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Fuel supply

Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 22:38:47 +0000
From: David La Chapelle <>
Organization: Wind over Mountain
Subject: Fuel supply and more

I just met with a friend of mine who works for the State of Alaska as
director of the dept. of Governmental Coordination. A large part of her
job is managing resource use issues. She was just at a conference in
Florida on issues around coastal management.
Representatives from the federal government presented an overview of
issues around coastal management and included in their list an overview
of how they plan to maintain oil supply for the next twenty years.(many
oil fiels are in the coastal management zone of attenton)
Curiously there was no mention of Y2k in the discussion. During the
question and answer time my friend asked them why they hadn,t included
Y2k, an obvious possible supply problem, in the discussion.
"They just rolled their eyes and I could tell they thought , Oh not a
Y2k person we have to deal with,, my friend reported. The government
people proceeded to give a stock answer about how the situation would be
taken care of and then left it at that.
Then a oil industry representative spoke up. He said that he felt that
the big players were in pretty good shape. They had been working on the
issue for quite a while and had the resources to spend on the fixing the
problem areas. But, he said, it is a completely different matter when
they started checking with their suppliers. They were shocked to find
how far behind their supply stream was. Many of these suppliers were
critical to the successful delivery of fuel to the nation.
Two things interest me in this report. The obvious detailing of how
there are weak links in the fuel delivery system. A reminder, again,
though we may get tired of hearing the same message, of how Y2k is about
the interdependence of systems.
The other is the about the psychology of Y2k. The tendency to shoot the
messengers with subtle and not so subtle put-downs, the flippancy of
denouncing people who ask questions about the problem, the glibness of
response and the climate of denial are all implicit in the first
response my friend was given. This is as serious a problem as the
technical issue and unfortunately is embedded in human nature. Our very
own psychic Y2k glitch: the inability to tolerate suggestions of change
and the denial which is erected in the face of systems which are
slipping out of control.