Presentation on theme: "Triangle Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions Duke University March 25, 2006."— Presentation transcript:
Triangle Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions Duke University March 25, 2006
Co-sponsored by NCPowerdown and the Duke University Greening Initiative. Keynote address by: Larry Shirley, State Energy Office DirectorNCPowerdownDuke University Greening InitiativeState Energy Office “How will the global peak in oil production affect our community and change our lives? What can we do to prepare ourselves, our families and friends?”
Presenters Directory Presentations on energy, transportation, food production, and planned communities; speakers included: Patricia Allison, Earthaven EcovillageEarthaven Ecovillage Giles Blunden, Carrboro Collaborative Development AssociationCarrboro Collaborative Development Association Rachel Burton & Lyle Estill, Piedmont BiofuelsPiedmont Biofuels Shawn Fitzpatrick, NC Solar CenterNC Solar Center Mike Lanier, Orange County Agricultural Extension AgentOrange County Agricultural Extension Agent Tami Schwerin, Chatham Marketplace CoopChatham Marketplace Coop Tim Bennett and Sally Erickson, Director and Producer, What a Way to GoWhat a Way to Go
Production of oil has been greater than discoveries for a quarter century:
What is Peak Oil? Peak Oil is the simplest label for the problem of energy resource depletion, or more specifically, the peak in global oil production. Oil is a finite, non-renewable resource, one that has powered phenomenal economic and population growth over the last century and a half. The rate of oil 'production,' meaning extraction and refining (currently about 84 million barrels/day), has grown in most years over the last century, but once we go through the halfway point of all reserves, production becomes ever more likely to decline, hence 'peak'. Peak Oil means not 'running out of oil', but 'running out of cheap oil'. For societies leveraged on ever increasing amounts of cheap oil, the consequences may be dire. Without significant successful cultural reform, economic and social decline seems inevitable.
Why does oil peak? Why doesn't it suddenly run out? Oil companies have, naturally enough, extracted the easier-to-reach, cheap oil first. The oil pumped first was on land, near the surface, under pressure, light and 'sweet' (meaning low sulfur content) and therefore easy to refine into gasoline. The remaining oil, sometimes off shore, far from markets, in smaller fields, or of lesser quality, takes ever more money and energy to extract and refine. Under these conditions, the rate of extraction inevitably drops. Furthermore, all oil fields eventually reach a point where they become economically, and energetically, no longer viable. If it takes the energy of a barrel of oil to extract a barrel of oil, then further extraction is pointless.
M. King Hubbert - the first to predict an oil peak. In the 1950s a U.S. geologist working for Shell, M. King Hubbert, noticed that oil discoveries graphed over time, tended to follow a bell shape curve. He posited that the rate of oil production would follow a similar curve, now known as the Hubbert Curve (see figure). In 1956 Hubbert predicted that production from the US lower 48 states would peak in 1970.US lower 48 states would peak in 1970
Big Oil Denies Reality Shell tried to pressure Hubbert into not making his projections public, but the notoriously stubborn Hubbert went ahead and released them. In any case, most people inside and outside the industry quickly dismissed Hubbert's predictions. In 1970 US oil producers had never produced as much, and Hubbert's predictions were a fading memory. But Hubbert was right, US continental oil production did peak in 1970/71, although it was not widely recognized for several years, and only with the benefit of hindsight.
The Looming Energy Crisis No oil producing region fits the bell shaped curve exactly because production is dependent on various geological, economic and political factors, but the Hubbert Curve remains a powerful predictive tool. Although it passed by largely unnoticed, the U.S. oil peak was arguably the most significant geopolitical event of the mid to late 20th Century, creating the conditions for the energy crises of the 1970s, leading to far greater U.S. strategic emphasis on controling foreign sources of oil, and spelling the begining of the end of the status of the U.S as the world's major creditor nation. The U.S. of course was able to import oil from elsewhere, and life continued there with only minimal interruption. When global oil production peaks however, the implications will be far greater.
So when will oil peak globally? Hubbert went on to predict a global oil peak between 1995 and He may have been close to the mark except that the oil shocks of the 1970s slowed our use of oil. As the following figure shows, global oil discovery peaked in the late 1960s. Since the mid-1980s, oil companies have been finding less oil than we have been consuming.
54 of 65 Oil Producers have already peaked. Of the 65 largest oil producing countries in the world, up to 54 have past their peak of production and are now in decline, including the USA (in 1970/71) and the North Sea (in 2001). Hubbert's methods, and variations on them, have been used to make various projections about the global oil peak, with results ranging from 'already peaked', to the very optimistic Many of the official sources of data used to model oil peak such as OPEC figures, oil company reports, and the USGS discovery projections, upon which the international energy agencies base their own reports, can be shown to be very unreliable. Several notable scientists have attempted independent studies, most notably Colin Campbell and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO).54 have past their peak of production USANorth Seashown to be very unreliableColin CampbellAssociation for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas
Regular oil peaked in 2004 ASPO's latest model suggests that 'regular' oil peaked in If heavy oil, deepwater, polar and natural gas liquids are considered, the oil peak is projected for around Combined oil and gas, as shown above, are expected to also peak around Other researchers such as Kenneth Deffeyes and A. M. Samsam Bakhtiari have produced models with similar or even earlier projected dates for oil peak. Precise predictions are difficult as much secrecy shrouds important oil and gas data.Kenneth DeffeyesA. M. Samsam Bakhtiari
Independent studies agree. Other quite different types of analysis have provided supporting evidence to these 'early peak' scenarios, most notably UK Petroleum Review editor Chris Skrebowski's Oilfields Megaproject reports, and energy banker Matthew Simmons' analysis of Saudi Arabian oil fields.Chris Skrebowski's Oilfields Megaproject reports Matthew Simmons' analysis of Saudi Arabian oil fields The effects of natural gas peak are more localized due to the economic and energetic expense of liquefying and transporting natural gas as LNG. Both British and North American natural gas production have already peaked, so these nations may be facing dual energy crises.already peaked
What does Peak Oil mean for us? Our industrial societies and our financial systems were built on the assumption of continual growth – growth based on ever more readily available cheap fossil fuels. Oil in particular is the most convenient and multi-purposed of these fossil fuels. Oil currently accounts for about 43% of the world's total fuel consumption [PDF], and 95% of global energy used for transportation [PDF]. Oil is so important that the peak will have vast implications across the realms of geopolitics, lifestyles, agriculture and economic stability. Significantly, for every one joule of food consumed in the United States, around 10 joules of fossil fuel energy have been used to produce it. 43% of the world's total fuel consumption 95% of global energy used for transportation10 joules of fossil fuel energy
The Hirsch Report A risk mitigation study on Peak Oil was released in early 2005, commissioned by the US Department of Energy. Prepared by the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and titled “Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management” [PDF], it is known commonly as the Hirsch Report after its primary author Robert L. Hirsch. The executive summary of the report warns that "as peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking." [Emphasis added.] Unfortunately nothing like the kind of efforts envisaged have yet begun.Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk ManagementRobert L. Hirsch
But it's just oil - there are other fossil fuels, other energy sources, right? To evaluate other energy sources it helps to understand the concepts of Net Energy, or the Energy Returned on Energy Invested ratio (ERoEI). One of the reasons our economies have grown so abundant so quickly over the last few generations is precisely because oil has had an unprecedently high ERoEI ratio. In the early days of oil, for every barrel of oil used for exploration and drilling, up to 100 barrels of oil were found. More recently, as oil recovery becomes more difficult, the ratio has become significantly lower. Certain alternative energy 'sources' may actually have ERoEI ratios of less than one, such as some photovoltaics and most methods of industrially producing biodiesel and ethanol. That is, when all factors are considered, you probably need to invest more energy into the process than you get back.Net EnergyEnergy Returned on Energy Invested ratio biodieselethanol
Hydrogen Fuel Hydrogen, touted by many as a seamless solution, is actually an energy carrier, but not an energy source. Hydrogen must be produced using an energy source such as natural gas or nuclear power. Because of energy losses in transformation, the hydrogen will always contain less energy than was invested in it.Hydrogen
Wind & Hydro-Power Some alternatives such as wind and hydro-power have much better ERoEI, however their potential expansion may be limited by various physical factors. Even in combination it may not be possible to gather from renewable sources of energy anything like the amount of energy that industrial society is accustomed to. Richard Heinberg uses the metaphor that whereas fossil fuels might be considered a massive energy inheritance, and one spent perhaps unwisely, renewables are much more akin to a hard won energy wage.Richard Heinberg Small-scale Hydro Power
What can be done? Many people are working on partial solutions at various different levels, but there is probably no cluster of solutions which do not involve some major changes in lifestyles, especially for the global affluent. Peak Oil presents the potential for quite catastrophic upheavals, but also some more hopeful possibilities, a chance to address many underlying societal problems, and the opportunity return to simpler, healthier and more community oriented lifestyles.
The Post Carbon Institute Outposts. The Post Carbon Institute is a think tank devoted to exploring the implications of, and preparing for, Peak Oil, focusing on relocalization. They write, “the most important initiative of the Post Carbon Institute is working with groups of concerned citizens to prepare their community for the Post Carbon Age. These groups are Outposts in the sense that they are community-based extensions of the Post Carbon Institute; they operate autonomously yet receive guidance and electronic infrastructure from the Institute. Outposts work cooperatively in their local community to put theory about living with less hydrocarbons into practice while sharing knowledge and experiences with the global network of outposts.”
The Community Solution Many excellent resources are available through the website of this US based organization "dedicated to the development, growth and enhancement of small local communities... that are sustainable, diverse and culturally sophisticated." The Community Solution has organized two recent grassroots Peak Oil conferences, and has developed a case study of Cuba, a country which has relatively successfully adapted to an artificial oil peak.
Permaculture Permaculture is a 'design science' which can allow us to live in relative abundance with minimal resource use. Permaculture principles can be used to functionally redesign social systems, built environments, ecological and agricultural practices for energy descent. David Holmgren's recent book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, deals explicitly with the global oil peak and proposes permaculture as the best set of strategies for dealing with 'energy descent'. Local:
Intentional Communities Intentional Community (IC) is an inclusive term for ecovillages, cohousing, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives and other related projects and dreams... ICs represent one of the sanest ways of dealing with energy peak. gen.ecovillage.org gen.ecovillage.org
Where can I get more information? Several articles already published on this site provide good introductions to this topic: The coming global energy crunch. A great introductory article by Aaron Naparstek Plan War and the Hubbert Oil Curve, an interview with Richard Heinberg The Petroleum Plateau by Richard Heinberg on the current plateau in world oil production. Debunking the mainstream media's lies about oil by Dale Allen Pfeiffer The oil we eat by Richard Manning looks at modern agricultures' dependence on fossil fuels The coming global energy crunch. Plan War and the Hubbert Oil Curve The Petroleum Plateau Debunking the mainstream media's lies about oil The oil we eat There are some great introductory websites like: Wolf at the Door: A Beginner's Guide to Oil Depletion - available in French, Polish and English. Life After The Oil Crash – a question and answer style introduction. Peak Oil Center - a very concise introduction. Wolf at the Door: A Beginner's Guide to Oil Depletion Life After The Oil Crash Peak Oil Center
Break Out Sessions Doers at the Cutting Edge
Energy Shawn Fitzpatrick, NC Solar Center serves as a clearinghouse for solar and other renewable energy programs, information, research, technical assistance, and training for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. Dr. Ed Cox, NC Sustainable Energy Assoc. serves as a clearinghouse for action on sustainable energy alternatives here in NC.
Transportation Lyle Estill & Rachel Burton, Piedmont Biofuels a cooperative where people can buy clean, renewable biodiesel fuel. Local: Blue Ridge Biodiesel in Asheville Patrick McDonough, The Village Project a community design & facilitation organization.
Food Aaron Newton, Land Planner and Community Gardener Tami Schwerin, Chatham Marketplace Chatham Marketplace is a co-op grocery that will be located in Chatham Mills, an 80,000-square- foot former textile mill located just north of Pittsboro, NC. It will offer a full selection of organically and sustainably grown produce – as much as possible from local growers. Mills
Intentional Communities and Low Impact Lifestyle Patricia Allison, Earthaven Ecovillage an aspiring ecovillage in a mountain forest setting near Asheville, North Carolina. We are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living, and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture. Giles Blunden, Carrboro Collaborative Development Association established in 2001 to fill a void in the market place for consciously designed neighborhoods that address critical issues of environmental impact, walkability, and the building of relationships in new neighborhoods.
Video Resources How Cuba Survived Peak Oil by The Community Solution How Cuba adjusted after the fall of the Soviet Union and the cutoff of its oil imports. What a Way to Go - Life At the End of Empire by Tim Bennett and Sally Erickson
Our in-car community Patricia Allison – permaculture teacher & consultant from Earthaven Ecovillage in Black Mountain. Patricia Allison Earthaven Ecovillage Peggy – Earthaven intern? Jerome Chambless – founder of Zap-A-Doo, a biological preparation that contains a bio-diverse mixture of micro- organisms plus the essential nutrient supplementation necessary to completely recycle animal waste without the production of foul odors. Jerome Chambless Zap-A-Doo Andrew Allenbaugh – economist with a background in environmental services, disaster relief efforts, and customer support & marketing services. Andrew Allenbaugh Alan McRae – founder of McRae Management Corp, a computer & management consulting firm, with a specialty in application software, network security, and internet marketing. Also, lodgekeeper & webmaster of Maggie’s Place B&B/Retreat Center in Waynesville. Alan McRae McRae Management CorpMaggie’s Place B&B/Retreat Center
Conference Follow Up With Spring coming, what actions can we take to improve sustainability in our lives & in our communities? How can we help each other to reach a larger audience with our skills, products, services and creative ideas?
The End Feel free to distribute this, edit it and help motivate others to get involved in sustainability.