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Peak Oil to Peak People: education – A Resource in the Knowledge Society

Peak Oil to Peak People: education – A Resource in the Knowledge Society
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Author(s): Lalita Rajasingham (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 4
Source title: Managing Worldwide Operations and Communications with Information Technology
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-929-8.ch071
ISBN13: 9781599049298
EISBN13: 9781466665378


This paper suggests that as oil supplies run out and prices rise in the knowledge economy, an education system is needed that is based on information technology rather than on transport and building technologies to provide an alternate resource for sustained economic growth. The world is at a tipping point where it is running out of oil, but not people. It is argued that the knowledge society will be based on the infinite resources of the world-its people. We need to tap and develop this resource through education and training and so move from peak oil to the production of peak people. The key driver of change is going to be innovative rethinking on how people are educated for an unpredictable, information technology-based future. The current debate under the rubric of globalisation is on peak oil, and aclear contradiction between peak oil theory, the continual increase in oil reserves and production, and the rising cost. Peter Huber and Mark Mills (2005) argue that the price of oil remains high because the cost of oil remains so low. We are not dependent on the Middle East for oil because the world’s supplies are diminishing, but because it is more profitable to tap Middle East supplies. New sources are not being explored and new refineries not being built (Huber and Mills, 2005). Since the industrial revolution, world economies have run on oil. Societies have been through ‘peaks’ in critical resources throughout history, only to be saved by some human ingenuity and discovery of a new and ‘inexhaustible’ resource. It was oil that ‘rescued’ civilisation to deal with sustainable economic growth. Can highly educated peak people do the same? As the price of oil worldwide continues to soar, societies globally struggle to find alternative fuels that range from coal, solar, wind farms and nuclear energy to drive their economies. But these are still expensive, and the means to exploit alternative energy using technology remain oil fed. That oil will run out is certain; only the timing is not. However, when oil doesrun out or becomes unaffordable particularly for the developing nations and their growing populations, its decline will change the world in radical and unpredictable ways. Perhaps even more concerning is that because oil is a strategic resource, as supplies become scarce, societies are witnessing increasing geopolitical and global conflicts, environmental deterioration, pandemics and ideological and cultural clashes. Oil created the industrial society as we know it, but at the dawn of the knowledge society, it is a finite resource. Around the world, societies now believe that their future advancement can no longer only depend on their land, climate and extractive fuels, but rather upon the peak capability of their people. Therefore, with knowledge as competitive advantage, education for human resources development will be the engine that drives the global economy.

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