My class is currently studying how to make prediction about he future by looking at the peak oil theory. Watch as i explore such topics and decide how i should live based upon what the future looks like.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

explaining peak oil

I tried explaining peak oil to two painter are our name is mud. The're both significancly older than me. towards the end of the day they always start talking politics. so i keep butting in with comments that would lead to a discussion of peak oil. i made claims about what they were saying in hope that they would ask to hear a little more about why i thought this was true because it didnt make sense based on the information they were discussing. It really didnt go so well, so i tried talking for a little longerthroeing in things like well without oil, immigrants may be better off in the countries their running from, just to get them to ask, wutd mean when there is no oil. No matter my attempt i was pretty much ignored. i think this is because they didnt see their highschool intern as a credible source of information. I think maybe if we took some time in class to discuss how people established credibility during their attempts i might be better equip to talk to others about the issues. Most the people i am talking to about it are older than me and i'm having a hard time being taken seriously. the only thing close to a sucess was telling my fairly rich uncle he should invest in gold, and he said he'd think about it, and mentioned a cute for the hint and such but i thinki really need to talk about it with him, if i can really convince him that peak oil is a serious issue, and possible just a symptom of a larger issue i'll be closer to convincing the rest of my family. Most people trust him so i'd be able to establish some credibility in my family.

I've change my perspective on my father boats a bit, he's gonna put me and doug in boat safety classes and i think i'm going to learn alot about boating nd navigating a boat and such. Useful skills that were brought about frm the situation. i just wish he had bought a boat that could be rowed is neccesary because its supposedly to heavy to do so. I'm just hoping he doesnt keep investing in his stupid little boat, i don't think its really worth it.

For Posse i'm writing my essay on peak oil in hope that i'll convince a few people my age that this is serious and when we get on campus we should have this issue in mind. Here's what it all looks like right now.

Thesis: A New Yorker, or any person who is planning on being alive during the next few decades, should be concerned with the peak oil theory because it means more work with fewer comforts.

I. Effects on American Lifestyle

a. Transportation in gas powered cars is least efficient and will probably

i. Evidence:

ii. Evidence:

b. Food won’t very available because of transportation issues

i. Evidence: 1 food calorie=10 oil calories

ii. Evidence:

c. As demand increases and supply decreases, less oil to go around

i. Evidence:

ii. Evidence:

II. Cuba’s Special Period

a. what the government can do: rations and legislator

b. Permaculture farming to ease food problems

c. Transportation and water issues (water catchments, biking, buses)

III. A note on alternatives-why fossil fuel replacement may be as

IV. Note on possible Early signs

Daniella Colón

The collapse of the oil industry is happening right before our eyes, and soon enough averting them will not be enough to deal with the problems it will cause. I know you’ve noticed gas prices are on the rise because your pockets are a touch lighter. But how much do you really know about what is going on, or how far it will go until it stops, or if it will stop at all? Knowing what I do, light pockets are the least of your worries as oil is involved in almost anything a New Yorker does. A New Yorker, or any person who is planning on being alive during the next few decades, should be concerned with the peak oil theory because it means more work with fewer comforts.

The oil peak theory, as I understand it to be, is the idea that oil world wide oil extraction has been increasing and will reach its peak sometime between 2006 and 2016, and slowly decrease. This peak should occur at approximately the same time the world has extracted half its oil. Trying to postpone the peak of oil extraction by continuing to increase extraction will make the crash harder and sooner.

It really isnt much but i'd appreciate any feed back, especially on the outline because i keep changing it because 'm not sure what the best way to go about it is.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Government Demands

There doesn't seem to be a way to wake people up from the belief that the next day will be similar to theone before it. Andy gave the example of trying to convince someone the sun would not come up tomarrow. How many would believe that when it has risen everyday of their existence? At this point it doesn't matter how strongly one believes in the possible problems peak oil will cause, preparation is neccesary. Though i believe the american lifestyle is unsustainable, most agree we use our resources wastefully. Even if the problem aren't as severe as many claim, the changes we make as a precaution would only better our situation with the enviroment. I have 5 demands of the government, the first 5 steps towards a solution.

The first thing i want is for power government officials to state the situation of peak oil and the range of problems this could cause. I want the worst case scenario (mass die off) and the best stated. This probably cannot happen with some solutions to the situation given, but i think it is important the people feel a shock. They need to face reality.

The second would be to order all energy producing companies to increase the amount of energy produced from green sources like wind or solar energy by 15% while decreasing the amount produced by oil by the same percent every year. This would eventually replace fossil fuel energy, so there is less enviromental damage done. Wind and solar energy is also a bit less dependable, and may not be able to reach the energy demand.

This leads to the third demand. Citizen restrictions on energy consumption. Every Vehicle must carry the maximum amount of people it can, and the energy consumed in every household per-person must be minimal for survival.

There also needs to systems in place for setting up green roofs on homes. Every Home must be green by 2012 and produce 15% of the households food.

I would also like for 1 lane on every highway and major roads with more than one lane to be used for bikes . The bikes do not cause the enviromental damage cars do and do not harm the pavemet in the way that cars do. This would save money on repaving roads as well as for energy.

Though many disagree on the importance of my demands, or whether their neccesary or extreme. What we've done to ourselves however is quite extreme. We've given ourselves the illusion of safety because we have a comfortable car to drives ourselves home in. The truth is, tomarrow may not be like today, especially without oil.


The mostly cheery scenario shown in the video seems like it would only be possibly in small countries though many of the techniques they used would still be applicable. The government, and community organizations, as well as outside grass roots organizations combining their help is what has helped cuba survive peak oil.
The government was to begin rationing food to the people, this way most people were getting at least the minimal amount of calories to survive. This probably reduced the panic, because the people would feel like the government was there for them. The government also did not cut down on the public services, like free education and health care (i believe). The government, however was not really able to give the people clear solutions to the problems. Government officials were not running around helping people cope with the issues that had come with this special period. It was the grassroots organzations and comunity organazations that got individuals and family's through the situation. The average cuban was very dependent on oil and had probably not thought of what to do if oil should dissapear, but people who had been thinking about it, were abe to step in and help. Permaculture farmers from australia came andbegan training cubans on how to make empty lots produce some of their food. It was this outside organazation that made city life possible.
It worries me that i may soon be in a similar situation on a much larger scale. I'm stuck in a huge city where most people don't know their worlds will crumble with the decline of oil. Where most people would not know how to survive without oil. The people who govern this area do not even know how to keep so many people alive without oil. It seems likely that many people will die, as our government has proven itself incompetent (consider our reaction to hurricane katrina), we will have to depend on ourselves and our community to survive.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The skeptics- Corporations will manufacture new energy sources

Reviewing the skeptics’ perspectives has opened my eyes to the fact that I usually believe the first reliable source I am exposed to when learning about a new topic. In the case of peak oil, the first credible sources I came upon were things like power down, collapse, and Andy. All sources who believe in the peak oil theory, and have strongly researched opinions on the topic. I’ve realized researching various opinions on the peak oil theory before drawing any concrete conclusions about it would actually allow me to formulate opinions with concrete evidence I’d actually recall.

Are we truly running out of oil at all? The economist argues that we are not running out of oil, and even if we were, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. One big argument the economist makes in the article ‘steady as she goes’ published on April 26th, is that the oil industry is not collapsing. The “industry is on the verge of a dramatic transformation from a risky exploration business into a technology-intensive manufacturing business. And the product that big oil companies will soon be manufacturing, argues Shell’s Mr Van der Veer, is ‘greener fossil fuels”. In other words, because companies are researching new ways to manufacturing energy, and will solve the energy problem as their industry shifts.

There are three claims made in the Economists argument. The first is that the industry will shift. The second is that the corporations that extract and sell oil are researching greener fossil fuels. And the third is the corporation will find or create an alternative energy source. The type of argument I believe the Economist is making is a combination of the interpretative, logic with a splash of evidence. The evidence the economist appears to be basing the rest of its argument on is the fact that some companies (like Shell) have stated they have started researching alternatives. It would probably be wise of companies whose industry is failing to find another that could yield similar profits. This argument implies that there is a peak, and not all companies believe this is true. If the majority of the companies who sell oil are not doing the type of research a few of them are doing this arguments may be less convincing. If there is proof that there are no alternatives then no matter how much research the companies do there may be nothing they can do solve the situation. If this argument is untrue, it would only prove if there is a peak we may not be able to depend on the people in the industry to bail us out.

The way to go about researching would be to address the three claims made in this argument. Is there evidence of other industries shifting as oppose to just collapsing? How many companies have stated they are researching alternatives? How many of those are making progress? How likely is finding or creating an alternative before supply of oil is smaller than the demand?

I have come to believe that there are oil companies that are doing research in alternative energy sources. I went to general electrics website and found press releases about research they are doing on wind power in California. ‘Project manager Richard Piwko of GE Energy explains: "The unique impacts of wind energy need to be fully understood to protect and manage a given state's power system. For example, grid operators need to schedule the amount of electricity delivered at a given time to match the grid's load. The supply of wind energy is difficult to schedule accurately due to wind's fluctuating nature."’ The article makes we think California may be a good place to be when the oil collapses. Other companies state similar things, Britain’s Virgin Fuels are researching plant waste alternatives as they have given up on hydrocarbons.

to be continued.... (still researching)

(GE Press Release)

(Articles on Britain Virgin Fuel supply)

Sunday, April 30, 2006

What is probably true about peak oil

The following is based on four articles.

I feel as though reading over these articles through my fairly bias lens did improve my understanding of peak oil, what it means, who believes in it and how desperate power holders are to keep the public calm. I’ve come to the conclusion of a few peak oil facts based on the readings on the websites, as well as listening to Julian Darly speak on Saturday.

Most experts on the topic agree 4 of the five sources seemed to be in clear agreement that oil is finite, meaning there is a set amount the earth has and it is non-renewable. Some disagree on how much it the set amount is, but it’s been estimated to be around 2-3 trillion barrels, but the difference could mean many more years of oil dependency. As the New York Times article states, there’s “No reason yet to abandon the family S.U.V.” those sources also agree that when oil peaks, oil production will continue to decline, which in turn means no more cheap oil.

3 of the sources clearly agree that oil has powered our economic growth over the last century. One states “The global financial system is entirely dependent on a constantly increasing supply of oil and natural gas.” Though I’m not to clear on why, because I’d don’t know much about banking I’m interested in finding out more about this. If the banks go bankrupt due to oil depletion life as we know it would truly be ruined.

4 of the sources also agree that M. King Hubbert was the first person to accurately predict the peak of American oil production. All of them agree that the US peaked in 1970 one just didn’t make clear it had been Hubbert’s prediction. I think this is probably true, why else would the US government be giving this any real attention. There must be well researched theories they are basing their actions on.

All of the sources were in clear agreement about the public being awakened to a society that might not be progressive. Kenneth S. Deffeyes stated “…We can pause and give thanks for the years from 1901 to 2005 when abundant oil and natural gas fueled enormous changes in our society. At the same time, we have to face up to reality: World oil production is going to decline, at first slowly, and then more rapidly."

I had a hard time reading the New York Times article because it did not make peak oil seem like the major issue all of the other article made it out to be. I think even more conservative thinkers would fret about the possibility of an oil decline, even if they believed oil was infinite. Oil is used to produce so many of the things we use and need on a daily basis. The LATOC (life after the oil crash) article pointed out a lot of these. The most striking of which was that for every one calorie of food approximately 10 calories of fuel were used to create it and get it on your plate. Even if there oil was not declining, why is our society so dependent on one source of energy?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I got this from Lucas Anderson's profile

The skin hangs from bodies that tried to run, From a blinding flash,
The children have no mouths with which to speak, where they even alive?
An empty shell now stands where yesterday a hospital stood
medicating the sick with more sickness
An empty shell now stands where yesterday a schoolhouse stood
teaching children to follow orders.
A graveyard of smokestacks stands, where yesterday stood factorys.
Mass producing useless products, manufacturing greed.
All that remains
are the stacks and stacks of radiated corpses
All that remains
Are the piles upon piles of our excessive debris
All that remains
are the skeletons of the once alive
all that remains...
serving as the monuments to an era of humankind
the error of humankind

tragedy- the day after

I often think about whether a few thousand years down the road there will a species studying us in the same way that we study the dinosaurs. It doesn’t bother me much though, maybe they’ll learn from it. I don’t see why we don’t study the creatures that have manage to survive as a species much longer than we have. If surviving really were a concern of the people in power maybe that would happen. But instead its been taken for granted, and money has become our main concern. Pieces of paper we have given value, value beyond ourselves. Remember what god did when Moses found his people worshipping the golden calf.

Oil Peak Theory

The oil peak theory, as i understand it to be, is the idea that oil world wide oil extraction has been increasing and will reach its peak sometime between 2006 and 2016, and slowly decrease. This peak should occur at approxamately the same time the world has extracted half its oil. Trying to postpone the peak of oil extraction by continueing to increase extraction will make the crash harder and sooner.

This link has a graph of some predictions.

Before doing this asignment i attempted to explain peak oil to my parents and found though they were interested in what i had to say, they were naive about what this meant. My father, for example, is under the impression that the situation will be solved, some one will find a replacement for oil. He does not understand the the problem is not just the decrease in oil, butthe complete dependency our society has on the substance. We are oil addicts. Finding a replacement will not solve the problem, we need to ween ourselves off it and live a life wthout addiction.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Collapse experience

In my life’s experiences, I have never really come to close to a grand collapse of social structures. The closest experience I have had would be the attacks on the world trade center of 2001. Though I was not directly exposed to the physical collapse of the buildings, the effects that it had on the week to follow.

I was in 8th grade, it was a Tuesday, and I reported to my first period class. I had Mrs. Vercesi, my humanities teacher. Class had barely started, but was going smoothly, it was school. One of the other humanities teachers came in and pulled Mrs. Vercesi right out of our class. She came in a made a few phone calls, and when she got off the phone she asked the class if anyone had seen Brian. When none of us had she asked us a few other things, like his cell number. After attempting to call she explained what had happened, as calmly as she could. A plane had hit the world trade center. She did not say why or who are anything and I assumed it had been some sort of accident. She went on to explain that Brian’s mother had called to look for him, he had taken the path train to school and was afraid something had happened to him. Most of us laughed it off, including myself. As the teachers ran wild trying to figure out how to respond to the situation, my friends and I drew the conclusion that Brian much have decided to skip school today. That he has no idea that everyone is worried about him. He was out having fun with some of his friends and would probably get in a lot of trouble when the teachers found out. We laughed it off.

Mrs. Vercesi came in and told us we needed to go to our second class, so we gathered our things and walked to 5th floor for science with Whitney. When we got there, there was some confusion as to whether students should be switching or not. We watched the other class exit the room very quietly for a group of 8th graders. I saw Eugenia crying, and I asked her what was wrong. She acted as if I were crazy for asking, ‘didn’t you here, a plane crashed into the world trade center’. I told her that I had heard.

I did not understand what the need for tears was; did she know someone in there? we entered the class room and sat in our assigned seats. Whitney asked us to take out a piece of paper, date it, and write about hat was going on. Write about the sounds we heard the feelings we felt and things we know. She said today would be an important day in history and having a record of what we were thinking when we first heard would be important. I wrote in a green pen.

Whitney turned on the radio for a bit, we discovered that two planes had hit. She explained that this was probably not an accident. Brian walked in looking frazzled. It lightened the mood. He said he didn’t really want to talk about what had happened. Soon we were all rushed up into the cafeteria where we were supposed to awaiting our parents. Students whose parents had arrived were called down into the computer lab to be picked up. I remember Kristin got called down before me and I went down with her, in the computer lab there was a T.V. Everyone was watching the news, photographs and video footage of planes hitting the tower. It was the same images over and over again, I didn’t understand why they were watching when no new information was being given.

My mom came to get me because she doesn’t work too far away. We went to her job first. I heard people talking of plans to sleep in the office because they couldn’t get home. My mom told my father would be picking up my brother, and my sister-in-law would be walking from 42nd to 106th street to meet up with them. I didn’t really talk to my mother though, she just kept talking about what was going on. We walked to 42nd street when the trains were running again. They were very empty. On the train we saw a man covered in ash who was in the area during the attacks. He didn’t have much to say, just sort of stared into space.

When I got home, just about everyone was out on their porches talking to each other. Doors wee open and you could hear the sounds of news casters. I went inside my brothers’, my cousin, my father and my sister-in-law were there. I dropped off my things and sat out side with my neighbors. Mike was angry, he was cursing and saying things like we should bomb the people who did this to us. I didn’t understand why he was so offended, why he was so angry.

Being so young when this happened makes me feel like the majority of the feelings and thoughts I had during this were invalid. Why I would joke about a student possibly being hurt in such an accident doesn’t make too much sense to me now. I found it interesting how desperately everyone wanted to be home with their family during this time. Belkis, my sister-in-law walked so far just to get home as soon as possible, when if she had waited a little longer she could taken the train with us. And even when we got home we were doing the same thing we did when we were separated. I found it especially interesting how quiet the children were. When I went outside it wasn’t to share my ideas with my neighbors, but to be among people who were talking about it, just to listen. I wanted to see what the adult thought of it all because I really had no idea what to think. Children must be extremely impressionable during times of confusion. I think children are more dependent upon the routine of life than adults because they’ve been knocked out of their routine before.

Collapse Essay

The collapse of the Easter Island Society in the south pacific ocean Is one I found very striking, despite the lack completely accurate information known about it. According to Jared Diamond, the author of “collapse how societies choose to fail or succeed” there are five factors that affect the collapse of a society. These factors are the damage unknowingly inflicted upon their environment, climate change, hostile neighbors, decreased support by neighbors and trade partners, and the way the society responds to the problems it has (pg 11-14). In the case of Easter Island however, the collapse is primarily considered an ecological collapse, because it was in isolation from other societies and there is no evidence of climate change (pg 20).

There were several key factors in the collapse of the Easter Island society. When first arriving at the Island of Easter, these people became farmers. They implemented irrigation techniques similar to those known of the places they originated from, and created large stone chicken houses in which to protect their chickens. These irrigation techniques caused erosion and infertility of the soil. They even became desperate enough to use small stone piles around their small crop land to break the wind and protect their crops. Easter was already unable to sustain crops the islanders knew how to grow, making life as a farmer difficult and their techniques desperate. The Easter islanders found them selves in need of more food than the soil could provide.

There were some other food sources the original islanders could hunt, they were ale to eat native birds or open-sea fish and porpoise that were hunted in deep waters (pg 106). These food sources were the ones the islanders depended on most (pg 105) as the soil was never very high yielding to begin with. “Of the 25 or more formerly breeding seabirds on Easter itself, overharvesting and rat predation brought the result that 24 no loner breed on Easter itself, about 9 are confined to breeding in modest numbers on a few rocky islets off of Easter’s coast, and 15 have been eliminated off those islets as well” pg 106 Needless to say the Easter islanders, by way of over hunting and introduction of non-native species (rats via original settlers boats), nearly wiped out the bird population on the island leaving them with little or no food options. When fish became unavailable they soon turned to eating rats, and eventually, eat other.

The resource that the islanders depended on the most for survival was the forests. The wood was used to create boats to gather fish far at sea, items valuable in erecting statues and as firewood. The island originally had about 48 native species of plant, now none of the trees on Easter island are native. There is evidence of a palm tree called the giant palm, another similar to the Chilean wine palm which would have been very useful. The second tree would have been used for its sap, its oily kernels great for eating, its frond ideal for house thatching and boat sails and its trunks wonderful for transporting moai and possibly making rafts (pg. 103). Easter islanders completely deforested the island, leaving them with the clear consequences, loss of raw materials, decreased crop yields and loss of wild-caught foods (pg 107). With such severe effects of the ecology of the island there was no realistic hope of reversal.

The Easter Island society was able to do grand thing with the available resources. Classes were created (as suggested by different housing styles as well as paths the working class took to work). Trading relationships were developing among the different groups who had different resources on the island. The erection of the great moai is evidence of the high and mighty life they once lived. But as resources depleted, so did the society. Once the forest had been depleted, the source they had been most dependent on, there was little they could do. Jared Diamond suspects the reasons for the great collapse of the Easter Island society is their response to deforestation, as none of the other pacific island suffered such great deforestation. If it were possible, I would be interested in studying the response to the deforestation. On page 107 Diamond mentions two islanders known to be begging for wood in 1838, and in 1872 only 111 inhabitants remained. I wonder whether or not there were attempt by the islanders to resolve the depletions of resources. Were the people who survived the collapse the lucky ones, the richest or just those who planned accordingly? Were there people who objected strongly to the erection of the moai, and the irresponsible use of the resources available. Were there revolutionaries and intellectuals who saw the society crumbling and tried to open the eyes of the masses. There is very little of this that can actually be studied because the people who lived through no longer exist, but as Jared Diamond mentions, the study of the collapse of societies, especially those with high population, high use of resources and lack of public action, is the a good way to find common mistakes made. There is much of the world that may be along a similar path of the Easter island society or the other societies examined in this book, but how would we know it. And if we did recognize it, would we choose to succeed or fail?