Smc Newsletter August 06


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Smc Newsletter August 06

  1. 1. 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 tact/email/policy.cfm 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, stein/email.html 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. fice Building 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 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- SMC 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 UPCOMING EVENTS 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.
  2. 2. SUSTAINABLE MONTEREY COUNTY What Future Will We Choose? WHY WILL Fossil fuels have enabled humanity to vastly expand food THE POPULATION production and distribution, along with all the other goods OF THE WORLD industrial economy provides. We are about to lose the HAVE TO power that fossil fuels have given us, and we will lose part SHRINK? 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 scarce. 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
  3. 3. 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 days. 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- com/artman/publish/article_38934.shtml 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. Further Reading Peaking of World Oil Production… The Oil Drum Energy Bulletin 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 Thank you for contributing to Sustainable Monterey County—beyond Peak Oil. As an organization dedicated to pro- viding free education and outreach to our community we rely on the generous support of friends and donors. We op- erate on 100% donations. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation of $50 or more. $50 Hosts a discussion group meeting $75 Covers monthly printing costs $120 Annual Helper = $10 a month $240 Supporter = $20 a month $365 Annual Supporter = $1 a day $500 Hosts one show of “Tomorrow Matters” KRXA 540 Am (starts September 10th 2 PM) $1,000 Benefactor $5,000 Sponsor $ _________ (other) I wish to remain anonymous. Please make donations payable to “Action Council of Monterey County”, with SMC in the tag line. Make sure your return address is clear; we will process your donation and mail you an acknowledgement receipt for your tax records. Do not send cash in the mail. Mail to SMC P.O. Box 4060, Monterey, CA 93940 SMC respects the privacy of our donors; we do not sell, trade or rent our donor lists.
  4. 4. CONTACT INFORMATION Growth of Human Population and Fossil Energy Use MARK FOLSOM: 12000 Phone: 831 648 1543 Millions, Pop. or Tons Oil Equv. per Year E-Mail: folsomman@red- 10000 8000 6000 Steering Committee Members Deborah Lindsay, 4000 Director deb@sustainablemonter- 2000 Ruth Smith, 831-620-1303 Committee Chair and Budget Chair 0 Virginia Chomat, 0 300 600 900 1200 1500 1800 2100 Secretary and Co-treasurer -2000 Pierre Chomat, Population Year (CE) Resident Expert Energy Use Mark Folsom, The vast growth in fossil energy use supports a coincident and- Newsletter Editor, comparable growth in human population. (Data from:,, and BP Statistical George Wilson, Review of World Energy) 831-372-0659 Committee Evaluation Coordinator Denyse Frischmuth, 831-643-0707 CROP YIELDS ARE HIGHLY DEPENDENT ON FERTILIZER Volunteer Coordinator and Urban Environmental Accords Coordina- Reduced fertilizer application leads directly to lowered food produc- tor tion. (Wang, Q. / Halbrendt, C. / Johnson, S.R. (1995): Grain Production and En- Robert Frischmuth, vironmental Management in China's Fertilizer Economy. In: Journal of Environmen- Co-Treasurer tal Management, Vol. 47, 283-296.) Program Heads, Annette Chaplin, 831-372-8725 Sustainable Pacific Grove Linda Parker, phone # 831-656-0664 Big Sur Powerdown Newsletter Design by Adrienne Allen We’re on the Web! See us at: groups/monterey