Peak oil - May 11
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Deffeyes, Bartlett, Heinberg at recent conference (video)
During today's E&ETV Event Coverage of the Sustainable Energy Forum 2006, Professor Kenneth Deffeyes of Princeton University, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), author Richard Heinberg and other panelists discuss the threat Iran poses to the stability of the Middle East region. The panelists also address arguments made by peak oil skeptics, and point to growing evidence that world production is nearing its apex.
(10 May 2006)
TOD on PO & Environment Conf (Day 2, Part 1)
Heading Out, The Oil Drum
Coverage of talks by Julian Darley on natural gas, Hon. Mona Sahlin (Sweden), and many others.
(10 May 2006)
Climate Change And Peak Oil
Ethan Heitner, TomPaine.com
One might think that a long-bearded representative of an eco-farm in Tennessee who talks about the oil addiction of America as “the karmic revenge” of Gaia and an academic who is one of the founders of ecological economics (or eco-economics) would be at opposite ends of some sort of spectrum in the green universe.
But this week was all about convergence in D.C., at least within that green universe. The weekend started with PetroCollapseDC, a public forum held at a community church in northwest D.C. Organizers from CultureChange.org papered the city with flyers and hit neighborhood email lists.
“Got cheap gas? Neither do we. But we have alternatives.”
PetroCollapse was where you might hear author Albert Bates (“The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook ”) describe the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma in Cancún—communities learning to live without major power infrastructure, relying on solar generators, and gathering each night to play music and dance. A collapse of our current civilization was the prevailing assumption—the discussion focused on how to build “lifeboats,” both metaphorical and quite physical, to survive what speakers described as almost certain catastrophe once our oil-driven economy collapsed. What speakers like Bates had to offer, though, was the theory that this would also “solve” the oil-driven problems of wars, social alienation and “political corruption and mindless intrigues.”
Hippies predict our corrupt way of life leads to certain destruction, think that complex economic conundrums like our energy dependence can be solved by eating local produce, playing guitar. Check.
Except ... except then I went over to the second event of the week in D.C. for the eschatologically-minded: the Sustainable Energy Forum 2006, titled “Peak Oil and the Environment.”
And I heard pretty much the same spiel from very respectable Robert Costanza, of University of Vermont. He started his presentation “A Framework for Understanding Future Energy Options and Opportunities,” by saying: “We could be happier by consuming less. Overproduction is like psychological junk food—it’s just making us obese, not making us happier.”
By putting it in nice, technical jargon and putting up graphs of quantifiable things like “Genuine Progress Index vs. Gross National Product”—i.e., what progressive economists have been using since the mid-1990s to explain the common sense that not all growth is good—Costanza was able to make a dent in my skeptical brain.
The Sustainable Energy Forum also represented a convergence—the top minds of environmental science, economics, and geopolitics discussing the same problem, with a few politicians, businessmen, historians, and journalists, from a wide variety of angles. Peak oil, the term used to describe the problem of running out of the main fuel of our economy for the past hundred years, and climate change—the description of the costs of that economy. Michael Klare was there to discuss the coming resource wars. James Hansen was there to discuss massive climate change. When else would a Swedish minister and a Republican representative be on the same page? There was a consistent message: our current way of life is neither desirable nor sustainable. The environment is not a luxury good.
(10 May 2006)
Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma
Jamey Hecht, Ph.D, From the Wilderness
NEW YORK CITY - Three days of brilliance and data are too much for one writer to summarize, but I’ll survey some highlights of the recent “Local Solutions” conference with special emphasis on relocalization.
The program included several heavy-hitters: James Howard Kunstler critiqued America’s obese complacency; Derrick Jensen railed against the rape of the planet; David Pimentel performed his devastating review of the ethanol boondoggle; Matt Savinar ventured into psychohistory and sociobiology with remarks on instinct and group cohesion; and Catherine Austin Fitts showed the way our economic system drains people and neighborhoods (i.e., by allowing predatory elites to flush wealth out of the community and into offshore accounts through a system of narcotraffic and massive global money-laundering, government fraud, and dirty tricks). She offered a solution in the form of the www.solari.com model of community investment, along with sound advice on precious metals, banking, and local stock issuance.
Philip Botwinick organized this conference, and it’s particularly heartening to FTW that he came to Peak Oil awareness from Crossing the Rubicon. Indeed, the first day of the conference unfolded at the Community Church on 35th and Madison, a Unitarian Universalist venue that had been the site of some of the 9/11 Truth movement’s major events in years past. New York City is one of the more Peak Oil-aware locations in the country, partly because the attacks spurred people to look for the real reasons for false-flag terror and flag-waving war, and partly because of the efforts of conference emcee Dan Miner. Dan leads the www.peakoilnyc.com meetup group, where he leads discussions on scarcity, crash, and sustainability
(10 May 2006)
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Are You Ready for the Energy Crash?
Jan Frel, AlterNet
...So I was curious to hear what Kunstler would say at the Local Energy Solutions conference in New York City last month. Aside from Kunstler, I knew what to expect from the rest of the speakers at the conference -- ideas and information about how we can best cope after the energy crash.
Perhaps what was so striking about the speakers and attendants at the conference was their almost angelic goodness and optimism -- even though by all rights they are among the most knowledgeable about the scale of the challenge facing our petro-dependent society, and would have the most cause to make a run for all those abandoned cabins constructed in the Yukon after the Y2K nonapocalyptic anticlimax.
There was Julian Darley, director of the Post-Carbon Institute speaking as softly as a kindergarten teacher about the need to develop currencies based on locally produced energy and decrease our reliance on society's "flesh-based" diet.
There was Henry Gifford, an expert on "boiler, steam, and hydronic heating systems, water pressure boosting systems, and ventilation systems," calmly discussing how the office buildings and homes we use today are pissing away our natural resources at a rate that left me reeling.
Yet while I can't dispute the need for massive improvements in the energy efficiency of our buildings and the necessity to localize food production to deal with our coming energy crisis, the biggest obstacle to change seems to be cultural inertia. Most of us are zooming along blissfully in exactly the wrong direction: building more freeways, more malls, more auto-dependent housing developments, increasingly grotesque and demeaning commercial enterprises sucking the meaning out of our lives and American society as a whole. It's the collective insanity of our society that makes it possible for us to drive, consume and build freeways as though we could go on forever.
It was on that topic that Kunstler delivered his lecture, on what he called the "psychological dimension" of what's needed to get things going on the right track, which he says is "as important as the geological dimension."
I half expected Kunstler to say that the conference was pointless, that there was no hope for a society that needed to change its energy consumption if it were to survive. But while he was merciless in his critique of American society, I left the conference believing he was as optimistic as the rest.
(10 May 2006)
Preparing for the end of an era...without petroleum
Dr. Michael Atchia , l'express (Mauritius)
The world generally, the “magnificent 7” (the 7 major oil multinationals) as well as Mauritius itself, all carry on as if oil was going to last forever. A paper on BIOFUELS, as a major altenative to petrol, presented by me at the SIDS conference, just 18 months ago attracted little attention from Mauritians, public, press and practitioners alike. Only some from Trinidad, Fiji and some other Pacific island states showed keen interest.
In 18 months the situation has changed, interest is shown in many quarters, articles are written: but apart from the Alcodis initiative of Maurel and a timid pamphlet to convince people to save electricity, no other action or adjustments are being taken. Quite in line with the present Mauritian political scene, where (some exceptions apart) the right things are stated (e.g. democratisation, participation of all) but in actual practice nothing radical is done (its still only “nou banne” everywhere).
...Mauritius has to prepare itself, as from now, for what could be the greatest crisis of its history, as the supply of imported oil becomes erratic and then stops altogether. Consider these as only a few of the aspects of daily-life that depends on petroleum and its products:
AIR-TRANSPORT: NO KEROSENE, NO PLANES, Mauritians cut-off from the rest of the world, no tourists except the handful coming on yachts, Rodrigues back to a sea-link, hotels remain empty, staff redundant, all air-cargo business fail, etc
LAND TRANSPORT: Back to walking and cycling(no doubt good things for healthy living) ,Mauritius wide events and set-ups becoming too expensive or downright impossible(those at bus-stops on the 1st of May 2006, not travelling to a meeting got a taste of what life can be without buses); no crowds at horse racing, centralised supermarkets giving way back to the local corner shop, disruption of supply of the thousands of different makes of soaps, soups, redundancy of the fleet of delivery vans and their personnel, car-pooling and communal taxis(as is common in Yaounde, Moscow and as taxi-trains in rural Mauritius) help for some time, but of course the LRT running on electricity produced from biofuels will still do the journey P.Louis-Curepipe in 12 minutes, but where is that LRT?
(9 May 2006)
When Are We Likely to Run Out of Oil?
Brad Foss, Associated Press via Washington Post
Q. How much oil is there, and when are we likely to run out?
A. Most industry and government analysts believe petroleum will be a growing energy source for decades to come. And depending on a variety of financial, environmental, technological and geopolitical factors, oil could be with us _ albeit in shrinking volumes _ for another hundred years.
Earth's recoverable oil resource is estimated by many experts to be at least 3 trillion barrels and potentially more than 4 trillion barrels. If global consumption rises about 2 percent a year from current levels of about 85 million barrels a day, the amount in the low end of that range is enough to last until roughly 2070.
"If money were no object, you could get every bit out" and extend the petroleum age well into the 22nd century, said Energy Department analyst David Morehouse.
Of course, Morehouse's point was theoretical, not realistic.
U.S. government research that is widely respected among analysts concludes that a peak in output _ or the point at which half of the world's reserves are depleted _ is likely to arrive around the middle of this century, give or take a decade or so.
Some analysts believe the inevitable decline in production will be preceded by an undulating plateau, rather than a peak. Still others stress that the key to making the world's oil resources last this long is maintaining a tight balance between supply and demand; that is necessary, they say, in order to keep prices high enough to spur steady investment in oil exploration, while at the same time encouraging conservation and the development of alternative fuels.
A vocal but much smaller group of energy experts argues that mainstream geoscientists and oil analysts are guilty of being dangerously optimistic, that a peak may have already occurred and that the current supply tightness and price volatility underscores the urgent need for a post-petroleum game plan. Many environmentalists share this view.
...Another critical source of uncertainty is geopolitics. Given the high concentration of the world's oil resources in countries that lack free-market economies, Stephen P. Brown and Richard Alm of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said in a recent report that producers may not always respond rationally to financial incentives. This could squelch output and push prices high enough to encourage conservation and accelerate the development of alternative fuels.
...The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 3.3 trillion barrels will ultimately be recovered from the world's conventional oil fields, with peak output arriving in 2044.
(9 May 2006)