Preparing Together for a Changed World


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Presentation made by Richard Heinberg to the Building Resilient Communities: Preparing Together for a Changed World conference, November 13, 2010 in Minnesota.

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Preparing Together for a Changed World

  1. 1. Global Warming , End of Oil A Perfect Storm Richard Heinberg PreparingPreparing Together for aTogether for a Changed WorldChanged World Richard HeinbergRichard Heinberg Post Carbon InstitutePost Carbon Institute
  2. 2. The economic crisis changes everything before crisis I after crisis
  3. 3. “The value of global financial assets including stocks, bonds, and currencies fell by more than $50 Trillion in 2008, equivalent to a year of world GDP.” --Asian Development Bank
  4. 4. Comparison of the percentage change in the Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the housing corrections in the periods beginning in 2005 (red) and the 1980s–1990s (blue)
  5. 5. Cost of the Wall St. Bailout
  6. 6. $100
  7. 7. $10,000
  8. 8. $1 million
  9. 9. $100 million
  10. 10. $1 billion
  11. 11. $1 trillion
  12. 12. US Household Debt and Debt Service as Percentage of Personal Disposable Income
  13. 13. People can’t buy stuff if they don’t have money, and government can’t give them all the money they need to pay down debt and get back to consuming
  14. 14. “We’re in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime set of economic conditions. The perspective I would bring is not one of recession. Rather, the economy is resetting to a lower level of business and consumer spending based largely on the reduced leverage in the economy.” Steven Ballmer Chairman, Microsoft Corp.
  15. 15. The shape of the recovery V
  16. 16. The shape of the recovery U
  17. 17. The shape of the recovery W
  18. 18. The shape of the recovery L
  19. 19. Some economic perspective
  20. 20. World GDP/capita 1-2003 AD
  21. 21. Meanwhile, we were developing economic institutions and theories
  22. 22. Growth becomes institutionalized • With continual growth in energy, population, and consumption, it was assumed that economic growth could continue forever
  23. 23. Growth becomes institutionalized • With continual growth in energy, population, and consumption, it was assumed that economic growth could continue forever • With compound interest, fractional reserve banking, and debt leverage, growth became necessary to the monetary health of nations
  24. 24. When growth ceases, growth- based economies enter survival crisis mode
  25. 25. Why did we create a growth economy in the first place?
  26. 26. For most of history, humans relied on renewable energy sources
  27. 27. The fossil-fueled industrial era— winning the energy lottery
  28. 28. Once upon a time…
  29. 29. Marion King Hubbert • Geophysicist at Shell lab in Houston, taught at MIT, UCLA • Forecast peak year of US oil production
  30. 30. Hubbert’s Peak • From his 1956 paper • For the larger estimate, he predicted a peak in 1970
  31. 31. Oil production – lower 48
  32. 32. World oil discoveries
  33. 33. Global oil production falls when loss of output from countries declining exceeds gains from those expanding
  34. 34. The Goldilocks Dilemma • Oil price needed for development of new oil production capacity: $60-70 • Minimum oil price likely to trigger economic recession: $80-$100
  35. 35. Past recessions & oil spikes
  36. 36. Peak Oil means the end of cheap air travel Peak Oil means the end of affordable travel
  37. 37. Peak Oil means Peak Food
  38. 38. Evaluating Energy Options • Energy return on investment • Size of resource • Infrastructure requirement • Convenience of use • Environmental impact • Renewability • Scalability • Location of resource
  39. 39. There is no credible scenario in which alternative energy sources can make up for fossil fuels once declines begin.
  40. 40. • Unemployment • Homelessness • Bank failures • Hunger • Crime • Political instability • International conflict What to expect
  41. 41. What to do?
  42. 42. Proactive (planning for linear adaptation) Responsive (planning for crisis management) Top-Down (government policy) Bottom-Up (grass-roots organizing) Four response strategies
  43. 43. Reduce Fossil Fuels and Develop Renewables (from Paul Mobbs – Energy Beyond Oil)
  44. 44. The sustainability revolution will be driven by crisis
  45. 45. Resilience The ability to absorb shocks and continue to function
  46. 46. Resilience characteristics • Redundancy in critical systems • Dispersed system control points • Dispersed inventories • Balancing feedback loops
  47. 47. Building resilient communities Building ResilientBuilding Resilient CommunitiesCommunities
  48. 48. Co-op Power • “A regional network of local communities creating a multi- class, multi-racial movement for a sustainable and just energy future”
  49. 49. Avego • Uses cell phone and GPS to make hitchhiking (“shared transport”) attractive and functional
  50. 50. Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center • Available to small, local growers • Equipment for food processing, packaging, labeling, etc.
  51. 51. Organized Squatting • Squatting will happen anyway, but will work better if supported and organized by the community
  52. 52. Neighborhood Watch • Helps local government provide essential services without usurping authority
  53. 53. Bicycle Kitchen • Access to full tool shop for bike construction and repair • Free parts, consignments, and for-purchase parts and assemblies
  54. 54. Community currencies • Especially useful in times of economic crisis • Over 2500 local currencies operating in countries around the world
  55. 55. Transition Towns • A bottom-up community organizing model that puts together all of these strategies and more • “Life can be better without fossil fuels…”
  56. 56. Community Economic Laboratories • One-stop shop, central location • Car-share, ride-share • Food co-op • Credit union • Job center • Free clinic • Etc.
  57. 57. Emphasize what is not at peak • Community • Satisfaction from honest work well done • Intergenerational solidarity • Cooperation • Free time • Happiness • Artistry • Beauty of the built environment
  58. 58. A personal strategy • Reduce spending and consumption • Grow your own food • Get to know your neighbors
  59. 59. Imagine life after growth, a world without fossil fuels, the best case scenario
  60. 60. Imagine life after growth, a world without fossil fuels, the best case scenario Now imagine a path from here to there, and start to build it
  61. 61. Remember: crisis = opportunity This is the biggest opportunity of our lifetimes. Who will seize it?
  62. 62.