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“Let us be Human” – a Christian response to Peak Oil
Rev. Sam Norton, Diocese of Worcester (UK)
Prophecy, Peak Oil and the Path for the Faithful

… How should we respond to Peak Oil?

In simple terms, our industrial civilisations have been premised upon the possibility of continuous growth. Our economies have been built around it, our politicians pursue careers by promoting it, we all enjoy the fruits of it. In the way in which it has structured our civilisation, ‘growth’ is our idol, it is the contemporary clothing of Mammon – and we must bring back to mind Jesus’ teaching that we cannot serve both God and Mammon.

What Peak Oil means – and Peak Oil is simply the most salient of the various physical and resource constraints that we are now encountering – is that physical economic growth will cease.

We will no longer be able to accumulate more and more ‘stuff’. That form of human organi sation represented by the industrialised civilisations will have to adapt or die, and we face that choice today.

Many groups, aware of the problem of Peak Oil and related issues like climate change, have already embarked upon the radical changes of life that are necessary within this new context. One of the most exciting is the ‘Transition Town’a initiative, begun by the permaculturist Rob Hopkins in the small town of Totnes in Devon, but now spread to dozens of towns, villages and parts of cities throughout the country.

The transition town movement is essentially a bottom-up process of preparing communities for the transition away from a society built around growth to one bui l t around sustainability; it is about cultivating a greater degree of resilience at the local level, in order to withstand the shocks (that have already begun) associated with meeting the physical constraints on economic growth.

There are a great many practical solutions that can be pursued in order to minimise the potentially dire consequences of Peak Oil; there are alternative ways of generating energy, there is great scope for reducing our consumption, there are many ways in which cooperative patterns of working can minimise the shock. There is no doubt, though, that this transition will be painful, and that the church in particular has a task on its hands.

… I believe that the church is called to a prophetic ministry at this time of crisis; specifically we must cultivate our ‘Prophetic Imagination’ …
(10 April 2009)
Author Sam Norton writes
A .pdf pamphlet aimed at Christians which describes the phenomenon of Peak Oil and starts to articulate a Christian response. You could say it gives a theological justification for Transition Towns!

BA: We’re trying to get permission to post the entire pamphlet.

New essay by Mark Jaccard on peak oil
Rick Munroe, Energy Bulletin
Mark Jaccard is an award-winning professor of environmental economics in the School of Resource & Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC.

His essay, “Peak Oil and Market Feedbacks:Chicken Little versus Doctor Pangloss” is included in Thomas Homer-Dixon’s new book, “Carbon Shift” which will be released on April 14/09.

An excerpt from Jaccard’s essay was published in the Globe and Mail on April 11/09: A foreshadowing ignored (Mark Jaccard on the fuel crises of the past, and what they tell us about the future).

Mark Jaccard has so far not indicated much confidence in the “peak oil hypothesis” and the Globe excerpt from his recent essay indicates that little has changed.

Jaccard begins with a characterization of peak oil’s “most ardent promoters” as a bunch of Chicken Littles. He then presents the usual stereotype of peak oil analysts being fixated on two aspects, depletion of reserves and predicting the timing of the peak (using simplistic models).

He then takes a cursory look at the ups and downs of supply, demand and price during the 70s and 80s and points to the apparently “wonderful power of the price-feedback mechanism of the market” in stabilizing the situation.

Jaccard ends by expressing some doubts and asks whether these events were “an ignored foreshadowing” of the inability of market forces to take care of resource depletion.

Perhaps these doubts will encourage him to carefully examine the best of the peak oil literature. Had he already done so, it is unlikely that he would make such dismissive generalizations about peak oil analysts.

Homer-Dixon’s new book, “Carbon Shift: How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change will Define the Future” should provide a provocative stimulus to the analysis of these twin issues.
(12 April 2009)
Rick Munroe is an energy researcher with Canada’s National Farmers Union.

Mark Jaccard’s article appeared in the Globe & Mail: A foreshadowing ignored

If You Dig It: Energy is driven by demand

Ruchir Sharma, Newsweek
… one idea still has the power to capture imaginations and markets: it is that commodities like oil, copper, grains and gold are all destined to rise over time. Lots of smart people believe that last year’s swoon in commodities prices represented a short pause in a long-term bull market.

It’s a view rooted in powerful and real trends, like the growth of China and India, the decline in global reserves (many of the world’s biggest and best oilfields are tapped out), fears over resource nationalization (independent oil firms now control only 20 percent of global reserves) and long-term underinvestment in energy and agriculture, which hampers supply.

Yet the fact is that the world has faced all these issues before, and for the past 200 years, commodity prices have been trending downwards, thanks to new technologies, greater efficiency in extraction and the substitution of one commodity for another (which explains the high correlation between commodities prices). Bank Credit Analyst, a research firm based in Montreal, has data showing major industrial commodity prices are 75 percent below where they were in the year 1800, after adjusting for inflation. Despite all the worries over “peak oil,” the fact is that the major bear markets in oil have been demand, rather than supply led. And when demand eventually picks up, there’s usually some new alternative (nuclear energy, natural gas, green technologies) waiting to pick up some of the slack.
(11 April 2009)
Don’t worry, be happy. -BA

The US Military Energy Consumption in 2008

Sohbet Karbuz, blog
Finally! The U.S. Department of Defense released its FY2008 Annual Energy Management Report. I don’t know why the report was delayed 3 months. What I don’t understand, in fact, why DESC still hasn’t published its Factbook for FY2008.

FY2008 Annual Energy Management Report, as usual, hides the vital information. If you want to get the big picture you have to do your own calculations. The whole report, in my opinion, is kind of attempting to validate some famous sayings about statistics, like “statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital,” and “Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say.”

Renewables, energy efficiency, how well the DoD did to reduce its energy consumption etc cover 99.9% of the report. BUT it does not give you a real fact based summary, not even in “Executive Summary.”

So, I decided to prepare three charts based on the data provided, as usual, at the end of the report.

1. The DoD site delivered energy consumption in Fiscal Year 2008 was 890 trillion Btu. In 2007, it was 865 trillion Btu. Note that the figures refer to site delivered energy consumption. A better metric is primary energy consumption. If looked from that angle DoD energy consumption indeed is 1138 trillion Btu.
(6 April 2009)
Sohbet Karbuz has been contributor to Energy Bulletin.

Energy-spending cutbacks spark price-spike talk

Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch
ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Jim Mulva didn’t mince words with Wall Street analysts when, in the face of a slowing economy and lower oil prices, he outlined the oil major’s nearly $2 billion cut in capital spending for 2009 and other belt-tightening measures.

“We believe our decisions, actions and plans will enable us to live within our means,” Mulva said following the company’s fourth-quarter results in February. (8 April 2009)

IEA Cuts Oil Demand Forecast to Lowest in Five Years

Grant Smith, Bloomberg
The International Energy Agency expects global oil demand to decline by 2.4 million barrels a day this year, about the same amount that Iraq produces, as the economic slump reduces consumption to the lowest since 2004.

The adviser to 28 nations cut its 2009 forecast for an eighth consecutive month, slashing last month’s estimate by 1 million barrels a day, or 1.2 percent, to 83.4 million barrels a day. The IEA also said oil supply from outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will drop this year.

“The pace of contraction is close to early 1980s levels, with a growing consensus that economic and oil demand recovery will be deferred to 2010,” the Paris-based adviser said in a monthly report today.
(10 April 2009)
Related: World is awash with oil as demand sinks: IEA (AFP).