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The global network
Howard T. Odum and Elisabeth C. Odum, University Press of Colorado

Summary of Chapter 9 in “The Prosperous Way Down”

As the growth melee strips the remaining natural capital of the Earth and civilization reaches its zenith, the exclusive dominiance of large-scale capitalism can be replaced with an emphasis on cooperation with the environment and among nations. International trade and loans can be made equitable with emergy evaluations. Increased efficiencies are likely to limit tourism, international waste disposal, and extremes in the distribution of real wealth.

A major change in mechanisms for international order is evolving that can replace the old system of territorial defenses. Global sharing of information and increased trade are joining the centers of civilization on common enterprise. Declining resources diminish nations’ inclinations and military capacities to encroach on others. Providing that the remaining fuel resources are shared in open markets, great wars of national competition, growth, and conquest may be history. Small conflicts and boundary disputes may be within the power of international organizations to limit.

For a peaceful transition we need to share information internationally rather than sell it, arrange trade and loans with emergy-based equity, and substitute environmental mutualism for resource exploitation.
This online version of Chapter 9 of “The Prosperous Way Down” by the late ecologist H.T. Odum and his wife is now available online. Odum was one of the first to investigate energy systems, and many of his concepts are still influential. Permaculturalist David Holmgren recommends him, as do I.

The Prosperous Way Down (summary)

Peak oil introductory flyer

Peter Lunsford, Crude Awakening
As a catalyst to reach out to the community of Austin, TX, a flyer was developed by the Crude Awakening organization with the hopes that it would:
1) Explain the issue of peak oil to the layman
2) Indicate the severity of the situation
3) Promote the idea of implications
4) Provide a meaningful personal call-to-action

The flyer is available on the Crude Awakening website at: and is offered to the public to download, print and distribute.

Crude Awakening is a group of concerned citizens in Austin that meets regularly to learn about the peak oil issue, its implications, and how we can mitgate the risk for ourselves and our community. We share what we learn with each other and the comunity at large.
(11 April 2006)

EROEI math

I have noticed a bit of confusion on what Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) means when a fossil fuel extraction process reinvests the recovered energy and how that will serve to aggressively deplete the supply as EROEI approaches 1.

…The problem occurs with the huge “burn” rate we get as EROEI approaches one.

This has implications for global warming and the tremendous pressure on non-renewable resources, which acts to hasten depletion much more than an energy source with a high EROEI would.
(13 April 2006)

Kunstler speaks in NYC

James Trainor,
The good news is that we are all going to learn new skills: gardening, weaving, carpentry. The bad news is that we won’t have any choice. So explained James Howard Kunstler at a recent cold shower of a lecture at New York Center for Art and Media Studies (NYCAMS) attended by students, architects, artists, urbanists and those merely curious about their mid- to long-term futures. Kunstler peers three decades hence and sees the withering of everything we thought of as fundamental rights. Suburbia and the interstate highway system? A bizarre 200-year anomaly in a 30,000-year history of human settlement patterns. Air travel? A daydream of the Golden Age. The art world? Huh? The reason is simple and inescapable: cheap energy – namely petroleum – is over. The world reached peak oil production around 2003 and what is left in the ground will be gone in 30 to 40 years (Kunstler is careful to cull his data from a wide range of independent and industry sources).
(13 April 2006)

Sustainability author says energy shortage will continue

CarbonFree News
In a recent interview, John Howe, a mechanical engineer and organic farming advocate, noted that we are living with the dangerous assumption that because oil has seemed to be increasingly plentiful during the past 100 years, it will continue to be so in the future.

Mr. Howe is one of over 54 speakers from across the country who will share their views during the “Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma” conference to be held in Manhattan, April 27-29 (see below). Asserting, as many experts do, that we have reached the ‘peak’ in production of easily accessible oil, Mr. Howe said that oil production is already declining in many areas in the world, and it will become ever more difficult to obtain the oil we have come to depend on.

“It just isn’t true that technology can quickly switch gears and save us,” he noted. “Forty years ago in the 1960’s, global discovery of oil peaked, and every year, we’ve been discovering less and less. The trend in oil discovery has been downhill. That’s one of the reasons why big companies such as Exxon Mobile prefer to buy up smaller companies with their proven resources, rather than gamble on making new finds.”

Mr. Howe, was a presenter at the September 2005 conference on Peak Oil organized by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), founder of the Peak Oil Caucus in the House of Representatives. Mr. Howe is also the builder of a solar-powered concept car, and a solar-powered tractor proven on his Maine farm, and a frequent lecturer on sustainability and energy. He believes it will take at least fifty years of discipline and planning to adjust our current infrastructure to sources of sustainable energy such as solar, hydro and wind.
(13 April 2006)