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Ten Principles of Post Oil-Peak Planning
Tim Moerman, Atlantic Planners’ Institute Annual Conference
About this time last year I gave a presentation on Peak Oil at the Atlantic Planners’ Institute conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland. For most of the people in the room, it seemed to be the first introduction to the issue.

Then, this summer, I gave another presentation in Vancouver. I didn’t know how dialed-in everyone was, so the first thing I asked was, “Show of hands… when I say ‘Peak Oil’ or ‘Hubbert Peak,’ who here has no idea what I’m talking about?” And the entire room was like, “well, duh.” I might as well have asked them if they’d heard the Earth goes around the Sun.

So that’s pretty remarkable, how fast this issue has become common knowledge. In eight months I went from being the bearer of bad news, to accidentally insulting everyone’s intelligence by suggesting it was news at all.

The modern planning profession came into being just over a hundred years ago, at almost exactly coincident with the dawn of the petroleum era. By extension, North American planning has lived its entire life so far with a certain set of background assumptions. The key assumption is that energy is cheap and abundant and there’s more of it every year. And when you get right down to it, planning has been about dealing with the effect of this. Industrial cities, urban growth, urban sprawl, traffic congestion-these are all basically side effects of cheap energy.

When that cheap energy is gone, the assumptions and the principles of planning are going to be turned on their ear. So that’s what this show is about.

[summarizing the 10 principles]
  • The laws of thermodynamics: no free lunch, death and taxes.

  • Protect farmland at all costs. (And don’t waste it growing biodiesel.)
  • Moving people/stuff around is really hard. The basic purpose of a city is to avoid doing so.
  • All new development should pass the $500-a-barrel test.
  • Globalization will give way to re-localization
  • Adaptation = 90% conservation + 10% new supplies. We will use a lot less energy, period.
  • Electricity-based systems are more resilient than combustion-based systems.
  • Triage and Palliative Care: Avoid committing too many resources to urban/suburban areas with no long-term future … but commit enough to minimize hardship and
    ease the transition.

  • Be prepared for both gradual depletion and sudden shortages.
  • Paradigms change overnight. Be ready for it.

(20 Oct 2006)
A 28-page presentation delivered at the Atlantic Planners’ Institute Annual Conference
Saint John, New Brunswick. Author Tim Moerman is from the Greater Moncton Planning District Commission.

Good communication of the essential points about peak oil and planning. As contributor EJ67 says, “Looks like the presenter hit it on the head.”

The Energy Detensive Economy:
Challenges Ahead for Local Government

Ronald Cooke, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)
…Southern California is vulnerable to an energy shortage. A long term, forever, chronic, downtrend in energy consumption because it is no longer affordable or readily available is coming. We are going to learn to live in an energy detensive world. Our energy intensive lifestyle will give way to a daily routine that consumes less hydrocarbon energy.

…Local government can make a positive contribution to the successful creation of localized, self-sustaining, neighborhood communities; interconnected public transportation systems, and the development of an energy efficient infrastructure. Community leaders must be willing to challenge conventional wisdom with pro-active adaptation and practical flexibility. Existing assumptions, policies, codes and regulations may not be appropriate in an energy detensive world. We must be willing to review our infrastructure investment decisions within the context of an energy detensive environment and a genuine desire to work toward energy independence. Localization requires we pay attention to addressing a better balance between local jobs and housing. And finally – we must pro-actively include civic, fraternal, and religious organizations in our long term planning for community services.
(14 Dec 2006)
EB contributor Ronald Cooke (The Cultural Economist) wrote this guest essay that appears in a large report on Southern California, State of the Region 2006 (energy section on p.114-135). The preface to the report points out that Southern California “ranks 10th among the world economies.” -BA

The Reality Report: Peak Oil Blues

Jason Bradford, Global Public Media
Does talk of our energy future get you down? Our guest today on the Reality Report is clinical psychologist Kathy McMahon, otherwise known as Peak Oil Shrink. Kathy is collecting stories from people who are shocked, depressed, anxious, angry, excited, and compulsive about Peak Oil, and the ways that these people are coping, on her web site Jason Bradford hosts The Reality Report, broadcast on KZYX&Z in Mendocino County, CA.
(18 Dec 2006)
Earlier this month, Kathy McMahon weighed in on the debate about doomerism: Psychology of an Outlook:

There have been a number of posts on Energy Bulletin, espousing various theories about why someone is a “doomer.” Is it because your sense of masculinity is threatened? Religious influences from your culture? I started out Peak Oil Blues to learn more about this very question: What is the relationship between how people view an energy-depleted universe and their emotional reactions to this information? But I didn’t want to stop there. I was interested in how do we get them to turn frozen emotions into actions.

….maybe instead of asking people what they believe about the future, labeling them, and constructing elaborate theories about why they have this set of beliefs, we need to ask what people are actually doing in their lives to anticipate the future, and take what they say they believe a little less seriously.

Peak oil and global warming do not fit a socially believable disaster profile

Richard Embleton, OBSY
No explosions. No volcanoes. No earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, floods, tectonic upheaval, no buildings falling. No hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes. No cinematic special effects, pyrotechnics. No dramatic, heroic rescues. Just a long, slow, grinding, debilitating, dehumanizing, hungry slide into…… nothingness.

The combination of the social destruction of peak oil and the ecological destruction of global warming and climate change could, over this next century, kill more people than ever existed on earth prior to the last century. Together they could reduce the human population to a billion or less, force the remainder to gather together into a few narrow pockets of ecologically and climatically sustainable regions.

To be honest, we have no idea how these two devestating forces are going to play out. The greater part of the human race are urban dwellers, living in a virtual world of technology reliant on incredible amounts of continuous energy for its very survival. We have disconnected ourselves from the land, from the real natural world that sustains all life on this planet, the only world that will eventually be left to us when the energy that sustains our technological world diminishes and eventually disappears and our urban enclaves begin to crumble about us.

How do you show people a long, insidious catastrophe like that? How do you compress the next couple hundred years into a ninety-six minute movie to make it visible? What special effects can possibly show people what this future is going to be like? How can we possibly show people what it is they need to see to understand what lies ahead and which compels them to prepare in order to even be able to survive the collapse and have a chance to be part of the rebuilding.

I know this is ptic, but that’s the mood I’m in right now. It happens every once in a while.
(9 Sep 2006)

Is there any alternative to Powerdown? And the sooner the better?

Richard Embleton, OBSY
It took, based on ASPO’s global oil estimates, the first half of our oil endowment and 200 years to transform society from pre-industrial to the present. It will take the last half of our oil endowment to retransform society from that which presently exists to a post-industrial, post-fossil fuel structure. Even an optimist of the first order cannot possibly believe that that process will be sufficiently under way by the time we reach peak oil that we can complete the job before the remaining fossil fuels are, for all practical purposes, depleted. And yet that is exactly what must be done.

If we are to avoid social chaos, or at least a worsening of the social chaos that now exists, and if we are to avoid a massive human die-off (it is estimated that the maximum human carrying capacity without fossil fuel inputs is 2-billion people) on the post-peak downslope, we will have to put in place before that time the foundations of the infrastructure that will have to sustain us when the fossil fuels eventually run out.
(16 Nov 2006)

New documentary: “What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire”

Timothy S. Bennett, film website
VisionQuest Pictures presents a Storkboy Film

A middle class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American Lifestyle.

What is it doing to us as thoughtful human beings as we face the overwhelming challenges of:

  • Dwindling fossil fuel reserves?

  • Critically degraded ecosystems?
  • A changing climate?
  • An exploding global population?
  • Teetering global economies?
  • An unstable political climate?
  • And what is it doing to the rest of the life on this planet?

Featuring interviews with Daniel Quinn, Derrick Jensen, Jerry Mander, Chellis Glendinning, Richard Heinberg, Thomas Berry, William Catton, Ran Prieur and Richard Manning, What a Way to Go will look at the current global situation and ask the most important questions of all:

  • How did we get here?

  • Why do we keep destroying the planet? and
  • What do we truly want?
  • Can we find a vision that will empower us to do what is necessary to survive, and even thrive, in the coming decades?

(Dec 2006)
Seems to take a different approach than other peak oil documentaries – more in line with the “Limits to Growth” / Daniel Quinn philosophy. -BA

Mike Ruppert back in U.S.; “Crossing the Rubicon” liquidation

Jenna Orkin, Act 2: From the Wilderness’ Peak Oil Blog
This new blog has news about Mike Ruppert and From the Wilderness, as well as headlines relating to peak oil. Recent entries:

4,000 Copies of “Crossing the Rubicon” Available for Immediate Bulk Purchase Only

Mike Ruppert Receiving Medical Attention in the U.S. (Dec 18)

Mike Ruppert in Canada, Recovering – Legal Notice (Nov 26)
(Dec 2006)