A Twelve-Step Plan to End Oil Addiction

This is a guest post from Tim Jones of the Sustainable Energy Forum in New Zealand.

With the price of petrol hitting NZ$2 per litre, the Sustainable Energy Forum has proposed twelve steps for New Zealand to end its increasingly self-destructive addiction to oil.

Our addiction to oil has been bad for us for a long time. We’ve paid a high price for it in terms of high greenhouse gas emissions and cities choked by cars. But now we can’t afford our regular fix any more. So here’s what we need to do to conquer our addiction. It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile — and besides, we don’t really have a choice.

The Twelve Steps:

1. Stop deluding ourselves. The era of cheap, readily-available oil has ended. Prices may fluctuate, but the underlying trend is up, up, up. We have to get used to using less.

2. Demand that politicians take the issue seriously. Make it an election issue. Don’t take ‘we’ve got everything under control’ as an answer.

3. Stop building new roads. They’re a monumental waste of money, time and effort. They encourage, rather than ease, congestion, and besides, the growth in car travel that’s used to justify them isn’t going to happen anyway.

4. Divert that money and effort into measures that address the challenges of oil depletion and climate change.

5. Make a major investment in public transport. It needs to be better, faster, more comfortable, more regular, and more predictable. It needs to cater for everyone, not just peak-hour commuters — though they need a better service as well.

6. Make a major investment in broadband internet to allow more people to work from home, and change tax and business practices that discourage working from home. The more car trips we can avoid, the better.

7. Electrify transport where possible. New Zealand is well placed to use renewable electricity for transport. We should be electrifying commuter rail where it is not already electric, using light rail (trams) in cities, and looking at electrification of the main trunk line. On the other end of the scale, electric bikes and scooters can make a big difference in our cities. And electric cars show promise, though there’s a lot of questions to be answered yet.

8. Don’t use cars unless there’s no alternative. Take the bus. Take the train. Switch to a scooter. Walk or cycle – both your wallet and your doctor will thank you.

9. Deal with other aspects of our oil dependence. Agriculture, for example, is highly dependent on oil. We’re going to need to change the way we grow and distribute food. Let’s get to work on that now, not wait until supermarket shelves start to empty.

10. Stockpile or manufacture vital products currently imported from overseas. When oil runs short, will that still be possible? Let’s take stock now and work out what we may need to start stockpiling or making in New Zealand.

11. Think local. Ending our oil addiction isn’t just up to central government, though it can play its part. Communities can work together to make themselves more resilient. Join or start a Transition Towns group in your local area.

12. Accept reality. The age of cheap oil is over. It’s not coming back. As individuals and as a nation, we have to adapt.

Look that's all good, but step 1. really should be tax the bad things (fossil fuels, carbon emissions, gas guzzlers, inefficient appliances etc) and use the proceeds to make good things cheaper (efficient appliances, economical cars, public transport, clean energy etc) and tax relief and welfare to help people cope with higher energy costs.

Feebates are an example of this concept.

Tax the bad, rebate the good. Its a simple plan, and once its in people's economic interest to do the right thing, everything else will follow. Its just a pity we don't have any politicans with the courage to implement something like this. Instead we get mind numbing populism like Brendan's 5c/L fuel excise cut and Kevin's "Petrol Commissioner".

I have been pondering lately about whether the high interst rates that the Reserve Bank is imposing is actually a defacto oil tax. At least in Australia it appears that the inflation that is at the forefront of the RBA's thinking, is almost entirely attributable to the rising oil price. The Reserves response has been to tighten rates which effectively imposes higher "taxation" out there in consumer land, the ultimate demand centre of the economy.

Now I know I'm out on a limb with this theory, and interest rates are a blunt instrument. But they could just be part of the stick which eventually discourages people from making unsustainable living arrangements that are designed and built upon the assumption of chaep abundant oil flowing forever.

A very good point. Especially since the bulk of the pain is felt in the suburban morgage belt. The combination of high interest and high petrol prices hurt those people at lot.

However if Rudd doesn't somehow address their concerns, he'll be a one term PM. Those are where all the marginal seats are held.


May a respectful suggest that we alter our thinking on the concept of "tax the bad and rebate the good".

I have seen here first hand in the Untied States what Tax the Bad and Rebate the Good means. In short it means 9 billion gallons of corn ethanol thanks to tax credits from the United States government. Corn ethanol who's energy balance is negative when you consider the EROEI.

If you think that corn ethanol, is an isolated example let me assure this is the normal course of events when the government decides for people what is best for them or best for the environment. This will always be the end result when you take from individuals, by force of government tax, their money, labor and hard earned property. You are in effect removing the power from the hands of individuals and local communities to make informed and intelligent decisions.

Instead by taking the money from individuals you place it in the hands of a few centralized agencies who then must first take a portion of the money for their own expenses and then distribute what is left over to whoever best lobbies those agencies and convinces them that their solution is the best. In my example that is the corn farmers lobbing with their contributions and votes that the money of everyone should be distributed in huge sums to them so that they can create an energy negative product (ethanol) that only makes the situation worse.

The fundamental issue here is that taxes are artificial and serve to trick the public. The tax and rebate system makes solutions that are deeply flawed and energy negative possible as long as people are being taxed to create artificial supports for these systems.

If the taxes and rebates were removed, all non-renewable and non-sustainable products would quickly fail as individuals would be informed of their true price. In effect informing the masses that these non-sustainable products are flawed and energy negative and by their very nature unprofitable. As oil and other fossil fuels continue to rapidly rise in price only truly renewable and sustainable sources of energy will be profitable to produce and affordable to buy.

However, this transformation to a renewable society will only be come to pass, if we are brave enough to lay our faith and future in the hands of the common man (you and me) and not in the hands of a centralized national or state authority.

All The Best,

David A. Johnston

I would offer up to anyone the idea of reading Ludwig von Mises's "Human Action" volumes 1-4, or F.A. Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" or Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom". These books have for me been an excellent education on the interaction of individual freedoms, and their direct correlation to sound solutions.


If we removed all taxes and rebates the cheapest form of energy would be coal, and I don't think that would be a good outcome.

Government support for corn ethanol is an example of bad policy (the government "picking winners") its not evidence that putting a price on negative externalities (such as carbon emissions) will always result in bad outcomes.

What I'm arguing for above is essentially a market solution to the problem. Decide what the "bads" are in the broadest possible terms and raise taxes on those. Similarly, decide what the "goods" are and lower taxes on those. Then let the market determine what is most efficient way to solve the problem. If you decided that carbon emissions were bad and honest labour was good, you'd raise taxes on carbon (or fossil fuels) and lower income taxes. If that were the case I doubt the answer the market comes up with would be corn ethanol.

Its true that the government may make mistakes in deciding what is bad and what is good, but there are many examples of things that are unambiguously bad whether you believe in climate change, peak oil, or both. For example, the gas-guzzling 15MPG SUV is bad. The fuel efficient 45MPG car is good. So choose a mileage "zero point" number, say 30MPG, and for every 1MPG below that new cars are taxed an extra $1,000, and for every 1MPG above new cars are rebated $1,000. So the 15MPG SUV becomes $15,000 more expensive, and the 45MPG fuel efficient car becomes $15,000 cheaper.

All of sudden the Prius makes a whole lot more sense.

This could all be achieved in a revenue neutral way by the government taxing and rebating the same amount. As the feebates push the market towards more fuel efficient vehicles the zero-point of 30MPG could be raised each year to keep the scheme revenue neutral.


My friend. I must continue to offer up a different opinion. I believe your fears of us moving to a cheap coal based world are unfounded. Firstly, we all know that coal as with any fossil fuel it is finite, and by its very nature is already running out. I believe peak coal is not as distant as some would have us think. In fact I already see evidence of peak coal in many countries and even here in the United States the price of coal has tripled (300% increase) in just the past 24 months.

As coal becomes more and more expensive moving from 4 cents a kilowatt, toward 12 cents a kilowatt, the public is quickly seeing the true cost of a finite energy source. Also as the price moves up, more and more sustainable solutions including, wind, wave, and solar become cost competitive directly with coal power, given their renewable nature. Even in China who has a coal reserve half the size of the United States and a power system which consumes twice as much coal, they will soon hit a price wall when it comes to coal production. A day will soon come when solar is by far the cheapest to produce and the most affordable to buy. In that day we will see a truly market based and individual/community powered transformation of our society.

Again on the subject of "Tax the Bad and Rebate the Good" I must choose a different path of thought. I believe the common man is the best judge and by far the most informed when it comes to deciding what is "Good". Your example policy makes my point perfectly.

In your example let us say that you represent the central agency that in charge of distributing these tax increases and tax rebates. You have outlined your plan to promote the "good" (hybrid cars) and punish the "bad", SUV's. Now let consider the results of your noble intentioned policy. Firstly, your intended effect would take hold quickly, sales of SUV's would fall quickly to almost nothing. The only people still buying an SUV would be those who are extraordinary wealthy. Also your other intended effect would take hold quickly, sales of any hybrid would shoot through the roof, in fact given the generous tax rebate of $15,000 some hybrid's would be almost free and people would be highly inclined to purchase them even if they don't need a new car.

However now let us look at the secondary consequences. As hybrid cars are produced in huge quantities to meet the new artificial demand of having an almost free car, the car makers demand for oil will also go through the roof, since we both know that it takes almost as much oil to produce a new car as the car will use in the first 7 years of operation. In addition given the huge influx of cheap and high mileage cars the local roads and highways will need to be expanded in order to handle the new volume. The expanded road also cost a huge investment of additional oil and carbon. And where people might have decided to car pool before in their existing car in order to effectively double or triple their mileage, they are instead tricked into buying one of these "good" new hybrid cars all for themselves. So instead of increasing their mileage in their existing 30 MPG car to 120 MPG by car pooling to work with three co-workers they instead decide to buy a new 45 MPG hybrid all for themselves. They get a rebate for doing the "good" thing, they save money on gas so they don't need to car pool, and little did they know they just tripled their total oil consumption (new roads + new vehicle + old vehicle still in use). So even though you had the noble intention reducing oil consumption by tricking the people into an artificial system it is very easy to have the opposite effect.

After 5 years seeing the full effect of the new policy you decide as the central agency, "We will alter this policy to account for these unexpected secondary effects." Not so fast say the hybrid manufacturers who have hired many people to build all the new hybrids, "we think the sale of all these hybrids is a "good" thing" they say. And "if you try and alter your policy we will give our votes, PR, and contributions to the candidate that will support a "pro-hybrid" policy." "Don't you care about fuel efficiency or the environment?" they ask.

This is much the same case as with corn ethanol. At first it sounds so "good". The farmers say, "We have all this extra corn, its going to waste, we should take this worthless waste and use it to create a domestic source of fuel. We also have these extra breweries that have been shut down, we could for almost no capital investment, take this waste/surplus corn and surplus breweries and create some fuel." However operational costs are negative (EROEI negative) and there for will not compete with gasoline from petroleum. "If only the government would tax those bad things people do and give us the money we could create some good, domestic fuel and put some money in the hands of the historically poor farmers." And so a policy that was originally intended to help the poor farmers, use a waste/surplus, and create domestic fuel, has grown to such large a scale that more than 30% of all corn in the United States now goes to ethanol production. And if you try and end the tax and rebate system that has created the problem, the farmers ask, "don't you care about the environment or the poor farmers". "Whether or not it creates more energy the industry now employees too many people to change the policy or you will ruin whole communities," the farmers say. Plus you central agencies told us this was "Good" only a few years ago, and now you have changed your mind?"

Try getting elected back to the central agency position without the support of those farmers. Or in your example without the support of those manufacturers you made artificially rich.

I would contend that your pro-hybrid proposal is not a market based solution at all. By taxing one thing and rebating another you have already "picked the winner" for the market because you altered the prices artificially and have given incentives to a different behavior. If you had not interfered and prejudged the solution the common man would have stopped driving the SUV naturally (as he already is) given the sky rocketing price of fuel. And many people would decide to carpool or in other manors conserve fuel and energy in response to higher prices. Instead of buying new cars which increases the total number of fuel consuming cars on the road, and requires a large amount of oil for its production.

We all need more faith in the common man (you and me) to make the right choice. Other wise we will endlessly and futilely find our selves trying to educate and reeducate government agencies on what is "good" and what is "bad", because they're got all our money (via taxes) and we have to hope they make the right choice.

Local solutions, start with the individual.

All The Best,

David A. Johnston

Governments are not good at picking winners.
But they should make the playing field level.
At the moment emissions are not properly costed, and particularly in the case of cola simply externalise their costs.
Likewise many of the costs of suburbia have been externalised.
Any incentive such as for hybrid cars would hardly break precedent by being unique.
The amounts of energy needed to power a hybrid car economy would be small compared to ICC's.
Because you don't like what you think that would imply for the social structure hardly seems a strong enough reason for others not to wish to continue to have personal transport.
At the minimum there seems no reason at all why considerable personal mobility should not remain based on electric bikes and scooters.

David, the fundamental problem with your argument is the free market does not put a cost on negative externalities such as carbon emissions.

I'm sorry, RED, but your claims range from tendentious to the purest crapnonsense.  Starting with the grandparent comment:

I have seen here first hand in the Untied States what Tax the Bad and Rebate the Good means. In short it means 9 billion gallons of corn ethanol....

I'm not sure that supports your claim, because it's an example of "subsidize the bad".

The concept I prefer is "Tax Bads, Not Goods".  Tax petroleum in particular and fossil fuels in general, and cut other taxes to keep the total burden unchanged.  This will change the economic incentives without promoting particular solutions, good or bad.  In particular, corn ethanol would disappear under such a scheme.

Instead by taking the money from individuals you place it in the hands of a few centralized agencies who then must first take a portion of the money for their own expenses and then distribute what is left over to whoever best lobbies those agencies and convinces them that their solution is the best.

If you stop at taxing bads, there is no pot of money to be handed out and this scenario is impossible.

As hybrid cars are produced in huge quantities to meet the new artificial demand of having an almost free car, the car makers demand for oil will also go through the roof, since we both know that it takes almost as much oil to produce a new car as the car will use in the first 7 years of operation.

I know no such thing, because it's false.  Per the Institute for Lifecycle Energy Analysis via the Wayback Machine, manufacturing is only about 10% of the lifecycle energy use for a typical car.  If we allow a Prius to require 25% more than a Taurus to build (150 GJ vs. ~120 GJ) and spread this over a 15-year, 180k mile lifetime at 12,000 miles/year, the Prius at 50 MPG consumes its energy of manufacture in a hair over 5 years (1/3 of its lifespan).  This appraisal is heavily biased by the low fuel consumption of the Prius (a more economical vehicle looks worse even at the same energy of manufacture), and non-consumed energy isn't handled properly at all; energy implicit in e.g. refined nickel can be recovered at end of service.

Hi EP,
Thanks for putting some figures on the energy required to produce cars.
I think it is worth pointing out that the energy to manufacture is largely non-oil based too, as that is our current pinch-point.
I'm just wondering if it is possible to narrow the figure down at all for the manufacture of electric vehicles rather than hybrids, as the weight saving reductions possible in this technology are very large.
I know you will be aware of them, but for the benefit of others who may be browsing this thread, most of the stuff you need for a conventional car can be thrown out, and importantly it is good economics to switch to lighter materials, using carbon fibre and so on instead of steel.You would though tend to use more aluminium, which comes at high energy cost.
The weight savings multiply into even less energy cost in production, as you don't need such beefy suspension where you have a lighter engine, and the engine needs to be less powerful where the body weight is lower, and so on round in a circle.
In view of these savings, would a guesstimate of 80GJ be likely in the right ball-park for a 4-5 seater EV?

The weight savings multiply into even less energy cost in production, as you don't need such beefy suspension where you have a lighter engine, and the engine needs to be less powerful where the body weight is lower, and so on round in a circle

True enough, but range in EVs creates a multiplicative effect.

Design passenger cabin, add suspension, motor and batteries to go 40 km. Light weight (less than comparable ICE by a few kg). Marketing comes in screaming, we need at least 120 km range !

OK, triple batteries, increase suspension and motor size to move more kg. OOPs, with added weight of batteries and other, range is only 80 km. Increase batteries by another 50%, .... closer. One ends up with x6 batteries to x3 range, and almost double the overall weight, but heavier than a ICE car. (VERY rough calcs to make a point).

Other solutions ? Downsize from 4-5 passenger compartment to 2 or even 1 passenger compartment.

One engineering optimization leads you to a "hybrid
car", the eBike. Passenger/motor works with battery (one can afford high tech batteries for such an efficient mode) and a very small electric motor to give extended range.

Another engineering optimization may lead to a 2 passenger titanium EV (titanium, unlike carbon fiber, can be recycled) with fabric seats, charcoal heater, no air conditioner. Expensive structure but fewer expensive batteries. Minimal parasitic loads and weight.

Best Hopes for Adapting Society to Engineering Reality,


You are of course correct that with current batteries weight savings for the set-up I specified, with 4-5 seats are not possible.
I was trying to illustrate how important weight is to EV's and overstated my case.

I used the example of carbon fibre purely as one example, but a number of composite solutions are possible.
The Th!nk car is highly recyclable, unfortunately I do not have information on what they have used in the structure.

I suspect that cost considerations will lead to many EV's being designed with very limited range to get people to work, even lead-acid batteries with capacitors might do for this, and the cost is way lower than lithium batteries.

For the record I don't see EV's attaining universal coverage anytime soon, but the better off are likely to have the option - nothing like our current, or perhaps I should say the US's current, car based culture though.

Tax the bad, rebate the good.

To really let the markets decide, rebate ALL funds raised via, say, a carbon tax, to ALL citizens. Give all those of driving age a full rebate, and those younger a half share. Then let each individual decide how best to spend the money - more efficient vehicles and appliances, a home closer to work, transit passes, a bicycle, home insulation, or even help fund an early retirement. Some parents may decide to leave the workforce entirely and take care of their own children instead of paying someone else to do it. A healthy stack of rebate checks each month could tip the balance for a family, and contribute to a better society....


My name's Duncan Kinnear and I'm a member of the steering group of the Transition Initiative Hawkes Bay.

It is great to see your 12 points, but I am left wondering who is actually listening. How far has the Sustainable Energy Forum taken this message in terms of the powers that be? Does the group have a feel for how this message is being received?

Here in Hawkes Bay our group is becoming increasingly worried about the speed with which things appear to be unfolding with regards to Peak Oil. We believe it is imperative to get this message to those that hold power both locally and nationally. And yet this seems to be as difficult as ever.

I do note, however, that the 2008 Budget has actually directly addressed some of your points (particularily 5, 6 and 7), but the current polling leaves me with nothing but dread.

Good luck with the Forum and feel free to make contact with our local TT group if you are ever in the Bay.

Dear Duncan & co,

Thanks for your comment (and for all the other comments). The 12 points were sent out as a press release - they are not, and not intended to be, comprehensive.

The Sustainable Energy Forum works on a national level on the transition to a sustainable energy system for New Zealand. (On a personal level, I'm also active locally in Wellington, and am a member of TT Wellington.) We have taken this message, in a more comprehensive form that in the "12 steps", to all the political parties represented in Parliament, and also to various Government departments etc. You can see various papers we've produced at http://www.sef.org.nz/papers.html

Is anypne listening? Yes and no. Neither of the major political parties (for non-NZ readers, that's Labour and National) are at all keen to address the issue. They are competing to promise voters more shiny goodies in the leadup to the 2008 General Election campaign, and they don't walk to talk about making do with less! Both parties are still committed to major highway-building programmes, because of their perceived appeal to voters in the mortgage belt, despite the many streams of evidence that building new roads is a highly maladaptive response to the current situation.

The National Party is very keen on digging up South Island coal and turning it into synthetic diesel, a process which has about 3x the greenhouse gas emissions per litre of using fuel derived from fossil oil. As we've seen with the Labour Party deciding to delay the entry of transport fuels into the Emissions Trading Scheme for two years, the major party politicians' only desire at the moment is to placate voters in the centre. Unless fuel prices really start heading north pre-election - $3-4/litre, say - I don't expect National's and Labour's rhetoric to change, at least until the campaign is over. If Labour loses the election, it is likely to be receptive to taking a much more serious stand on the issue.

Behind the scenes, though, there are people in both parties, and many among Wellington officialdom, who aware that we have a serious problem. What such people lack at present is the political mandate to address the issue. In discussions with Transition Towns people, I urge them not to disengage with the political process at a national level, even though their main focus is local. Major party politicians won't start to pay serious attention to the issue until they're convinced of widespread public support for meaningful action (as opposed to the "let's all boycott BP this week" type of knee-jerk response) - given the potential to annoy powerful sectors of the business community, it will take a lot of pushing from behind before politicians step forward.

The Maori Party and the Green Party are honourable exceptions to the general level of denial among MPs and political parties. Both are aware of the looming crisis and have well-worked out policies to address, or at least face, it. The problem is that there's little they can do to advance a useful agenda while Labour chooses to depend on NZ First and United Future for support.

So, in summary - the message is starting to get through, but not far enough or fast enough. SEF will keep pushing for action, in various ways. we need a lot more people to get on board. The needed transition is going to be hard; it will be harder still, at national as well as local level, so long as government money, resources and effort are being put into policies that will only make matters worse.


One of the "challenges" (to use modern management vernacular) that you have not directly addressed is the urban sprawl of Auckland which accounts for 25% of NZ's population, I also feel you have erroneously fallen into the public transport (particularly buses) can solve this problem trap, Auckland has a population density less than LA) and our bus system has a boarding rate of .99 pax per K and an average trip length of 6.6km (source ARTA) and this is running near capacity. The result is that PT in this form is less effective that small cars, since on average you have less than 7 people on board a bus for every k traveled, I can't even say this is correct because the bus companies are not required to report their repositioning K's to the ARTA (they say it is commercially sensitive)

I quite frankly get p$ssed off at the green mantra of "more public transport", when it should be "more energy efficient transport". In fact the best public transport is "none at all" ie localization. Interestingly the ARTA manifesto does not directly require energy efficiency.

I fully expect that within a few months either a) the ARTA will have to significantly increase their PT subsidies or b) We will see significant fare increases, either way this will cause a lot of huffing an puffing on the part of the bureaucrats as they try to explain them away.

We need to push for low energy use to be a national target, and this requires a major mindset change in the major urban centres. Auckland for example has recently passed urban planning rules restricting demolition of pre 1940 houses on a "heritage basis", The Auckland City council is wedded to the concept of cars and long commutes by preserving Auckland's suburban heritage.

We desperately need a public education campaign to make the hoi poloi aware of the impact to FF shortages.

I wouldn't be so dismissive of the Nats either, They are more pragmatic than the ideologically driven Labour party. As for the Greens they seem to spend more time fiddling in social policy and their one energy efficiency move, solar hot water heating has turned into a bureaucratic boondoggle

Neven MacEwan (Sandringham, Auckland)

This deck chair can go over there and that one can go here.

Another kiwi here (ex-pat but keeping a close eye on how things are unfolding in NZ). Many positive developments, but election has me a tad worried!

I've got a horrible feeling that the whole world is getting caught like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming truck.

All these lists of what to do are too little, too late. Disaster seems imminent and unavoidable.

I have the same opinion. It's fascinating to watch humankind, from the standpoint of never responding to something until it's obviously a crises, a catastrophe in the making. It's as if our specie is not much different than the deer frozen in the headlights of an uncoming vehicle. We stare right at something glaringly obvious, but not until it nears do we realize our predicament and start to think about manuevering to avert disaster.

And much like the rabbits that were introduced to Australia many years ago, we over-populate to the very limits of our food supply. Now we face an ever increasing cost of producing food due to higher energy prices, that will leave hundreds of millions of people lacking sufficiant sustenance to survive.

However at heart our heritage is one of an omnivore specie that is very adaptable and aggressive. Each country, county, town, and person will dominate their surroundings as needed to survive the coming crunch. Like the wolf we will run roughshod over the lanscape to extract the nutrition we each need to survive.

At the conclusion of this meltdown, we will churp like finches, a song sung to celebrate our survival. And who knows, maybe like Humans, we will have enough solar panels to power up a laptop to hook into the internet for some well needed 'new brain' interaction.

May the next human expansion be one with a greater sense of sustainability and balance with nature.

I have been following the Peak Oil issue for only a couple of weeks and agree with your assessment. We are all going to pay for our short sided view of what is important in life. What is really tough to handle is that our children will have to suffer for our incompetence to manage the planets resources.

Its more like there are 3 or four cars coming at us from each direction and we can't move out of the way of one car or one of the others will hit us. Best thing to do is jump, and hope the landing isn't so bad.

It does feel that way doesn't it?

The Twelve Steps may contain some good ideas. But I submit that the reason we continue to roll out solutions that not everyone agrees with is that we actually haven't yet understood the problem.

Oh we mostly all agree that peak oil is a reality that will have dire consequences for humanity. But we really have not understood either the way in which those consequences will play out or that this "problem" is only one of an assortment of symptoms that point to the real problem. If we understood the root of the disease, we would be in a better position to propose a cure. The real root is systemic, not just one or another issue. We need to examine the whole, not just the parts in isolation.

Here is my candidate root cause: we don't grasp our own human nature sufficiently to see that our ability to make wise choices (as opposed to clever ones) is at fault. If I am right, the "solution" is likely to look very different from what we expect. The solution may lie outside of humanity and beyond our control, though, not, I hope, outside our influence.

Question Everything


"It is great to see your 12 points, but I am left wondering who is actually listening. How far has the Sustainable Energy Forum taken this message in terms of the powers that be? Does the group have a feel for how this message is being received?"

Maybe Gav could tell us how many lurkers there are - over at Sydneypeakoil the numbers were massive at one time.

Trouble with the 12 point plan it reeks of keeping the lifestyle, not only an impossiblity with peak everything but is morally reprehensible taken the huge negative impact it is having / has had on life on this tiny blue green planet.

We must stop buying/using stuff - we are human beings not human usings.
Stop putting crap into our bodies - eat healful organic wholefoods, prepared simply with little energy.
Think universally while living locally.

If we all started living the Ghandi lifestyle there would be no environmental or energy crisis - we would have transcended it!!!

TOD ANZ averages just over 1000 visitors per day (plus people using RSS readers - I haven't tried to work out how many of them there are). On a slow weekend we get around 600, on a really good day 6000 or so.

(In contrast, Peak Energy varies between 800 and 1500 a day, but almost never gets out of that range).

Just click on the little Sitemeter logo on the right hand side if you are curious about numbers and locations of visitors - it isn't a secret...

May I respectfully suggest a #13 -

Promote efficiency and conservation, in transportation, housing, commercial and industrial applications.

Some specifics. Tankless gas hot water heaters are better than the ones with tanks. And solar hot water heaters can be effective in some locales.

Modern aluminum smelters can produce 50% more aluminum from the same power (I believe yours has not been upgraded by Rio Tinto).

Small efficient cars should be all that is imported. Tax policy can encourage that.

Modern fluorescent lighting can be much more efficient than what you have now.

New construction can be made more efficient with better windows and insulation. Orientation and shared walls (multi-family or row houses help as well.

Central Heat and Power stations where applicable.

Heat pumps can be used to provide heat. And more geothermal and wind can be built to supply that new demand.

And a #14 - New Zealand should move to an all renewable grid as quickly as possible. Some new small hydro, but mainly wind and geothermal.

Best Hopes for New Zealand !


The New Zealand grid is already one of the greenest around - more than 70% from renewables (though climate change seems to be making the hydro component a bit risky).


Of course, their transport system is still just as oil dependent as anyone's - they have a long way to go on that front.

There was a recent report that rural NZ'ers are turning to the internet to avoid driving as much, so maybe thats one way electricity can substitute for oil :-)


To your #10--Stockpiling: Strategic reserves of bicycles & wheelbarrows, spare parts, and local mfg. resources and the inputs to make new parts as required. The more non-FF mobility you retain--the less likely people will revert to machete' moshpit dance contests.

SpiderWebRiding for postPeak non-FF movement of goods is far superior for bigger geo-dispersive bi-directional movement of goods than the Nuahtl Tlameme backpacking transport scheme.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Rob Muldoon would have known what to do. Here's my thoughts on what he would have done.

1) Build biomass to diesel refineries using NZ's common wood and wood waste supplies. Why export NZ$2bn of wood when you can make NZ$6bn of fuel from it?

2) Electrify the rail network and more lines in Auckland, maybe even a Christchurch rail / light rail / tram system. Complete the planned Auckland loop and harbour tunnel ASAP.

3) Allow small North Island hydro plants that are tied up in the resource consent planning stage, such as Mohaka River, to go ahead.

4) Lots more geothermal in the North Island so that Huntly coal can close down by 2025.

5) Don't even think about importing LNG to NZ and fire anyone in authority who thinks it is a good idea.

Exactly- it is such a shame that anyone who dares suggest large capital investment is immediately reminded of the "think big" projects that weren't successful, while completely forgetting about the ones that were. If the middle east had erupted into full scale war the Think Big projects would have been remembered as genius.

A public education campaign may become necessary at some point- there are still many who cling to the idea that fuel prices are temporarily spiking and will fall at some stage. I suspect the NZ dollar will crumble first leading to an even higher pump price. An informed public will accept the need for an urgent capital investment program- the "I'm alright, Jack" attitude also needs to go for this to happen.

With a bit of luck Mr Key will be a uniter rather than a divider when in power (heh)

Rob Muldoon bet that oil prices would keep on rising through the 1980s and he got it wrong.

I think this time they will keep on rising or there just wont be the oil available whatever the price.

I would hold off on the public campaign for now. NZ$4 per litre will save a lot of advertising costs.

I loathed Muldoon and I dont think his solutions were "before his time" they were a control freaks solution, I don't think GTL is a good idea. I did note that they are unmothballing Motunui (a Gas to Methanol plant) probably because the world methanol price has risen.

Having said that I will support anyone but Helen in the election (and by association I won't vote for the greens as Fitzsimmons is a Labour lap dog).

Last year Labour committed 30% of our hydro power to Rio Tinto for the next 25 years! Whilst their "free marketeers" have let our national grid degrade in the pursuit of profit only.

For those non NZ'ers we had so much hydro electricity we basically export it via an aluminium smelter, I say export as we have no bauxite in NZ its shipped in from Aus, smeltered and shipped out


Actually I was talking about Biomass to Liquids not GTL.

Seems like a good energy policy to me. No hydrogen fuel cell or shale oil nonsense. Still, New Zealand's hydro capacity is maxed at about 70%, and more base-load electricity will be needed for electrification. Time to jump on the band-wagon:



Well - hydro might be "maxed out" (not really of course - there is still scope for more) - but that still leaves wind, geothermal and ocean energy as contenders to meet the rest of NZ's energy needs - all of which they have in abundance and all of which they are trying to harness.

NZ will quite possibly be the first anglo-saxon country to go 100% renewables - one day we'll all get there hopefully.

NZ has a large number of places where new hydro power could be built, but they have effectively been stymied by the byzantine planning laws. Some sites in the remote areas of Department of Conservation land should also be seriously looked at IMHO.

However even the Green party is against hydro power- their energy policy is about endless ongoing research in rainbows and good vibes to generate power.

Assuming this doesn't work, we will end up with either blackouts or more coal, which is crazy given the hydro potential.

Did you read my link? Look at what's happening in Europe.

But aren't we talking about NZ ?

Europe might choose to try and go back to the 1950s but the Kiwis certainly don't need to.

Nuclear power doesn't work in small countries in any case - which is why NZ never pursued it when they first considered the idea decades ago - what happens to the grid when your huge, centralised nuclear power plant goes down for whatever one of the myriad reasons they have for shutting down (earthquakes, lack of water, replacing fuel rods, meltdowns etc etc) ?

It is far too expensive to build both the nuclear power plant and all the spare backup capacity required - the economics don't work.

The nuclear navy has powered ships and submarines directly on uranium with zero accidents. They don't have to be big.
Enough with this "till they get off coal" stuff. I'm not saying, however, that we shouldn't keep working with wind & solar.

Thats a good point. I wonder how much generating power we have already cruising the oceans.

Except they have plenty of other options, so they don't need to bother going backwards to an option with numerous drawbacks that can't be overcome...

The nuclear navy has powered ships and submarines directly on uranium with zero accidents

This is not accurate. The Soviet fleet has a series of significant problems, ranging from coolant leaks to explosions within reactors, and there are 2 US reactors on the ocean bottom that we know of from the submarines USS Thresher off Cape Cod and USS Scorpion, about 600 Km SW of the Azores, they too have a history of radiation leaks and intentional discharge of radioactive material.

..and beyond that, if you're looking at the US military, you've got a Defense department with massive funding and little if any oversight. 'Free-market, forced efficiency' is not a term that comes with that environment. I wonder what the KWH rate would come up to if a proper audit of the Nuclear Navy were possible to conduct?

I also wonder, of course about how squeaky clean that history is if you looked behind those polished, parade buttons.

And, of course, most military accidents would probably be classified, so we are unlikely to find out the full extent of these for many years...

If Climate Change remains a bug issue through the Peak Oil decade ahead, I think it makes sense for Australia to develop Nuclear Power but not New Zealand. Their abundant Hydro reserves are perfect for balancing out the renewable fluctuations in Wind and Solar. Turn off the dams when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. Turn them back on when it's not.

Current civil reactors are far too large to be integrated into the grid in NZ.
It is possible that something like this will work:
Next Big Future: Hyperion uranium hydride nuclear battery update

However, since it is wholly dependent on being developed elsewhere it would not be a good idea to rely on it.
Conservation would seem to be the key.
Perhaps for home insulation standards related to these would be appropriate:

I would however argue that it is not efficient to go for energy neutrality locally - large wind turbines placed in the best locations are far more efficient, for instance, than roof-top installations.

As the basis of their plan, I think the German experience needs careful study:
Germany Gets Creative with Renewables : TreeHugger

Renewable energy has its limits. On cloudy days, the sun doesn't reach solar panels, and sometimes there is no wind to power windmills. Germany's scientists, however, have put together an experimental "Combined Power Plant" which draws its energy from 36 different solar, wind, biogas and hydroelectric power plants located in different parts of the country. The goal is to prove that renewable energy can provide a consistent and reliable supply of energy, in all weather conditions and in the face of fluctuating demand.

And, for now, they have proven that it is possible, at least on a small scale. The experiment provides enough energy to meet 100% of the annual needs of a small town with 12,000 households.

I would suggest that in many locations in NZ the layout suggested for solar power by Nanosolar would be the most efficient:
Next Big Future: Solar Thermal Municipal Power

this has several cost advantages:
A 2-10MW size means that power would be produced locally, and not need transmitting long distances or stepping down from 11,000 volts.
Location on the ground would mean easy servicing, unlike rooftop locations, and it is a handy size instead of the inefficient process of installing and maintaining small rooftop installations.
Please note that AFAIK Brian is in error in stating that it is a proposal for solar thermal power, but instead it is proposed to use PV.
For NZ with substantial cloud cover amorphous silicon might be the best bet, as it performs better in those circumstances.
It is less efficient by area, but that is not always the crucial metric:

For personal transport needs NZ is well placed to take a leading role.
Both Israel and Denmark, which have similar populations, are installing power points throughout the country for EV vehicles:

Those who think that it will not be possible to go to electric cars should note that if not is will certainly be possible to go to electric scooters or bikes, and that an extensive network of charging points would aid that greatly.

For agricultural machinery it would seem a good idea to negotiate long-term coal contracts with Australia, and build a coal to liquids plant for this relatively small use.

If appropriate measures are taken NZ should have a bright future, with demand for food high and the chance to lead in many aspects of adaption to peak oil, giving export opportunities for NZ expertise.

SpiderWebRiding for postPeak non-FF movement of goods is far superior for bigger geo-dispersive bi-directional movement of goods than the Nuahtl Tlameme backpacking transport scheme.

This looks like english but doesn't appear to mean anything. Did I sleep through this Social Studies class?

Apparently the "Nuahtl Tlameme" phrase is a reference to human slavery (Google only shows TOD references to it but Bob seems to think it was a central american practice).

No idea what SpiderWebRiding is though...

It's crackers to slip a mickey in the dropsy in snide (from the author of "What? Me Worry?".


I thought you people had read TopTODer Heading Out's Keypost already:

Many societies don’t have the luxury of the internal combustion engine to provide their supplies. R.B. Gill in his book on the Great Mayan Drought quotes Robert Drennan and Ross Hassig on the amount of food that a person can productively carry, over that which is consumed to provide the energy for the travel.

He estimated that a single human porter or tlameme as they were known in Nahuatl, could carry a load of about 25 kg (55 lb) of maize. He calculated, however, that the per day overburden of a porter, taking into account the nutritional needs of the porter and his family, was about 30% of the value of the load, based on a round trip for the porter. This places an absolute limit on the transportation of corn of 3.3 days or 100 km (60 miles). In other words, if a porter carried a load of corn 100 km, he would have used it all to feed himself and his family. The effective limit for a commercial distribution system, of course, would have been considerably less, say 50% of the absolute limit, or 50 km. During the Aztec dominance in the Mexican highlands, basic foodstuffs, other than gourmet items, were normally drawn from within a restricted radius of one day’s journey or approximately 30 km.

He goes on to quote Johann von Thunen on German economics, with a horse:

He determined that the absolute trasportation limit for cereials carried by a horse and wagon was about 80 km. At that point, the horses and drivers would have eaten all the grain during the round trip.
More on SpiderWebRiding on LATOC [a simple tutorial]:


plus I have more info in the TOD archives.

Energy Fears Looming, New Survivalists Prepare

"These energy survivalists are not leading some sort of green revolution meant to save the planet. Many of them believe it is too late for that, seeing signs in soaring fuel and food prices and a faltering U.S. economy, and are largely focused on saving themselves."


It's taking too long to get past step 1. Until we admit we have a problem, we can't fix the problem. The talking heads on CNBC still have those knowing smirks on their faces whenever peak oil is mentioned, and until those smirks are replaced by looks of acceptance and concern, the general public will continue to doubt the seriousness of PO. Right now, our television media is the greatest obstacle to getting through step 1, because it continually repeats the mantra that the free market will solve the problem -- while at the same time denying there is a problem. Tell me, how is THAT supposed to work, especially since acceptance of PO by the general public seems a long way off? (And our elected officials won't stop proposing crazy tax, takeover, nationalization, and invasion schemes until they hear from an informed community -- and that is an even longer way off!)

There use to be a website called Media Whores Online. It is long gone but the name is a perfect description of what passes off as news reporting nowadays. Nothing, and I mean Nothing is going to happen until the faux news whores change to some new tricks.

It is hopeless. The tiniest scrap of honesty is almost completely missing in todays 'news' coverage. No action of any useful sort will ever happen regarding PO without FIRST having an honest, truthful dialog. We're approaching 40 years since the first Earth Day and STILL the general public choses Willful Ignorance over evolved enlightenment.

Action on PO versus hollow words has not happened because the general public is not even engaged in an honest, comprehensive dialog about just how much trouble we all are really and truly in for.

Like the Leonard Cohen song "The Future": ..I've seen the future baby, it is murder...."

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make 'em drink, and you can lead people to logic but you can't make them Think.

I can't imagine what it would be like to run a web page that had to be updated daily, with all the news finding, accumulating, and publishing. The time overhead on "Media Whores Online" must have been enormous. Anyway, you are certainly right about the lack of real reporting: every talking head seems to have been hired for their amenability to the agenda of the station owners; and too often the owners have friends in high places, or ARE other's friends in high places. Willful ignorance pays in the short term, so the longer they can stretch out the short term, the better -- for them. For us, it ain't gonna be so great...

I can't imagine what it would be like to run a web page that had to be updated daily

I don't have too much trouble imagining it. It takes quite a lot of time...


The oil companies, governments, auto industry and news media refuse to understand peak oil and oil depletion. The best comprehendible example is the "Ancient Old Cow Principle." The old cow has been milked for too many years, but now gives diminishing milk and butter. The old cow is now relentlessly being milked to the last drop. Somehow, the oil companies, governments, auto industry and the news media find this "Ancient Old Cow Principle" incomprehensible, in spite of the fact that they have successfully milked (bilked) and shoveled huge piles of manure for decades. Force feeding ( more oil depletion allowances) does not appear to rejuvenate the old cash cow any longer. The old cow is just worn out. This is not very difficult to understand, but the oil companies, governments, auto industry and news media still have to argue that the "Ancient Old Cow Principle" is simply too complicated to fathom. For more information, please see my website: www.MZ-Energy.com

Manfred Zysk, M.E.

Is it too impolite to mention that New Zealand has the highest population growth rate in the developed world at 1.2%?

Australia is about .87%.

By 2050, the NZ population will increase by over 50%.

It's impossible to reduce oil use when more people, more roads, more houses etc. are needed.

It would help if you provided a source.

According to the CIA (not always a reputable source but I think an unbiased one in this case), the 2008 growth rate for NZ is 0.97%, with a fertility rate of 2.11 children per woman (14.1 births per 1000 people) and an infant mortality rate of 0.5%.


Using a linear extrapolation of such data is a little meaningless. Conditions will likely be considerably different by 2015 or 2025.

Populations grow when there is room and resources to do so. Clearly the suggestions always lofted for controlling it are either unacceptable or don't work. Heaven forbid we fall into one that works too well, while even that will probably have unintended consequences in the other direction.

Here are a few more points to add to your 12.

1. Take all of your sugar imports and convert this to ethanol.
2. This will dramatically reduce amount of Coca Cola consumed in NZ.
3. People will become thinner and lighter, and happier.
4. A car full of thin, lighter people uses less fuel, and you can fit more in for better car pooling.
5. Review the ethanol production programme proposed by Robert Muldoon in 1978. Re-apply the programme.
6. March Richard Prebble off to Iraq. He was the key proponent of NZ's now dependence on imported oil.

Australia and NZ are blessed with natural moats and low population density even allowing for arid and mountainous regions. Not too many are going to swim here when TSHTF.
Once Governments do decide PO is real then the first response will probably be the war response. Go to rationing everything and semi martial law. This is logical. It calms populations and the sheeple realise that no others are getting more than them and don't panic. Our countries have tighter gun laws so rampaging gangs will be the exception.
Also there are plenty of steers; sheep; pigs; goats; rabbits and kangaroos to provide excellent protein as we power down and return to a kind of 19th century existence.
Barring mass panic it should be catabolic not chaos. Meanwhile I am slowly and selectively hoarding a few essentials including some quality beverages.

I am slowly and selectively hoarding a few essentials

I'm starting to do the same. Pray tell, what sort of items are you hording?

Gold and silver coins, Copper wire and hand powered tools may be a good start. Perhaps a sack of rice or two. Flint?

Also a book on how to convert cars to run on woodgas.

Copper wire, my house and those around me are full of it. Not to mention all those soon to be useless cars. Hand powered tools, ya I'm on to that one. I have a sack or two of rice and a bunch of canned food, and more on the way. Flint, na I can make fire without that. What good are gold and silver coins?

Here are some items on my list.

solar cells
mirror tiles
medical supplies
Fresnel lens's
tools and hardware

books on
growing food, preserving food (pickling etc), Australian survival, trapping (have has success on these dam Indian minor birds), home medical treatments

Collecting information on plant & tree uses
For example a tree type planted along my street can be used for: cooking oil, making wax, soap making, treatment for boils, and the nectar is great for honey making bees. This kind of information is easy to get now, but that will change.

water purification tablets

the list goes on.

I think once the 'slide' begins you will find that a lot of that useful copper will start to disappear. Gold and silver have been used as currency in 'primitive societies'.

What kind of tree are you talking about. I heard of a 'diesel tree' that can grow in the tropics that once tapped for its sap will give a biodiesel that can be put straight into the engine.

You have definitely added to my shopping list and the library though with your other suggestions.

lol, put nicely.

im very happy we tighter gun laws too. US government must be freaking out about that prospect.
hunting and gathering wont last long tho, but yeh the pesky roos will all of a sudden become bit of a prize stock for farmers.

stocking the bundy buy the sounds of it?

point 10. to stockpile vitals can lead to issues. hoarding usually makes a problem worse. we need to invest in industries that give us these vital products. stockpiles only last so long and create deficit, getting the vital industries thriving will create jobs and a surplus if it can get to an export stage.

if one country begins to stockpile, it will panic others to do the same. it turns countries against each other, like we are pointing our finger at china for stockpiling. it will be hard to explain the stockpiles to your public especially if conditions change and it turns to waste.

i think vital products and services however should become more available to the public. if hard times are ahead, i think green, renewable, manual tools should be pushed. like windup torches, uggies and a sleeping bag rather than a new heater, LED house lights, live local work local, local markets, HEAVILY support australian owned and made products. veggie gardens. oils going to be more than just transport, its going to hurt economies really hard, and people will have to learn to get by with alot less. if the government quietly trends people to a 'green' life style it will help conserve and have less impact if things go wild.

i think the US will be australias example. they are already calling stagflation, resession from current prices, spike stripes at gas stations, an era of uncertain uncertainities. they have stockpiled 700million barrels or something. rudd has the guts to start talking about these issues, but no one has yet asked publicly about what are we going to do after $200, after $300, after 5 years, 10 years.

ramble ramble

A few of my short / medium term hoard food items are :- multi vitamins and minerals; high density carbohydrates and proteins such as spaghetti, lentils, chickpeas and of course olive oil. No point trying to fill a bunker.
Agree that a few good quality hand tools; bicycles; chicken wire and a wheelbarrow are very useful if you have a decent suburban block of land to play with.
And a variety of viable seeds just in case. And some good do it yourself books.
I'm continually refining the list but don't want to get too doomerish.
Somehow I remain positive but realistic.

heh, the more you think about it all, more you watch the price and production, the more you refine your list and thing about the future - the more you get doomerish.

atleast you feel that way, i think theres a difference in being someone that changes their life for a off chance of something happening, someone that lectures their friends but things they dont want to hear, creating or becoming panic'ed about disaster and the end is coming. against someone that is becoming aware, concerned for family and self preparation. understanding and thinking about what they might have to do.

fact is, this is becoming a high risk. the governments and companies of the world are comfirming the fears of supply and decline. and it all seems to be happening faster then we thought. we need 10years to ATLEAST to move away from ICE. and it doesnt look like we will get a quarter of that without serious impacts (including biofuel food crisist, resessions etc). we should see things oscilate as demand is controlled then released again as poor countries are out bid and output begins decline. blah blah the story and debate goes on.

i think we are in for hard times around the corner, but its something we are can get through. though the trek maybe grim pending how some topics play out. its not the end, and i highly doubt we will all end up farmers on bicycles. man has learnt many lessons during our very long history, and this will prolly be another one.

i rent, so i face the prospect of being homeless or back with mum.. sigh.. its 17km to work each day and the buses and trains dont go close or on time. too hilly to bike. i work long and odd hours so the car suits. my local market is over priced and fully of organic hippies, i have no garden or available to any. so im in a little bit of a spot where i know things could change alot.

LATOC has egged me to think about stock and kits. so i too have quietly thinking about and bring somethings together. basically just getting ready for a camping trip :p

keeping a 1-2 month stock of long life food, which is usefull as im lazy and dont get to the shops much.
putting together a gopack bugout bag thing, so if i had to hit the road to mums with no fuel, what would i do. but this all doubles for if the house caught fire, it would be the first thing i grab.

so to me its all just common sense, it doesnt cost alot to do and you can just rub it off as camping stuffs to nonpeakists. my town has flooded before.. once. qld is along a fault line out at sea, aust has no army, we are dry as, theres tons of other things that could go wrong where youd might be thankful with a tiny be of prep.

few things id suggest;
- fenix l2d prem q5 torch, 2aas and can last 55hours on low and on high is 200+ lumens
- leatherman wave, best of breed and good all rounder in their range plus reasonable price.
- eneloop sanyo batterys from ds. rechargable but can hold a year shelflife and still be useable.
- bunnings has a windup torch with radio, can charge your mobile or usb device with it.
- BCF has swedish fire steel army edition. start fires for the rest of your life with this.

im still tracking a good sleeping bag and first aids

things i think would be worth more than gold (other than food) if things went total nuts i think would be, toilet paper, chocolate, rubbers, tampons, bicycles, panadol, tropical cream, shoes/socks, soap.

anyhow, now im feeling a doomerish.

Lets get real folks.

The twelve points of salvation are OK but only for the "other people", and certainly unworkable in a democracy. (The dilemma of the Commons)

Tomorrow morning each of us will commute our SUV's to work and buy all the pre-packaged foods and all the junk imported from China.

There is a current post on TOD telling of the 20 year journey for any innovation to get to market. Democracy is a wonderful thing for faceless masses but unfortunately only Kings and Dictators ever get to actually change anything when it is required. Democracy is locked into the 20+ year plan.

If Rudd tries to change anything he will be a political casualty in short order and he will be replaced by someone who will not disrupt the social harmony of rampant Capitalism.

Each one of us is locked inextricably into the status quo of Global consumerism. We all have 40 year mortgages on houses in the suburbs. We each have 5 year payment plans on last year's SUV's, and want more accessible parking in the city. We are all buying everything advertised on TV at the Mall.

The old days of one dress, one suite, one pair of shoes are considered the "bad" old days, which we have thankfully left behind. Little did we suspect that those really were the "Good old days"

Modern Capitalism is not going to let us "ad-lib" any solutions. Our whole financial survival is pre-supposed on us buying ever increasing numbers of cars, ever increasing numbers of houses and manufactured items. Ever increasing infrastructure is a must.

Every species on this planet except Homo S. keeps procreating until they reach the limit of their resources, after which they become stable and then return upon death what they used for life.

When homo S. starts running out, he makes war and tries to beat the system. Of course we will eventually stabilize to hunter gatherers again, but until then it may be financially brutal.

Auckland and the whole country would be one massive riot zone if we actually took the required actions.

We have to keep pretending. We keep selling "carbon credits" but we never actually stop producing it.

Ford Motor Company is still promising to sell more big Fords to stay in business for its shareholders. GM and Chrysler are still hoping to sell more of their big brand so their shareholders get dividends. Toyota cars and trucks are getting bigger and flashier than ever.

China and India are revamping all the failed makes of cars, and adding some of their own.

Nowhere in the world will any of those twelve points ever see the light of day.

Even the useless British Government is introducing tax proposals which will make it much more expensive to go for big cars and SUVs.

It would seem that some action is indeed politically possible.

"Tomorrow morning each of us will commute our SUV's to work and buy all the pre-packaged foods and all the junk imported from China."

Lots of people, certainly. But not everyone in the Industrial West, not by a long shot. Don't be fooled by statistical averages into letting your own thinking get so homogenized and stereotyped about what's out there, and what's possible. THAT's the brainwashing. That's the "Deer In Headlights" message that keeps people frozen and hopeless. It's not impossible, and often not even all that hard to say NO, I'll do it another way, thanks, but people are conditioned to think they'll just drop dead if they try to color outside the lines.

As someone said here the other day, "Don't wait for the Authorities to do the right thing." I'm not.

This kind of defeatist thinking isn't going to help matters either. This idea that "it's too late to do anything" is nonsense. Peak oil is a complex problem and there are not only two outcomes - one bad, one good. There are a wide range of outcomes possible even in each location, so to suggest that this is an either/or situation - a digital problem - is a gross oversimplification. Today my wife and I are using around 25% of the gasoline we did 2 years ago. That's just one example, though. Are we still behaving in ways that are destructive? Sure, but not nearly as much. I'm constantly thinking about my actions and constantly trying to be more responsible. I've come a long way from the days when I would buy all kinds of stuff I didn't need on a whim. I'm proud of how far I've come, and I am absolutely certain that at the very least my actions will have helped played a small role in making things less bad than they would otherwise be. That's all the justification I need to keep making a sincere effort.

So let's stop using this "we're doomed" mentality as an excuse to not get off our asses and do something positive and productive. The Peak aware still seem to be a tiny minority. Considering that there are so few of us, it's even more of a shame to see this defeatist attitude. Humans have made some big mistakes in the last 100 years, but I am confident we can still be a resilient, resourceful lot. There are things that can be done. In fact, things have been done, even in the US. Look at Portland - nearly a quarter commuting by bicycle.

We should be the ones leading the way!

Tomorrow, I will commute my bicycle to work. Best lifestyle change I've ever made. I highly recommend it!


There are actually a few technologies a reasonable way through that 20 incubation period. I listed three of them in the comments to HeadingOut's post here:


They're in order: advanced cheap PV, modular fail-safe nuclear reactors and Underground Coal Gassification and Liquid's production.

There are a variety of others like second generation biofuels.

These all address the energy production side the equation. The conservation side of the equation is much easier.

There are plenty of ways to avoid a major Economic depression, let alone a collapse to Hunter-Gathers.

INSIGHT TO THE THINKING OF AMERICANS ABOUT PEAK OIL: Go to the drudgereport.com and click on "Obama: fuel prices will change car habits" and read some of the comments following the article. Drudge publishes this as a negative report about Obama's attitude toward the American life style (to figure that out, it helps to read Drudge each day). Obama's comments are a simple observation of fact; the Republicans would have you believe it is an effort to take away Americans' right to do whatever they wish, gas guzzler and all. Some of the comments astound; they illustrate again what I see every day here in the US (including a neighbor who just bought the biggest double-cab pickup in history and was showing it off yesterday in his driveway). Gas is now $3.89 a gallon, regular.

Here is the direct link to discussions on Obama saying that some changes in driving habits might be needed:

Gas just broke the $4.05 barrier for regular...

1. Absolutely draconian building rules for new buildings, upgrading of old ones (mandatory, if slow, to spare home owners), a heavy yearly tax on all ‘frills’ such as swimming pools, an ‘eco’ tax on developers, and a tax rebate or other gift (such as free health insurance /public transport / education allowance) for those who live at some proportion of persons/interior cubic meters. Special rules for the very rich space hoggers - maybe 10% of home value to be given to charity yearly, that’s maybe not a good idea, but something. I’ve always thought that soliciting the rich to pay some kind of voluntary tax would work, at least here, in Switz. (I have floated that proposal about but in the last vote on tax we had here, which was to tax the rich with an extra, not large, ‘solidarity’ tax, which was defeated, the Socialists, perhaps the equivalent of Dems in the US, wouldn’t hear of it, and the idea made no headway.) In much of the OECD, the % energy used for buildings is between 35 and 60% of tot. use.

2. Encourage, and subsidize “local” - meaning close by - agriculture/husbandry, provided it is reasonable and efficient (hard to define) - the idea is not to fund your lady green flower grower, or the prize winning mushroom producer whom everybody loves, but to keep the tissue of patchwork of local land use alive and thriving. Agri. is massively subsidized in the EU and US (Switz. as well) but is so from a big biz (and pork..) pov, as well as, sadly, food as weapon and control. That has to stop. This is a deeply political issue, far off from fiddling about with taxes on SUVs, and very hard to post about. Many OECD countries have gone from average families spending about 50% of their budget on food, post WW2, to spending today 10-15, perhaps 20 or a bit more, for poorer families. There are many reasons for that, e.g. green revolution (infrastructure, mostly water management, fertilizer, best practices, slow depletion of animal resources, such as in commercial fishing), transport (oil), and post-colonialism.

These are the two most important points I felt were missing from the 12, posted in the same sort of spirit.

Any NZ people on here want to chat/email? I live in CHCH, 31/M
My take: Things to get significantly worse 2009, then 5 -10 year slide, with a prognosis negative most likely outcome.

Hi Magus,
I don't know if you are aware of the 'Transition Towns' movement, which is fairly new, but they have branches in some places in NZ.
Here are the contacts - perhaps you can get together with some folk there and possibly start something in your own area:




You can drive over whilst petrol is cheap! :-)

Actually, these are only the 'official' TT groups. There are actually 37 groups in total across NZ and there is one in Christchurch.

It's not surprising that there are not more official groups, as a pre-requisite is that you attend 'training' workshops in England!

Nice to see that the people who run the official Transition Towns thing have not left the government and business to be the only people acting like morons!

PS, Duncan, your links don't work - not for me anyway.

how is point 1 and 12 different?

They aren't. It's the most important point, so I thought it was a good idea to circle back to it at the end of the press release. Remember, this was a press release, designed to interest the mainstream media (which it has, slightly), not a comprehensive list of measures.

Great post Tim. For those that don't know, The Campaign For Better Transport is an Auckland based group also pushing for peak oil awareness at all levels of government. I sent a letter a month ago to the Minister of Transport suggesting a contingency plan for various price levels. I've got the mediocre reply which I will post soon on our website www.bettertransport.org.nz

Suffice to say it looks like we have no contingency plan whatsoever at any level of government, and only a vague, emerging awareness that we may have a serious problem.