“We are not good at recognizing distant threats even if their probability is 100%.
Society ignoring [peak oil] is like the people of Pompeii ignoring the rumblings below Vesuvius.”
~James R. Schlesinger
Following on from last week’s “if permaculture is the answer climate change is the question” … Part 2 of my research project for my Certificate IV Permaculture study via Tafe NSW Digital online studies to gain understanding about the why of permaculture asked me to share three resources useful to either explain or give more information about Peak Oil.
Confession time… I missed the popularising of the term “peak oil“. Up ’til now I thought we were heading for a plain old oil crisis. However, I was no less concerned after I did a few Google searches and found these:
“Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of crude oil extraction is reached, after which the rate of extraction is expected to begin to decline… forever. It simply does not matter why peak crude oil extraction is reached, the peak is the peak regardless of the cause. The cause could be geological or it could be economics but most likely it will be a combination of the two.” ~ Peak Oil Barrel
“Proponents of peak oil theory do not necessarily claim that conventional oil sources will run out immediately and create acute shortages, resulting in a global energy crisis. Instead, the theory holds that, with the production of easily extractable oil peaking and inevitably declining (even in formerly bounteous regions such as Saudi Arabia), crude-oil prices are likely to remain high and even rise further over time, especially if future global oil demand continues to rise along with the growth of emerging economies such as China and India. Although peak oil theory may not portend prohibitively expensive gasoline any time soon, it does suggest that the days of inexpensive fuel, as were seen for more than a decade after the collapse of OPEC cartel prices in the mid-1980s, will probably never return.” ~ Encyclopaedia Britannica
And, seriously concerned by what I learned during my assignment research:
1. James Hansen
Climatologist and activist introduced to me when I viewed David Attenborough – Climate Change: The Facts, who, I learned, delivers the bad news that too many stakeholders are conveniently dismissing the science out of self-interest and that 30 years on, world is failing ‘miserably’ to address climate change. He holds energy corporations and business accountable because dollar-wise fossil fuels continue to be the cheapest energy source and advocates a carbon fee to make fossil fuel prices truly reflective of the cost to the environment, “Right now they are getting away with using the atmosphere as a free waste dump, where air pollution, water pollution, and climate change are not included in the price of fossil fuels.”
Given the CSIRO “is an independent Australian federal government agency responsible for scientific research. Its chief role is to improve the economic and social performance of industry for the benefit of the community” what I learned wasn’t what I was hoping for.
The CSIRO report Oil and Gas: A Roadmap for unlocking future growth opportunities for Australia “identifies four high-impact pathways to growth that are enabled by science and technology” and the content suggests that industry is committed to business as usual as much as possible while being willing to take onboard climate change considerations only necessarily. It’s not an entirely reassuring report.
The energy sector does its homework.
“This report was informed by industry consultation. The perspective on the future of the sector, including major opportunities and challenges, was based on the opinions of executives and managers from oil and gas operators, service firms and Government agencies. Dozens of interviews with technical experts from Universities and CSIRO provide the report with a solid perspective on technology developments. In all, approximately 80 interviews were conducted to inform this report during the first half of 2017. Analysis of the content of these interviews, and additional desktop research helped to shape this report. It therefore represents a consensus view of the trajectory of the industry, developed by synthesising executive opinions, technical expertise and scientific research.”
The energy sector is committed to remaining viable.
“What can the Australian oil and gas sector do, in the face of considerable obstacles, to remain viable into the coming decades?”
The energy sector is prepared to spend money to remain viable; costs I assume that will be passed on to consumers.
“What investments in science and technology are needed to prevail?”
The energy sector is pragmatic.
“Global citizens are increasingly adept at shifting public sentiment around issues important to them. Using such tools as social media, groups of people can create strong opposition to business interests, shape public discourse, and influence government policy. A key challenge for the oil and gas sector in this regard is earning and retaining social licence for its resource projects.”
The energy sector needs to become environmentally accountable not only financially, or decades of investment driven status quo will continue.
3. Four Corners
In 2006 Four Corners did a report about Peak Oil.
I learned that world leaders and consumers both tend to be primarily concerned with prices at the fuel pump and should there be lack, “up-ending comfortable urban lifestyles that rely on oil for the cheap transport of people and goods and for the manufacture of thousands of mundane household and office items – from mousepads, banknotes and drink bottles to carpets, clothes, cosmetics and deodorants.”
“The easy oil has already been produced. The remaining reserves, as significant and substantial as they are, are going to be more expensive and gradually more demanding to produce. Therefore, the future capacity is slower to come on stream than what it has been the traditional past.”
“Everybody in the industry realises that oil and gas are the backbone of global economies. Somehow, I guess politicians felt that this was not going to be an issue on their watch, that it was too far into the future, and therefore didn’t pay attention to it.”
I learned that the focus on are there or aren’t there enough oil reserves has detracted from the greater consideration of what happens if… when… society continues its uptake.
What will happen? David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept, environmental designer, author & futurist, offered this in his interview with Adam Fenderson from Resilience in 2004 on peak oil and Permaculture:
“People are driven mad by the total continuous drive to consume and the hollowness of this sort of existence, the lack of community and identity. In an energy-descent world, a lot of those destructive behaviors are just set aside, because there are more important things to do. So, at the extreme it’s a bit like what happens in a society where there’s a natural disaster. Community is re-discovered, people set aside their differences and get working on fundamental things. A lot of the angst about alienation and all sorts of seemingly intractable problems almost evaporate. For a lot of people, I think this would be an enormous relief. Most people can’t get off the treadmill because of peer pressure and individual and collective addiction in society. Sometimes people recognize a problem, want to change, but they need a crisis, something that affects their peers, so they can all change together.”
What’s your take on peak oil? A theory, or do you heed the rumblings of a crisis waiting to happen?
Another ‘branching out’ story inspired by comments to my Out on a Limb post, our city apartment’s leafy neighbours and the article Erskineville’s newest housing project. Dedicated to the G.O. for whom the big eucalypt tree neighbouring our balcony is a balm to city life.
“I’m a relative newcomer to what they call this now… the neighbourhood. A remnant from what it was two centuries of human time ago, a natural habitat abundant with my kind. I was here when the changes began and we trees gave way, were taken away, made way for Buildings and Roads… and People, as is the humans’ want to call themselves. But not here by the end.
The Outsiders came with plans and tools and cleared the Land. They said they paid for it with Money, or the Government gave it to them. I still don’t understand about the Money or the Government. They aren’t part of the Creation. Where did they come from?
The Outsiders undid some of the work of the Creation. They called it Construction, it made the Buildings go up and in an instant that’s all there was. No trees, grasses or blossoms. No wild animals, birds or insects. The Outsiders didn’t put them back. If they had thought of it anyway they had no time for Preservation. Instead, with pieces of trees they felled, the Outsiders confined spaces around the Buildings, dug the soil, set their beasts to graze and planted seeds they’d brought with them.
How do I know this? After I was there, before I came again, my Spirit, at one with All, was part of the Witnessing of what ensued. Nothing happens that isn’t observed and recorded in The Annals of Time. Of the Spirits of the Land, some travelled Home, some necessarily remained behind as Guardians. As Keepers of the Earth we do not give up our place lightly.
The Outsiders desired autonomy, opportunity to create their humanmade objects. They wanted more than the Creation could provide. To have their own powers of creation pleased the Outsiders. They were clever, strong and capable, no longer believing they needed to rely on offerings and appeasements to the Creation, subject to its caprices. They were proud.
Before the Outsiders there were the Old Ones. Nomads, they used only what the Creation offered, and in exchange were caretakers of the Land. The Outsiders had no place for the Old Ones either. Now they don’t come any more.
In the beginning there weren’t so many Outsiders. The climate suited to my kind was harsh for Outsiders, and the work of changing things was harsher. They brought more Outsiders from far away. Their dreams and schemes and talk spread like fire-stick burns of the Old Ones. But where from fires and ashes commanded by the Old Ones our kind regenerated, the all-consuming visions of the Outsiders doomed us.
For a while the Outsiders were grateful for the gifts of our kind. We were useful to them. By our bodies they kept warm and built shelter. As part of the Creation this was our calling. For all time we have provided Protection. To surrender ourselves to the Outsiders was a Sacrifice of Honour. Once the Outsiders would have honoured it in return by cultivating and nurturing our kind.
All beings are bound by the Creation and its three Pacts. The foremost Pact is Equality. As part of All no one being is more important than another. The second is Perpetuity. We are part of an endless nurturing cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth. And, finally what we give we get back. What we take we give back. That is the Pact of Stability.
There were Outsiders who remembered the Creation and understood the importance of its Pacts. However, unlike the Old Ones the Outsiders didn’t roam the Land accepting what the Earth offered up. The Government and the Money claimed they ruled the Land. To get shelter and food the Outsiders needed pieces of the Money. The Money would only yield pieces if the Outsiders exchanged time and toil for them. And so the Outsiders worked to live, and called it Industry.
But as I said, the Outsiders wanted more than the Creation entitled them to. More Outsiders came and believed and laboured pursuing the possibilities and successes of their own toil. They made a new pact amongst themselves. They called it Profitability. Profitability was acquiring lots of pieces of the Money. The more they thought about Profitability, the less important Equality, Perpetuity and Stability seemed. It became harder to live by the Pacts of the Creation. Everyone was busy pursuing Profitability. Profitability was time-consuming.
Profitability was also successful. The People wanted more. They exchanged the Money with each other in return for trinkets. Industry began to make all manner of trinkets they called Product. The People worked even harder to get pieces of money to swap for Product. They believed many pieces of the Money and beautiful, numerous or newest Product gave them special powers of Status as well.
After a while there were so many Buildings, Roads, Product and People, the Government and Money weren’t able to maintain Order needed to control Profitability. They appointed Politicians who were Outsiders that made rules for the People which they called Laws. The Politicians were busy making Laws so they chose other Outsiders to be Police to make sure the People obeyed the Laws. Because the Politicians and Police were busy with Laws and didn’t have time for Industry the Government decreed they could take some of the Peoples’ pieces of the Money which they called Taxes.
Rather than calling it the old name Order, the Government gave it a new name Community, which was better for Profitability. People toiled harder when they believed they were doing it for the Greater Good. A portion of their Taxes were returned to them in kind in the form of Services for the Greater Good and Benevolence for the unfortunate who didn’t have many pieces of the Money. The People were proud of what they created, their Industry and Benevolence. They worked harder, building more and better, earning more pieces of the Money.
Some time ago, one of the first Outsiders, among the last who remembered the Creation and its Pacts was approaching the end of his physical life, preparing to rejoin Spirit. He’d kept all these years a single gumnut pocketed in the first days of the Construction. After the woman he’d passed this life with returned to Spirit, he carried out one last act for the Creation to redress the balance of Stability. He planted the seeds from the gumnut in a crock the day they returned her body to the Earth.
While nine moons passed the issue of gumnut rose from the soil into two young saplings. The day after the young man returned the old man’s body to the Earth, he planted the saplings outside his Building of Industry where he would pass them each day. The tears he shed over the green shoots and into the soil summoned my Spirit and that of my twin, to dwell on the Earth once again, as patient observers.
The young man stopped by each morning and evening as we grew taller than him, then taller than the Buildings. At midday he brought food and sat beneath us sheltering from the weather. Many turns of the Earth were passed like this until the young man came to resemble the old man, and didn’t come as often. For many moons no People came at all. But the birds returned and we offered them shelter.
The young man, now old, came and last stood with us as we watched the Machines bring down the Buildings. Once again Construction emptied the Land before it made more, bigger Buildings go up, higher than our reach. The People came back but different, among them women and children. The Buildings are called Real Estate, shelter for the People.
We trees are few in number but stand here strong, Guardians yet, waiting still.”
”It’s one of the most important sites there and is a major project in moving from a former workers’ precinct with brick-making and a tannery to a new residential masterplanned community with new street blocks and pedestrian laneways.”
Erskineville’s newest housing project
Local Inner West resident and artist Thomas Jackson painted the George Street wall of Hive Bar in Erskineville, a comment to the recent Western Australian government’s shark cull that began on January 26.
It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things. Terry Pratchett, Jingo
At the same time news headines also declared “Buses the big killers of pedestrians in Sydney’s CBD…”. I ask myself, should the NSW Government take a cue from WA and cull the buses?
Earlier in May I posted regarding Monsanto on elladee_words “You are what you eat. You are every dollar you spend. Read labels. Choose wisely. Care. Make a difference”.
March Against Monsanto is May 25th, today, but I didn’t join in the protest marches against Monsanto, it’s not my style. I didn’t do anything special, just what we do many weekends – visit a farmers market. The G.O. due to miserable Sydney weather during the week washing out his work site, had an unusual free Saturday, so we grabbed a couple of shopping bags and marched over to Eveleigh Farmers Markets in Sydney’s glorious Saturday sunshine.
It was simple. We didn’t need to refer to the boycott list of Monsanto companies, we protested by spending some of this weeks grocery dollars on local and organic produce. The benefits of this type of protest is I can do it as often as I want, it will make a difference, oh, and it tastes delicious.
Spider Alert! Arachnophobes before you look too closely at the photos, the mosaic below includes a pic of our kitchen spider… it’s lovely – doesn’t jump, bite or wander about at night – just keeps to itself in the corner. For the brave there are also pics of a wallaby and joey, birds and flowers…
As we do, the G.O. and I escaped Sydney, early this year on a full moon lit Wednesday night and headed to our house in the rural village of Taylors Arm for an Easter break. We knew from experience there’d be cleaning and gardening courtesy of the earlier few months of hot rainy summer. After we attended to business we relaxed and enjoyed a few days of fine Autumn weather.
On Easter Sunday rather than going to church, I listened to the singing from the congregation waft down the hill as I pottered in the garden and wandered around with a camera. The G.O. went off on his motor bike into town and had a cup of tea with his mum while she had a good yarn. Later I relaxed in my usual manner on the verandah futon reading Vohktah by A.C. Flory of Meeka’s Mind on my phone, and hoped to read Dianne Gray’s The Everything Theory but there’s never enough time so I now have a date with it and the futon on our ANZAC long weekend.
Even though the laptop stayed in the city because I couldn’t be bothered dealing with dodgy internet coverage – the aerial connected to new phones finally gives us mobile coverage and 3G data – the WordPress blogging community so much inspires me to know one day I will be able to embrace the “retreat” lifestyle permanently, and invisibly accompanies me… in my: kitchen; garden; weather; insects; wildlife; nature; ideas, food; thoughts; words; goals and walks .
Easter is my favourite time of year… and as well as 5 tiny Lindt bunnies for the chocolate loving G.O., ok, 4 tiny bunnies if you count the one I ate, there was an abundance of non-chocolate Easter treats.
*Wildlife photo credits: the G.O.
The G.O. and I spent a lovely Easter at our house in the rural village of Taylors Arm, on the Mid North Coast of NSW Australia, 500 kms from Sydney. The last 30 kilometre stretch from Macksville, the nearest town, is dotted with yellow signs on gates reminding us of the spectre of corporate mining, political interests and environmental devastation hanging over us.
A dozen kilometres up river is Burrapine. Best described by Lock the Mid North Coast “Burrapine is like the land that time forgot. Rolling green hills, forested bluffs, emerald river flats. The beautiful Taylors Arm river winds its way down from the headwaters up past Thumb Creek and down through the valley, feeding into the Nambucca River at Macksville. Along the way there are beef and dairy cattle farms, small acre vegetable farms and people relying on this river for household use, drinking and irrigation.”
In April last year Precious Metal Resources Pty Ltd applied for a mining exploration licence, approved on 23rd November by the NSW Dept of Energy and Resources (Minister Chris Hartcher) for gold and antimony mining in the Nambucca Valley. The license covers an area of 330sq km in the areas around Taylors Arm, South Arm, Thumb Creek, Giralong, Burrapine and Buckrabendinni. It borders on the New England National Park and several state conservation areas.
From Wiki “antimony and many of its compounds are toxic, and the effects of antimony poisoning are similar to arsenic poisoning. The toxicity of antimony is by far lower than that of arsenic…”. However, the EVISA article Antimony mine disaster states “We saw that antimony behaves very differently from arsenic – antimony oxidizes much more quickly than arsenic when exposed.”
With newspaper headlines like
Greens call for immediate freeze on CSG mining
Suspend corrupt mining ops, NSW govt told
Toxic Mine Water
and information that John Dawkins, who was Treasurer and a Minister in the Keating Labor government, is on the Board of Precious Metal Resources Pty Ltd, I think we’ll need Kenny’s assistance with a fleet of Golden Toilets, otherwise the only thing our river water will be good for is flushing them.
Wiki also notes “The largest applications for metallic antimony are as alloying material for lead and tin and for lead antimony plates in lead-acid batteries.” It’s worth bearing this in mind along with RoughSeas’ An Easter message which touches on consumerism, so that objections aren’t just NIMBYism. Does it really matter to me?
“Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil. For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst? Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.” ― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
You too can flush… FrontRangeScribbles generously invites “If you have any one you would like to nominate please feel free to do so. The world is full of other people who are deserving to be recipients of this prestigious award second only to the Oscar.” And, in the words of Meeka’s Mind “Please check out the blog of the highly inventive FrontRangeScribbles. And then do your bit for the planet. But if you use the Golden Toilet to have a dig at your ex. or your mother-in-law, or your neighbour, then you’re just being petty. Think global! Think making the world a better place! Think Service To Humanity.”
I give a toss.
I might need to get out more… My usual weekday lunch is tuna & brown rice salad at my desk, but I was on secondment yesterday, not lunching at my desk, wandered in to the MLC Food Court (Sydney CBD) to pick up my favourite lunchtime sushi… and these bins were everywhere. May as well say what you mean, I agree.
This post warrants a disclaimer… in the form of extracts from comments I’ve posted in the past 24hrs.
“…I’ve spent a week or more of not so spare time (damn work) writing a post that doesn’t sound like me at all. I think my usual muses are sunning themselves in Spain, and left me with a crappy work experience muse…”
“…I have been labouring over a draft post and only today stopped to wonder why is this post so difficult?, when usually it hits me and flows. The reason was, I had preconceived notions about what it should say & how it should be written [see 2 “shoulds” there, I should have known], and I was trying to do it “properly”. Now, I’ll just get on with being me and get it done soon enough…”
I’m a toddler in the eco-world.
I’m like a kid walking around in a grown up’s shoes. I’m not yet the greenie I’d like to be. Just as I’m not a food blogger, nor am I an eco-blogger, but seek guidance and inspiration.
Consumerism is becoming unfashionable.
I feel changes in the air. We aren’t only judging others but ourselves. Do we feel good about our purchases, or are they ill advised, conspicuous, wasteful… soon regretted? Is what we choose today supporting our vision of tomorrow? The internet is creating a world without geographical or information boundaries. My green journey began long ago but 6+ months of WordPress and blogging, exposure to [virtual] lives outside my day-to-day life and blogs such as roughseasinthemed & cloudsmovingin have increased my awareness and efforts.
“Peck, peck, peck, peck, step, scratch. Peck, peck, peck, peck, step, scratch…”
We can do it by taking little chook steps. This link http://thekitchensgarden.com/2012/07/18/who-left-the-gate-open will take you to a woman and her family who are living their beliefs. Once you get past the gorgeous photos and engaging daily life of the farmy, read the paragraphs on “either we choose to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution.”
The “withs” of us have one extra thing, responsibility.
I’ve made a point recently that I don’t believe in “them” and “they”. There is only “us” and “we”. However, only a portion of this planet’s “us” enjoy the wherewithal to make a difference, and most of us are doing diddly squat. Me included. We are the lucky us. The us with choices. The us with resources. The us with power. The more of these we possess the bigger difference we can make, and the more accountability to use them conscientiously. It’s not only about individual power, it’s about ratio of power and capacity. It’s nonsensical to attempt to equalise the onus for reducing the eco footprint between members of societies bereft of resources and those with.
Putting plastics & paper in the proper colour recycle bin isn’t going to save the planet.
I confess to a confusion of thoughts, emotions, inadequacies and fears that I don’t make enough of a difference individually or collectively. I’m not able to reinvent my reality of living in the inner city, in 2 room apartment with a balcony where our activities are circumscribed by its proximity to busy road and train line. Impossible to grow veges or keep chooks, but I do what I can even if only: buying less, from farmers’ markets, organic, recycled, fair-trade, etc; walking instead of driving; green cleaning. All good but there’s more to be done to save the Earth, and ourselves.
An era of less consumerism, and more egalitarianism.
December 2012 is reputedly the harbinger of something… depending on what or who you believe. I’d like to believe the “New Age interpretation of this transition is that this date marks the start of time in which Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era…”
“A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger father with a bigger fist. If an omniscient, all-powerful Dad ignores your prayers, it’s taken personally. Hear only silence long enough, and you start wondering about his power. His fairness. His very existence. But if a world mother doesn’t reply, Her excuse is simple. She never claimed conceited omnipotence. She has countless others clinging to her apron strings, including myriad species unable to speak for themselves. To Her elder offspring She says – go raid the fridge. Go play outside. Go get a job. Or, better yet, lend me a hand. I have no time for idle whining.” ~David Brin