Spirituality in the Pub: Peak Oil


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A presentation I gave on 12 May 2008 at Spirituality in the Pub at the Jamberoo Hotel, on peak oil.

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  • Terry and I wish to welcome you here today and we hope that the information we pass on will shed some new light on the way UTS relates to the media and uses this as a vehicle to show the world what we are up to. But there are a number of things we want you to take away from today and these are:
  • Spirituality in the Pub: Peak Oil

    1. 1. Spirituality in the Pub Peak Oil 12 May 2008 by Dr Chris Riedy THINK. CHANGE. DO INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE FUTURES
    2. 2. Peak Oil Introduction <ul><li>A very brief history of oil </li></ul><ul><li>Its importance to modern civilisation </li></ul><ul><li>What is peak oil? </li></ul><ul><li>The consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Some thoughts on the spiritual dimension </li></ul><ul><li>What can we do? </li></ul>
    3. 3. Peak Oil A very brief history of oil <ul><li>Formation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Buried plants and marine organisms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subjected to temperature and pressure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mostly 90-150 million years ago in period of global warming </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Oil pits known near Babylon 4,000 years ago </li></ul><ul><li>Bamboo oil wells in China, 4 th Century </li></ul><ul><li>1854 – distillation </li></ul><ul><li>1861 – first refinery (in Russia) </li></ul>
    4. 4. Peak Oil Oil reliance <ul><li>In 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oil supplied 35% of the world’s energy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has declined from 46% in 1973 (in favour of natural gas and nuclear) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Transport (60%) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industrial use (energy) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chemical feedstock (plastics) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agriculture (fertilisers) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Oil is the blood of modern civilisation </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oil is our God. I dont care if someone says they worship Jesus, Buddha, Allah, whoever…they actually worship petroleum ” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>~ Mathew David Savinar, Lawyer and Founder of Lifeaftertheoilcrash.net </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ America is addicted to oil ” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>~ George W Bush </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Peak Oil The problem <ul><li>The problem is simple </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oil is a finite resource on human timescales </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It will run out </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But the problems start before it runs out, when production peaks </li></ul><ul><li>Demand cannot exceed supply, but global demand is continuing to rise </li></ul><ul><li>The result: rising oil prices and/or shortages </li></ul>Source: Association for Study of Peak Oil
    6. 6. Peak Oil The problem (continued) <ul><li>According to ASPO </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conventional oil production peaked in 2005 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With non-conventional sources included, peak was in 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>IEA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Continued growth in production through to at least 2012 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Significant tightening of the market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence for imminent peak is inconclusive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Above ground factors are more important at present </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Peak Oil Consequences <ul><li>Rising oil prices </li></ul><ul><li>Will this trigger investment in sources that are not currently economic (e.g. oil shale)? </li></ul><ul><li>Alternatives (e.g. biofuels)? </li></ul><ul><li>Will it be a peak or a plateau? </li></ul><ul><li>Nobody knows for sure </li></ul>
    8. 8. Peak Oil Consequences (continued) <ul><li>At one extreme, a Mad Max future where wars are fought over increasingly scarce oil and civilisation breaks down </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharp peak and decline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactions with climate change and other peaks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>At the other extreme, a smooth economic transition triggered by higher prices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Long plateau </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Investors able to identify and develop suitable alternatives </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Peak Oil A likely scenario <ul><li>The peak is more like a plateau </li></ul><ul><li>There is an opportunity to develop alternatives but </li></ul><ul><ul><li>none are as cheap as oil has been </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>some worsen climate change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>new investment can’t keep pace with growing global energy demand </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There are no easy alternatives for some uses of oil (plastics?) </li></ul><ul><li>The cost of food and transport increases, with inflationary effects throughout the economy and lifestyle impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Combination of peak oil and climate change leads to global economic crisis </li></ul><ul><li>Countries with oil reserves become even more powerful global players </li></ul><ul><li>How bad it gets depends on how we respond now and in the future </li></ul>
    10. 10. Peak Oil The spiritual dimension <ul><li>Ethical/moral imperative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Western civilisation exploited oil to raise standard of living </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Impacts will be inequitable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Developing countries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Vulnerable households </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prevention of suffering </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conditions for human development and spiritual growth will be stifled </li></ul><ul><li>Turning away from society (survivalists) </li></ul>
    11. 11. Peak Oil What can we do? <ul><li>Action now can ease the pain substantially </li></ul><ul><li>End the fossil fuel addiction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong support for public transport infrastructure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong support for renewable and alternative fuels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Natural gas </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Biofuels </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hydrogen economy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sustainable, organic farming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Renewable materials (closed loop industrial cycles) </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. H2PIA – An alternative future? Danish concept for World’s First Hydrogen City See www.h2pia.com