Peak oil - Jan 14
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ASPO's Steve Andrews speaks in New Mexico
Lisa Meerts, The Daily Times (Farmington, New Mexico)
Experts agree a finite amount of natural gas and oil exists in underground formations, but say little else about the topic is crystal clear. They say many different factors will determine when and how the resources will dwindle.
Steve Andrews, a co-founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, stressed the importance of planning for a decline last week when he lectured a packed house at Fort Lewis College. It could take two decades before the world adjusts to an environment where those fossil fuels begin to dry up, he noted.
"Most folks in this country are not familiar with this story and have not formed an opinion of it," he said.
The Four Corners, which has its economy firmly rooted in the oil and natural gas industry, could see myriad effects as the supply of oil and natural gas drops off. Personal mobility, the ability to drive whenever and wherever a person wants, could take a hit, said Andrews. The airports that send a stream of tourists into the area may not fly as many flights.
Developing biodiesel wind and solar energy, coal to liquid fuels, drilling oil shale and more are ways to mitigate the effects of a shrinking supply, Andrews said, but they cannot produce the same amount of energy.
(14 Jan 2007)
Does the Peak Oil Theory Just Fall Down? (PDF)
David Cohen, World Energy Monthly Review
With the release of Why the "Peak Oil" Theory Falls Down: Myths, Legends and the Future of Oil Resources, by Peter M. Jackson, Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) attempts to cast doubt on empirically based concerns about our near-term future oil supply. CERA’s study requires a response because since 1870, the health of the world’s economies have hinged on a secure, dependable and growing flow of conventional oil. If the world’s oil supply cannot grow to meet ever-rising global demand, irreversible economic damage will occur unless mitigation steps are taken now. This debate is not academic; much depends on a correct analysis of the future oil supply.
...CERA accuses those worried about peak oil of neglecting substitutes in their analyses. In fact, unconventional resources are studied all the time for a simple and compelling reason: If peak oil arrives sooner rather than later, substitutes must be available to ease the transition away from conventional oil to create a different energy mix in the future. Unfortunately, any such analysis reveals the same worrisome pattern over and over again for substitutes. The three principal problems with substitutes are: 1. Scalability by volume. ... 2. Scalability in time. ... 3. Low energy returns.
...CERA berates those studying peak oil for using questionable data and analysis methods. The group states that "the peakist argument is not grounded in a credible systematic evaluation of available data." Furthermore, CERA claims that peak oil arguments rely exclusively upon a "questionable model": the bell-shaped first derivative of the Verhulst’s logistic function used by the late geologist M. King Hubbert to model the growth rate in oil production. CERA’s characterization of peak oil research is inaccurate on both counts. Peak oil theorists use whatever current and projected field-by-field production data they can find. For example, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil maintains such a database, as does Chris Skrebowski, editor of the Petroleum Review. Suffice it to say that it is a bit disingenuous for an organization such as CERA, a subsidiary of IHS Energy with access to its large database, to charge money for its reports for paying clients and then turn around and tell those studying peak oil that they are unfamiliar with the oil production data.
...CERA has "maintained a consistent contrary view" to the peak oil theory. Much is at stake for global economies if CERA’s optimistic projections creates an unjustified complacency about future oil production. CERA’s recent publication, Why the "Peak Oil" Theory Falls Down, provides no convincing evidence that peak oil concerns are unjustified.
After a career in theoretical linguistics and software engineering, David Cohen turned to investigating climate change and energy issues. A senior contributor at The Oil Drum, Mr. Cohen focuses on oil depletion, natural gas supplying North America, and alternative futures.
Contributor Bill writes: "This PDF version includes the figures referred to in the text and is somewhat easier to read than the HTML version that some of you may have seen before."
Dave Cohen's article originally appeared on The Oil Drum on November 16, 2006.
Indirect Impacts of Peak Oil and Climate Change (part 4)
John Rawlins, Whatcom Watch
Decline of Suburbs
Because everything in today’s industrial societies depends directly or indirectly on fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal), the impacts of peak oil extend to all aspects of today’s way of life in all advanced societies. This discussion will focus on the U.S. and some of the other impacts to be expected in a post-carbon world. My way of thinking about the coming changes is to imagine the world of 2050, when only about 10 percent of today’s supply of oil (and even less natural gas) is available to a fortunate few - and then try to guess the process of getting from here to there in a large number of 5 percent decrements.
The U.S., with its relatively suburbanized living arrangements for about half the population, is likely more sensitive to future transport restrictions than other industrialized nations. James Howard Kunstler has written extensively on the likely future of suburbanites whose daily commute will become increasingly onerous with ever-increasing fuel prices and ever-decreasing fuel availability. In short, he predicts terminal decline in the value of suburban homes not amenable to walking, biking or mass transit commuting options.
Such suburbs will become dysfunctional slums of the future unless they manage to totally reinvent themselves to become walkable, self-sufficient communities. This possibility raises the obvious specter of massive disappearance of wealth in the U.S. middle class, and that in turn will exacerbate the difficulty of making a transition to the post-carbon life - particularly in those remote suburbs that most need to change.
Transition to Economic Decline
Most writers on the subject of peak oil argue that the overall economy will deteriorate to the point that continuing to use the national currency will no longer make sense. The recommendation for dealing with that situation is typically development of some alternative, local currency that facilitates trading of goods and services at the local level. Many cities and towns already have some kind of local currency in operation in a kind of underground mode, and the large-scale viability of such enterprises is far from clear to me.
Some of the well-known factors that will likely also contribute to U.S. economic deterioration include the federal debt, institutional and individual debt, the potential of loss of the special petro-dollar status of the U.S. dollar (as oil starts being sold using other currencies), and our negative balance of trade (which will increase as oil prices increase). If, in addition, we continue to experience increasing economic losses because of extreme storm and fire events correlated with a warming climate, then I begin to get the sense of a “perfect economic storm” within the next decade or so.
A potential bright spot could be in the computer/electronic sector. As people struggle to adapt to an inflationary, failing economy, computers connected to the Internet may be valuable tools for re-education in ideas for coping with the inevitable downturn. Electronic control devices for regulating home heating, for example, could pay huge dividends - especially for those dependent on natural gas for heat or on electricity produced by natural gas.
Solar photovoltaic systems and high-tech windmills for electricity production are another area of current growth - and their future right now looks quite bright. Advanced more efficient lighting systems, including outdoor lighting that illuminates only the ground instead of the sky, also have the potential of reducing electrical costs. Buildings designed to take advantage of passive and active solar systems of all kinds are also a growth sector with a promising future.
Local Production of Everything
As we contemplate a future 50 years from now, it is almost certain that living arrangements then will accentuate local production of almost everything still in use, except for luxury items for the relatively wealthy (tea, coffee, chocolate).
John Rawlins has a B.S. in physics and a Ph.D. in nuclear physics. He retired in 1995 from the Westinghouse Hanford Co. at the Hanford site in Eastern Washington. Currently, he teaches physics and astronomy at Whatcom Community College.
More at original. This is the latest in a series by Dr. Rawlins.
Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement and Peak Oil Resolutions
Anita Laurin, Relocalize.net
Many groups are actively supporting local initiatives regarding two very pressing issues impacting society in the United States: global warming and the peaking of global oil production.
The Post Carbon Institute's Relocalization Network is focused on helping municipalities prepare for the impact of fossil fuel depletion and to mitigate its effect on their community.
Two organizations, StopGlobalWarming.org and the Sierra Club, are actively promoting the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement as a plan to reduce greenhouse gasses emitted by municipalities across the country. The Relocalization Network is promoting efforts to help cities and bioregions become more locally self-reliant and much less consumptive; thereby reducing much of the need to burn depleting petroleum supplies.
We believe that proposals regarding relocalization will (and must) reduce local CO2 emissions, but that the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement does not take into consideration the serious impact depleting petroleum supplies is likely to have on our community.
Here is a comparison of the two initiatives. The purpose is to advance understanding regarding their similarities and differences.
(14 Jan 2007)
Submitter writes: "Ideally environmentalists working to advance the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement and Peak Oil Resolution proponents will come to the same table and become a stronger voice for local sustainability."