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My Decade of Being “Peak Oil Aware”

Stephen Hren, Huffington Post
Science Magazine just published a great article about peak oil, and I realized it’s been exactly a decade since I became “peak oil aware.” 9/11 had just happened, and to try and understand the world I did something I wasn’t, as an American, supposed to do — I listened to Osama bin Laden and his complaints to try and understand why these attacks on my country had happened. It turns out I found them pretty legitimate. That is, I agreed with his reasons for being angry, but certainly not his method of killing civilians.

… So, why were American troops permanently stationed on Saudi soil? It certainly wasn’t to defend freedom and democracy. There was only one answer — oil. So I started to read about oil, and quickly came across a recently published book by Kenneth Deffeyes titled Hubbert’s Peak. In it he explained something that I’d intuitively known for a long time but had never intellectually grasped — oil is a finite resource, and will begin, at some point, to decline in production.

… Oil price spikes and world-wide economic crises had the potential to wipe out civilization as we knew it. I freaked out.

It’s been a long haul since then. I’m no longer married, for instance. Some of what I thought would happen came to pass. Most of it did not… or has not yet anyways. You don’t change civilization on a dime, even though that’s what I wanted to have happen when I dove into the sustainability movement and became heavily involved with renewable energy, edible landscaping, and all things local. I figured out a while back that the problem isn’t peak oil, or global climate disruption, or peak anything else. And it isn’t us. Humanity isn’t inherently evil.

It’s our attitude and the expectations that come with it that are the problem.

Stephen Hren is the author of Tales From the Sustainable Underground: A Wild Journey with People Who Care More About the Planet Than the Law, and maintains the website
(10 February 2012)

Peak oil educator Richard Heinberg challenges “binary thinking”

Matthew Burrows, Georgia Straight
When he scans the current geopolitical lay-of-the-land, California-based peak oil educator and author Richard Heinberg can only reach one conclusion.

“We’re fighting over the crumbs,” Heinberg told the Straight via cellphone from 100 Mile House, where he was giving a talk on February 8. “That’s what’s happening. The world is preparing to fight over the crumbs.”

The crumbs Heinberg speaks and writes of are finite fossil fuels, specifically those deriving from oil, natural gas and coal. In particular, we see current examples with the proposed continental pipelines, the tar sands of Alberta, and the Prime Minister’s boosterism of faster and faster exploitation of these resources.

Heinberg deals with them all in his upcoming book, The End of Growth: Adapting to our New Economic Reality (New Society).

The premise of the book, according to Heinberg, is that “not only is perpetual economic growth impossible in principle—because it implies ever-increasing consumption of resources on a finite planet—but actually we’re reaching the limits to economic growth in real time, right now.”

… What do we do? “Anything to build local resilience,” answered Heinberg. “Oil depletion protocol is a good idea, but unlikely to be implemented. that means it’s mostly up to local communities and households. Reduce transportation and fossil fuel inputs everywhere possible. Grow more of your own food. Share more with your neighbors. No silver bullets here, just a lot of copper BBs.”
(9 February 2012)
Related at the Vancouver Sun: It’s the end of the world as we know it, author says.

U.S. Oil Fields Stage “Great Revival,” But No Easing Gas Prices

Mason Inman, National Geographic News
The United States has long been seen as a nation in its twilight as an oil producer, facing a relentless decline that began when President Richard Nixon was in the White House. He and every president since pledged to halt the U.S. slide into greater dependence on foreign oil, but the trend seemed irreversible—until now. Forty-one years later, U.S. oil production is on the rise.

“A ‘great revival’ in U.S. oil production is taking shape,” said Jim Burkhard, managing director of the energy consultancy IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates in testimony last month before a U.S. Senate committee. The resurgence provides the United States a welcome measure of energy security at a time of global economic uncertainty and geopolitical risk, he said.

Yet the U.S. government’s own energy analysts and many experts see a limit to this new gusher. The technological advances that have driven the revival—high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling—can only squeeze so much more crude out of the U.S. landscape, they say. Projections are that U.S. oil production will never again reach the lofty heights of the 1960s, even without environmental concerns slowing development or hampering industry with new costs.
(10 February 2012)
Mason Inman is an Energy Bulletin contributor.

Peak Oil & Carbon Emissions (episode 11)

Robert Rapier, R-Squared Energy TV, Consumer Energy Report

In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I answer questions on about peak oil and carbon trading markets.

Some of the topics discussed are:
Whether peak oil has been discredited
Recent media headlines on peak oil (or lack thereof)
Why I think peak oil “debunkers” miss the point
Why I believe carbon emissions will continue to climb
Why the successful sulfur trading markets are not analogous to carbon trading markets
Why I am skeptical that a global carbon trading scheme will work
(9 February 2012)