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Peak oil - May 31

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


David Holmgren on permaculture and oil peak
(audio)
David Holmgren, Global Public Media
David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator, with Bill Mollison, of the permaculture concept. In this presentation shortly after Hurricane Katrina, Holmgren discusses the history of permaculture and how it relates to peak oil.
(10 September 2005)
Just posted at GPM. Energy Bulletin has other articles by/about Holmgren.

Also posted is Julian Darley's introduction to David's talk ("Darley spoke briefly about thresholds and going from a linear to a non-linear world, touching on the idea of relocalization.")


Julian Darley at the Local Solutions Conference, NYC
(audio & slides)
Julian Darley, Global Public Media
Julian Darley's presentation at the Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma Conference in New York City, 29 April 2006. Darley gives an overview of Global Public Media and Post Carbon Institute, talks about the Relocalization Network and discusses upcoming projects and strategies for relocalization.

Now with full PowerPoint Presentation.
(26 April 2006)
Just posted at GPM.


The end of the 'age of oil'

Daniele Ganser, ISN Security Watch (Switzerland)
[The first part of the article recapitulates Peak Oil concepts.]

...Oil supply is less secure than it was 50 years ago. But at the same time, global demand for oil has been skyrocketing with no end in sight, considering the growing oil requirements from rapidly expanding economies such as those of China and India. "The Chinese government is well aware of peak oil," said Pang Xiongqi of the China University of Petroleum in Beijing in July 2005. Being the second largest oil consumer behind the US, the Chinese now consume seven Mm/d - a demand they cannot match by their domestic oil production of only 3.5 Mm/d. And, thus, like many other countries, they must import energy.

India, which currently relies on large quantities of dirty, low-grade domestic coal and expensive oil imports, is under similar energy stress. “We are terribly short of our energy supply and we desperately need new sources of energy,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared while in Washington in July 2005. Half a year later, President Bush announced in New Delhi that he would support India’s nuclear plans aimed at increasing energy production to ease some of the pressure on the demand side of the global oil market.

Today, the need to secure reliable energy supplies is playing a dominant role in the geopolitics of China and its operations in Sudan and other countries, Russia and its support for Iran, the US and its continued military presence in the Middle East, and India, which is planning to build a pipeline from Iran through Pakistan to India. The search for energy is likely to lead to an intensification of great power rivalries over oil resources in the decades to come.

From a historical perspective, the increase in global oil consumption during the last 150 years is remarkable. The first oil was produced in 1859, and throughout the 20th Century, oil supplies have increased annually. ...

The 21st century will be different. After the peak the production of regular oil will fall and never recover. While the 20th century was characterized by increasing oil supplies, the 21st century will be shaped by decreased oil supplies and the end of the age of oil. This will fundamentally change our way of life, explains geologist Colin Campbell, who in 2001 founded the “Association for the Study of Peak Oil” (ASPO) and ever since has warned that all countries must prepare for the global peak.

Dr. Daniele Ganser is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at the ETH in Zurich.
(30 May 2006)
The International Relations and Security Network (ISN), which published this article,

is a free public service that provides a wide range of high-quality and comprehensive products and resources to encourage the exchange of information among international relations and security professionals worldwide...

Based in Zurich, Switzerland, at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), the ... ISN has close relationships with leading international partner institutes – research institutes, think tanks, and government and non-governmental organizations.


Peak oil will not help us in the climate change fight

David Roberts, Grismill
On Oikos, David Jeffrey wisely and succinctly diagnoses the problem:

It seems to me that the current international negotiations about climate change are the ultimate prisoner's dilemma. It is in each nation's best (economic) interests to have each other country do something about limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but not do something themselves.

This is equally wise and equally succinct:

To speculate about the way forward, the glimmers of hope seem to me to be:

  • National action will become less important as local, state and regional governments and communities take bolder measures;
  • International aid will be increasingly targeted at clean energy, helping to restrain emissions growth in developing countries;
  • There will be modest technological advances which help decouple economic growth from emissions growth.

This, however, I do not agree with:

But ultimately I think our biggest saviour may just be peak oil. ... At current [oil price] levels, a whole range of alternative energy sources become commercially viable.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Peak oil is not going to vouchsafe clean-energy outcomes. Peak oil's primary short-term effect will be to sharply increase demand for coal. Coal to make electricity. Coal to make ethanol. Coal to make heating oil and diesel. Coal, coal, coal.

It might solve the energy-supply problem, but as far as global warming is concerned, coal is death.

Two things could save us from a coal-driven global warming nightmare (and notice that moral suasion isn't on the list):

  • CO2 sequestration could prove wildly successful -- easier to develop than we thought, faster to deploy than we thought, and less error-prone than we feared.
  • Other, non-fossil-fuel energy sources -- wind, solar, hydrokinetic, geothermal, and God help us, nuclear -- could fall in price rapidly enough to head off construction of dozens of new coal-fired power plants.

I feel a bit queasy pinning the future on either of these options. But in the end, they'll happen or they won't. Peak oil's pressures are impersonal and ruthless. The cheapest new source of energy will be used, climate change or no. I doubt advocacy will do much to change the outcome.
(29 May 2006)
Related from Gristmill: Coal, coal, and more coal.


Peak oil fears and hype, part 2

Lewis J. Walker, Free Market News Network
Let’s accept the idea that the era of cheap oil may be over. But also accept Austin Kiplinger’s premise (see last week’s Crier column) that the problem itself- the U.S. seen as held hostage to rising global energy demand and unreliable sources - suggests new trends. As an investor, you may wish to consider wealth-preservation and growth strategies within energy independence trends.

With high oil and gas prices, companies that are developing alternative technologies are being chased as investment opportunities.

... The trend toward “green” is more than economic. It is a fundamental premise in the War on Terror, a factor in national security. Money is in motion across a wide array of fronts. Myths of impending doom serve a purpose in spurring progress, as Austin Kiplinger recognized. The lesson of the last 200 years is that the future has always proven to be brighter than the naysayers would have people believe. The difference today is that technological progress comes at us faster and faster. Yes, creative destruction is a brutal reality that, too, must be dealt with individually relative to career decisions.

“Peak oil” is not a disaster in the making. It is a major opportunity.
(30 May 2006)

News from here, there...
Collections of news items and commentary from other sites

(31 May 2006)

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