“Living Through The Energy Crisis- Preparing for a Low-Energy World” is a new booklet just published for ASPO by Dr. Colin Campbell and myself.
The first part- The Nature of the Energy Crisis by Dr.Colin Campbell puts the geological case for peak oil in the format of a trial presided over by a judge who calls various witnesses to give their evidence for the approach of a peaking in global oil production. This section also includes an analysis of the UK situation, and an outline of the Oil Depletion Protocol, Dr. Campbell’s proposed international response.
My own section Preparing for Powerdown looks at some of the implications of the situation, the dangers of oil dependency, and suggestions for starting a community powerdown response.
The third sections has contributions from Andy Wilson detailing how he reduced his domestic energy consumption and switched to an off-grid wind-turbine; and Davie Philip who describes Ireland’s first large-scale planned low-carbon development, The Village.
Below is an extract from my section:
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of Peak Oil
This is not a message of doom and gloom, for an imminent peak in global fuel supplies in fact presents us with a perhaps unparalleled and unique combination of challenges and opportunities.
One of the challenges lies in the need to bring change about at many technological, social, political levels and to do so rapidly. It requires a response as far-reaching and urgent as that faced in the Second World War. Every sector of society needs to become engaged in this transition .The rising energy base of most of previous human history- and especially the last 150 years of the Oil Age- gives way to a future in which all forms of energy become more costly. Energy policies need to be made without political rivalry. In particular, energy grids will need to become regionalised, and individuals, institutions and communities will all need to become much more aware and take responsibility for meeting at least part of their energy requirements, while at the same time taking every step possible to reduce consumption.
There are many opportunities by which to power-down creatively leading to new forms of self-governance, popular culture and local economies. Many skills and services currently under-valued in society – or out-sourced to cheaper labour abroad – will once again be important, including traditional skills and hand-crafts, local folklore, salvage and repair services as well as community care and social skills.
Before looking briefly at some practical steps that can be taken, it is worth evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the situation.
firstly, there is still a large amount of oil, natural gas, coal and other resources left in the ground, as we have so far used no more than about half the oil endowment in Nature. Used wisely, we still have enough energy to help smooth the transition to a low-energy world.
Secondly, we have a massive infrastructure, for example, in the form of buildings that were created in the earlier days of the energy ascent. Although much of this may be of the wrong type, or poorly designed, being in many cases badly insulated, some of it at least will be useful to us.
Thirdly, we have developed through the Internet a global network of information exchange which may survive far into the future as it requires little energy to sustain. Information, skills and knowledge, as well as exchanges with other communities around the world who are themselves making these preparations, may be of help to us in the years ahead.
The main weakness of the situation is that very few people understand, or are even aware of, the inevitable changes ahead. The political will to address the issue of energy depletion has been limited or lacking. We need to create a groundswell of public opinion that demands “Less not more”- but what politician would hope to gain popular support from such a slogan? Secondly, any message that does come through about Peak Oil has to contend with a constant background noise from the media, especially television, that insistently puts out the message: consume more. The fantasy world of unending consumption it conjures up has allowed us to forget, or ignore, the reality of depleting resources on an over-crowded planet.
Fortunately, the opportunities afforded us by our current predicament are boundless. In particular, there is a tremendous opportunity for the renewal of the Community.
The principal effect of Peak Oil, as well as the response to it, is re-localisation. We will need to re-acquaint ourselves with our neighbours, and with the resources available in our immediate neighbourhoods. There will have to be a resurgence of local economies with a renewed interest in local crafts and traditional skills. We will all need to learn to work together as a community again. More home-based lifestyles can lead to less stress; we will find that local food is healthier; and a general reduction in consumerism will lead to less waste and pollution.
Despite all this, we also need to be aware of the main threats that confront us as we move into a low-energy world. They include a collapse of essential centralised supply systems; the prospect of increased international conflict over the remaining oil supplies; the possibility of the removal of civil liberties and freedom of speech as the crisis deepens and panic sets in; and the possibility of sudden economic collapse as speculators on international financial markets wake up to the geological reality of Peak Oil.
To order a copy of Living Through the Energy Crises at €10 +p&p please email me email@example.com