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Post-Petroleum Visions

Peak Oil Is Now (Introduction)

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We've been gorging at a Roman feast for the last 150 years, and will soon look up at the scraps on the table and be forced to adjust to a lower-energy regime. Modern agricultural practices, global trade, and automobile-based transportation are all dependent on an energy source far more concentrated than the alternatives on offer. And when switching to less energy-dense sources, we are forced to correspondingly decrease our energy consumption. We could either cooperate and adopt a softer path, or ruthlessly compete to suck out the earth's dwindling supplies.

This theme of reconciling with the end of an era of excess carries forward into Richard Heinberg's 2003 book The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies and his more recent book Powerdown, reviewed on page 27: "Even assuming a full-scale effort toward a transition to renewables and hydrogen, industrial societies will suffer wrenching changes as a result of the inevitable drastic reduction in available net energy," Heinberg writes.

Unlike the now-defunct Auto-Free Times, we have not covered oil depletion extensively in Car Busters in the past. Yet in this issue we've made it our theme. In our interview with Colin Campbell, a pre-eminent oil geologist, he describes the economic predicament that society will face when oil becomes increasingly scarce.

But beyond this interview, we chose not to repeat information that has become increasingly available from mainstream sources and to take a different approach, focusing on our readers' creative visions. The Post-Petroleum Writing Contest is an exercise in imagining how everyday life will change. This issue features the winning sub-missions, three fictional accounts of a bright or bleak future beyond oil.

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[Complete text is at Introduction]

Note: Only the editors' introduction and selected articles and sections are published immediately on the web; all feature articles are put online after about three months. You can subscribe to our magazine or buy a single copy online via credit card or by filling out a subscription form and sending it in with cash or a check.

Table of contents

* Introduction
* Journey to Bicylopolis
* After the Car Wars (online after 01.06.2005)
* All the Oil, Oranges, and Bananas (online after 01.06.2005)
* Against the Grain: Surveying oil's decline with industry expert Colin Campbell (online after 01.06.2005)
* Travels with Jujube: François Schneider's year-long voyage with his donkey (online after 01.06.2005)
* Breaking the Habit: Taking the Car-Free Challenge (online after 01.06.2005)
* Special sections
[A book review of Richard Heinberg's Powerdown is in the Special Sections.]

Editorial Notes: Special issue on Peak Oil. Some articles are online now, others will be put online later. -BA

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