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Gasoline, oil prices focus of Michigan sustainability conference

Grand Rapids, Michigan -- Gas prices may top $6 per gallon as oil production remains stagnant.

Rising gas prices, and what to do about it, is a central theme at “The International Conference on Peak Oil and Climate Change: Paths to Sustainability”.

“[The conference] is a good place to learn about peak oil, energy conservation, energy efficiency, global warming—get it all in one spot,” says U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, in a video invitation on the conference web site. A former nuclear physicist, Ehlers is a member of the bipartisan Congressional Peak Oil Caucus.

The conference is scheduled for Friday, May 30, through Sunday, June 1, at the Calvin College Fine Arts Center, 1795 Knollcrest Circle in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Teacher Aaron Wissner initiated the conference due to a concern about how rising gas prices might impact families.

“Rising gas prices are impacting my students and their parents,” says Wissner. “If the 15% annual increase continues, gas will hit $6 per gallon in under three years.”

After five months of planning, the full conference agenda was recently published online.

Educators and authors Richard Heinberg, Dr. David Goodstein, Julian Darley, Megan Quinn Bachman, Pat Murphy and Stephanie Mills lead a cadre of experts addressing peak oil.

Peak oil is the moment in time when global oil extraction reaches its all time historical maximum. Estimates of the year of global peak oil vary, from as early as 2005, to several years in the future.

Whether peak oil is several years off may make little difference. Current flat oil production coupled with growing demand appears to be the primary force behind rising oil prices.

Four years ago, global oil production began leveling off to about 85 million barrels per day. Since then, gasoline prices have doubled. Oil prices have also doubled, twice.

With the U.S. economy apparently headed for recession, whispers of “stagflation” echo the oil shocks of the 1970s.

“One certain effect [of peak oil] will be steep inflation, because gasoline, along with everything made from petrochemicals and everything that has to be transported, will suddenly cost more,” writes David Goodstein in his book “Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil”.

Goodstein, a physics professor and former vice-provost at the California Institute of Technology, introduces the topic of peak oil on the first evening of the three day conference.

The conference addresses numerous societal concerns including the economy, species loss, population growth, and climate change. While day two addresses understanding these issues, day three focuses on solutions.

Forty seminars are organized into ten tracks which include: transportation fuel, electricity, housing, food production, animal husbandry, communication, water, money, consumerism, and peak oil in depth.

Online registration is now open, with discounted early rates ending on May 21.

The conference web site is peakoilconference.org

Editorial Notes: Contributor Aaron Wissner writes: This is the final press release. The pre-final agenda, the speaker list, and list of breakout seminars are just now online, as well as new discount student registration.

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