Transition Brockville archive

Tag : Peak oil (104)

2017 – A sea of exponentials

Peak Prosperity / Chris Martenson / 31 December 2016

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” ~ Al Bartlett

Perhaps the most vexing challenge remains how to more effectively communicate the various predicaments and problems we face.

It’s not having more numbers, or more data, that’s for sure. If numbers and data worked then we’d have taken a very different path sometime back in the 1950’s.

As Admiral Hyman Rickover said in a speech to a group of doctors in 1957:

“I think no further elaboration is needed to demonstrate the significance of energy resources for our own future. Our civilization rests upon a technological base which requires enormous quantities of fossil fuels. What assurance do we then have that our energy needs will continue to be supplied by fossil fuels: The answer is – in the long run – none.

The earth is finite. Fossil fuels are not renewable. In this respect our energy base differs from that of all earlier civilizations. They could have maintained their energy supply by careful cultivation. We cannot.

Fuel that has been burned is gone forever. Fuel is even more evanescent than metals. Metals, too, are non-renewable resources threatened with ultimate extinction, but something can be salvaged from scrap. Fuel leaves no scrap and there is nothing man can do to rebuild exhausted fossil fuel reserves. They were created by solar energy 500 million years ago and took eons to grow to their present volume.

In the face of the basic fact that fossil fuel reserves are finite, the exact length of time these reserves will last is important in only one respect: the longer they last, the more time do we have, to invent ways of living off renewable or substitute energy sources and to adjust our economy to the vast changes which we can expect from such a shift. Fossil fuels resemble capital in the bank.

A prudent and responsible parent will use his capital sparingly in order to pass on to his children as much as possible of his inheritance. A selfish and irresponsible parent will squander it in riotous living and care not one whit how his offspring will fare.

(Source)

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Sustainable activism: Managing hope and despair

resilience.org / Paul Hoggett, Rosemary Randall / 14 December 2016

Sustainable activism has what Gramsci called a ‘pessimism of the intellect’ which can avoid wishful thinking and face reality as squarely as possible. However it also retains an ‘optimism of the will’, an inner conviction that things can be different. By holding optimism and pessimism in tension, sustainable activism is better able to handle despair, and it has less need to resort to binary thinking as a way of engaging with reality. It can hold contradictions so that they don’t become either/or polarities and can work both in and against the system.

Whilst it believes there can be no personal change without political change it is equally insistent that there can be no political change without personal change. It insists optimistically that those who are not against us must be with us, and therefore carries a notion of ‘us’ which is inclusive and generous, one which offers the benefit of the doubt to the other.

Finally, sustainable activism holds that it is never too late. In the context of climate change it is able to face the truth that some irreversible processes of change are already occurring; that the two degrees limit in the increase in global temperatures agreed at the 2015 Paris climate conference may not be achieved; that bad outcomes are inevitable, and that some are already happening. Nevertheless it also insists that this makes our struggles all the more vital to reduce the scale and significance of these future outcomes, to fight for the ‘least-worst’ results we can achieve, and to ensure that the world of our grandchildren and their children is as habitable as possible.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

The end of growth and the rise of Trump

The Tyee / Andrew Nikiforuk / 10 November 2016

trump-protestThe economist Raúl Ilargi Meijer wrote an interesting essay explaining why there is a Donald Trump in September. He credited Trump’s rise to “the most important global development in decades.”

That development, says Meijer, is “the end of global economic growth, which will lead inexorably to the end of centralization (including globalization). It will also mean the end of the existence of most, and especially the most powerful, international institutions.”

“In the same way it will be the end of — almost — all traditional political parties, which have ruled their countries for decades and are already today at or near record low support levels (if you’re not clear on what’s going on, look there, look at Europe!),” he wrote.

“This is not a matter of what anyone, or any group of people, might want or prefer, it’s a matter of ‘forces’ that are beyond our control, that are bigger and more far-reaching than our mere opinions, even though they may be man-made.”

The end of growth is tied inexorably to the deplorable quality of energy now being fracked and mined in North America. Bitumen and fracked oil just can’t support rich societies because these poor resources invite debt, environmental ruin and poor returns.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Is the oil industry dying?

Pacific Standard / Richard Heinberg / 10 August 2016

Trans-Mississippi gusherWhen oil was selling for $100 per barrel, many tight-oil projects in the U.S. were nevertheless only marginally profitable or were actually money losers; still, with interest rates at historic lows and plenty of investment capital sloshing around the financial industry, drillers had no trouble finding operating capital (David Hughes of Post Carbon Institute was one of the few analysts who questioned the durability of the “shale gale,” on the basis of meticulous well-by-well analysis). The result of cascading investment was a ferocious spate of drilling and fracking that drove levels of U.S. oil production sharply upward, overwhelming global markets. The amount of oil in storage ballooned. That’s the main reason prices collapsed in mid-2014 — along with Saudi Arabia’s insistence on continuing to pump crude at maximum rates in order to help drive the upstart American shale-oil producers out of business. The Saudi gambit mostly succeeded: Small- to medium-sized U.S. producers are now gasping for air, and, as their massive debts come due over the next few months, a wave of bankruptcies and buyouts seems fairly inevitable. Meanwhile, in the continental U.S., oil production has dropped by 800,000 barrels a day.

Indeed, the entire petroleum business is currently in deep trouble. Countries that rely on crude oil export revenues are facing enormous budget deficits, and in some cases are having trouble maintaining basic services to their people.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Ecotech myths and lessons from the past

LIFT Conference / Kris de Decker / 10 February 2016

The present-day approach towards a sustainable society is doomed to fail. The focus on sophisticated technology – electric and hybrid cars, energy-efficient devices, solar panels and wind turbines, for instance – has little or no effect because these green technologies require large amounts of energy and resources for their manufacture, which makes their development highly dependent on a continuous supply of fossil fuels. What we need to solve our problems is exactly the opposite: less sophisticated technology. There is a lot to learn from the past. While they often worked surprisingly good, most of low-tech solutions have been completely forgotten. In his speech, Kris de Decker explains that reverting to past technologies does not mean that we should go back to the Middle Ages. Rather, it means combining old tech with new knowledge and new materials, or applying old concepts and lost knowledge to modern technology.

100 things you can do to get ready for peak oil

resilience.org / Sharon Astyk / 17 December 2006

These suggestions go far beyond the usual stale sustainability tips for consumers, and into the kind of adaptations which can reduce our energy usage not by percentage points, but by orders of magnitude. At the same time they offer rich challenges, good food, and meaningful family and community experiences. -AF

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

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The Transition Framework

Inner Transition is occasionally overlooked in favour of more immediately ‘practical’ undertakings, reinforcing an observed and acknowledged division in many Transition Initiatives between “doers” and “talkers”, but for Transition Initiatives looking to foster a kind of community resilience that is equitable, inclusive, nimble, responsive, caring, and cohesive, Inner Transition efforts are a necessary place to start.

— Anne Rucchetto, Blake Poland
TB Projects

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