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Audio: Sustainable Energy Forum 2006 – Peak Oil and the Environment Conference, The University of Maryland
[ William J. Kelly wrote about this conference on Energy Bulletin last week in Peaksters on the Potomac. The conference took place in Washington on May 7-9, and the quality of the presentaions is exceptional.

Speakers include Lester Brown, Roscoe Bartlett, Roger Bezdek (co-author of the ‘Hirsch report’), William Catton, Megan Quinn & Pat Murphy, Michael Klare, Richard Heinberg, Joseph Tainter, Kenneth Deffeyes, Julian Darley, Herman Daly, David Pimental, Robert Costanza, Bill McKibbon, Cutler Cleveland, Swedish Minister for Sustainable Development, Mona Sahlin and the list goes on.

I’ve listened to about half of these so far and as you’d hope from such a range of pioneering thinkers, all have been more than worthwhile. Kudos to the organisers for both getting these people together and putting the audio online.

Additionally, many of the presenters’ visual presentations are available as PDFs.
-AF ] (June 2006)

The Post-Carbon Society: An Overview

Julian Darley and James Kunstler,
James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, and Julian Darley, director of the Post Carbon Institute and author of High Noon for Natural Gas, discuss the current state of the global energy crisis and its implications for daily life in North America. They will present a set of responses aimed at separating wishful thinking from meaningful action.

Slideshow by Julian Darley (PDF)
(3 June 2006)

Preemptive Energy Security: An Aggressive Approach to Meeting America’s Requirements [PDF]

Lieutenant Colonel Dennis D. Tewksbury, U.S. Army War College

Global competition, declining resources, and domestic demand on resources have placed energy issues at the forefront of daily news. This situation highlights the incredible U.S. appetite for energy and tremendous reliance on foreign energy. The volatile nature of the world oil market not only places our economy at risk but jeopardizes America’s security. The War on Terrorism has strained U. S. relations with many oil-producing states. Rapidly increasing crude oil demands by Asia add new competition for this resource. If foreign producers denied this nation oil, the effects could cripple the U.S. economy and would significantly impact security.

The 2002 National Security Strategy acknowledges the importance of the nation’s economy; however, there is no mention of the linkage of energy security and the economy. Until this nation commits to developing alternative forms of energy to gain independence from foreign oil, the United States remains vulnerable to volatile markets, global politics, and possible interventions of non-state players. Current policy limits U.S. action to diplomatic, economic, and information efforts to maintain access to oil. This Strategic Research Project analyzes the need to change the National Security Strategy to advocate the use of military force to guarantee access to foreign oil sources.

Today, Asia imports 18 million barrels of oil per day, and energy experts predict a 90 percent increase to 35 million bpd by 2025. The United States must find ways to mitigate the effects of the new global demands for oil…

A precipitive use of the military could easily trigger an escalation in hostilities, generate a tremendous amount of anti-American sentiment, lead to United Nations’ sanctions, and fracture friendships and alliances. But compared to the economic effects of an oil shortage, such risks are acceptable [emphasis added]…

The President must address the issue of energy security by educating the American public about the importance oil with regard to the economy and explaining that we must prepareto use military force to guarantee access to oil. Oil is this nation’s economic lifeblood. The public’s understanding must transcend the anti-capitalistic chants of “no blood for oil” and public distrust of oil corporations. Typically, Americans will only support drastic changes, especially those that affect their daily lives and their budgets, if faced with extreme circumstances.


America’s energy demands have become a primary national security issue. Our economy and way of life depend on various sources of energy, the most important of which is oil. As noted by Boston University Professor Robert Kaufmann, “Overall economic health is directly tied to energy. Almost every U.S. recession has been tied to the cost of oil.”68 The fact that a large portion of imported oil originates from volatile regions of the world should arouse tremendous concern in the national leadership. Disruption of the nation’s access to oil would have a devastating effect on the economy and the security of the United States. As clearly articulated in President Bush’s 2002 National Security Strategy, a healthy economy is a critical component to our nation’s security. Accordingly, the nation’s security strategy must acknowledge the importance of oil to the economy and must specify a policy to guarantee access. Without doubt, we should rely on non-military elements of national power to remedy a potential situation; however, the President, Congress, and military leaders must prepare for a scenario in which military forces deploy to secure oil production facilities. More importantly, the American people, our allies, and potential adversaries need to understand this as well. The most effective vehicle for such a pronouncement is the president’s National Security Strategy. As currently written, the strategy fails to send an appropriate message.

The reality of this nation’s energy situation must elevate concerns within the American public to demand a new direction. As suggested by John M. Amiden, “The current world energy situation poses a national threat unparalleled in 225 years.”69 Energy is an essential component of the daily life of this nation. The realistic solution is to eliminate our reliance on oil to avoid further international incidents, reduce environmental pollutions, and lessen the cost of energy for our citizens. The President should demand an immediate reduction in all oil consumption and offer a date to render the nation completely free of foreign oil. A leader with strategic vision and strong leadership must initiate programs for increased conservation and efficiency to curb our wasteful habits while simultaneously developing a comprehensive long-range strategy that capitalizes on technology to achieve energy independence. A national effort on the scale of the Manhattan Project is needed to shift the nation away from oil placing America on a more secure path. Because lessons of the past have not been learned, we are left in a dangerous position that may require us to act preemptively to guarantee access to sources of energy. Our leaders and citizens must fully understand the link between oil, the economy, and national security. They must realize the costs in treasury and blood we are paying for oil. Then they will demand a new strategic direction toward energy independence. Without a change in policy, laws, habits, and attitudes, we will remain chained to oil.
(10 March 2006)
Thanks to Scot G for bringing to our attention another military document which does not seem to have been seen before outside of military circles.

The document includes discussion of M. King Hubbert and peak oil (p. 6).

Lt-Col Tewksbury seems remarkably frank, excepting that he steadfastly avoids mentioning the Iraq war, surely at least in part an example of “acting preemptively to guarantee access to sources of energy.” Indeed most of his suggestions seem like they might be merely describing current US policy stripped of its euphemisms.

The document lists the growing world competition for oil, specifically from India and China, as one of two major threats to US energy security. So given that Iraq may not fulfil Tewksbury’s idea of suitable aggressiveness, this does come across as if he is suggesting upping the ante to even more dangerous levels.

La Plata County: Methane production past its peak

Joe Hanel, The Durango Herald
Gas production in La Plata County is falling for the first time since the beginning of the coalbed methane boom – a little-noticed fact that will carry long-term consequences for local residents and even the nation.

The evidence – hidden in mountains of government data – is unmistakable: Since July 2003, the amount of gas taken from the county has been slowly slipping, according to a Durango Herald analysis of state records. Despite 270 new wells drilled between 2003 and 2005, the average take per well is falling, and total production has fallen by 3.5 percent.

“I would hope nobody’s surprised by this,” said Christi Zeller with the La Plata Energy Council, a gas industry group, at the end of last week.

It might be years before the average resident notices the economic consequences. The gas industry pays a hefty share of the county’s property taxes and accounts for hundreds of high-paying jobs. Meanwhile, landowners in the gas fields will see drilling increase, even though the best days of the field seem to be in the past…

“It suggests to me that more than half, and perhaps as much as 60 percent of the gas that will be produced (in La Plata) in the span of time, has been produced,” said Randy Udall, who runs an energy efficiency office in Aspen and sits on the board of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil-USA.

“It’s not that the field has died – it’s just showing its age. A golfing analogy would be that it’s moved on to the senior tour,” he said.
(2 July 2006)