Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Crude Awakening

Last Friday night, I was part of a panel on Peak Oil. The sponsors of the meeting, a group called Crude Awakening, had reserved a room in an Unitarian Church out in the neighborhoods, north of downtown. I changed my workout schedule a little and hustled to get there by 6:30.

I thought to myself, who in the name of Hubbert is going to give a depleted bell curve about a Peak Oil meeting on a Friday evening at 6:30 in a church that is impossible to find anyway? This is going to be a nice small intimate group.

When I got there, the crowd was forming nicely. And, by the time we started, if there was a vacant chair, I didn't see it.

The Panel was composed of a sitting city council member, a muckraking writer who has gained a well deserved reputation writing about everyone's favorite corporation, Enron, a respectable banker who heads up a community wide planning effort, and an oil and gas executive who has been trying for a long time now to get someone anywhere to listen to his concerns about Peak Oil and what it means to our economy.

We each spoke for a few minutes and covered why and what we thought about the issue of Peak Oil. The crowd was well informed. There was a retired guy from the hill country with his wife who had invited me to speak with him once before. He told me that he had given his well researched presentation 28 times now. There was the young fellow who worked for the legislature who had tried and is continuing to try to get the issue in the minds of his colleagues. There were at least three people from the local utility who were involved in its solar energy rebate programs and its green pricing program.

I saw a chairman of a city board sitting in the audience.

I saw an old radical who has been preaching this stuff since rubbarb was invented.

I saw a host of familiar faces that were in one way or another involved in environmental and sustainable issues activism.

The Crude Awakening organizer gave a nice primer on the subject before he turned the program over to the Panel. We talked about plug in hybrids, and Kunstler's Long Emergency. We talked about Daniel Yurgin and why the Pulitzer Award winning writer of The Prize does not agree with the Peak Oil scenarios of most of the people in the room.

The City Council member was brief but well informed. He understood the importance of unifying the transportation sector with the electric sector.

The Muckraking writer was full of facts and he was entertaining as well. He saw high prices and record profits coming for the oil companies.

The Banker and Community planning leader spoke of light rail, transit corridors, and well designed communities that are capable of surviving without cheap gas.

The Oil and Gas executive spoke and looked like a JR who had heard the owl and seen the elephant. He piled up a stack of books on the subject on the table next to the stage. It was probably three feet tall, all of them about Peak Oil.

I talked about the unification of the transportation sector with the electric sector, power paints, energy ratios, and I don't remember what else. I do remember that after a pretty good question from the audience, I gave a response, that ended with,

"I don't know if that answers your question or not, but that is what I decided to say after hearing your question."

We talked about Peak Oil for two hours.

We talked about Hubbert and his now famous curve.

We talked about Mathew Simmons and his book on the Saudi Oil fields.

We talked and talked.

At one time, I said,

"Look, everyone of us is going to leave this meeting

and we're going to get in our cars and most likely

do nothing different than we were doing

before we came to this meeting

As for the question "When will Peak Oil really occur?

I used the old Yogi Berra line that

Predicting is very difficult,

especially when you are talking about the future.

I finished with my view that we do not face an energy crises.

We face a crises of consciousness.

Energy is everywhere.

Not at the bottom of some hole in the ocean,

to be found by some middle aged female geologist,

with a hard hat on.

Tonight, Flying Talking Donkey,

which is a good Peak Oil Portal, posted this story

Petrodollar Warfare:
Dollars, Euros and the Upcoming Iranian Oil Bourse
by William R. Clark
Media Monitors
Friday August 05 2005

Contemporary warfare has traditionally involved underlying conflicts regarding economics and resources. Today these intertwined conflicts also involve international currencies, and thus increased complexity.

Current geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran extend beyond the publicly stated concerns regarding Iran's nuclear intentions, and likely include a proposed Iranian "petroeuro" system for oil trade. Similar to the Iraq war, military operations against Iran relate to the macroeconomics of 'petrodollar recycling' and the unpublicized but real challenge to U.S. dollar supremacy from the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency.

It is now obvious the invasion of Iraq had less to do with any threat from Saddam's long-gone WMD program and certainly less to do to do with fighting International terrorism than it has to do with gaining strategic control over Iraq's hydrocarbon reserves and in doing so maintain the U.S. dollar as the monopoly currency for the critical international oil market.

Meanwhile, Iran starts processing fuel again,

and oil hits a new high at $64.00,

As the President signs an energy bill that helps solar a little, wind some, and oil and gas, coal and nuclear a lot.

It is a 12 billion dollar givaway to some of the most profitable and cash heavy companies on the planet.

It will do virtually nothing to help or defer Peak Oil.

And it will not help mitigate Climate Change.

And it won't move us boldly to a new light powered future.

Meanwhile there is a lady parked on the road to his house.

She wants to know why her son is dead.

More and more of us know.

Someday soon, there will be more of us who are awake

to the crude truth,

and less of them,

who are sleeping in the light.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone studied the effect of Peak Oil on the poor?

It seems that it will have an disproportionate effect them.

6:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the painting,

the black cloud, the mountain peak, the reaper in the field.

even the red car coming round the bend.

9:25 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

I thought the painting was particularly perfect. I need to look up the link and find the artist and give him(her)credit.

somehow I lost the original linking to the source.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Step Back said...

Anon asked about the poor.

There are very few sites analyzing the effects on the poor.

Saw one commenter mentioning that End of "Suburbia" ignores the inner city poor. Saw another commenter discuss the Irish Potato Famine and how the poor in Ireland could not afford to buy potatoes even though potatoes were being exported (outsourced). Foreigners were willing to pay a higher price. Therefore, by the wisdom of Adam Smith's Invisible waving hand, the system said "bye bye" to the poor.

(As to Cindy Sheehan being ditched in Crawford while battling Bush, gee, I can't understand why they're rocking the roof over this one. There have been so many mothers before crying over their sons killed (lost?) in Iraq. So what is it about Cindy at Crawford that makes it so different this time?)

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wags mentioned that the president's press corps only had the vacation to report on and therefore had a lot of time on their hands. It was also noted that August is a slow news month. All that being true, media splash mostly springs from chance. The imagry of that one man standing in front of the tank in Tianamen Square memorably burned into our collective conscience. Others term Cindy Sheehan the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement. All torrents start with a drip.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re : effect on the poor

already kicking our asses. thanks for checking in.


in all seriousness, things at the moment aren't much worse than usual. as the weight presses down more and more, we'll do what we always do, simplify even more and make thriftier use of what's already around us. the underground economies
and social support networks will no doubt expand proportionally to the pressure exerted as well. still it ain't gonna be no trip to the beach.

the real fun begins when the comfortable "middle class" starts finding itself amongst the "poor" in
record numbers. will we see unity and righteous indignation at the people who guided us into this situation? or will we see Mad Max-style anarchy erupt? it'll be interesting.

7:35 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

based on a e mail I got today, I suspect a major consumer org. will begin to look into the peak oil effects on the various income brackets especially the poor..

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a truly beautiful piece. thanks, somehow it made me feel good, I don't know why, but it did and it does.

10:56 AM  

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