Volume 1, Number 8, – August 2006
People you should con-
The Human Population Will Peak and Decline in tact about peak oil:
This Century—But How? •Senator Barbara Boxer
We’ve overshot Earth’s sustainable striking correlation between population
carrying capacity. From the first and the used of fossil energy. As •Senator Dianne Feinstein
Homo Sapiens, perhaps 150,000 shown in the first figure on page 4, http://www.senate.gov/~fein-
years ago, until just 200 years ago, population and energy use appear to
•Congressman Sam Farr
the number of living people grew skyrocket together at the very end of
1221 Longworth House Of-
from none to one billion—a thousand the last two millennia.
millions. In another century, humani- Why would fossil energy use fuel the Washington, DC 20515
ty did what had taken millennia to do growth of population? Mechanization (202) 225-2861
FAX (202) 225-6791
before—add another 600 million to of agriculture has allowed more of our
their numbers. But that was just a crops to be used to feed people, rather
•Governor Arnold Schw…
warm-up—in the last century, we’ve than draft animals. Cheap transporta-
added almost five billion more, so tion has encouraged specialization in •President George Bush
that now there are six and a half times agriculture. Cheap power has enabled http://www.whitehouse.gov/
as many of us as there were just two vast movement of water to irrigate dry
centuries ago! What happened in the lands. Synthetic fertilizer and organic
Thanks to all those who have
last two centuries, that didn’t happen pesticides, made from fossil fuels, have
contributed help and funds to
in the previous thousand centuries, to dramatically increased crop yields, es-
cause this explosion? Certainly sci- pecially for the high-yielding grains de-
entific medicine has helped, and so veloped in the “green revolution.”
has sanitation. However, much of Some think fossil fuel depletion will
history tells us that food was often return us to a population of less than 2
scarce in the remote past, and disease billion. Who knows?
only sporadically trimmed the popu-
lation. As it turns out, there’s a very
July 28: Brian Weller in Big Sur Henry Miller Library (outdoors)
August 1: No-host dinner and showing of August 15: Video--Sustainability 101: Arith-
“End of Suburbia”, Jardines Restau- metic, Population and Energy, PG Mu-
rant, 115 3rd Street, San Juan seum of Natural History
Bautista, Tuesday, dinner at 5:30 or September 14: SMC Discussion Group:
6 pm; film at 7pm “Transportation Alternatives”, Thurs-
August 3: SMC Discussion Group: “Have day, 7-9, Mry. Youth Ctr.
We Outgrown our Planet?” Thurs- October 7: Sustainability and Solar Fair at
day, 6:30-9 pm, Monterey Youth Carmel Middle School
Center, 777 Pearl Street, Monterey October 5: SMC Discussion—Economics
August 8: Richard Heinberg, Big Sur,
Mission: To ensure an orderly transition through the fossil fuel decline by co-
operatively developing a sustainable economy for Monterey County.
SUSTAINABLE MONTEREY COUNTY
What Future Will We Choose?
Fossil fuels have enabled humanity to vastly expand food
production and distribution, along with all the other goods
OF THE WORLD
industrial economy provides. We are about to lose the
power that fossil fuels have given us, and we will lose part
of our vast food capacity. It will likely take place over
decades--and that affords us an opportunity to choose a
more humane route than starvation.
It will have to shrink because we
will no longer have the luxury of • We can pretend that our population and our economy can con-
using unlimited amounts of fossil tinue exponential expansion forever, and let nature impose its
fuel to support our food systems: limits in its own way—through starvation and disease.
• Long-range food shipment • We can fight resource wars to grab the last of the Earth’s pre-
will be curtailed. cious resources for ourselves, trimming population growth
• Pesticide availability will somewhat in the process.
decline. • We can let the rich use food crops to power their lifestyle
• Fertilizer will become ex- while the poor and powerless starve.
pensive and scarce. • We could instead try to live as efficiently as possible, as soon
• Tractor fuel will become as possible. This will take political as well as personal action.
too expensive. • We could limit family size to less than 2 children, to reduce
• Food crops will continue to the number of births to less than the number of deaths. Just
be diverted to fuel produc- educating women and providing reproductive health services,
tion. including safe birth control, has been shown to dramatically
• Aquifers are being deplet- reduce fertility.
ed. I don’t even want to think about how nature would reduce our
• Long-range water ship- population to a sustainable two or three billion, much less have
ment will decline. my children and grandchildren experience it.
• Soils are depleted.
• Climate is becoming We’re embarked on a great experiment to answer a very deep ques-
chaotic. tion: Are humans smarter than yeast? (Will we multiply until our
• Fisheries are declining. population crashes naturally, or learn to breed more slowly?)
• So--food will become
Competition across Time: On the banks of the Volga in 1921 a refugee community was visit-
ed by an American newspaper correspondent who had come to write about the Russian
famine. Almost half the people in this community were already dead of starvation. The death
rate was rising. Those still surviving had no real prospect of prolonged longevity. In an adja-
cent field, a lone soldier was guarding a huge mound of sacks full of grain. The American
newsman asked the white-bearded leader of the community why his people did not overpower
this one guard, take over the grain, and relieve their hunger. The dignified old Russian ex-
plained that the sacks contained seed to be planted for the next growing season. “We do not
steal from the future,” he said. –William Catton, Overshoot
SUSTAINABLE MONTEREY COUNTY
WHAT IS HAPPENING ABOUT PEAK OIL?
LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Kuwait's new A unique, first-of-its-kind regional quot;Town Hall Meetingquot; will bring
Oil Minister Sheikh Ali Al Jarah Al listeners of five northern California community radio stations -- in-
Sabah said in his first public state- cluding Nevada City's KVMR (89.5 FM) -- into a common dia-
ment Tuesday that the country logue on what the stations are calling the burgeoning quot;localiza-
would clarify its actual oil reserves, tionquot; movement when they simulcast together this Wednesday
following a report that they stood at night (July 19) from 7 to 9 p.m.
less than half the claimed volume. …The topic at hand of Wednesday's broadcast will be the efforts
In a statement published on the of a number of northern California communities to become more
Kuwait Oil Ministry's Web site, self-reliant as global oil supplies decline relative to demand. This
Sheikh Ali said he had quot;undertaken quot;peak oilquot; hypothesis has led to formation of quot;localizationquot; groups
to clarify the truth and volume of
in such places as Laytonville, Willits, Garberville and western
Kuwaiti oil reservesquot; for lawmakers
Nevada County. Issues explored by these groups include ex-
and ministers over the next few
panding local food production, developing sustainable building
material and improving energy sources not derived from
Kuwait publicly boasts 100 billion
petroleum. Guests at each participating radio station will describe
barrels of oil reserves but a report
activities going on in their communities.---http://www.yubanet.-
some months ago by Petroleum In-
telligence Weekly said internal
Kuwaiti records suggested the vol-
Every day we use 85 million (42 gallon) barrels of crude
ume was only 48 billion barrels.
oil—enough to fill an eight-inch pipe to the moon—in
thirteen months, enough to reach the sun.
Peaking of World Oil Production… www.projectcensored.org/newsflash/the_hirsch_report.pdf
The Oil Drum http://www.theoildrum.com/
Energy Bulletin http://www.energybulletin.net/
Oil Addiction: The World in Peril, Pierre Chomat
Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, William J. Catton, Jr.
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond
Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, Matt Simmons
SMC Gift Selection Please Donate Now
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Growth of Human Population and Fossil Energy Use
Phone: 831 648 1543
Millions, Pop. or Tons Oil Equv. per Year
E-Mail: folsomman@red- 10000
Steering Committee Members
Ruth Smith, 831-620-1303
Committee Chair and Budget Chair
0 300 600 900 1200 1500 1800 2100
Secretary and Co-treasurer
Pierre Chomat, Population
Resident Expert Energy Use
The vast growth in fossil energy use supports a coincident and-
comparable growth in human population.
(Data from: http://geography.about.com, http://www.spe.org, and BP Statistical
Review of World Energy)
Committee Evaluation Coordinator
CROP YIELDS ARE HIGHLY DEPENDENT ON FERTILIZER
Volunteer Coordinator and Urban
Environmental Accords Coordina- Reduced fertilizer application leads directly to lowered food produc-
tion. (Wang, Q. / Halbrendt, C. / Johnson, S.R. (1995): Grain Production and En-
vironmental Management in China's Fertilizer Economy. In: Journal of Environmen-
tal Management, Vol. 47, 283-296.)
Sustainable Pacific Grove
phone # 831-656-0664
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