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Thread: What are your thoughts on the "peak oil" debate?

  1. #1
    Member JLA's avatar
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    What are your thoughts on the "peak oil" debate?

    I stumbled upon an article on peak oil a few months ago and went on to do a fair amount of internet research on the subject. I am left wondering: Why isn't there more debate/discussion on this topic in public among policy wonks in areas like planning? What are your thoughts on the subject? Kunstler seems to be the only prominent person in our field discussing the issue. Doesn't this warrant much more discussion?

    FYI for those unfamiliar with the concept: Peak oil refers to the "Hubbert peak" of oil production. Global oil production is expected to follow the rough shape of a bell curve with peak annual production coming when we have extracted roughly half of the planet's oil. After that point, annual production (extraction) is expected to decrease over time, with likely dire consequences as prices are bid through the roof. An increasing number of analysts/academics/oil industry leaders seem to be arguing that it will happen this decade.

    Thanks,
    JLA

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    I think that a lot of us here feel that Peak Oil is occuring, will occur very soon, or has already occured. It's going to take a real sensation of crisis (in the consumer's wallet) before they demand action and change in where they live and how they get to work.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
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    I'm convinced that the peak will occur shortly, if it hasn't already.

    But even if one is a skeptic about Hubbert's Peak, then look at the world's ablilty to supply petroleum from a practical standpoint. The US currently consumes 25% of the world's oil consumption. But developing countries such as China and India are increasing their consumption dramatically and are entering into agreements with other countries to supply them with oil. This means less oil for the US in the long run, unless new supplies can be found. Which isn't happening in any great measure. Increased demand+flat or diminishing supply=less oil for everyone.

    Anyone care to guess why we "liberated" Iraq?

    How much work could have been done on developing an alternative fuel supply for $380 billion of government incentives?
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    I think that a lot of us here feel that Peak Oil is occuring, will occur very soon, or has already occured. It's going to take a real sensation of crisis (in the consumer's wallet) before they demand action and change in where they live and how they get to work.
    I agree with you, I feel gas prices will have to shoot up to $6+ for anyone to change their ways.
    Kunstler is hit or miss with me. I do agree that the way we have been living/planning/existing will for sure hurt us on the downslope of the bell, but sometimes he is just too much. (But maybe I am being nieve thinking the technology will bail us out...)

    Fun to read though....
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  5. #5
          roger's avatar
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    Maybe so, but I think the price mechanism will lead to two things: more (and more costly) development of existing reserves and new extraction methods and more conservation on the part of consumers. If oil topped $3 per gallon I think you'd see a lot more people driving fuel efficient cars or exploring other forms of transportation. But it will take that sort of a kick in the rear end to make people scream at their elected officials to do something.

  6. #6
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Two good ways of looking at it

    1. The market will take care of it. Energy costs will go up significantly. Alternatives will be found -- e.g. 100+ mpg vehicles. Transition will be rough.

    2, Whether or not we have passed peak oil, we can radically increase efficiency now, and extend supplies so the disruption is minimized.

    Both will work. #1 is sort of like having warnings of potential terrorist attacks and doing nothing until a 9/11 occurs. #2 is doing something on less than provable information, but possibly stopping the 9/11 attacks by beefing up security before the attack.

  7. #7

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    The real difficulty is that we are not talking about cutting back a little bit on recreational driving or SUVs.

    The entire American food system is totally dependent on cheap oil at all stages of production-from fertilizers and pesticides to the "3000 mile Caesar Salad" Kuntsler enjoys ranting about Are we talking actual starvation? I don't know. Can a pre-19th century energy supply (or less) support 320 million people? Especially as we have sprawled over much of our best farmland?

    Speaking of Kuntsler: Is he right this week? Can a Millenialist pentacostal be trusted to control government, because they believe the end of the world is imminent and no planning for the future is needed? Remember James Watt's rape the wilderness because the Lord is coming back next year anyway?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by roger
    If oil topped $3 per gallon I think you'd see a lot more people driving fuel efficient cars or exploring other forms of transportation.
    It's not only fuel for our cars. It's the same fuel that fuels public transit.. public transit fares will have to increase.. Jet fuel prices will increase, trains, trucking, etc. Oil is processed used as a fertilizer in agriculture and is the fuel of choice to harvest and ship our food stuffs. Plastics are made of oil. Homes are heated by nat gas and heating oil. Nat gas is already in short supply with no new reserves being discovered., What about power generation? Most American power is supplied by coal, which is extracted by machines powered by....oil. No new nuke plants have been built in almost 30 years and none are in the planning stages. Many of those will be going off-line as their onsite storage fills up.

    The cost increases will be all over the board...not just in your fuel tank. At first I believe the shift will be a slowing of housing starts and purchasing. People will be content to live where they are or will purchase older homes closer to their jobs. Secondly, the energy efficency industry will take off. Homes will be upgraded with insulation, new windows, new doors, high efficency HVAC, etc. Tele-commuting or working at home will grow rapidly in popularity as technology allows many to stay home from work. At the workers choosing, they can avoid commuting.

    After the efficency binge, things will stabalize for a while as the gains in efficency technology will stablize energy prices. With time, prices will continue to move up for our traditional energies provided we don't find a viable alternative. I don't believe industry, retail, or living will resemble much of what we have now. Like Kunstler, I believe it will be a local economy, local foods, and local production and that cities will redensify as they are able to better provide services.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  9. #9
          roger's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    It's not only fuel for our cars. It's the same fuel that fuels public transit.. public transit fares will have to increase.. Jet fuel prices will increase, trains, trucking, etc. Oil is processed used as a fertilizer in agriculture and is the fuel of choice to harvest and ship our food stuffs. Plastics are made of oil. Homes are heated by nat gas and heating oil. Nat gas is already in short supply with no new reserves being discovered., What about power generation? Most American power is supplied by coal, which is extracted by machines powered by....oil. No new nuke plants have been built in almost 30 years and none are in the planning stages. Many of those will be going off-line as their onsite storage fills up.

    The cost increases will be all over the board...not just in your fuel tank. At first I believe the shift will be a slowing of housing starts and purchasing. People will be content to live where they are or will purchase older homes closer to their jobs. Secondly, the energy efficency industry will take off. Homes will be upgraded with insulation, new windows, new doors, high efficency HVAC, etc. Tele-commuting or working at home will grow rapidly in popularity as technology allows many to stay home from work. At the workers choosing, they can avoid commuting.

    After the efficency binge, things will stabalize for a while as the gains in efficency technology will stablize energy prices. With time, prices will continue to move up for our traditional energies provided we don't find a viable alternative. I don't believe industry, retail, or living will resemble much of what we have now. Like Kunstler, I believe it will be a local economy, local foods, and local production and that cities will redensify as they are able to better provide services.
    Exactly my point

    Innovation and price pressure will mitigate the effects of rising energy prices. You're right, it's not just at the gas pump, but these forces will affect all industries throughout the economy, and they will adapt or die. But I see no reason to assume that new technology and innovations will cease at some point in the future.

  10. #10
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    We are building ethanol plants out here in the sticks as fast as we can. I am saving $.30/gal by running 85% ethanol in my car. I know there are arguments about the energy needed to produce it and the associated costs, but we are also sticking wind turbines in the ground as well. At some point ethanol and gasoline prices will converge. I don't know what the unsubsidized per gallon cost of ethanol is but at least its renewable.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I speak to this issue from time to time in this forum. It was covered in two of my classes and one of them covered it thoroughly. The gist of it is that we don't need to worry about when oil will run out because the party will be over when CHEAP oil runs out, and you can predict roughly when that is via Hubbert's methodology (which accurately predicted something else earlier). We have already passed the 50% mark for some sources of oil and I believe that is why gas prices are already rising. The cost of gas will rise dramatically when we hit the halfway mark for ALL sources for oil because it costs a lot more to get that last half out of the ground than it does to get the first half. Our present lifestyles are predicated on cheap oil and we will not be able to afford to keep living this way. That is one reason I plan to advocate for a change to our county rail plan. I am not a professional planner but I have spent more than 3 years doing the research, putting together a website, yadda yadda. So I, for one, definitely take such things into consideration in my own "planning" work -- ie my delusions of grandeur that one person can change the future for an entire county, a county that is potentially a lynch-pin for two regions.

    Also, they spent 50 years belly-aching about the "end of the world" when firewood was running out. We transitioned to coal. They spent 50 years bellyaching about the rising cost of coal. We transitioned to oil. Coincidentally, the predicted time of the Hubbert Peak occurs roughly 50 years after we began bitching and moaning about "the oil crisis". So, I think we will transition to something else. Someone in this forum once said that the oil crisis will be more painful than previous transitions because plastics come from petroleum as well and they are everywhere. However, I don't think so: wood was not only a source for fuel, it was also what we made furniture out of. Gee, I still have wood furniture. Granted, we have more and more particle board and MDF than real wood these days, which has become quite expensive. But it is the same principle, IMO. Presently, the biggest obstacle to alternative fuels is cost: a gasoline-powered car is so much cheaper than an alternative fuel vehicle. That and the fact that solar and battery have limitations on how far you can go, etc. but cost is seen as the main issue. When it gets dramatically more expensive to run a gasoline-powered vehicle, those alternatives won't look so pricey in comparison -- and then I think you will see a lot more alternatives proliferate.

    But there have always been trade-offs with the environment for fuel sources. We also still have thousands of years worth of coal left on planet earth. One of the problems with coal is how polluting it is. The lower grades of coal contain high levels of sulfur and other poisons. Chinese peasants who use coal fires to heat their homes and dry peppers and other foods over them, inhale and ingest very high levels of these poisons, which has long-term, significant health impacts. My sister is allergic to sulfur (and I probably am as well) and when she did some training for a few months in Ohio, she nearly died from the high levels of sulfur in the air. If you look at a map of the US...um, a map of certain pollutants in the US... you will see that the Northeastern part of the US has a lot of coal-burning electrical plants and the air is full of sulfurous fumes, etc. Another example is hydro-electric, from dams. They basically are no longer building dams in the US because it interferes with fish migration and has other negative ecological impacts. In fact, some dams have been dismantled in an effort to reverse some of the ecological damage. Yet, the Three Gorges Dam in China is being built. Let's not even talk about the fiasco of the Aswan dam in Egypt, sigh.

    So, I believe that a good fuel policy would start with doing all we can to NOT use fuel. One example: we build little cracker-jack boxes of houses, with poor insulation and poor natural light, then pump all kinds of electricity into them to heat and light them. There are designs out there using daylighting techniques, thermal mass, passive solar, etc. that can dramatically reduce the amount of electricity a building consumes without lowering the quality of life of the inhabitants. In fact, such techniques generally create a more comfortable environment. Also, photovoltaics, wind (another form of solar power, really) and other alternative fuels hold a lot of promise for the not-too-distant future.

    Basically, to quote the song I always quote when this topic comes up: It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

    Oh, and welcome to Cyburbia, JLA.

  12. #12

    Just one quick thing to add

    Don't think of the oil problem in terms of us reaching peak production. We have not yet reached peak production and we are some years from this.

    However, we are very close to the point where current demand exceeds current production. We may already be there.

    India, and especially China, have become increasingly large consumers (beyond most analysts expectations), and this is a big reason behind the higher prices of the last several years.

  13. #13
    Member JLA's avatar
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    Thanks, everyone!

    I appreciate the feedback. Perhaps this is just too abstract and scary for broader discussion in the mainstream media. However, it seems that each passing week there is more evidence that peak oil is imminent (i.e., by the end of this decade) if it isn't already here. Oil at $51 bbl today with the Saudis saying that $50 oil is okay today on CNBC is the latest exhibit in the case for a peak that is sooner rather than later. If oil hits $60 bbl at some point this year, perhaps more people will start to wonder why they are getting mauled at the pump.

    I'm not a transit planner, but I may have to do a little research on the price elasticity of gasoline and VMT. When will people start to make significantly different choices in their mobility and living/working arrangements? This could be a very interesting question.

    Thanks!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JLA
    I'm not a transit planner, but I may have to do a little research on the price elasticity of gasoline and VMT. When will people start to make significantly different choices in their mobility and living/working arrangements? This could be a very interesting question.
    A good source of info on this subject is the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. It's founder, Todd Litman, is an economist by training and focuses on transportation costs and how they affect travel behavior. His website is chock full of research, focusing on Transportation Demand Management. Have fun!
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

  15. #15
    Member Groovy Iguana's avatar
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    There's a fantastic book by Michael Klare on this topic, "Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Foreign Petroleum." I highly recommend it.

    As for the "market taking care of it," I agree that rising commodity prices is one way of inducing conservation and promoting innovation. However, that might be more the case if the market were left to work. Huge subsidies to the oil companies in the form of tax breaks for oil exploration and extraction makes it so that the "free market" is anything but.

    In addition, rising oil prises may make some people (those least able to afford the higher prices - read, those with lower incomes), but as long as there is an effective demand for SUVs and other energy using appliances, there will always be an economic incentive to extract more oil. Part of the increase in oil prices isn't just scarcity, but the increased demand for oil from the US and China. (The US consumers 70% of the world's resources, despite only having 6% of the world's population, and China is not far behind).

  16. #16
    Member JLA's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nuovorecord
    A good source of info on this subject is the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. It's founder, Todd Litman, is an economist by training and focuses on transportation costs and how they affect travel behavior. His website is chock full of research, focusing on Transportation Demand Management. Have fun!
    That looks like a great web site.

    He wrote a really good review on recent peak oil books last year, but I haven't read any of his books. That article is at:

    http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i...08&c=1&s=klare
    Last edited by nerudite; 16 Aug 2005 at 11:33 PM. Reason: merge

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally posted by JLA
    He wrote a really good review on recent peak oil books last year, but I haven't read any of his books. That article is at:

    http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i...08&c=1&s=klare
    Interesting article.

    My fear is that we are in for more far-reaching changes than merely retooling our cars to run on Hyrdogen. But, maybe the technological optimists are right

  18. #18
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    I don't think oil depletion is too abstract for the mainstream to handle. If anything I think the opposite is true. Something like global warming is abstract, and gets lots of media coverage. Nobody really knows exactly how the climate will react to our co-2 emission heavy way of life. On the other hand, it's extremely easy to see how a lack of oil might be a problem for society. Just look in the drive way.

    I have an "inverse proportion" theory about these two issues. The amount of mainstream media attention each gets is inversely proportional to how serious a problem the actual issue is. I suppose the average person doesn't fear peak oil because they believe we will come up with some great new technology to save us. That's taking our faith in our own ingenuity to an entirely new level and frankly, I think it's a foolish gamble.

    While I don't claim to have any answers, I look at the situation in Iraq and can find no other legitimate reason for us to be there other than the oil. Sadly. Since I don't have access to the oil companies or the Saudi royal kingdom, the Iraqi occupation is the best evidence I can come up with that we are facing serious problems and our leaders know it.

    Quote Originally posted by JLA
    I appreciate the feedback. Perhaps this is just too abstract and scary for broader discussion in the mainstream media. However, it seems that each passing week there is more evidence that peak oil is imminent (i.e., by the end of this decade) if it isn't already here. Oil at $51 bbl today with the Saudis saying that $50 oil is okay today on CNBC is the latest exhibit in the case for a peak that is sooner rather than later. If oil hits $60 bbl at some point this year, perhaps more people will start to wonder why they are getting mauled at the pump.

    I'm not a transit planner, but I may have to do a little research on the price elasticity of gasoline and VMT. When will people start to make significantly different choices in their mobility and living/working arrangements? This could be a very interesting question.

    Thanks!

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hymalaia
    I have an "inverse proportion" theory about these two issues. The amount of mainstream media attention each gets is inversely proportional to how serious a problem the actual issue is. I suppose the average person doesn't fear peak oil because they believe we will come up with some great new technology to save us. That's taking our faith in our own ingenuity to an entirely new level and frankly, I think it's a foolish gamble.
    I am not counting on some fabulous new technology -- ie a "magic bullet". Instead, I think that many of the technologies that can help redress this problem are already available, they just aren't mainstream yet. And, yes, they could stand for some improvements. But when they are more mainstream, I think improvements will occur. I also agree with BKM that "we are in for more far-reaching changes than merely retooling our cars to run on Hydrogen". But I don't fear it. Change is inevitable. If you don't adapt, you will suffer a great deal more than if you do adapt. Some people are inherently resistent to change and such people will find the coming changes more painful than folks who adapt more readily. But, really, it is a given that if you change something which is a foundation of a particular lifestyle, it will cause many secondary and tertiary changes. For example, if we just change our cars to electric cars, then you no longer go to a gas station and maintenance on the car will be different, etc. The changes grow larger from there.

    Also, I wouldn't dismiss global warming as a minor thing. There are islands that are being swallowed by the rising sea. Entire island nations are in real danger of completely disappearing, and the people of those lands have no idea where they will go. Agricultural belts may shift north. Mosquitos can go to higher altitudes than they used to because it is warmer, thus carrying diseases to new places. In fact, one of the biggest consequences of global warming may be epidemics of disease, which gets compounded by our ability to travel almost anywhere in the world within 24 hours. The Kinshasa highway, running through the jungles of Africa, is thought to be largely responsible for the spread of exotic diseases like Marburgs and Ebola (which I think are both relatives of AIDS), in part because as we endanger ever more species, more diseases are beginning to jump species in order to find a new host and survive the decimation of their traditional hosts.

    I know a lot about the negative consequences of things we are doing to this world. But I also know this: Humans have a psychological tendency to focus overly much on problems and take a lot of good things for granted. I don't believe that the future will be born without suffering. It never is. But I am an optimist by nature. So I am not into making Dire Predictions. Bad things happen. So do good things. If I tried to explain how I "see" life, it would likely be taken as a rant and seen as being waaaay off topic. But it seems to me that point of view is a major factor in how people talk about these things. Oh well.

  20. #20
    Member JLA's avatar
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    Bad things will happen...

    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    I am not counting on some fabulous new technology -- ie a "magic bullet". Instead, I think that many of the technologies that can help redress this problem are already available, they just aren't mainstream yet. And, yes, they could stand for some improvements. But when they are more mainstream, I think improvements will occur. I also agree with BKM that "we are in for more far-reaching changes than merely retooling our cars to run on Hydrogen". But I don't fear it. Change is inevitable. If you don't adapt, you will suffer a great deal more than if you do adapt. Some people are inherently resistent to change and such people will find the coming changes more painful than folks who adapt more readily. But, really, it is a given that if you change something which is a foundation of a particular lifestyle, it will cause many secondary and tertiary changes. For example, if we just change our cars to electric cars, then you no longer go to a gas station and maintenance on the car will be different, etc. The changes grow larger from there.

    Also, I wouldn't dismiss global warming as a minor thing. There are islands that are being swallowed by the rising sea. Entire island nations are in real danger of completely disappearing, and the people of those lands have no idea where they will go. Agricultural belts may shift north. Mosquitos can go to higher altitudes than they used to because it is warmer, thus carrying diseases to new places. In fact, one of the biggest consequences of global warming may be epidemics of disease, which gets compounded by our ability to travel almost anywhere in the world within 24 hours. The Kinshasa highway, running through the jungles of Africa, is thought to be largely responsible for the spread of exotic diseases like Marburgs and Ebola (which I think are both relatives of AIDS), in part because as we endanger ever more species, more diseases are beginning to jump species in order to find a new host and survive the decimation of their traditional hosts.

    I know a lot about the negative consequences of things we are doing to this world. But I also know this: Humans have a psychological tendency to focus overly much on problems and take a lot of good things for granted. I don't believe that the future will be born without suffering. It never is. But I am an optimist by nature. So I am not into making Dire Predictions. Bad things happen. So do good things. If I tried to explain how I "see" life, it would likely be taken as a rant and seen as being waaaay off topic. But it seems to me that point of view is a major factor in how people talk about these things. Oh well.
    I'm generally an optimist as well. The good news about peak oil is that it will force us to reduce our carbon emissions (assuming we don't go back to coal in large volumes) and move us away from our current unsustainable ways. The bad news is that it will be an agonizing and (for some) probably a deadly transition. Substantially higher oil prices will do a number on the U.S. economy, but it could mean starvation for millions in the developing world as they are outbid for shrinking oil supplies, their economies contract, their purchasing power goes down, the cost of petroleum inputs to agriculture (e.g., nitrogen) increases, and the costs of shipping food increases.

    I think there is plenty to "fear" here in the U.S. as well if/when we enter the arc of decline in petroleum output. Jobs will be lost, homes foreclosed, and dreams shattered. How many "super commuters" will be able to make due with $5/gallon gasoline? What will their houses be worth when they try to bail for a condo near mass transit?

    I agree that there are many ways we can mitigate an energy crisis with "off the shelf"' technologies, as you suggest. For personal mobility, plug-in hybrids and high efficiency diesel engines would be one place to start. Down the road, carbon fiber materials could radically reduce the weight of vehicles making them more efficient. I'm not investing much hope in hydrogen at this point--I'll believe it when I see it. For electricity, we'll probably have to take another look at nuclear along with renewables and (unfortunately) coal as well. I think we could do a lot with green buildings and more distributed power generation (rooftop solar panels, small scale wind/solar/biomass, etc).

    Of course, walkable communities, bicycles, and mass transit could also do wonders (even in the car-crazy U.S.!). But cities are not built overnight, as we all know, and rebuilding America to accomodate a world where oil is a precious commodity will take decades. Many people who have much invested (financially as well as emotionally/psychologically) in our old ways of life will not do so well, including a few 'boomers who might be hoping to cash in that 3k square foot house in the exurbs to help fund their retirement.

    Life on the other side of a Hubbert peak -- whenever it happens -- could be very interesting.
    Last edited by JLA; 26 Feb 2005 at 12:08 PM. Reason: mispelled word

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JLA
    But cities are not built overnight, as we all know, and rebuilding America to accomodate a world where oil is a precious commodity will take decades.
    Well, World War II happened at the end of The Great Depression. In fact, it caused the end of The Great Depression. Not only did this country raise and train an army practically from scratch, but car factories were turned into jeep (or tank?) factories, coffee and the like was rationed, and people were encouraged to raise "Victory Gardens" so that crops raised by farmers could go to feed "our boys" overseas. The Tsunami that just happened was met with an unprecedented amount of global support, thereby staving off starvation and mass epidemics of disease in the aftermath. That remarkable fact has hardly been a blip in the news because News likes to focus on the dramatic tragedy. The relative LACK of horror in the aftermath isn't so very exciting by News standards. Following the first Gulf War, when the Iraqis set the oil wells on fire as they exited Kuwait, dire predictions of the scale of that environmental disaster fizzled when crack teams from all over the world converged upon Kuwait and invented new means to fight oil well fires on the spot, dramatically reducing the time expected to extinguish them all. In the aftermath of so much soot and water being poured down upon the desert, the desert bloomed as no one could remember ever having seen. Again, the hoo-ha over The Big Crisis they expected was trumpeted far and wide while the less horrible reality was a big yawn that was barely covered in the news. Oh, and do you remember The End of The World As We Know It that was supposed to happen in Y2K??? Gee, it was a big Nothing after literally years of bellyaching. A few minor glitches occured and the people who had prepared for Armageddon and a world without computers looked a tad silly.

    Americans have a long tradition of loving to play the hero. Give us a Real Crisis and we can mobilize this entire country, practically overnight. Things just aren't bad enough yet for this nation to get all excited about Saving The World from The Hubbert Peak.

    And if I sound a little shrill, I honestly hope you won't take it personally. I get a little tired of people generally treating me like I must not be very realistic because I am not suicidally depressed in spite of being an environmental studies major. Or acting like I must not have learned anything about the state of the globe while in college since I am not sufficiently depressed and in therapy and on valium. My optimism is not due to having my head in the sand, nor is it due to having never really suffered. On the contrary, I am an optimist because I have faced plenty of hardship in my life and overcame it. And for other reasons, but I doubt anyone cares to hear more of it.

    No offense intended.

  22. #22
    Member JLA's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    Well, World War II happened at the end of The Great Depression. In fact, it caused the end of The Great Depression. Not only did this country raise and train an army practically from scratch, but car factories were turned into jeep (or tank?) factories, coffee and the like was rationed, and people were encouraged to raise "Victory Gardens" so that crops raised by farmers could go to feed "our boys" overseas. The Tsunami that just happened was met with an unprecedented amount of global support, thereby staving off starvation and mass epidemics of disease in the aftermath. That remarkable fact has hardly been a blip in the news because News likes to focus on the dramatic tragedy. The relative LACK of horror in the aftermath isn't so very exciting by News standards. Following the first Gulf War, when the Iraqis set the oil wells on fire as they exited Kuwait, dire predictions of the scale of that environmental disaster fizzled when crack teams from all over the world converged upon Kuwait and invented new means to fight oil well fires on the spot, dramatically reducing the time expected to extinguish them all. In the aftermath of so much soot and water being poured down upon the desert, the desert bloomed as no one could remember ever having seen. Again, the hoo-ha over The Big Crisis they expected was trumpeted far and wide while the less horrible reality was a big yawn that was barely covered in the news. Oh, and do you remember The End of The World As We Know It that was supposed to happen in Y2K??? Gee, it was a big Nothing after literally years of bellyaching. A few minor glitches occured and the people who had prepared for Armageddon and a world without computers looked a tad silly.

    Americans have a long tradition of loving to play the hero. Give us a Real Crisis and we can mobilize this entire country, practically overnight. Things just aren't bad enough yet for this nation to get all excited about Saving The World from The Hubbert Peak.

    And if I sound a little shrill, I honestly hope you won't take it personally. I get a little tired of people generally treating me like I must not be very realistic because I am not suicidally depressed in spite of being an environmental studies major. Or acting like I must not have learned anything about the state of the globe while in college since I am not sufficiently depressed and in therapy and on valium. My optimism is not due to having my head in the sand, nor is it due to having never really suffered. On the contrary, I am an optimist because I have faced plenty of hardship in my life and overcame it. And for other reasons, but I doubt anyone cares to hear more of it.

    No offense intended.
    No offense taken (and I hope I didn't give offense with my post).

    I hope you are right; that is the scale of effort that will be required to avoid a real disaster. I saw Lester Thurow (Worldwatch/Earth Policy) speak last fall and he used the WWII analogy as well. In any case, it should make for very interesting times.

  23. #23
    Member Groovy Iguana's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    And if I sound a little shrill, I honestly hope you won't take it personally. I get a little tired of people generally treating me like I must not be very realistic because I am not suicidally depressed in spite of being an environmental studies major. Or acting like I must not have learned anything about the state of the globe while in college since I am not sufficiently depressed and in therapy and on valium. My optimism is not due to having my head in the sand, nor is it due to having never really suffered. On the contrary, I am an optimist because I have faced plenty of hardship in my life and overcame it. And for other reasons, but I doubt anyone cares to hear more of it.

    No offense intended.
    I don't think you sounded shrill at all, MZ. And it's obvious that you DID learn a lot as an environmental studies major. Kudos!

    Someone once said that "the work of a true radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." The human race is remarkable adaptable (otherwise we wouldn't be here, being relatively hairless and puny compared to your average predator). That said, doing nothing about potential disasters just because we've averted them in the past doesn't make for good policy. You plan for disasters - and then if you didn't need to do all that planning, so much the better.

    Off the topic a little, did anyone see that article that talked about how areas that were relatively well-forested with mangroves weathered the tsunami better than areas which weren't? -Groovy

  24. #24
    Member JLA's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Groovy Iguana

    Off the topic a little, did anyone see that article that talked about how areas that were relatively well-forested with mangroves weathered the tsunami better than areas which weren't? -Groovy
    I read about that...just like a sand dune protects from ocean storms, or the rapidly disappearing bayou south of New Orleans once protected that city from hurricanes.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Groovy Iguana
    I don't think you sounded shrill at all, MZ. And it's obvious that you DID learn a lot as an environmental studies major. Kudos!

    Someone once said that "the work of a true radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." The human race is remarkable adaptable (otherwise we wouldn't be here, being relatively hairless and puny compared to your average predator). That said, doing nothing about potential disasters just because we've averted them in the past doesn't make for good policy. You plan for disasters - and then if you didn't need to do all that planning, so much the better.

    Off the topic a little, did anyone see that article that talked about how areas that were relatively well-forested with mangroves weathered the tsunami better than areas which weren't? -Groovy
    Thanks.

    But, for clarification: I do not encourage people to "do nothing". I encourage planning for the coming Hubbert Peak. When I joined this forum, most folks here seemed to have not heard of it. I mention it from time to time in conversation and usually someone gets bug-eyed, having never heard of it. Only recently have other people begun mentioning it as well. And I no longer get a majority of people acting bug-eyed on me. I think promoting awareness is a Good Thing. I think it is a serious issue. Perhaps we are facing a coming Dark Age. But, really, a Dark Age is a time of lack of wisdom, knowledge, and enlightenment. How does a shortage of oil force us to be less knowledgeable and enlightened? It doesn't. I expect life to significantly change. But change is a constant. So why should I be distraught because things must change?

    I do understand the initial reaction people have to learning about this. And, certainly, when I have to cope with big change in my life, I find ways to vent in order to cope with the emotional stress such change can cause even when it is clearly the right thing to do. But I have known about The Hubbert Peak long enough that I have no need to vent about it. I do not mind other people needing to process such big news. I just get irritated with, um, I guess having a lot of people seem to agree amongst themselves to dismiss The Lunatic Fringe (moi) who 'isn't taking it seriously' because my lack of frantic upset doesn't compute for them, personally. There is a big difference between being emotionally upset versus "not taking something seriously". (If I ever have surgery, I hope the surgeon takes it seriously without being emotionally distraught that he has to cut me open. ) Y2K was not a crisis precisely because it was taken seriously and something was done about it. It didn't evaporate into thin air without enormous human effort beforehand to make it disappear. And it is a kind of mental block that people have that I even get told by rational, educated adults that I am not taking something seriously or that I am advocating a "do nothing" attitude just because I am not sufficiently upset or something. Sigh. I am an environmental studies major because I do take our environmental problems seriously. I chose this as a major after deciding I want my master's in planning.


    Re the mangroves: some weeks ago, I posted a link to an article about that in a discussion in this thread of the FAC.

    PS: JLA, no, I am not offended by anything you said. I am glad you started this thread. If I had started it, people would roll their eyes at me "harping" on this topic, yet again. It really should be discussed a lot more than it is -- so that planners will be aware and keep this in mind when doing their job. BTW, since you are new here, you likely don't understand my reference to wanting to advocate for a different rail plan in my county. I have worked on this for more than three years and you can see most of my research at http://www.solanorail.com (assuming you are interested).
    Last edited by Michele Zone; 26 Feb 2005 at 6:14 PM.

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