"For five years the peak oil movement has been largely the province of internet conspiracy buffs, church basement conferences and esoteric debates among petroleum geologists and scientists about statistical data few can understand. Last month, however, oil “peaksters” seemed to break out of their policy doldrums when they journeyed to the banks of the Potomac for what may have been their first mainstream conference in the nation's capital.
Sponsorship by the University of Maryland gave peak oil at least momentary “street cred” on Pennsylvania Avenue as federal, state, and local politicians joined with business executives, bureaucrats, economists, and respected scientists. City council members from places like Huntington Beach, Calif., and Bloomington, Ind., joined Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, and such Washington stalwarts as Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). The Maryland Republican, an engineer who invented an oxygen recycling machine used by NASA in manned spacecraft, has founded the peak oil caucus in the House.
Department of Energy consultant Roger Bezdek, who directed research for the federal Energy Research and Development Administration during the 1970’s energy crisis, discussed his strategy for a crash program to develop alternatives to oil. Former World Bank economist Herman Daly, winner of the Sweden’s alternative Nobel Prize the Right Livelihood Award, and Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and its annual State of the World Report, were there. So was NASA Goddard Space Institute Director James Hansen, perhaps the leading scientist to document global warming, and Mona Sahlin, minister of Sustainable Development for Sweden, which is pursuing a plan to completely end its dependence on oil. This was no crowd of radical tree huggers.
For three days, they debated how the nation and world should respond to the imminent peak in world oil production, after which the supply of Beverly Hillbilly Jed Clampett’s “black gold” will decline forevermore while demand blows through the roof as the industrial and automotive age engulf China and India."