Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meetings of kindred spirits--unknown to each other...

Didn't go to the Green Festival last weekend and eat the vegetarian fare there, among other things (although I enjoyed a tasty, filling vegan brunch that same day at Everlasting Life for $10, which would have been cheaper than any lunch at the festival).

Strangely enough, only two weeks earlier across town, there was a gathering of professionals who are also keenly concerned about modern society's overreliance on petroleum--the ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas) USA's World Oil Conference 2010, which convened at the Capitol Hill Hyatt. While I might have liked to attend (I think), the cost was too rich for my blood (even the discounted rates), but various of the discussions and transcripts of some events are can found online at Energy Bulletin and The Oil Drum.

Many of the speakers and participants were knowledgeable energy consultants such as Robert Hirsch, who published the so-called Hirsch Report in 2005 at the behest of the Department of Energy, a document which posits that, according to estimates from knowledgeable investigators such as K. Deffeyes, world oil production could peak earlier than 2016. He was scheduled to speak about his lastest book, The Impending World Energy Mess, among other topics. Other speakers included Rear Admiral Lawrence Rice, former Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger (Carter administration), former CIBC economist Jeff Rubin, and many others.

Lest you think the perspective of ASPO members is overblown, reflect on this recent, underreported (as underreported as the ASPO conference) coincidence--in recent months, there have been reports issued by the US Forces Joint Command as well as the German military wondering about the consequences of dwindling levels of the world's petroleum reserves, and the effects on military operations. (Now the symbolism of President Obama bringing back solar panels back to the White House doesn't seem empty.)

Apparently, not everyone wants their fellow Americans (and others) to prepare themselves to withstand and thrive when petroleum reserve levels fall off the proverbial cliff. Allegedly, at each yearly ASPO conference, a couple of local demonstrators dressed as "Chicken Little" (believed to be hired by a Texas or Denver oil man) hand out flyers.

Hiring those demonstrators is of the same head-in-the-sand mindset as the Georgia county that sued a farmer for growing too many vegetables on his land, even after the zoning changed. View the insanity below.

If the hippie types at the Green Festival and the good farmer in Georgia agree with the engineer and military types at the ASPO conference (and in many aspects, they DO agree) with the need to drastically reduce our petroleum usage within the next few years, how do they, and the rest of us, convince our elected (civilian) officials to take seriously the prospect that world oil reserves may peak within our lifetimes? And, what to do first, as a society, to keep functioning as a society? Perhaps press for the expansion and electrification of our railroad system?

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