Energy and Society:Factors Reshaping Our Way of LifeA Macro, Non-technical ViewNational University of SingaporeSchool of Geography15 Feb 2010Presented by Chris Tobias, Lead Strategist
What we’re talking aboutQuick Outline1) An Brief Introduction to Oil2) Peak Oil3) Other issues at play4) Social Implications5) Reframing the Problem6) Be Ready7) Conclusion
A Brief Introduction to OilHistorical background-First “discovered” by Edwin Drake in 1859; drilled firstwell in western Pennsylvania, capturing 15 barrels perday-Exploration and exploitation grew rapidly in the USA andbeyond-Oil became the mainstay of the Industrial Revolution-Oil is responsible for the growth of the economy andhuman population, as never before, humans had anaccessible source of energy to draw on for a wide rangeof uses-2009 oil consumption = 84.9 million barrels per day(IEA)
Oil Consumption:Where and how much? (US Energy Information Administration)
A Brief Introduction to OilWhy is it so important?-Oil, like all fossil fuel energy sources, is a limited resource-Oil, by default of the Industrial Revolution, is key for all aspects ofhuman life as we know it-There is a strong demand for oil amongst the world’s nearly 7 billionpeople-Oil underpins the global economy in every respect. OIL =
Oil Uses:It’s in Everything We DoFood Example:-For every 1 calorie of food you eat, it takes roughly10-15+ calories of fossil fuel energy to produce.(.042 MJ)-Based on an average 2500 calorie diet, that’s 30,000calories of fossil fuel energy eaten daily (125.58 MJ)-It takes 1500+ litres* of oil to feed the averageAmerican annually. (*more if you eat meat)(Hendrickson 1996)Why? Planting, fertilising, harvesting, storing,processing, packing, and transport are all highlyenergy intensive– largely brought to you by fossilfuels, namely oil.
Oil Uses:It’s in Everything We DoBuilding Material Example: (BRANZ: Level.org)
What is Peak Oil?Why is it so important?-Oil underpins the global economy in every respect.-Peak oil is the point in time when maximum rate of global extraction isreached, after which oil production enters permanent decline-When peak oil is reached, supply will be permanently outstripped bydemand going forward-When the supply of oil is overtaken by demand, even temporarily, theprice goes up-- often quite steeply-Once the point of peak oil is officially recognised, markets worldwidewill be prone to extreme upheaval-Currently, there is no suitable replacement or substitute for oiland its many functions in our global economy.
Beyond geologists, the alarm is now being sounded by UK IndustryTaskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (e.g., big business). What wasonce considered a fringe notion is now on the mainstream conscience.
When is Peak Oil?How will we know?Peak oil is difficult to pinpoint due to a number of factors:-Economic recessions and drops in demand affect supply of oil, as well asinvestment in oil infrastructure; financial speculation also has contributed to recentprice spikes-Geopolitical instability (e.g. wars, political issues, local unrest) affects reliability ofsupply-Historically, figures on oil supplies have been highly inaccurate and evenmanipulated-Experts have put out varying dates from 2000-2020We will only really know after the fact
Case StudyHubbard’s Curve-Peak Oil in USA was correctly predicted by a modelcreated by geologist M. King Hubbert:-His methodology referred to as Hubbert’s Curve-He asserted that peak oil production in the USA wouldoccur between 1965-1970-In 1970-71, the lower 48 states produced a recordamount of oil (a Peak), followed by decline in productionthereafter-The drop in domestic production lead to an increase ofUS oil import from other areas (namely the Middle East)-He also predicted a global peak around 2000 or slightlybeyond
Demand for OilWhat the future holdsAccording to the International Energy Agency (IEA):-Oil production currently on the decline (due to a numberof factors)-The equivalent of 6 new Saudi Arabia-sized oildeposits will be necessary to meet demand in the future(mainly coming from developing countries in Asia)-Big investment is needed to continue exploring, tapping,and refining oil supplies–US$26 trillion+ by 2030 (where isthis money coming from in the current economic climate?)Critical to understand: oil is getting more difficult andexpensive to find
Demand for OilGlobal energy sources Global source of energy in 2006 expressed in cubic mile of oil; Source: SRI International
Other factors at playOil in the bigger pictureKey trends/considerations:-According to UN estimates, human population ison the rise and projected to reach 8.9bn-10bn by 2050-Arable land and fresh water are also becoming scarce-Many energy resources as well as critical elements will be in decline incoming decades (e.g. uranium, natural gas, trace minerals)-Climate change: we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossilfuel sources like oil to prevent the worst effects-The “endless growth” economic model we currently have isunsustainable: you cannot have indefinite growth on a planet with finiteresources (see also, the recent financial crisis and its causes)
Social ImplicationsOur world as a system Important to understand: All these issues are related. While each may be examined in turn, all these areas affect the others, and we are in this system. All things on the planet are connected, even more so now by a unitary global economy. Whatever the outcome is, it affects us.
Social ImplicationsWhat the future holdsKey observations/trends:-We are underinvested in an area critical to our current way of life, one thatwill be in decline in the near future, one that will also enable any transition totake place-Oil and the economy that rests on it is unsustainable-There is no substitute for oil and the energy/services it provides-Shy of some energy miracle, unprecedented change is looking us in the face-We need to re-evaluate and re-design our entire way of life
Social ImplicationsWhat the future holds Transition away from fossil fuels is not a shift that will take place easily. Human entropy, attitudes, behaviour, vested interests, politics, and limits of technology are all barriers that need to be overcome.
Reframing the ProblemIs there a better way?For many reasons, we as a society need to move away from fossil fuels. It isa necessity that can no longer be ignored.How can we use this challenge as a catalyst to redefine how we live?
Reframing the ProblemIn other words…WANT A JOB?
Be ReadyMeet these needsBecause of peak oil and other factors, the following things we take forgranted will need new solutions going into the future:-How/what will people eat?-How can more food be grown locally?-What sort of building materials will be used in the future?-What forms will buildings take?-What sources of energy can be harvested and used?-How can processes become more energy efficient/effective?-How will people be employed? What jobs will matter?-How will people get healthcare, and what sort of treatment will it involve?-How will mobility/transport need to adjust (both short and long distance)?-What currency will people use to exchange goods and services with?
Be ReadyAlternative Possibilities: Singapore and BeyondCase Study: Agriculture and Land Use–how will people feed themselves withincrease in fuel/food prices?-Singapore historically produced much of itsown food domestically.-Now reliant on importing some 93% of itsfood; food production per capita droppeddramatically (graph: Earth Trends)-Critics say that Singapore does not haveenough land area to devote to agriculture-Yet…there are approximately 300 sitescurrently listed as farms island-wide
Be ReadyAlternative Possibilities: Singapore and Beyond-Singapore: 30 golf courses and countryclubs… not to mention parks, greenspaces, public gardens, and military camps-The challenge: perhaps it’s not a matter ofland area, but land use-Localised, low-carbon, intensive, urbanagriculture could be possible on this smallisland-Cuba rebounded from it’s own “peak oil”scenario following the collapse of theUSSR, and now is largely food secure. In2002 it produced 3.2m tonnes of producein urban agriculture (see image at right)
Be ReadyAlternative Possibilities: Singapore and BeyondCase Study: Less Energy = Better Buildings-Many Singapore buildings are inefficiently built andoperated “glass boxes”, or monolithic high rises-According to energy efficiency expert Lee Eng Lock,60% of energy usage in SG attributed to inefficient aircon(bad op. practice, rather than lack of good technology)-And where does the energy come from?According to NTU in 2007, Singapore energy sources: 76% Natural Gas (most imported MY/IN) 22% Fuel Oil (imported from elsewhere) 3% Waste to Energy (refuse) .3% Diesel
Be ReadyAlternative Possibilities: Singapore and BeyondCase Study: Less Energy = Better Buildings-One local exemplar of “green” architecture:Poh Ern Shih Temple, Pasir PanjangKey Features: -Passive cooling design; minimal aircon usage; emphasis on natural ventilation -Shading overhangs/eaves -Amorpheus Cell PV system in 2 large installations (roof + pagoda) -7 large solar hot water heaters -4x micro wind turbines (yes, they work in SG!) -Energy efficient lighting -Energy self-sufficient -Water harvesting on site for landscape -Coming soon: micro-hydro
Be ReadyAlternative Possibilities: Singapore and BeyondCase Study: Social ResiliencyWorldwide movement: Transition TownsKey Features: -Decentralised organisation focused on local responses to peak oil and climate change -Started in the UK by Rob Hopkins in early 2000’s; now active in 278+ locations in 16+ countries worldwide -Small, self-organised communities take on initiatives for local resiliency and self-sufficiency -Emphasis on building local economies and social capital
Be ReadyYou now have some ideas.What other possibilities and solutions can be created? It’s up to YOU.
Be ReadyWhat will it take?-Creative thinking-Cooperation-Resiliency-Self-starting-Resourcefulness-Different skill sets-New ways of doing things + traditional knowledge-Adaptiveness
You never change anything by fighting the existing reality.To change something, build a new model that makes theold model obsolete.-- Buckminster Fuller
ConclusionIf you remember nothing else, remember this:1) Oil underpins our global economy.2) An imminent peak in its production will mean many drastic shifts in the way we live.3) Doing nothing isn’t going to solve the problem.4) In fact, the “problem” spells a wide range of opportunities.5) As engineers, designers, architects, social scientists, and other talented people– let’s be at the forefront of tackling peak oil and other critical issues.6) A lot of the work is done already: there are many useful examples, tools, and technologies to draw on.7) Change will happen whether we like it or not. We might as well be proactive and view it as an opportunity.
Tomorrow doesn’t need to beanother yesterday.Starting from square one, we are thechange our world needs.