Oil's brush with $100 was an exciting New Year's moment, perhaps a more sobering one than we'd wish. But, thanks in part to these market fluctuations, popular awareness of peak oil and the energy uncertainty problem is clearly rising. 2008 promises to be a big year in many ways that will profoundly shape the future.
As nations negotiated climate policy in Bali earlier this month, mayors and other representatives of local governments worked out their own agreement: the World Mayors and Local Governments Climate Protection Agreement. Their agreement recognizes the confluence of two major trends -- the urbanization of the human population, and climate change.
The Natural Step for Communities is a guide to applying the science- and democratic process of the Natural Step framework to the task of planning for sustainable towns and communities. It's full of concrete examples of localities where the framework has been put to use, focusing on the decades-old Swedish 'eco-municipalities' movement that has recently spread to the United States.
This touchstone book by James Howard Kunstler (author of The Geography of Nowhere)offers a vivid and uncomfortable vision of a post-oil future. As a result of artificially cheap fossil-fuel energy we have developed global models of industry, commerce, food production, and finance that are now threatened with collapse. Building on his previous work analyzing American suburban (i.e., energy-intensive) lifestyles, Kunstler sketches potential outcomes that may result from our current dysfunctional economic and cultural patterns.
Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) is a massive database containing information on the carbon emissions of over 50,000 power plants and 4,000 power companies worldwide. Power generation accounts for 40% of all carbon emissions in the United States and about one-quarter of global emissions. CARMA is the first global inventory of a major, emissions-producing sector of the economy.
Cosmetic and add-on projects are not enough to address the systemic problems that climate and energy uncertainty will bring. The status quo must be changed. This is a daunting task, but many are already working on it.
Charles Lockwood interviews Post Carbon Institute President Julian Darley about peak oil and what it means for the shape of human settlement. From the October edition of Urban Land, published by the Urban Land Institute.
Oil shortages are a lot less simple than having to turn down the A/C and line up to refill the gas tank. For one thing, models predict that once production starts slipping, it’ll slip fast – far faster than it’ll take to replace our needs with wind, solar or even nuclear. And in the last five decades, we’ve become dependent on petroleum in countless ways, and seemingly insignificant disruptions in supply can have far-reaching repercussions.
It is surprising that the world economy has managed to carry on growing strongly despite the recent rise in oil prices. There's growing recognition of the finite limits to global oil production, but also growing demand that probably can't be offset by efficiencies in developed countries. While it's hard to connect the current US economic slump with oil prices, the impact of rising prices will be felt sooner or later.
A report on international oil supplies released Wednesday by the International Energy Agency suggests that oil prices could move irreversibly over the $100-a-barrel threshold in the not too distant future, as the global economy faces a serious energy shortage.