Wakey! Wakey! UK peak energy tour
[On March 22] an informal coalition of local organisations around Britain, with a common interest in “peak energy”, are launching the “Peak Energy Tour” – a series of events around the UK to highlight the issue of the peak and subsequent depletion of UK and global energy supplies. Beginning in London, the tour involves over 30 public and private presentations that examine the links between energy, climate change, and how the problem of energy depletion requires that we re-examine the basis for our “modern” lifestyle.
In 2007, Britain will be a net importer of oil and gas. North Sea oil production peaked in 1999, and gas in 2003. In just a few years we'll be importing the majority of our energy needs. In as little as five to ten years time world oil and gas production could peak, at which point importing our energy needs from other countries will become progressively more difficult, and expensive. It is for these reasons that we have organised the UK Peak Energy Tour – we all have to wake up to hear some unwelcome news!
The UK Peak Energy Tour has been organised by groups around the UK who are interested in preparing for the global peak in energy supply. Many commentators look on the economic problems that this peak will create as a looming crisis – we view this moment as an opportunity to develop a movement to change our society, enabling us to tackle not just energy and resource depletion, but climate change and global inequality as well.
In a series of events around the UK, the Peak Energy tour will present the evidence for the impending peak in global oil and gas production, and what this means for the UK. The solutions to peak energy are more difficult than for other problems, such as climate change. We will all have to adapt our lives in order to reduce our demand for energy and resources. In the context of our current consumer society this would seem a wholly impossible proposition... but it's all based on physical science: if you don't have the energy to power our current level of economic activity then the only thing that can (and must) happen is for the level of economic activity to contract.
Much of the work to organise the tour has been undertaken by Paul Mobbs, a writer and researcher on energy and environment issues. During the tour he will be presenting a number of different events:
- “Energy Beyond Oil” [2.1 MB PDF] – this reviews the evidence for the imminent peaking of global energy production, how the UK energy economy operates, and the sorts of measures that will be necessary for the UK to adapt to energy depletion;
- “Less is as Four Letter Word” – this presentation examines some of the options for “energy descent” (the process by which we can reduce our energy demand), and how this process will primarily have to be led through changing public attitudes to energy, consumption, and re-skilling people to move beyond consumerism; and
- “Energy and Climate” [1.8 MB PDF] – this examines the links between energy, climate change, and how addressing Peak Energy/energy descent can augment the current efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid dangerous climate change.
In addition to these events, three “special” events have been organised in Wales (April 21st), Leeds (28th/29th April) and London (12th May). These day-long events will provide a more indepth investigation into Peak Energy and the options for energy descent.
Our modern world depends on the availability of cheap energy in order for the global economy, and our globalised consumer society, to function. The rise in oil and gas prices, driven not just by the local production shortfall in the North Sea but a shortage of oil production capacity globally, is already beginning to disrupt the global economy. When it is finally confirmed that the global oil production peak has been reached many of the energy economists predict dire consequences – unless we start preparing today!
The full programme for the tour is attached. Further dates are still being added in May and early June, and so for the latest information the public should consult the on-line programme on the tour web site at www.fraw.org.uk/tour/
1. Paul Mobbs is presenting most of the events on the tour. Paul has been a consultant, writer and researcher on energy and environmental matters since 1991. He is also the author of what has been acknowledged to be the first UK-specific book on peak energy, Energy Beyond Oil (published June 2005 by Matador, ISBN 978-1905237005). For those wishing to produce more in-depth articles on the issues of peak energy and energy descent, Paul is willing to supply further background information on request.
2. In addition to the “standard” events, three special events have been organised by Powerswitch, the Permaculture Network and the Free Range Network. At the moment only the programme for the Leeds event on the 28th/29th April has been finalised – this can be downloaded at www.fraw.org.uk/tour/leeds_programme.pdf
3. Some of the leading researchers in the field of peak oil/gas and energy descent – such as Colin Campbell (International Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas), Richard Douthwaite (Feasta), Duncan Law (UK Oil Depletion Analysis Centre), Rob Hopkins (Transition Culture) and David Strahan (journalist/writer) – have agreed to give interviews to the national media. However, we have agreed that requests for interviews will be filtered through the tour organisers rather than giving out there contact details. If you would like to arrange an interview with an “expert” please contact Paul Mobbs.
4. A number of handouts and background reports have been produced for the tour. These are being uploaded, as they are completed, to the web site (this process should be complete by Easter, before the main body of the tour begins). Note that all this material is being issued under a non-commercial open license, and for the purposes of news reporting we are allowing any amount of the information in the documents to be quoted, extracted, re-written, published or translated.
5. The tour has been organised as a truly co-operative venture. There is no central organisation or funding, and each event is organised by the local hosting organisation. The administration for the tour as a whole has been organised on a voluntary basis, with the required time/resources being donated by the individuals involved. The groups involved (to date – other events are still being organised in May and June) in organising the Peak Energy tour are:
Association for the Study of Peak Oil
Dinefwr Green Group (Ammanford)
Earth Cymru Network (Wales)
Eastside Climate Action (Nottingham)
Findhorn Foundation (Scotland)
Free Range Network (England)
Global Ecovillage Network
Green Presteigne Health in Your Environment (Nottingham)
Hornbeam Environmental Centre (Walthamstow)
Lancaster Climate Action
Leamington Spa Green Party
Liverpool Permaculture Paths to the Future (Lampeter)
Permaculture Network (UK) Permorganics (Northampton)
Plaid Green Group (Newport)
Rhondda Cynon Taff Green Drinks
Stepping Stones Housing Co-op (Coleford)
Transition City Bristol
[There is a schedule at the original document.]