[WEC-All] Peak Everything - a reply to Larry Reed
LarryReed at jrhweb.com
Mon Nov 12 09:12:40 PST 2007
The things Mark brings up are all real issues and problems the 'world'
will solve. I don't believe the WEC are part of our narrow focus can
solve them or make any meaningful impact on them. Never the less, I
continue to be much more optimistic than Mark, I believe these problems
will be solved. As in the past private enterprise and market forces will
lead the way. What is Mark's solution? Given Mark's doom and gloom is it
government and / or the "environmental community" telling the rest of us
(The great uninformed) we can no longer aspire to owning a detached
single family home, we can not own or drive a personal conveyance
vehicle, to curb world over population we can have only one child/
grandchild. Limiting personal freedom is not the answer. It was tried in
USSR and China and all ways fails.
Larry E. Reed, Principal
JRH, Land Use Planning Division
PH (541) 678-1081
From: Mark Robinowitz [mailto:mark at oilempire.us]
Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2007 11:50 PM
To: Larry Reed
Cc: we.emx at ltd.org; wec_all at westeugenecollaborative.org;
mayorandcc at ci.eugene.or.us
Subject: Re: Peak Everything - a reply to Larry Reed
On Nov 7, 2007, at 9:41 AM Nov 7, Larry Reed wrote:
I'm old enough to remember the early 1960's predictions that earth's
population will out run the world's food supply. It didn't happen
Those who had the best information predicted a few decades ago that the
energy crisis would really begin to hit around the turn of the century,
and they were essentially correct.
Fish in the oceans are in decline. Where are the fabled salmon of
Oregon? Some still thrive, but many of the best runs are in history
books. Overfishing in the oceans and destruction of river habitats are
Old growth timber is mostly gone. The fact that old growth forests are
the best storage systems for carbon, and that our old growth forests
provide clean air, clean water and even some critical medicinals
(plants, fungi) has not resulted in their complete protection.
Selective logging of tree farms makes more board feet in the long run,
but greed in the short run still calls the shots. This is why Oregon's
clearcuts are easily seen in satellite photos, and there is some
evidence the clearcutting is disrupting rainfall patterns and causing
desertification downwind of the Cascade Range. A NASA analysis in 1992
found that the Oregon Cascades forests were much more fragmented than
those of the Amazonian state of Rondonia. Peak timber is past in
Oregon, with or without environmental laws.
Natural gas production in North America is in decline and is the reason
for the proposed Liquid Natural Gas terminals on the Oregon Coast -
facilities that are not guaranteed to be built because they pose
ultrahazardous risks to the nearby communities (Coos Bay / North Bend
and Astoria) and the natural gas supplies in Asia are already allocated
for Japan and Korea.
Even coal will likely "peak" around 2020 world wide, and coal mining in
the eastern US is removing - permanently - large sections of the
Appalachian mountains, a range that was among the oldest landforms on
Soils are in decline, especially in the Midwestern US.
Clean air and water are in decline almost everywhere.
Currently, grain production per capita is at record low levels world
wide, due to ecological stress, rising demand for meat (the least
efficient means to make food) and the new threat of biofuels (a great
idea on a SMALL scale, but we don't have an extra Earth to turn into a
biofuel production center to replace the oil).
In other words, we need to change what we are all doing and prioritize
survival of the biosphere that gives us all life.
Concern about climate change is unlikely to make these changes happen -
the rising price of energy and/or rationing is much more likely to
impose these changes, regardless of politics, psychology and entrenched
interests. As geologist Colin Campbell puts it, it will be "imposed by
because world food supply between 1970 and 1985 grew by 250% and is
continuing to increase. In college I also read most of the mid 1940's
predictions that the world would run out of oil by end of 1960's. Before
their was oil /gasoline there was wood/ whale oil. In fact there was a
short period of time just after the turn of the 20 century when most
cars were powered by lead-acid batteries- electricity until gasoline
stations became more readily available. As a land use planner with a
history minor I'm more optimistic. (Than Thomas Malthus, Paul Ehrlich
and Mark) I believe we'll keep the private vehicle because of the
freedom it affords and represents. As it did at the turn of last century
the type of fuel will change to something else; possible transition from
oil to Hydrogen, Electric, and /or Atomic; maybe even anti-gravity.
History has shown us these 'transitions' will happen fasten than
predicted and without serious economic upheaval.
This energy transition is likely to be different, since it involves a
reversal of direction from increasing use of energy to decreasing use of
energy. There's no new source of concentrated energy to tap into.
Hydrogen is not a "source" of energy - you still have to generate the
needed energy to create the hydrogen from somewhere. Plus, a policy to
build lots of fuel cells using platinum would quickly find there's not
enough platinum to replace the power grid.
Nuclear power also has limits on the amount of uranium (those supplies
are finite). Nuclear reactors also generate lethal wastes incompatible
with creatures using DNA (ie. the Hanford waste tanks) and have serious
civil liberties and security issues, since the technology leads to
weapons. That's not a viable approach, either.
Solar energy does not have these toxic problems, but it works best as a
decentralized technology (on every rooftop, not square kilometers of
panels in the desert). Unfortunately, the infrastructure for widespread
usage of this does not exist, although it could be scaled up over a few
years (and will have to be). Perhaps one day the City of Eugene will
decide to require the ancient technology called passive solar design as
a condition of getting a building permit for a structure (the idea is
only about 2,500 years old). None of the new homes I've seen going up
(with one lonely exception) seem to have been designed by architects who
know which way the sun rises and sets - since proper solar orientation
on a building can cut energy costs for heating and cooling with minimal
cost difference for the construction. It makes more sense to buy a
Hummer SUV than to build a poorly designed building since the Hummer
will only last a few years, while the inefficient building will last for
decades (at least). Some European jurisdictions have started to make
these types of building code changes, but the US (as usual) is lagging.
Since part of the suburban disaster of West 11th and Highway 99 is
construction of toxic, inefficient, shoddy buildings that are very ugly,
fixing the problem to make west Eugene a beautiful place would require
retrofitting of existing structures to use much less energy, which will
be needed when the cheap, abundant energy is replaced by expensive,
Even if Anti-Gravity technology is real, we would still have to work to
protect soil and grow food. And we have already had a "free energy"
source -- it was called petroleum, and we have largely squandered it
(how much of the things we have made with petroleum will be functional
after the oil era?).
It would be nice to use the remaining petroleum as a bridge toward a
sustainable society so there will be something usable left over when
it's gone. Investing in solar panels, wind farms, relocalized
production of food and other things, a First World quality intercity
train system, etc. - these and many other shifts will be needed for
civilization to outlast the oil era.
The infrastructure for these shifts barely exists and would take years
to scale up - but Peak Oil is here, now. Merely improving bike lanes,
sidewalks and fancy buses does not even begin to address the scale of
the shifts that will be forced on us all.
Don't misconstrue my above analysis to mean I'm against walking,
bicycles, and mass transit, because I'm not. I use all of them and
believe their facility improvement will serve us well. There are lots of
reasons to support these modes other the "end of oil", better health,
better for the environment, life style-improved quality of life, to name
Larry E. Reed. Principal
JRH, Land Use Planning Division
PH (541) 687-1081
from Goal One Coalition:
Eating fossil fuels
Here's a fact that goes largely unnoticed:
Americans eat almost as much in fossil fuels as we burn in automobiles.
As a consequence, the continual decrease in the world's oil reserves
will more likely result in longer bread lines than longer gas lines.
We are eating fossil fuels in the form of synthetic fertilizers and
pesticides - but this is resulting in the degradation of farm land
-soil-organic-carbon/> . Farm land is also being gobbled up by urban
Using fewer machines and less chemical fertilizer and pesticides would
actually be good news for the poorer countries where farmers can't
afford expensive "inputs." We must re-invent an ecologically intensive
agriculture that produces a better yield without degrading the
ecosystems. Sustainable or "organic" agriculture was simply the right
way to farm for many centuries.
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