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Peak oil - July 7

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The Last Perfect Day

Roland Watson, New Era Investor
...Reserves up but quality and accessibility down. Just ask the critics of Peak Oil, if everything is so rosy in the garden, why is oil stubbornly at $75?

Did I ever tell you about The Last Perfect Day? It is the day when global crude oil production peaks. On that day, production would have never been higher. On that day, reserves would have never have been bigger. On that day, something akin to the shutting of the Ark door will happen and it will be all over.

Oil just goes on up and it will continue to go on up until something akin to a severe recession takes a hold of energy demand by the scruff of the neck.
(6 July 2006)


Power Down, Pecker Up

Richard Neville, The Future This Week
Beware the old duffer who warns that the end is nigh. While bright young things throng the bars and the beaches, trailing clouds of credit in the aromatic spa baths, jetting off to base camp for sunsets irresistible, the duffer’s next stop is the nursing home. No wonder he’s cranky. For the fit, the smart and the moderately well heeled, there’s oodles of fun to be had at Global Mall, until – all too soon – the wells run dry.

Supplies of oil and groundwater are in decline, and neither resource can be swiftly substituted. Oil is the universal elixir, used for petrol, pesticides, fertilizers, factory farmed food, transportation, refrigeration, heating, lighting, medicines, cement, much of the stuff in shops, in the office, in the factory, in the sky, in the home, in the hospitals, in computers, in our every day life. Peak oil heralds the end of the party, like when the grog runs out. Only worse.

No ride home, except on a bike; no morning Jacuzzi, unless you’ve got plentiful water tanks and solar panels; no breakfast without an edible garden or a local food co-op. Perhaps malls will morph into farmers’ markets. Fast companies will slow down. Tomorrow’s hot jobs will be those now considered uncool, as in organic agriculturalists, water diviners, orchardists, recyclers, compost lavatorians, geologists, petrol siphoners, builders of bamboo bikes, renewable energy boffins… Numerous voices are urging people to powerdown, to adapt to a post carbon future.

It’s an issue that remains below the media radar. It will not attract advertising. The life-after-oil scenario embraces a web of perils, such as the depletion of phosphates, topsoil, species; climate chaos, endless war and population overshoot. It foresees the collapse of the consumer society, the end of suburbia, the return of localization, now re-branded as re-localization.

It is not a re-run of hippie druggie free love communes, despite the whiff of lentils and dandelion. The powerdown project is practical, community-engaged and globally aware. It rests on the assumption that cheap fossil fuels are the lifeblood of modern civilization, and that their imminent decline invites catastrophe. So chop wood, carry water, put a windmill on the roof, re-skill and get to know your neighbours.
(3 July 2006)
Australian futurist and writer from the hippie era weighs in on peak oil. You may have to scroll down the page to find this article.

The article is also posted at OpEdNews, which says:

Richard Neville has been a practicing futurist since 1963, when he launched the countercultural magazine, Oz, which widened the boundaries of free speech on two continents. He has written several books, including Playpower (71), the bio of a global serial killer (79), his sixties memoir, Hippie Hippie Shake (95) and his latest handbook of social change, Footprints of the Future. A social commentator and a professional futurist with a sharp tongue, Richard is based in Australia, where he continues to "stir the possum."


Linearize this...

Stuart Staniford, The Oil Drum
The other day, Alan posted this graph:

[Graph: Hubbert Linearization of oil production according to Alan.]

It shows a Hubbert linearization of oil production for the entire Middle East. The total URR from this plot is 828Gb, and the implied data of peak to make cumulative production to date match up is in 2017. A number of people suggested that this is inconsistent with the idea that the world is at plateau production now (though as we'll see, that's not actually true).

Anyway, let's take a closer look. Here I've reproduced Alan's linearization, but have focussed in on the area where most of the data is, and labeled various years that represent particular features of the graph. Also, I've inset the production versus time graph for comparison.

[Graph: Hubbert linearization of Middle East production from two sources ...]

As you can see, especially in the inset, the history is marred by massive shut-ins for various reasons (wars, revolutions, and OPEC's role as a monopolist maintainer of prices). It seems to me that this makes extrapolating this series a little problematic and I have less faith in linearization in the Middle East than elsewhere (recall the poor stability of the Kuwait linearization, for example, which I subjectively estimated might need an error bar of a factor of 2 on the URR).
(7 July 2006)
Also at The Oil Drum, Super G has helpfully posted: Links to tutorial material on Hubbert Linearization.


City of Portland Announces Peak Oil Task Force

Press release; City of Portland, Oregon
Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman today announced the members of the City of Portland’s Peak Oil Task Force, a citizen advisory group that will provide recommendations to City Council on appropriate responses to uncertainties in the supply and affordability of oil.

“I’m pleased to announce this group of citizen leaders who have offered to contribute their valuable effort and expertise,” said Commissioner Saltzman.

The Task Force will be comprised of the following individuals: ...

Collectively, the members of the Task Force bring expertise in transportation, land use, business, the food system, building energy use, sociology, and economically disadvantaged populations. Candidates were selected for their ability to bring a multi-disciplinary, systems approach to the issues and for their commitment to seeking solutions that benefit the community as a whole.

The Task Force is intended to identify key short-term and long-term vulnerabilities and develop recommendations for addressing these. The Task Force is expected produce a set of options and recommendations to City Council about how Portland can best prepare for constraints on the supply and affordability of oil. The recommendations will also address how to educate the public about this issue.

City Council adopted a resolution on May 10, 2006 establishing the Peak Oil Task Force, which is expected to complete its work by early 2007. The Peak Oil Task Force will hold its first meeting in mid-July. Details about the initial meeting and future work of the Task Force will be posted at www.sustainableportland.org.
(6 July 2006)


Minneasota columnist: Drying up of oil could mean sticky problems

H.J. Cummins, Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota)
The world is at its "peak oil" production, some say, and it's time to think of running an economy on what's left.
----
In the category of worrisome developments -- probably sometime between avian flu and an asteroid striking the planet -- will be the energy turning point futurists are calling "peak oil."

... [the data] suggest a growing belief that peak oil is at hand. There is a global Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO). The subject is all over the Web, including www.lifeaftertheoil crash.net.

For the world of work after the peak, early problems will be getting people to and from jobs and making workplaces more energy efficient. Shipping costs could mean focusing more on local markets. And employers will get more politically active in land use, public transportation and local energy production, conservationists say, all part of another trend with another name: "new urbanism."

"A peak in world oil production has the potential to rock the economy, and a peak in combination with other geopolitical events has the potential to rock the world," said Randy Udall, co-founder of ASPO-USA and director of CORE, a Colorado-based promoter of renewable energy. "It behooves a business person to at least understand what the term means" and begin now to pay more attention to energy-related issues.

Two-thirds of the oil Americans consume is in transportation, said Steve Andrews, a retired energy consultant in Colorado and the other ASPO-USA co-founder. So, he predicts more telecommuting and teleconferencing. He also wants employers to promote employees' energy conservation. Maybe renting a spot in the company parking lot should be pricier for a Hummer than for a hybrid?

Because transportation is such an energy guzzler, Andrews believes employers and politicians should promote denser development, mixed-use development and public transit systems. An early example locally is the Hiawatha light-rail line and clusters of "transit-oriented development" along it.

Rising transportation costs will shift today's global economy to a more local concentration, Andrews said. Shipping lettuce from California to Toronto -- "the 3,000-mile salad," he called it -- will make less sense. But he expects this "relocalization" to be gradual, over decades, he said, because the costs will have to change dramatically before it makes more sense to have a dressmaker in your neighborhood than a dress manufacturer in Asia.

Some industries would be particularly hard hit as petroleum becomes scarce: agriculture, defense, and manufacturers of things as varied as medicine and iPods.

On the other hand, finding alternatives could become a growth industry of its own.

Andrews and Udall put themselves outside the camp of alarmists. "It isn't as if when oil production peaks somebody will ring a bell, and we run out overnight," Andrews said. "It does mean having perhaps 2 percent to 3 percent less oil available one year to the next. For the individual it will mean higher prices, maybe less convenience, and some rationing."

Udall expects energy shortages to force creativity.

"When oil is $10 or $20 a barrel, nobody uses it efficiently," he said. "In the future we'll develop an energy ethic. And all of those adaptations, tens of thousands of them, are going to play out in the business sector in ways that are difficult to predict."
(5 July 2006)


Australian TV July 10, 12: Peak Oil?

Jonathan Holmes, Four Corners ABC
...The world is at the beginning of the end of the age of oil, according to a growing body of analysts. It stands at a precipice of "peak oil" – the point at which oil producing countries can no longer keep up with growing demand, where production climaxes and then plunges into irrevocable decline.

...Who is right? Four Corners investigates a truly global issue that reaches into every home and every car and touches every human life. This special report* explains why oil prices are high right now and asks how long the world has left to prepare for a day when there is not enough oil to go around.

Reporter Jonathan Holmes goes in search of an answer in the Middle East, the US and Europe, interviewing the key protagonists. He asks if the world is being told the truth about the vast unexploited reserves that are claimed to lie beneath the desert sands of the Middle East. He looks at alternative oil sources and the obstacles to exploiting them. And he explains what peak oil means for Australians who depend so heavily on oil for transport and tourist income.

"Peak Oil?" … on Four Corners, 8.30 pm Monday 10 July, ABC TV.

This program will be repeated about 11 pm Wednesday 12 July; also on ABC2 digital channel at 7 pm and 9.30 pm Wednesday.
(July 2006)
Thanks to submitter Kim B.

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