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Energize America presentation (part 1 - the energy situation)

I will be posting the full presentation of Energize America in the next few days, in several instalments. We will also post diaries on how we intend to move the plan forward - and how you can help.

Today, the first part of the presentation, which is an overview of the energy situation.

Both the plan and the full presentation can be downloaded in pdf format from www.ea2020.org.

[EB editor's note: Click on the slides to see an enlarged version. The slides are easier to read in the PDF of the entire presentation.]

First of all, a photograph of the panel, with Bill Richardson (Governor of New Mexico and Secretary of Energy under Bill Clinton) surrounded by the Energize America team: from left to right: Mark Sumner (devilstower), Jérôme Guillet (Jerome a Paris), Gov. Richardson, George Karayannis (Doolittle Sothere), Adam Siegel (A Siegel).


  • US oil consumption is growing, while production is going down, and the current trends are expected to continue in the future

  • The evolution of median wages in the US in the past 40 years is surprisingly similar to that of energy consumption. Any energy crisis will have an impact on living standards unless that link between energy consumption and prosperity is finally broken (and not the way the Bush administration appears to be doing it, i.e. increasing consumption and stagnating wages...)

  • After great years for oil discovery, these have become rarer, and for the past 20 years, we have been burning more oil than we discover - every year.

  • With Indian and Chinese demand set to increase massively, this can only get worse

  • We've all noticed gas price increases. They have doubled in the US in the past 2-3 years

  • But what is more interesting is that markets have changed brutally in the past two years with respect to their expectation for long term prices. For the past 20 years, the expectation was that, whatever the short term price, it would revert to 20$/bl in the medium term. No longer. The markets now expect prices to remain at their current levels for the foreseeable future.
  • This implies major changes in investment decisions in a number of economic sectors.

And yet consumers have yet to change their behavior. Gasoline consumption is still increasing year on year.

  • Most of our energy use still takes the form of burning hydrocarbons. Wood in the past, then coal, and now coal, oil and natural gas. This generates carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere

  • And worries about today's emissions levels are nothing compared to what is expected in the near future, with significant increases in the USa and even more massive increases from China.

Carbon emissions and energy consumption per capita are directly connected to economic development, with small variations. The USA, as the largest country, consumes the most energy and emits the most greenhouse gases, but others are catching up as they grow.

Greenhouse gas emissions are now undoubtedly associated with global warming and climate change, and events like stronger hurricanes are linked to these with less and less doubt, and with the consequences we know.

  • Previous oil crises were linked to temporary demand shocks.

  • Today's crisis comes from the relentless growth in demand, pushed by storng world economic growth.
  • Demand is expected to go up worldwide just as supply increasingly appears to be constrained and to have toruble keeping up.
  • These two conflicting trends cannot continue and will not continue.

Solutions will have to come on the demand side, with conservation and efficiency required to curb demand.

It is vital for the USA to take the lead in changing energy consumption patterns.

Editorial Notes: Energize America is a campaign for a progressive energy policy. It's a grassroots effort initiated by members of the Daily Kos (liberal Democrat) website. It seems much more comprehensive and analytical than the Kick the Oil Habit campaign, which also has a liberal Democrat orientation. Nothing much in the way of energy policy is coming from conservative Democrats or Republicans (Rep. Roscoe Bartlett excepted). Sections of the military and security communities do seem to be concerned, and have published analyses and recommendations. Also posted at European Tribune. -BA

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