Monday, March 20, 2006

busy mixed bag

I am sorry for the recent lack of content. In addition to welcoming home the new addition to my family I have also been asked to participate this weekend in the Triangle Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions. For those of you here in the Carolinas this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about peak oil and the coming energy decent. I am excited both to be participating in the event and also that it is taking place in the heart of the higher learning center of North Carolina in the Triangle area at Duke University within a few miles of both North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It will also be baby’s first conference on sustainability. If at all possible please join us this Saturday in Durham as North Carolina begins to address this issue in public. More information on this free conference here.

Today, March 20, 2006, was suppose to have been the opening day for the oil bourse set to trade crude oil in euros. I wrote about it here. Turns out the opening has been delayed. Those of you who would like to read more on the topic should check out this article.

If you are interested in continuously updated information on smart and thoughtful ways to respond to peak oil and energy decent I highly recommend visiting Transition Culture. Mr. Rob Hopkins is diligent about updating with new and relevant information.

I would like to draw your attention to a document I read this past week. It’s entitled Energy Trends and Implications for the U.S. Army. The full version of the document is available here. A four page summary is available here. If there are those of you still unconcerned about the future of America despite our energy dependency who do not believe peak oil is a real issue or believe instead that it will solve itself, I have provided below a few excerpts from this document that might at least peak your curiosity. Remember this document wasn’t created by a tree-hugging environmental organization. It was created by U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They tend to be rather scientific and straightforward.

Quotations include:

“The days of inexpensive, convenient, abundant energy sources are quickly drawing to a close.”

“In general, all nonrenewable resources follow a natural supply curve. Production increases rapidly, slows, reaches a peak, and then declines (at a rapid pace, similar to its initial increase). The major question for petroleum is not whether production will peak, but when.”

“World oil production is at or near its peak and current demand exceeds the supply. Saudi Arabia is considered the bellwether nation for oil production and has not increased production since April 2003. After peak production, supply no longer meets demand, and prices and competition increase. The proved reserve lifetime for world oil is about 41 years, most of this at a declining availability. Our current throw-away nuclear lifecycle will consume the world reserve of low-cost uranium in about 20 years. Unless we dramatically change our consumption practices, the Earth’s finite resources of petroleum and natural gas will become depleted this century.”

“Currently, there is no viable substitute for petroleum... In summary, the outlook for petroleum is not good. This especially applies to conventional oil, which has been the lowest cost resource. Production peaks for non-OPEC conventional oil are at hand; many nations have already past their peak, or are now producing at peak capacity.”

“The impact of excessive, unsustainable energy consumption may undermine the very culture and activities it supports. There is no perfect energy source; all are used at a cost.”

On that somber but straightforward note let me add that Powering Down will itself be transitioning into a more comprehensive website over the coming months. While I still plan to rant about energy issues as a form of peak oil therapy I am hoping to provide other information on such topics as our currently emerging community garden, a schedule of energy-related events in the area, useful directions on everyday adaptations for American household in anticipation of peak oil, etc. The site will focus on the Southern United States or at very least have a Southern flair. This is a call for input on how the new version of this website might best serve those of you who visit and are concerned about peak oil and the coming energy decent. Please contact me through comments to this post or by visiting my profile and sending me an email. No recommendation is too large or too small. Thank you for your continued participation in these times of change.

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