Tag Archives | Out of Context Problems

Out of Context Problems

Last Thursday I dropped in to the PSU/PDOT Traffic and Transportation Class to hear Gordon Price. I’ve heard Gordon a couple of times, but it’s been at least five years since the last time.

It was well worth it, and fodder for at least a couple of posts. Gordon spent the first part of his presentation talking about Peak Oil.
Last Thursday I dropped in to the PSU/PDOT Traffic and Transportation Class to hear Gordon Price. I’ve heard Gordon a couple of times, but it’s been at least five years since the last time.

It was well worth it, and fodder for at least a couple of posts. Gordon spent the first part of his presentation talking about Peak Oil.

He showed the usual graphs that we’re all familiar with by now, but then went on to characterize it as an ‘out of context’ problem. That is, it represents a change so fundamental that we don’t have the context to evaluate it in. We really don’t know how to think about it, so we don’t, for example, include it in our transportation planning processes.

He compared it to the Native Americans in the Northwest seeing the first ship with Europeans arrive. They had no way to judge what the impacts on their society would be, or how to react. Nonetheless, the impact was crucial.

Out of Context

A slide from Gordon Price’s presentation to the PSU/PDOT Traffic and Transportation Class


This is appropos to the update that will start next year to the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). Will we be able to wrap our minds around the concept of Peak Oil sufficiently to make some choices based on it in the plan update? Or will we keep our heads in the sand?

On the optimistic side, Gordon mentioned some signs that another out-of-context problem, Global Warming, is beginning to attract some serious thought. His home town of Vancouver, B.C., will host the 2010 Winter Olympics. Organizers are beginning to ask the out-of-context question: will there be snow?