Peak oil is all over the place. The cover of the Wall Street Journal, CNN, you name it. The peak has tipped into the consciousness of the world. And those of us who were aware before are going to be fielding some questions. So it pays to have a response ready for the latecomers.

It has occurred to me that there must be a simple way of explaining peak oil to everyone — but most solutions have concentrated on creating a single simple method of explaining peak oil, when what is needed is a highly specialized approach, designed to help people grasp the issue in the most basic terms imaginable. Being a helpful sort, I have undertaken to provide those explanations. Thus, all you need to do is evaluate the person you are explaining things too, and from there, insert the proper explanation, using my handy list.

If the person is a lot like Homer Simpson:

The way to explain it is: “Beer comes from oil. You use oil to run tractor to grow barley. You use oil to run fermenting equipment. You use oil to ship beer to liquor store. You use gas, made from oil, to drive drunk to the store to get beer. No oil means no more beer — ever.”

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The solution you offer: More beer good. Beer comes from oil. Must. Save. Beer.

If the person is a lot like A Soccer Mom:

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The way to explain it: “Yes, I heard how awful it was that the coach criticized your Christina — I agree, he was completely out of line to hurt her self esteem like that. Speaking of self-esteem, did you know I’ve lost 11 lbs on the 100-mile diet? I feel great, and I fit into some clothes I haven’t worn since Jared was born. All that fresh produce and unprocessed food has been so wonderful — Mike says I look younger, too, and it seems to improve my skin. And Jennifer is a lot less hyperactive since we’ve been biking everywhere. And Lisa is writing her college application essay on the impact of our environmental lifestyle changes. My friend Rita who is a guidance counselor told me that this will really help differentiate her from all the soccer players and school newspaper writers for the people at Yale. Green is the new black, you know.”

The solution you offer: You will be thinner, happier, sexier, and your kids will be smarter if you do this stuff. Oh, and btw, it saves energy, too.

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If the person is a lot like Rush Limbaugh:

The way to explain it: “Evil people in China and India are burning up all of America’s oil. Those selfish bastards are trying to compete with us just so that they can have running water, and the Democrats in Congress won’t let us nuke them like we really should. They are trying to prove that Americans can’t compete without a lot of energy. We need to prove that we’re better than they are, with or without oil, because God loves America best. With Jesus to help us conserve, we don’t have to have oil.”

The solution you offer: Conservation is patriotic, and a good way to stick it to people in other countries.

If the person is a lot like Paris Hilton:

The way to explain it: “Without oil to manufacture TV sets, run Entertainment Tonight and power all that TV, no one will watch what you do. No one will care if you have sex on the internet, go to jail, or kill Britney Spears with your bare hands while mud wrestling on reality TV. Yes, you’ll probably still be rich enough to buy oil, but all the good hotels will be having brownouts, and everyone will be so busy trying to get along that they won’t care about you. Oh, and if they get a chance, you servants will probably kill and eat your little rat-dog.”

The solution you offer: “Think how much attention Angelina Jolie got by adopting all those poor kids. Maybe you should take some of your money and bring renewable power to a whole city in India. You could have a series on almost any network but Fox about making your home environmentally sound and helping poor people get access to renewable energy.”

If the person is a lot like Grandpa Simpson:

The way to explain it: “You know, back in the old days we didn’t have all this newfangled technology crap. We just did good, hard work, and knew the value of a dollar. Back then we didn’t need TV or cell phones or cars. We didn’t sit around downloading music from that there internet; we had real music, in real speakeasies, and we danced for hours. And that pornography on that there filthy computer — in our day, we had to do real work to see naked women, carve real peep holes through rock-hard chestnut boards. Kids these days wouldn’t know what to do with a hoe or a horse or a jackknife if it bit them in the ass. We need legislation to get them off the streets and back onto the farms!”

What to suggest: national service programs, chain gangs and Victory Gardens.

If the person is an Aging Hippie:

What to say: “You were right about everything. Absolutely everything. Growing your own food. Renewable energy. The economy. Drugs. How sexy greying ponytails are. Not trusting old people … oh wait …” Well, almost everything.

What to suggest: Stop looking so smug.

If the person is an Economist:

The way to explain it: “OK, just for a moment, let me ask you to suspend your belief for just a moment. Imagine that unicorns and fairies roam the forests, that the sun goes around the earth and that the U.S. has a meaningful third party. OK, now imagine that it is just possible that we can’t actually substitute grain for gasoline, or benzene for water. And further imagine that people dying is bad, even if it seems like it is good for the economy.”

What to suggest: Give up now.

If the Person is Your Dubious Spouse:

The way to explain it: “I’m doing this because I love you and I want us to have a positive future. Preparing for a low energy future will definitely bring us closer together and make our marriage stronger, happier, and sexier. I can’t think of anything more romantic than discussing our feelings, the current depletion rate, and the latest apocalyptic novel while canning okra in the 90-degree heat. And I think you are never more beautiful than when you are putting up rainwater cachement.”

What to suggest: A literal roll in the hay. Move the scythe first.

If the person is The President of the United States:

What to say: Ask Dick. He’ll explain it to you.

What to suggest: Invade Venezuela, Iran, Russia, Mexico, and Norway by Thursday.

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