I know this is dated but the conference was held at the middle of this speculative oil price spike that has gone on for at least 6 months. I wonder if the Peak Oil folks know how to tell a speculative spike, a real spike through scarcity of production facilities and true Peak Oil. All of them would shadow a simlar spike?
What happens when oil runs out?
Sunday, June 01, 2008By Garret M. Ellison
The Grand Rapids Press
GRAND RAPIDS — The collapse of cities, a return to rail transportation, famine and a worldwide depression are but a few outcomes predicted by energy industry insiders and believers in the peak oil theory who gathered this weekend at Calvin College.
“We will have a different civilization, to be sure,” said David Goodstein, a vice provost and professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
Goldstein wrote the book, “Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil.” He joined dozens of speakers at the International Conference on Peak Oil and Climate Change.
He was the kickoff speaker at the three-day event, which explored the double-pronged crises of peak oil and climate change by examining their effects on society, and offering sustainable solutions.
Peak oil is the point at which half of the world’s supply has been extracted and production levels off. This is expected to cause massive societal upheaval because the worldwide demand for oil is increasing rapidly.
It’s a controversial subject, and not all are convinced. Skeptics and some oil producers say a peak is years away and that new technologies will allow our energy appetite to be satisfied by tar sands and oil shale while renewable sources come online.
But those who believe in the peak oil scenario say we have reached that point already or will in a few years. New oil discoveries are slim. The last major discovery was in the 1960s.
They say that alternative energies cannot match the capacity of fossil fuels, and nuclear fusion — the one known silver bullet — is perpetually 25 years in the future.
Supply will be further constrained by aging infrastructure, they say. These arguments are fueled by the rising cost of food and oil, which recently topped $130 a barrel.
One point that everyone agrees on is that oil is a finite resource, and that nobody quite knows for sure how much is left.
“We will see the effects of the peak very soon. How soon — I don’t know,” Goldstein said.
“It’s possible that it’ll be off another five, 10, or even 20 years.
“But 20 years is nothing on the scale of human history,” he said. “Our children, or our grandchildren are in for some very difficult times.”
That could mean civil unrest and famine, as petrol-based fertilizers become prohibitively expensive, driving up the cost of food — and everything else.
“The haves and the have-nots are going to be fighting for diminishing reserves,” said Steven F. Crower, an energy investment banker based in Denver.
“I think the price of oil will cause the collapse of the dollar,” he said. “The new gold standard is going to be energy.”
That’s somewhat less dire than the reality painted by Richard Heinberg, an author of eight books on peaking resources and a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute.
All complex systems inevitably collapse, said Heinberg, and ours is no different. A local-based agrarian economy is his vision of the future. Rail will be the primary transportation mode.
For some conference attendees, the concept of peaking oil production seemed like a very stark reality.
“I think it was Hunter S. Thompson who said that sometimes the massive crime that takes place in front of everyone is the one that goes unnoticed,” said Jackson Carreras, 24, of Plymouth.
The conference was organized by Aaron Wissner, of Middleville, who heads-up the local nonprofit, Local Future. It runs through 5 p.m. today.
Send e-mail to the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the people that brought you the above conference. They seem like nice enough young people
Paths to Sustainability
Michigan Conference – Nov. 2008
NEW!!! Announcing “The Conference of Michigan’s Future: Energy, Economy & Environment” for Friday, Nov. 14 through Sunday, Nov. 16 at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan. Click the link above for speakers, ticket, and other specifics.
International Conference – Online
Local Future hosts the International Conference on Peak Oil and Climate Change: Paths to Sustainability. The inaugural conference features 50 presenters including Richard Heinberg, Julian Darley, Dr. David Goodstein, Megan Quinn Bachman, Stephanie Mills, and Pat Murphy.
Unemployment, inflation, war, peak oil, climate change, biodiversity loss, overpopulation — global problems that need local solutions.
Local Future helps communities develop compassionate, sustainable, local, systems to provide jobs, food, energy, transportation, and essential services.
Local Future Network members develop these systems by helping their community to transition from dependent units of the failed global economy; to independent cultures of compassionate, sustainable, local economy.
The global economic system creates problems which threaten humanity and the planet:
- peak oil
- climate change
- over population
- resource depletion
- widespread pollution
- misallocation of power
- institutional cruelty
- economic instability
- environmental destruction
- geopolitical conflict & war
This unsustainable global economic system fails to protect humans, the environment, and the natural systems on which all life depends. It does not meet the long term goals of civilization.
When a system fails to such a catastrophic degree, it is time for change.
New local systems must be developed that are grounded in a value system of truth, compassion, understanding, sustainability, renewal and community. Developing new systems takes dedicated individuals who share the common value system, walk a common path, and move towards a common vision of the future. Local systems are needed to provide:
- jobs – that are challenging, safe and community oriented
- money – community currency that creates jobs, motivates progress and reinforces values
- food – that is nutritious, compassionate, sustainable, organic and available year-round
- energy – heat, electricity and fuels from renewable sun, wind, water and biomass sources
- transportation – utilizing ride sharing, mass transit, community vehicles and human power
- homes – safe, comfortable and welcoming, zero energy new homes and retrofits
- water – fresh, clean, free water that is owned and managed locally
- waste management – emphasizing reduce, reuse and recycling
- health care – high quality, low cost, community based services and prevention
- education – local teachers dedicated to providing continuing service
- security – utilizing open communication, problem solving, education and dialogue
- entertainment – opportunities for all to participate and enjoy
- culture – celebrating diversity and history
- spirituality – inviting all people to explore the deeper questions of life
Members of Local Future Network communicate and meet to learn, support, plan, and act. They take the initiative to increase independence for themselves and their communities. Their shared value system of truth, compassion, understanding, sustainability, renewal and community guides their actions toward a vision of a prosperous local future.