different light.

Part 1: Set the Stage

  1. Watch Kal's "Small-Town Shortage" video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmY9OMBdPLc  
  2. Read Anda's Week 11 webcomic about college roommates:

Part 2: Take Action
  1. Review your assigned post and prepare to report to the class on the specific concerns voiced by the author and the long term prospects of the situation. What is your analysis of the concerns? Are they serious?
  2. Additional discussion questions:
    • Does geographic location impact the significance of the concerns?
    • Do problems and shortages affect urban, suburban, and rural areas differently? Why or why not?

Part 3: Lesson Activity
  1. Review the concept of elasticity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elasticity_(economics)
Part 4: Reflect
You should have a clear idea about how your regional community depends upon oil. For today's reflection you should focus your reflections on the greater economic changes happening around you as oil-dependent industries struggle or fold.  Use the following questions to help guide your reflection:

Part 5: Take It Further
As the oil shortage creates dramatic economic shifts, people are needing to redefine many of their day-to-day activities.  PeakProphet at Notes from the Heartland asks us to look at a life beyond oil:

In this post he challenges you to look at what you do and how much energy it consumes.  Then try and find ways to reduce or eliminate that consumption.  To take it further today, read PeakProphet's post and complete his mission.  Make sure to post your list to your blog and add any drawings, photographs, or video that might help illustrate your potential life changes.

Additional Resources


Independent Lens Electric Shadows Independent Television Service Corporation for Public Broadcasting Ken Eklund, Writerguy