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Peak Oil Awareness Information and Education Session Presented by Who are we? Seattle Peak Oil Awareness

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who are we
Who are we?

Seattle Peak Oil Awareness

  • Seattle Peak Oil Awareness (SPOA) is a local citizens action network offering information and practical ideas for living in a time of reduced energy availability. Working in small, focused groups we advocate healthy, sustainable living choices for all interested residents in the Puget Sound region.
  • We’ve come together to try to…
    • Develop individual and collective strategies to cope with this crisis
    • Create awareness in the Seattle community about Peak Oil
    • Influence policies of local government to help mitigate the crisis
    • Serve as a community resource as the crisis becomes more severe
what is this about
What is this about?

We’re here to talk about Peak Oil

  • What is “Peak Oil”?
  • When will its impact be felt?
  • What does it mean for…
    • Ourselves and our families?
    • Our community?
  • What can we do to prepare?
what do we hope to accomplish
What do we hope to accomplish?
  • This presentation is intended to raise your awareness of Peak Oil. We hope to show you that…
    • Fossil fuels will soon become less plentiful, less readily available and increasingly expensive
    • The coming decline in fossil fuel production could wreak havoc with our way of life and force all of us to make dramatic changes in how we live
    • How we respond, both individually and collectively, will determine the nature of the post-Peak quality of life for ourselves and our loved ones.
what is peak oil
What is Peak Oil?

The concept of Peak Oil was developed in the 1950s by petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert

It’s a mathematical model that seeks to predict the point at which maximum possible oil production will be reached by an individual field, a region, a country, or even the entire world

  • Hubbert discovered that oil production follows a bell-shaped curve (“Hubbert’s Curve”)
    • The first oil produced is always the “easy stuff” (think: gusher);
    • As the “low hanging fruit” is gradually depleted, additional production becomes increasingly difficult and expensive.
    • When approximately half of the total oil available has been produced, the point of maximum production is reached.
    • Thereafter, production begins an inevitable decline - - the previous peak will never be recovered or exceeded.
does hubbert s model work
Does Hubbert’s Model Work?
  • Based on his model, in 1956 Hubbert predicted that oil production in the US lower 48 states would peak in the early 1970s
    • This prediction received nearly universal ridicule from oil industry and government experts, most of whom believed peak US production was many decades away
  • Hubbert was right: US oil production peaked in 1971, and has been steadily declining ever since
now the world is nearing peak
Now, The World is Nearing Peak
  • Leading researchers using Hubbert’s model are predicting a worldwide peak of fossil fuel production before 2010
    • Some experts believe Peak Oil will be this year or next

Source: Post Carbon Institute

we re not running out of oil
We’re Not “Running Out of Oil”
  • Peak Oil means we’ve used up about half of nature’s bounty of fossil fuels
    • This sounds good; however, the half we’ve used was the easy stuff to get…the cheap oil
    • From the peak onward, every barrel will be harder and more expensive to produce, and, as a result, we’ll produce less of it
      • That’s why “non-conventional” fossil fuels (like Canadian “oil sands”) are no answer - - they’re expensive and they require much more energy to produce than light crude
    • Eventually, it’ll take more energy to produce the remaining oil than the oil itself will generate
      • At that point, unless we have an energy alternative in place, the lights go out
lights out
Lights Out?

© The New Yorker

can t we just find some more
Can’t We Just Find Some More?

It’s highly unlikely

  • Peak discovery typically precedes peak production by 25 to 30 years
  • World oil discovery peaked in the mid-1970s and has been declining ever since

Source: Post Carbon Institute

the consequences of peak oil there is no viable substitute for cheap fossil energy
The Consequences of Peak OilThere is NO viable substitute for cheap fossil energy:

How will oil depletion impact our lives in the years ahead?

  • Energy Density vs. Alternatives:
  • Modern Transport Requires Petroleum:
  • Agriculture Runs on Fossil Fuels:
  • Fossil-Fueled Mass Consumption:
energy density vs alternatives
Energy Density vs. Alternatives
  • Petroleum is extremely energy dense
    • Energy output per unit is much higher than from any other source, in fact one gallon of gas contains about 36 kW hrs of energy, enough to power a small house for a day
  • Petroleum products are very convenient
    • Easy to transport and to store
    • Relatively safe to use
    • Very versatile
  • Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) of petroleum is higher than alternatives, which can’t scale up adequately to replace oil based energy
    • Marked decline from 100:1 in the ‘40s, but still over 8:1
  • No combination of alternatives comes close to matching these advantages
modern transport requires petroleum
Modern Transport Requires Petroleum
  • We’ve invested trillions in a petroleum-based transport infrastructure
    • Asphalt used in road construction is a petroleum product as is the synthetic rubber in the tires.
  • Batteries have low energy density
    • Battery-powered flight is impossible
    • Battery-powered cars require electricity, mostly generated by fossil fuel or nuclear energy
  • Massive use of Biodiesel or Ethanol is impractical
    • *Studies indicate that these fuels have an EROEI of 3:1(Biodiesel) to 1.2:1(Ethanol) *Dana Visalli, The Partnership for a Sustainable Methow
    • Growing feedstock to run the current US automotive fleet on ethanol would require all available farmland, and more
agriculture runs on fossil fuels
Agriculture Runs on Fossil Fuels
  • The “green revolution” was based on petroleum
    • Industrial agriculture uses about 50 times the energy inputs of traditional agriculture
  • Modern agriculture is fossil energy intensive
    • Nitrogen fertilizer is produced with natural gas
    • Pesticides and herbicides are synthesized from oil
  • Mechanized agriculture runs on petroleum
    • Farm equipment is powered by petroleum energy
  • Monocrop agriculture involves long-distance transport of seeds, inputs and crops
    • North American food travels an average of 1,300 miles from farm to plate
fossil fueled mass consumption
Fossil-Fueled Mass Consumption
  • Without cheap, plentiful petroleum, globalized production could grind to a halt
    • The flood of cheap goods from China will become a trickle (Wal-Mart is toast)
  • The current US standard of living depends on global distribution of cheaply-produced goods
    • The end of this system will see a marked decline in the living standard of most Americans
  • The world financial system requires constant growth
    • Without growth, our debt-based fiat money system will become difficult to sustain
    • Constant growth depends on access to a continually-increasing supply of cheap energy
so what happens after we peak
So, What Happens After We Peak?

There’s no way to predict the future, but Peak Oil could contribute to:

  • Resource Wars
  • Economic And Societal Collapse
  • “Dieoff”?
resource wars
Resource Wars

Continual strife over remaining resources:

  • Consuming nations vs. producing nations
    • US vs. Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, etc., etc.
  • Between consuming nations
    • US vs. China
  • Civil wars within producing nations
    • Columbia, Algeria, Afghanistan, West Africa
  • Asymmetrical warfare: consuming nations vs. “non-state entities” in producing nations
    • Terrorism, at home and abroad
economic and societal collapse
Economic and Societal Collapse
  • As the growth engine sputters out, our growth economy will begin to implode
    • A lower energy economy means lower productivity, as more human labor power is needed to do the same work
    • Reduced productivity leads to declining economic activity, less demand for goods and services: depression
  • Collapse of the economy and infrastructure could trigger societal breakdown
    • Mass unemployment, with little hope of a return of prosperity, causes widespread anger and despair
    • Hunger and poverty could lead to increased crime and violence
  • Debt Slavery
    • Mass unemployment, with little hope of a return of prosperity, causes widespread anger and despair
    • Hunger and poverty lead to rampant crime and violence
dieoff
Dieoff?
  • World population has increased from about 750 million in 1750 to around 6.5 billion today
    • This exponential growth was made possible by the huge temporary expansion of the planet’s human carrying capacity, through massive consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels
  • Absent abundant fossil fuels,

most experts place Earth’s

human carrying capacity at

between 1 and 2 billion

  • Carrying capacity cannot be

exceeded forever

    • Sooner or later, nature takes care of the excess, one way or another
what about alternatives to oil
Non-renewable alternatives:

Natural gas

Coal

Nuclear

Methane hydrates

Renewable alternatives:

Wind

Hydro

Geothermal

Solar

Biomass

Thermal depolymerization

“Futuristic” alternatives

Hydrogen

Fusion

Free energy

What About Alternatives to Oil?
non renewable alternatives
Non-Renewable Alternatives
  • Natural gas
    • Unsuitable as a substitute for oil:
      • North American production is nearly at peak
      • Importing from elsewhere requires liquefaction, which is expensive and dangerous
  • Coal
    • An inadequate substitute for oil:
      • Much heavier than oil; harder, more energy intensive to transport
      • Mining runs on oil; as oil becomes expensive, so will coal
      • Coal is much more polluting than oil; its use as a substitute for oil would greatly exacerbate global warming
non renewable alternatives cont d
Non-Renewable Alternatives (cont’d)
  • Nuclear
    • Unsuitable as a substitute for oil:
      • Very expensive (costs of initial plant construction, fuel, safeguarding from terrorism, decommissioning, etc.)
      • Cannot produce plastics, pesticides or petrochemicals
      • Problem of disposal of radioactive waste hasn’t been solved
  • Methane hydrates

Ice-like crystals that trap natural gas, mainly on the ocean floor

    • Unsuitable as a substitute for oil:
      • Difficult to accumulate in large quantities
      • Actual level of reserves may be much smaller than once believed
      • Very expensive and dangerous to recover
      • Accidental release of large quantities of methane into the atmosphere could trigger catastrophic global climate change
renewable alternatives
Renewable Alternatives
  • Wind
    • Unrealistic as a substitute for oil:
      • Not portable or storable, like oil
      • Can’t produce petrochemicals, pesticides, plastics
      • Not suitable as energy source for transportation
      • Could be used to produce hydrogen; however, this would require a multi-trillion dollar investment starting now
  • Solar/Hydro/Geothermal
    • All are unsuitable as substitutes for oil:
      • Can’t produce petrochemicals, pesticides, plastics
      • Not suitable as energy source for transportation
      • Subject to geographic and/or weather constraints
      • Much less energy dense than petroleum
        • To replicate the energy sold by an average gas station in a single day would require 84 square miles of solar panels
        • A solar energy system covering 20% of the US landmass would only supply about half of our current energy consumption
renewable alternatives cont d
Renewable Alternatives (cont’d)
  • Biomass
    • Includes both direct burning of plant materials (wood, peat, etc.) as well as biofuels (biodiesel, ethanol, etc.)
    • An inadequate substitute for oil:
      • Very low EROEI - - some types are actually energy sinks
      • Burning of biomass creates air pollution
      • Arable land in the US will be needed for growing food; there is not nearly enough to feed us and support production of biofuels
        • Running our automotive fleet on ethanol would require nearly the entire continental US landmass for growing the feedstock - - there’d be no land left over to house us, let alone to feed us
  • Thermal depolymerization (energy from waste)
    • An energy sink…literally garbage in, garbage out!
    • The waste input, itself, was produced using fossil energy, so as oil production declines, we’ll have less waste to process
futuristic alternatives
“Futuristic” Alternatives
  • Hydrogen
    • The so-called “hydrogen economy” is a myth; it is unsuitable as a substitute for oil
      • Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source; producing it requires substantial energy inputs
        • Whatever the source of the energy input (fossil fuel, wind, hydro, etc.), the process involves a net loss of energy
      • Massive fossil fuel inputs are still required to build the hydrogen production facilities as well as the hydrogen-powered vehicles
      • It is much less energy dense than oil
        • One 40-ton tanker would supply only 40 hydrogen-powered cars
  • Fusion, cold fusion and free energy
    • Unrealistic as a substitute for oil
      • Most of these schemes appear to violate the First Law of Thermodynamics (“energy cannot be created or destroyed”)
      • No functional prototypes currently exist
      • Even if theoretically possible (as with fusion), tremendous practical difficulties put large-scale use far into the future (if ever)
        • Fusion requires reactor temperatures of approx. 360 million ºF; no material or process has been developed which can contain such temperatures
so what will the future hold
So, What Will the Future Hold?
  • In his recent book Powerdown, Peak Oil researcher Richard Heinberg outlines four possible options for our post-peak future:
    • Last one standing
    • Powerdown
    • Waiting for the “magic elixir”
    • Building lifeboats
last one standing the path of competition for remaining resources
Last One StandingThe Path of Competition for Remaining Resources
  • This option envisions continuous activity by elites to commandeer remaining resources
    • This appears to be the current strategy of US elites
  • If this option is allowed to play out, the next decades will likely be characterized by extreme difficulties:
    • Continuous warfare abroad
    • Increasing repression at home
    • Severe economic crises
    • Environmental catastrophe
powerdown the path of cooperation conservation and sharing
PowerdownThe Path of Cooperation, Conservation, and Sharing
  • This option envisions a massive worldwide effort, with tremendous economic sacrifice, to:
    • Reduce per-capita resource usage in rich countries
    • Develop alternative energy sources
    • Distribute resources more equitably
    • Humanely but systematically reduce the size of

human population over time

  • Under this option, the next decades would be focused on:
    • Economic re-localization (especially food, transport, housing)
    • Conservation and de-centralized production of energy
    • Sustainable practices and increased use of permaculture
waiting for the magic elixir the path of wishful thinking false hopes and denial
Waiting for the “Magic Elixir”The Path of Wishful Thinking, False Hopes, and Denial
  • Understandably, most people hope for a relatively painless way out of this crisis
    • “Don’t worry, they’ll find more oil.”
    • “Don’t worry, they’ll come up with some new technology.”
    • “Don’t worry, they’ll think of something, like they always do!”
    • “Don’t worry, be happy!”
  • Unfortunately, in this case, such wishful thinking is not just counter-productive; it’s downright dangerous
    • It distracts us from the hard work we’ll need to do if we’re to avert violent competition and societal collapse
building lifeboats the path of community solidarity and preservation
Building LifeboatsThe Path of Community Solidarity and Preservation
  • This option begins with the assumption that:
    • Industrial civilization cannot be salvaged in anything like its present form
    • We are even now living through the early stages of disintegration
  • Given this, it makes sense for at least some of us to devote our energies to:
    • Preservation of the most worthwhile cultural achievements of the past few centuries
    • Providing resources to help ourselves and others weather the storms in the decades ahead
ok things look pretty grim is there anything we can do
OK, Things Look Pretty GrimIs There Anything We Can Do?

Yes! Each one of us can (and should) take the following steps to prepare for Peak Oil:

  • Educateourselves and our friends and loved ones about Peak Oil and what it means
  • Assess our level of energy dependence and the practical coping skills we currently possess
  • Then Act to
    • Develop a plan for ourselves and our families
    • Learn the skills we’ll need to survive
    • Raise Peak Oil awareness in local organizations, in our neighborhoods, and in our community
    • Strengthen communal ties with our fellow citizens
resolve to educate yourself
Resolve to Educate Yourself
  • Learn more about the following inter-related issues:
    • Peak Oil and the end of cheap energy
    • Our growth and debt-based financial and fiat currency system
    • Geopolitics; in particular, our country’s role in the world
    • Global climate change and environmental degradation
    • Ecological “carrying capacity” (i.e.: why societies collapse)
  • Learn about low-energy, sustainable lifestyle strategies:
    • Contemporary sustainable living ideas and practices, such as permaculture, the eco-village movement, and the “primitive technology” movement
    • Historical examples of societies coping with economic hardship and resource scarcity
      • The Great Depression
      • The World War II Victory Garden movement
      • The experience of Cuba in the “special period” of the 1990s, following the fall of the Soviet Union
assess your energy dependence
Assess Your Energy Dependence
  • How large a home do you really need?
    • The average house in 1950: 1000 sq. ft.; today: 2200 sq. ft.
  • How energy efficient is your home?
    • Consider your appliances, lighting, windows, insulation, water heater, cooling and more
  • How car-dependent are you?
    • Could you use public transport, use a bicycle, or walk to work, to shop and for other activities?
  • How energy intensive is the food you eat?
    • How much do you rely on commerciallymass-produced food products?
    • Support local sustainable agriculture; participate in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program
assess your practical skills
Assess Your Practical Skills
  • Do you have necessary skills for a low energy future?
    • Can you garden?
      • Could you grow some or all of the food you and your family need if you had to?
    • Do you have household skills like sewing, knitting, cooking, canning?
    • Do you have medical or veterinary skills? Midwifery training or experience? Do you have knowledge of herbal medicines? Have you had training in first aid?
    • Do you have carpentry or artisanal skills? Could you design and construct shelter? Repair agricultural tools?
  • These (and other) skills may be vital to the survival of you and your family in the years ahead
act to prepare for peak oil
Develop a plan for you and your family

Reduce your energy consumption

Learn the skills you will need

Strive to develop a sustainable, self-reliant communal lifestyle in place of an isolated, consumerist, unsustainable one

Work within your community

Join up with others who are aware and involved on this issue (like SPOA!)

Educate your friends, neighbors, and loved ones

Resolve to act as a resource for others in the years ahead

Act To Prepare for Peak Oil
one vision of post fossil fuel living
One Vision of Post-Fossil Fuel Living
  • Decentralized
  • Communal
  • Permacultural
  • Low energy
for more info on peak oil
For More Info on Peak Oil
  • Recommended Reading
    • Overshoot by William Catton
    • High Noon For Natural Gas by Julian Darley
    • Hubbert’s Peak by Kenneth Deffeyes
    • Collapse by Jared Diamond
    • A Century or War by F. William Engdahl
    • The Party’s Over by Richard Heinberg
    • Powerdown by Richard Heinberg
    • The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler
    • The Oil Age is Over by Matt Savinar
for more info on peak oil cont d
For More Info on Peak Oil (cont’d)
  • Websites
    • www.seattleoil.com
    • www.portlandpeakoil.org
    • www.culturechange.org
    • www.energybulletin.net
    • www.globalpublicmedia.com
    • www.hubbertpeak.com
    • www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net
    • www.museletter.com
    • www.odac-info.org
    • www.peakoil.net
    • www.peakoil.com
    • www.postcarbon.org
thank you
Thank You!

The barrel is half empty…

www.seattleoil.com