[permaculture] Peak Oil

Kaia Bronte kaiabronte at gmail.com
Mon Oct 10 11:23:44 EDT 2005

K'ip yer pouwdur jrayee . . . dem skwirllies is shkitteesh l'eel buggurs.

-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of
efmonaco at comcast.net
Sent: Monday, October 10, 2005 8:03 AM
To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [permaculture] Peak Oil

I've stayed out of the Peak Oil discussions so far because there's too much
speculation for my taste:  There are many scenarios including the one where
the masses of people realize that the oil is limited, gas goes to
$10/gallon, SUV's evolve to get 100 mpg, and the suburbs gradually shrink
down to dense urban ecocities with mass transit and sustainable
agricultures.  It's one of the possible futures, and one which we should all
But (you knew there was a but), recent events in the Gulf Coast have shed
some light on a scenario that was not as well seen (at least by me).  Did
you notice which city got hit with the highest gas prices just after
Katrina?  It was Atlanta, at $5/gal, with many stations running dry.  Why?
Because Atlanta has no refineries.  It gets all its gas from pipelines from
Pascagoula, MS and Mobile, AL, which were hit.  While fear and price gouging
hit everybody to some extent, nearby Houston wasn't nearly as affected
because its refineries weren't hit.  California wasn't affected because its
refineries weren't hit.  Chicago wasn't affected because its refinieries
weren't hit.  And the northeast wasn't much affected because its refineries
weren't hit.
Since the refineries were back online in a few days it all passed by and
prices came back down albeit to a new level, which is largly explained by
record profits of the oil companies, many of which are also refiners.
So what if a rough hurricane season knocked out most of the Gulf coast's
refineries.  That's more than 40% of US capacity.  Add to that an earthquake
in Long Beach, CA and the run on the remaining oil would grind many of the
cities of the US to a halt.  That means no food on the shelves, so no need
for that long trip to Tobytown from the boonies.  And all in quite short
order, a few days max.  Looting starts immediately as it did in New Orleans,
it moves into the suburbs shortly thereafter, then to the rural areas and
ecovillages that everybody knows about.  With sea levels rising, polar ice
caps melting, ocean temps rising, etc., this one may play out sooner than
the doomsday scenario of chaos due to the last drop being pumped out of the
Middle East, which will be swallowed up by China anyway.  Time to dust off
that old seed press to make lube oil for the chicken tractor.  Squirrel stew
-Gene Monaco

> Well, I'm not giving up on cities, at least, my
> city in particular, and I am one of the
> co-moderators of runningonempty2 at yahoogroups.com ,
> which presently has 5500+ members and has been
> discussing peak oil since 2001, and I have read
> every single message in that group.
> There is certainly a group of peak oil folks who
> favor a retreat to a remote rural homestead. They
> generally also believe there will be a fast, ugly,
> and violent crash/die-off of the human species,
> from the present 6+ billion to a few million in
> the space of a few years. See
> http://www.dieoff.com for more information about
> that.
> I tend to think the situation is going to play out
> as a long, slow grind and general impoverishment
> (in terms of energy and financial resources). I
> think my particular city is well positioned to
> meet those challenges (I live in Oklahoma City).
> We have a million people in the metropolitan area,
> but it is low density by the standards of say
> Boston or New York City. We have 1/6th of an
> acre, plus the city's easement, and you can do a
> lot with that.
> Regarding the suburbs, I wonder if they will
> perhaps be reborn as market gardens for the
> central cities. It is possible, for example, that
> today's upscale suburbs could become the low-rent
> areas of the peak oil future. After all, many of
> the poor areas of modern cities were once very
> upscale neighborhoods. In the early years of the
> decline of fossil fuels, I expect that a lot of
> people with resources are going to move back into
> cities, and probably displace poor people. Zoning
> changes and the demise of neighborhood
> associations will lead to these big houses being
> chopped up into apartments. Since many of these
> houses sit on large lots, and there tends to be a
> lot of green space, it is not a big jump to see
> those lawns turned into intensive food producing
> gardens, both to produce food for the inhabitants
> and a surplus to sell in the city.
> It's true, people in these retrofitted suburbs
> won't be raising golden acres of grain, but I
> personally expect that farming of basic staple
> crops -- like beans and grains and corn for human
> consumption -- to continue well into the future,
> and that there will be enough fuel to move them
> around. I sent a series of messages to
> runningonempty2 at yahoogroups.com which considered
> the energy required to produce and deliver a basic
> daily ration of beans and grains (2 pounds if I
> remember correctly) to everybody in the country,
> and assuming that (a) all imports were cut off,
> and only domestic petroleum supplies were
> available, and (b) that US oil production
> continued to decline at its historical rate), it
> would be 40 or 50 years out before there would not
> be enough domestic oil production to provide that
> amount of food to everyone in the country.
> I also expect that livestock production for meat
> will continue, although the feedlot/confined
> animal feeding operation system will die.
> Here in Oklahoma City, if I can get beans and
> grain and some meat from farm country, I am pretty
> confident that with what we can raise on our
> former lawns we would have enough to eat. As
> things change enough, Oklahoma City will probably
> change its city ordinances and I could have
> chickens which would be a real plus.
> I think over time the big megalopolises will
> decline in population, and I think that more
> people will move to rural areas, mostly to small
> towns and that there will be some movement from
> the colder parts of the country to the Sunbelt,
> but I expect cities to endure for quite some time
> and for there to be enough food to feed the people
> there.
> Robert Waldrop
> http://www.energyconservationinfo.org
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Gryphon Danu"
> > I'm not so confident about that Toby. Humankind
> has gotten along quite
> > well over the ages from living off the land.
> Afterall , it was energy
> > from coal and oil that made life in the big
> cities possible. Once that's
> > gone, I don't see much hope there -- too many
> people will be competing
> > for too few resources; city dwellers are equally
> dependent on
> > transported goods, especially food.
> >
> > Yeah, living completely rural outside of a
> community as you once did is
> > probably a bad choice -- but leaving cities for
> small, progressive towns
> > that are in close proximity to agriculture and
> other natural resources
> > like timber, good soil, and clean water is
> really the way to go. I
> > personally like the ideas they're formulating
> over at
> > http://communitysolution.org
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