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A fresh perspective on the concept of peak oil and the challenges we face

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Tag: public transportation

 

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The essential problem is not just that we are tapping the wrong energy sources (though we are), or that we are wasteful and inefficient (though we are), but that we are overpowered, and we are overpowering nature – Richard Heinberg, from the Introduction to ENERGY

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The painful truth is that with a decline in oil production in the years to come—coupled with increased demand once/if it does in fact increase again—as we’d like to think [hope?], with the realities of reduced investment and research in alternatives tossed into the mix, we’re rendering any prospects for growth and improved well-being nothing but delusional aspirations.

When will there be a pause in denial and the flow of misleading half-truths so that all of us can begin the complex, years-in-the-making processes of adaptation to a world where fossil fuels are not the immediately available source of energy?

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It’s been quite a while—several years, actually, since my last post on transportation issues. But it’s still as important as ever; more so, if that’s possible. More than 90% of all transportation systems depend on fossil fuels—oil and gasoline, specifically. continue reading…

 

 

 

 

An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Earth Projects [quoting comments from David Demshur,  Chairman, President, CEO of Core Laboratories]: continue reading…

 

 

 

 

An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Chris Nelder.

[T]here is no intellectually honest way to believe that the world can continue its
near-total reliance on fossil fuels for much more than another decade — a paltry window of opportunity. We also know that we cannot wait until they go into decline before reaching for renewables and efficiency, simply because the scale of the challenge is so vast, and the alternatives are starting from such a low level that they will need decades of investment before they are ready to assume the load. The data is clear, and the mathematics are really quite straightforward.
The hard truth is that there are no good fuel substitutes anymore. Throughout human history, we have always been able to find not just a substitute fuel, but a better one: a cheaper, denser, more abundant one. That is simply no longer the case. One may hope for some miraculous technological breakthrough, and one may simply have faith that the invisible hand will solve our problems, but such thin threads are hardly a reasonable basis for policymaking and forecasting.

The truth about alternative sources—and especially the great wonders of tight oil and the tar sands and oil shale out West—continues to be much different than the fanciful “might possibly,” “could potentially,” and their half-truth, disingenuous brethren touted by those with a vested interest in keeping oil production first in line at the profit trough.

What’s being developed, admirable as the technology and ingenuity are, simply will not be enough. The message can be no simpler or straightforward. It’s the Peak Oil bottom line.

We’re just about at the end of the (relatively) easily accessible, (tolerably) affordable, and energy-dense supplies of the conventional oil resources which have powered us all for more than 150 years. What’s “available” does not share those important attributes. They are inferior by almost any measure, and in a world where billions seek to join us in sharing the magnificent technological marvels of modern-day living, we just are not going to have enough of what we all need and/or demand.

Worse still, every day that our nitwit leaders decide that investments in public transportation, education, smart growth, and renewable energy sources should be relegated to the sidelines in favor of their one-note energy policy of Drill More, Everywhere is one less day we’ll all have to plan for and implement what we can only hope will be an efficient transition away from our dependency on the marvelous but finite conventional oil resources.

Still trying to figure out why shooting ourselves in the foot is such a good idea.

~ My Photo: Niebaum-Coppola Winery, Napa Valley, CA – 09.03.04

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Not only is the business of big-time sports highly visible in our culture, but it also can use tremendous environmental resources and generate significant emissions (think lighting at night games, air conditioning in domed stadiums, high-volume traffic getting to and fro).  When teams, leagues, and stadiums make significant progress in improving their performance, they deserve our applause. [1]

In recent weeks, several articles and blog posts have been written about the commitment our major sports leagues and teams therein have made to sustainable, environmentally-aware practices. A related report by the NRDC provides a more detailed description of the greening and renewable energy efforts.

I’ve provided links * to those articles at the end of this post.

The various pieces describe an impressive range of responsibilities undertaken by our professional teams—a needless-to-say vital contribution to our future well-being, and a great example to the tens of millions of sports fan across the country. What if our political leaders were smart enough to suggest national efforts at conservation and sustainability? [Good to have dreams….]

You realize just how out-of-step anti-environmental lawmakers are when a $400 billion industry with hundreds of millions of fans is busy installing solar panels and expanding recycling programs. [2]

Baseball playoffs are just around the corner; college football and the NFL are now in full swing, and millions of fans are now and will be flocking to games around the country. Any and every effort favoring sustainable practices and energy conservation is a welcome bonus.

More than two years ago, I raised the specter of Peak Oil’s impact on sporting events.

A bigger question remains unanswered: when gas prices are so much higher because supplies are that much more difficult to come by because they are more difficult to access and thus costlier, take longer to get to market, are of an inferior quality, and thus of necessity are not as readily and immediately available to everyone all the time for all their needs, where do major (or minor) athletic competitions fall on the scale of prioritization? How much will fans continue to be willing to pay for the fuel needed to get from here to there?

And if our fossil fuel supplies are no longer as readily available and affordable, how will they get from here to there when the narrow-minded and shortsighted leaders from one of our major political parties (hint: begins with the letter “R”) see almost no reason to invest in alternative forms of transportation?

When the necessity of public transportation becomes vital to meeting everyone’s daily needs and challenges, just how quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively are we likely to create the infrastructure and mass transit systems needed to accommodate just about all of us?

Sure hope the Magic Technology Fairy doesn’t use up all of her pixie dust on shale oil and tar sand production.

* http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/how_sports_are_helping_to_gree.html
http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/fbeinecke/major_league_sports_show_ameri.html
http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/24051
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/opinion/the-greening-of-professional-sports.html

* My Photo: N Y Jets at New England Patriots – Jan 2007

Sources:

[1] http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/how_sports_are_helping_to_gree.html; How pro sports are helping to green cities by Kaid Benfield – 09.12.12
[2] http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/fbeinecke/major_league_sports_show_ameri.html; Major League Sports Show Americans–and Lawmakers–the Power of Sustainability by Frances Beinecke – 09.12.12