The day the drilling stopped

Yet another peak oil nightmare: The end of dentistry as we know it is nigh.

By Andrew Leonard
July 26, 2007 1:21AM (UTC)
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"There is a deafening silence from the world of dentistry on the subject of Peak Oil."

Some sentences are so great, they need no context or elaboration. They can just be appreciated, like a great blue heron rising from a forest pond.

But that is not how we do things around here.


Rob Hopkins, the proprietor of the blog Transition Culture, seems like a well-meaning guy who is concerned about the potentially disastrous implications of peak oil upon human civilization, and who has made it his lifeb

There are some nuggets to be mined, mostly offered by "Dentist #1" (a ominous pseudonym that eerily summons the ghost of Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man.")

Well, as I see it, we are in a society near the edges of collapse. I don't actually think the governmental structures will be able to function in the long run, so spending five years on a dental course may not be in the individual's best interest, unless a slow steady decline can be envisaged. It all depends on how bad things get.

There may well be a decrease in the availability of refined carbohydrates reducing rates of tooth decay, but conversely, food shortages will of course affect people's immune systems and will likely increase the risk and rate of gum disease. Also as society trends downwards, people will look for ways to escape from an ever increasing sense of despair through distractions like alcohol and tobacco (a government that wants to cling to power will make sure these are available in my opinion).

We've had some mean fun here before with the peak-oiler penchant for isolating particular aspects of post-peak-oil existence and clucking worriedly about them. If civilization crashes abruptly because we run out of energy, how much will life suck? Let me count the ways ... Yup, limited access to advanced dentistry technology is on the list. But so are so many other things that there hardly seems to be a point in wondering right now whether dental school makes strategic sense.


But come to think of it, the prospects of a full-scale dental breakdown might serve as an effective motivational tool to goad energy-inefficient laggards into action. Here's your choice: Trade in your SUV for a Prius, or have your teeth extracted without anesthetic. Which are you going to do?

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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