Liam and myself started working on Energy Bulletin in Melbourne in 2003. I was a web geek, and Liam one of the only people I knew who was aware of peak oil. We chose a neutral name and design because the style and tone of peak oil on the web at the time was often not unlike that of conspiracy theory websites, and very ‘doomer’ oriented, even if the content was solid enough. (Most notable was the website www.dieoff.org.) We wanted to balance this: to be approachable, respectable and to explore some less dire scenarios and useful responses. However, we were unknown people with only an amateur interest. We decided at least to not have any advertising and to do it as volunteers, hoping our credibility could rest on that.
There were very few articles in the mainstream media or journals about peak oil at the time but we hoped to thread these together in the one place. Since the material was thin on the ground, the work was not overwhelming, but as oil prices continued to rise, so did peak oil gain more prominence and the work load grew, and we began receiving more, and writing more, original content.
Despite the often grim nature of the content, it was was invigorating to connect to so many interesting people, from senators to archdruids to anarcho-primitivists. It was also interesting to watch (and to influence) the spread of some simple but devastating concepts through the mediasphere and see the reactions to it. But the work was fairly overwhelming. We were fortunate to have a great number of regular contributors who helped. Bart was a stand out, and I think in 2005 or 2006 Bart became an editor and he soon he was the backbone of the site, a friend and a constant gentle voice of reason. PCI took over the site in 2009 and have supported his and the other editors’ efforts. They changed the code base of the site over from my hand-coded and rather inadequate and security flawed software to drupal.
The style and format of EB has changed remarkably little over 9 years, and I will certainly miss the neutrality of its image.
I also understand the desire for change. Peak oil awareness grew slowly but exponentially after Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère published in Scientific America in 1998. As we know, that kind of growth is not sustainable. I’m not sure of the figures, but I imagine hits to this website are probably pretty steady with fluctuations based on oil price. Most of the people who are open to the issue, and actively seek out information of the sort, already know about it. From that perspective, focussing on practical and community building responses makes sense.
So all the best with Resilience.org. And thanks to Simone, Kristin, Bart, Liam, Jim, PCI and everyone who has contributed for all their efforts. I’ll miss it but looking forward to seeing how resilience.org evolves.