Archive for the month “January, 2014”

Sustainability and Collapse – Two Debates

Development and sustainability – the debate
Sagar Dhara (founder member of Peak Oil India group), raises important issues for a discussion on development and sustainability. This piece is based on Aseem Shrivastava and Ashish Kotharis’ book, Churning the Earth, published last year, which discusses the growing economic inequity and environmental degradation in India in the last 25 years, and offers the authors’ vision of a future more sustainable and equitable India. Sagar’s review of their book was published in the August 2013 issue of Biblio. Sagar also spoke on this also at the recently concluded 37th Indian Social Science Congress at Aligarh Muslim University, organized around the theme of building an ecologically sustainable society. Read more

In this response to Sagar’s piece (Entropy, Economics, Environment and Ethics), CK Raju writes:
I regard as particularly important one of the questions Sagar has raised, viz., 2.3 “Is sustainable capitalism possible?” One of my talks at the same meeting related to this question, and also to the other question, 2.7 “Do laws of thermodynamics come into play to define sustainability? -How?” This also brings in a key question he has not raised, and which is rarely raised: is any alternative sustainable without transforming ethics? If not, do we have even a proposal for an alternative ethical system? That is, is it possible to have, for example, a socialist society where everyone practices the capitalist ethic of maximising consumption? I found this discordance, between state structures and people’s consciousness, particularly striking on a visit to Berlin a few days after the fall of the wall. I believe a sustainable alternative won’t be all top-down, we need something bottom-up too. Read more

Crash on demand – the debate
Permaculture pioneer David Holmgren’s essay Crash on Demand has kicked up a storm on Peak Oil blogs. Holmgren writes:
My argument is essentially that radical, but achievable, behaviour change from dependent consumers to responsible self-reliant producers(by some relatively small minority of the global middle class) has a chance of stopping the juggernaut of consumer capitalism from driving the world over the climate change cliff.  It maybe a slim chance, but a better bet than current herculean efforts to get the elites to pull the right policy levers; whether by sweet promises of green tech profits or alternatively threats from mass movements shouting for less consumption… An argument can be mounted for putting effort into precipitating that crash, the crash of the financial system. Any such plan would of course invite being blamed for causing it when it happens.
Writer on Peak Oil and Permaculture David McLeod provides a good summary of the debate while joining issue with Holmgren’s detractors. Also included here are links to responses by several leading Peak Oil bloggers to Holmgren’s essay.


MIT researchers predict global collapse
From Russia Today TV
Researchers at the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say that, at this rate, the planet is likely to be plagued by a “global economic collapse” in fewer than two decades if humans continue to gobble up natural resources at the same rate they are today. The report was led by MIT’s Jay W. Forrester’s Institute and used a computing model to examine the correlation between global developments and their affect on the Earth. Variables involving the amount of available resources, different level of agricultural productivity, birth control and environmental protection were taken into account to examine what the future holds for the human race and, according to the researchers, it isn’t very good.

Why Shale Oil Boosters Are Charlatans In Disguise
By James Gruber, Forbes Magazine
Something has bothered me of late: why is the price of crude oil still elevated? Other commodities have taken a battering since 2011. Gold, copper and iron ore – all are way down off their peaks. But oil has seemingly defied gravity. And that’s despite increased supply from shale oil in the U.S., still soft demand particularly in the developed world and declining rates of inflation growth across the globe.

News update

US Army colonel: world is sleepwalking into a global energy crisis
A conference sponsored by a US military official convened experts in Washington DC and London warning that continued dependence on fossil fuels puts the world at risk of an unprecedented energy crunch that could inflame financial crisis and exacerbate dangerous climate change.
From Guardian Earth Insight blog

Could Arctic summers be sea ice-free in three years’ time?
Climate change is causing a long-term decline in Arctic sea ice, and scientists expect the Arctic Ocean to be largely ice-free in summer at some point this century. But is that broad prediction too complacent? This week, the Guardian claimed scientists working for the US Navy believe summer sea ice could disappear as soon as 2016, based on the results of a sophisticated new computer model.
The Carbon Brief blog

Can cold fusion technology thwart the Peak Oil Crisis?
If BlackLight Power can really develop the technology to produce electric power at a claimed 10th of a cent a kilowatt in the next few years, our planet and our science will never be the same again. Even the peak oil crisis could even come to a rather abrupt end in a way that no one ever envisioned. For now all we can do is keep an open mind remember that every century or so a real scientific revolution comes along.

Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies’
A former British Petroleum (BP) geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of “continuous recession” and increased risk of conflict and hunger.
From Guardian Earth Insight blog

BP declares the death of peak oil
Energy major British Petroleum has claimed the concept of global energy supply peaking amid rapidly rising consumption is no longer valid as new fuels emerge and energy demand growth slows. “The theory of peak oil has peaked,” BP chief executive Bob Dudley said as he unveiled the company’s new energy outlook to 2035.

Michael T. Klare: Peak Oil Is Dead. Long Live Peak Oil!
Among the big energy stories of 2013, “peak oil” — the once-popular notion that worldwide oil production would soon reach a maximum level and begin an irreversible decline — was thoroughly discredited. The explosive development of shale oil and other unconventional fuels in the United States helped put it in its grave. Not so fast, though. The present round of eulogies brings to mind Mark Twain’s famous line: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Before obits for peak oil theory pile up too high, let’s take a careful look at these assertions.

Government Scientists Created Crude Oil from Algae in Mere Minutes
Be excited, Earthlings, because science has a surprise for you. Engineers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have devised a way to turn algae into crude oil in less than an hour. That oil can then be refined into gasoline that can run engines.

Note: The following documents  have been added to the Resources page:
The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins, pioneer of the Transition Town movement. We live in an oil-dependent world, and have got to this level of dependency in a very short space of time, using vast reserves of oil in the process – without planning for when the supply is not so plentiful. Most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive), but The Transition Handbook shows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome. These changes can lead to the rebirth of local communities, which will grow more of their own food, generate their own power, and build their own houses using local materials.

Essence of Permaculture by permaculture co-originator David Holmgren. It provides a summary of the permaculture concept and principles. Permaculture, which originally referred to “permanent agriculture”, is a branch of ecological design that develops self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems, inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy.

Also added a Report on the Peak Oil Workshop held in June 2013 at Deccan Trails, Manneguda, near Hyderabad, which led to the formation of the Peak Oil India group. The report includes details of workshop agenda, participants, lectures and practical exercises.

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