Peak Oil Blues

Peak oil is a pretty depressing subject. Eventually I think it starts to take a toll on one's psyche after a while of putting your mind to a subject as large and intractable as Peak Oil. The more I read, the more I feel I sink into the abyss of doomsday scenarios. There are no easy answers and even the difficult answers are going to require an enormous level of national political cooperation and local community coordination that seem to border on utopian. I fear the worst, but that type of thinking has a way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Instead I've been trying to make a list of reasons why peak oil is actually a good thing and we should view this as an opportunity for building a more sustainble way of life. So here's my top ten list of opportunities that peak oil presents to us (if we are willing to take advantage of them):

  1. Value all finite resources appropriately: The peaking of oil could represent a watershed in how we value all natural resources, including other fossil fuels, metals, water, soil, ecological systems.

  2. Full Employment: As fossil fuels become more expensive, more labor intensive forms of manufacture/argiculture/etc would be more attractive. This would mean that more people would become productive members of society.

  3. Build More Cohesive Communities: People will have no choice but to band together for mutual aid and protection. Each member of a community will be needed to step up in some way to help survive the energy crisis.  Since long distance transportation will be expensive

  4. Healthier / more physicially fit population: More expensive transportation fuel costs will mean that more people will walk, bike, or use other forms of self-propelled transportation which will help improve the amount of physical activity that people do.

  5. Pragmatism over Ideology: These days it seems that one-size fits all ideology (left or right) has trumped the seemingly pragmatic ways of dealing with different situations with different solutions. When presented with real practical issues that need technical solutions, I think voters will reward competence over ideology.

  6. Become energy independent nationally and locally: Right now, our economic structure could be completely disrupted by the whims of leaders of other countries. If we can successfully power down our lifestyles and increase our production of alternative energy sources, we will be able to have a more humane foreign policy

  7. Focus on quality of life, not quantity of consumption: Frivilous consumption will become a lot more expensive and instead I think people will focus on the things that really make life enjoyable - good relationships, exercise, pride in producing something of value to your neighbors.

  8. Less specialization: Today we largely have a career that is highly focused in one area at the expense of all other pursuits. We may have to diversify our skills (gardening, sets to deal with the new challenges of peak oil.

  9. Slow Process of Global Warming: Instead of ramping up coal, powering down and switching to renewables could start to actually lower the amount of CO2 ending up in the atmosphere which would at least slow down the rate of global warming (reversing the process seems a little too lofty!)

  10. Eat healthier food: A move to more local and organic farming will increase the amount of nutritional content of foods while also decreasing the harmful pesticides and preservatives that are used currently.

These can only happen if we take the right path, the path toward building a more sustainable economy/society. The other path of continuing on our present path leads to resource wars, ecological devastation, famine, and a prolonged period of wasteful opulence for a dwindling elite ending in a serious die-off scenario.

As always, I invite your ideas and comments.

Item 9:

"Slow process of Global Warming: Instead of ramping up coal, powering down and switching to renewables could actually lower the amount of CO2 ending up in the atmosphere which would at least slow down the rate of global warming (reversing the process seems a little too lofty!)"

I'd question your proposal above for multiple reasons, including these two :

1/. What is the point of lifting a finger on the remaining items if America sets out to fail on this one ?

To put it plainly, why the defeatism over this issue, which is evidently the most truly global one ever addressed in the UN ?

If the US fails in its duty to use its capacity (both in the UN and in its R&D workshops)
to provide leadership on the issues of both EQUITABLE global carbon-emission entitlements and SUSTAINABLE energy,
the rest of the world is unlikely to be able, let alone willing, to make good US shortcomings.

3/.  Given the problems of nunerous "renewables" such as:

Mega-Hydro Power - with its methane output being worse in some cases than coal-fired power, let alone its soil-drowning installation costs;
Solar-Power - with its massive, Corporations-Only development costs; and
and Battery-Chicken-Dung Power - with its massive acceleration of virus mutation rates [Bird-Flu anyone ?]

just why should investment in the "renewables" (unavoidably at the expense of the "sustainables")
be considered desirable enough to be worth mention in Item 9,
 and just what was the agenda of those who invented this wholly unscientific "newspeak" term ?

BTW - if you're interested, see:  
-for info on Contraction & Convergence, the internationally recognized Global Climate Change Policy-Framework.



You'll be happy to know that we installed a new Weil mcLean oil burner in our basement.  It's supposed to be 30% more efficient than the 75 year old it replaced.  At $6000 is that a good investment? and is anyone interested in buying a 3BR family friendly home in Staten Island?