[permaculture] (no subject)
rmwj at soonernet.com
Sat Jun 11 00:21:52 EDT 2005
I will be a speaker at the conference described
below this September in Ohio. It is sponsored by
a group that is exploring community solutions to
the problems that are coming our way due to "peak
oil". My presentation will be about the Oklahoma
Food Cooperative, our urban agriculture
experience, and the general topic of "Creating
local food systems," which will include some
thoughts about urban permaculture.
The Community Solution - Peak Oil Update 6/10/05
1.. "Peak Oil, Energy, and Local Solutions:
Reports from Recent Conferences" - A commentary on
three recent events attended by The Community
Solution details the annual conference of the
Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO), a
Cleveland energy meeting, and an E.F. Schumacher
seminar. Read the article below.
2.. In the weeks following the Association for
the Study of Peak Oil conference coverage of Peak
Oil in major newspapers has skyrocketed. An AP
article entitled, "Experts: Petroleum May Be
Nearing a Peak" was run by over 200 news
organizations, including the New York Times, San
Francisco Chronicle, and ABC & CBS news. Long
series on oil are running in The Cleveland Plain
Dealer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and the
Canadian Globe & Mail.
"The Second U.S. Conference on Peak Oil and
Community Solutions" will be held in Yellow
Springs, Ohio on September 23-25, 2005.
Registration and further details will be available
soon at http://www.communitysolution.org Speakers
Richard Heinberg: Author, "Powerdown: Options and
Actions for a Post-Carbon World," and "The Party's
Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial
Michael Shuman: Author, "Going Local: Creating
Self-Reliant Communities in the Global Age."
Diana Leafe Christian: Author, "Creating a Life
Together" and Editor of Communities magazine.
Jan Lundberg: Founder, Culture Change and Auto
Free Times magazine.
Robert Waldrop: President, Oklahoma Food
Cooperative and moderator of online discussion
group RunningonEmpty2 at yahoogroups.com , which has
4,000 members and has been discussing and
researching peak oil issues since 2001.
Steve Andrews: Builder, energy consultant and
free-lance writer on Peak Oil and related energy
John Ikerd: Agricultural economist and author,
"The Case for Common Sense: The New Economic,
Ecological, and Social Revolution."
Liz Walker: Author, "EcoVillage at Ithaca:
Pioneering a Sustainable Culture."
Pat Murphy: Director, The Community Solution and
Editor of New Solutions.
Megan Quinn: Outreach Director, The Community
Solution, and its program, "Agraria."
Peak Oil, Energy, and Local Solutions: Reports
from Recent Conferences
By Megan Quinn, The Community Solution
The world's economy will falter and collapse as
global oil production peaks and heads into a
permanent decline. That was the message brought
home to 300 participants at an oil depletion
conference in Lisbon in May. Two weeks later in
Cleveland, at a national energy conference which
attracted 800 participants, neither economic
decline nor the imminent oil peak was on the
agenda. Speakers, instead, championed their own,
sometimes far off, technological fixes, as the
solution to our energy woes. Between these two
conferences was a gathering of 25 people at an
E.F. Schumacher Society training seminar on
building sustainable local economies, held in the
western hills of Massachusetts. Here participants
discussed how to prepare for a post peak oil age
and address other social concerns through local
economic development, local currencies, and
community land trusts.
"We began the training by imagining an economic
system based on the values of cooperation, fair
distribution of wealth, mutual aid, ecological
responsibility, social accountability, respect for
cultural differences, human scale, and local
production for local consumption," said Susan
Witt, director of the Schumacher Society. At the
Lisbon oil conference, such an economic system was
heralded as a way to deal with the coming era of
scare and expensive oil.
The IV International Workshop on Oil Depletion was
hosted by the Association for the Study of Peak
Oil (ASPO), a European-based group of scientists
and academics. The broad spectrum of speakers
included petroleum geologists, oil industry
analysts, university scientists, investment
bankers, government officials, and current and
In his opening talk, ASPO founder and petroleum
geologist Colin Campbell said, "We are at the end
of the first half of the age of oil. We started
running out with the first barrel and the last
barrel is far in the future. But production begins
to decline when half is gone and that is the
issue." Campbell explained that declining energy
equals a declining economy since economic growth
is predicated on cheap, abundant energy supplies.
Campbell's stance was reiterated throughout the
two day conference. Manuel Collares-Pereira, a
physicist at the University of Lisbon, emphasized
that the end of cheap oil means the end of the
global economy as we know it and the beginning of
"deglobalization." Charles Hall and Robert Ayes,
also scientists, analyzed the foundations of
economic growth and expressed the need for an
economic system based on biophysical realities
such as energy.
So just when is the global peak? NASA scientist
Marcel Schoppers examined the uncertainty of
different models, ultimately coming up with the
year 2009 plus or minus 6 years. Other speakers
pointed toward the year 2007. The overall
consensus was that a peak is imminent.
To determine the date the organization factors in
the depletion rate of countries that have already
peaked, forecasts of imminent production peaks,
and global demand. U.S. oil production peaked in
1970 at slightly more than 9.4 million barrels per
day and has been declining since. Production in
countries like the UK, Indonesia, and Venezuela
are declining by 7-9%. Russian oil production,
which represented 50-95% of non-OPEC growth from
the period '01 - '04 is now slowing. Meanwhile,
global oil demand is soaring.
Many presenters noted the increasing appetite for
oil in developing countries, specifically China
and India. Last year, global oil demand was 3.5%,
up from an average rate of a 1-2% increase per
year. This new demand could have the effect of
bringing the peak sooner.
In addition, countries like Saudi Arabia may not
have the abundant reserves their governments so
frequently tout. Two presentations revealed the
uncertainty that Saudi Arabia can continue to
maintain such high production levels. With
one-fourth of the world's remaining oil and the
only country with spare production capacity, Saudi
Arabia is the fulcrum on which global oil
production and the world economy rests.
Jack Zagar, a Colorado-based petroleum consultant,
contended that state owned oil company Saudi
Aramco overestimates their reserves and their
ultimate recovery rate. He is skeptical that they
can continue to increase production to meet the
growing world demand, as Saudi Crown Prince
Abdullah promised to President Bush last month.
Matthew Simmons, an oil investment banker who
advised Bush on energy issues in the 2000
presidential campaign, gave a dismal forecast for
future Saudi production. He said the five
extremely mature fields that produce 90% of Saudi
production are at the risk of unplanned production
collapse. Simmons explained that these fields are
being overproduced with the injection of seawater
and steam to maintain high production levels. His
just published book, "Twilight in the Desert: The
Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy,"
focuses on his deep concerns.
"Oil is not renewable and will peak," Simmons
continued, "Discovering the date is the only open
question." The estimates of the Association for
the Study of Peak Oil are often called
"pessimistic" by governments and oil companies.
Yet others within these sectors are beginning to
recognize the possibility of an imminent peak.
T. Boone Pickens, former CEO of Mesa Petroleum,
was quoted last month as saying, "Global oil is 84
million barrels a day. I don't believe you can get
it any more than 84 million barrels." Republican
congressman Roscoe Bartlett has given four
speeches to the House of Representatives on Peak
Oil. At the ASPO conference current and former
government officials sat on a special panel.
Present were a former Canadian governor, a former
British environmental minister, a representative
from Switzerland, and a French parliamentarian.
Edward Schreyer, the former Canadian governor,
said, "Peak is starting to become conventional
wisdom," a sentiment shared by several ASPO
members. At this year's conference predicting the
exact date was less important than discussing the
implications and alternatives. "The movement is
evolving," Campbell, ASPO's founder, explained in
his final statement. "The issue of peak is
accepted and the media are giving it coverage."
Campbell added, "It's not as important when you
peak, it's the vision of the long decline that
Yet at a national energy conference in Cleveland
on June 2, the issue of peak oil and the
associated economic decline was not discussed.
Presenters touted the role of technology, economic
forces, and additional research dollars in making
hydrogen, "clean coal," nuclear, and fuel cells
viable in the future and therefore a solution to
our energy problems.
"Energy: A 21st Century Perspective" was sponsored
by the National Academy of Engineering and
included presentations by Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, a
senior scientist at BP, and a director at the
Department of Energy. In contrast to the urgent
and perilous tone of the ASPO conference, the mood
was cheery and congratulatory as the public was
reassured that these scientists could solve all of
their energy problems.
The main challenges identified included the threat
of global climate change, rapid demand growth in
developing countries, and dependence on foreign
oil. Paul Portney, President of "Resources for the
Future," a Washington think tank, also stressed
that the U.S. was built on cheap energy and that
everything from our cars and homes to the distance
we live from our work was based on this paradigm.
While peak oil was mentioned in passing by two of
the speakers it was identified as "pessimistic"
and quickly abandoned.
Presenters admitted that their proposed solutions
may take years or even decades to become a
significant part of our energy mix. Professor Joan
Ogden, of the University of California - Davis,
noted that it takes 30 to 70 years to convert to
new transportation infrastructure and that more
evolution of hydrogen technology was needed before
commercial products would be available. Dr. Roger
McKain of the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition said the
cost of fuel cells would have to be reduced
dramatically before they could become widespread.
Nuclear advocate Dr. Lawrence Papay, who was
skeptical that nuclear waste storage could be
guaranteed for 10,000 years, identified the long
process of researching, designing, and building a
new breed of reactors that would reprocess spent
fuel and avoid so much waste.
While conventional economic thinking continues at
this type of conference, the E.F. Schumacher
Society is creating a new economic paradigm based
on decentralism and community revitalization. The
Schumacher Society, named after the author of
"Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People
Mattered," holds annual seminars on these issues,
with a focus on training community leaders to
implement local initiatives.
The participants at this year's seminar learned
about successful citizen-driven strategies for
reconnecting people, land and community, and how
communities can regain economic power and create
vibrant local economies. Michael Shuman, author of
"Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in
a Global Age," analyzed areas of capital drain
from local economies and described various
methods, both tried and in planning, to stop those
leaks, create "import replacement," and develop
strong local economies.
While peak oil is not at the forefront of the
Schumacher message, they certainly share with "The
Community Solution" a common vision for the future
of a more cooperative, just, and equitable world
of small, local communities.
Several ASPO presenters also share this vision.
Collares-Pereira, the University of Lisbon
physicist, listed as the benefits of a post peak
oil era "more time, leisure, culture; cleaner air;
and less stress." Campbell, ASPO's founder, noted
several "silver linings" of the peak oil crisis,
such as people "rediscover[ing] rural living,
regionalism, diversity and local markets, coming
to live in better harmony with themselves, each
other, and the environment in which nature has
ordained them to live."
Megan Quinn is Outreach Director for The Community
Solution, a program of Community Service Inc., a
non-profit organization in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Quinn can be reached at
megan at communitysolution.org.
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