Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fours years since discovering peak oil....

It's now been four years since I've discovered the concept of peak oil. Today a tank of regular gas is $3.99 where I live, Ford has announced that it is cutting production for the the rest of this year, the airlines will be adding surcharges and charging $15 for the first bag taken on a flight, and OPEC won't increase production. That's just what I've heard in the news TODAY.

Four years ago in February 2004, I was gearing up politically and hoping for change. In the midst of my political anticipation and hopes, I stumbled upon the concept of "peak oil" on a democratic discussion board online. Someone posted a link to Matt Savinar's website Life After the Oil Crash (listed on my sidebar under Peak Oil 101) and I decided to click and read. Needless to say, I was devastated and mentally traumatized to immobility for about 6 months when I realized the full implications of what life would be like without cheap oil. I spent that next 6 months reading and reading everything, from every source about oil...the history of oil, the geopolitical implications of peak oil, the stats, the proven oil reserves, what the government reports were saying about it, how to prepare for life without cheap oil, and on and on. Finally, I began to 'find my legs' as soon as the 2004 elections were over. All I could think of was that I needed to find like-minded community and prepare myself and my family for the coming hardships.

Now, there has and will always be a debate in my mind about how this is going to play out. In 2004, some of us thought the actual oil peak would come around 2008 and the real effects would start to rear their ugly head and come to a full throttle crash somewhere around 2012. Others gave it a little longer, maybe 20 years or so. Now looking back, I feel that things are occurring faster than I had expected starting around least the signs are looking favorable to it happening sooner rather than later, especially with other factors in the mix.

Immediately after the 2004 elections, I scheduled a library meeting room spot and announced my presentation of "The End of Suburbia" and community discussion of oil depletion, a.k.a. 'peak oil'. Mind you, the price of a barrel of oil was ONLY $30-35 a barrel and gas was close to $2 but still nobody obviously wanted to listen or I would've had at least ONE person attend my event!

In 2004-2005 I was just like Cassandra. I was telling everyone I knew about how oil was going to go up, demand would outstrip supply and to prepare--to get a bicycle, to plant a garden, reduce consumption, save energy, etc. As you can imagine, I don't think many people listened to me or heard what I was saying. I wrote a LTTE that entitled me to become a "guest columnist" because it was so much information that it took half the page--evidently too much information for the average reader's attention span when reading the newspaper! I got no response. Through 2005, I contacted my local Mayor, the local economic development leader, the newspaper editor and told them about the end of cheap oil. When I was getting nowhere with my outward expressions of concern to my community, I turned inward toward preparing for the future myself. The compromise for letting others know about the implications of diminishing cheap oil has been redirected to this blog. It's now out here for anyone who wants to search for it.

Over the past four years, I've been learning how to grow my own food and how to preserve it. I've been working on becoming debt free since 2003, and I can proudly say that this goal has been reached! I have zero debt. Ultimately, nobody can ever be totally be prepared for life without cheap oil but as I can imagine it, I am closer to that goal than I was four year ago. At least I will be more comfortable because I have prepared to the best of my ability. It remains a work in progress.

Since finding out about peak oil I can note some things I've watched over this period of time. The president actually came out and said "We're addicted to oil". CNN, CNBC, Yahoo, The History Channel, and other mainstream media outlets have actually talked about, had specials about, and acknowledged peak oil. I've seen congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) give HOURS of presentations on peak oil in special sessions live on cspan with hardly anybody in the 'House' (makes me feel a little less alone when nobody showed up to my local presentation!).

I must also note that I still haven't heard of any refineries being built. The contemplation has always been around the peak oil crowd that the reason no refineries have been built or rebuilt is because the oil. won't. be. there. Again, if anyone wants to blame the government or the congress, remember, this IS a free market and anyone can start building or investing anytime now! Why hasn't anyone? ....and it really makes me chuckle when supposed unregulated free market advocates start complaining about price gouging, want price gouging controls, and want regulations or price controls on oil. Excuse me, but aren't these interventions against the free market ideology? I'm not arguing for or against--it's just my libertarian side poking out! Oil depletion is oil depletion and it's going to occur whether we have price controls or not. When demand/consumption outstrips supply & production, there 'ain't nothin' going to help us in the long run.

From the long view, prices will go up, then demand destruction will occur or the government will give us a temporary fix. People will think everything is alright, start consuming more again, and then the same cycle will begin again over and over until the price can't come down any longer. Like many of us peaksters have referred, it will feel just like a roller coaster. I'm not even including any other economic factors here, either.

Again, I've spent since 2005 building this blog to inform others about the coming calamity. There is a whole smorgasboard full of links in my sidebar added over 3 years. Please begin with Peak Oil 101 links and then work your way down. It's 3 years worth of work at your fingertips to get started. Climate change has been instrumental to peak oil effects, and is a cousin to the peak oil concept, so there are a lot of links that are intertwined in ideology. They might not all speak of peak oil, per se, but every link I have is helpful concerning the implications of the end of the cheap oil era.

Are we a day late and a dollar short? We are pretty close. Act now. Think globally, act locally.


Kez said...

I've only just found out about Peak Oil and it's implications in the last month or so, so I have a LOT of catching up to do. It scares me that I've left it too late, but I am at least ahead of many others who are still unaware.

Thanks for your blog.

Jeff said...

Your story and time period of discovery are similar to mine! As is your story of the panic that sets in after the discovery...

4 years later, and I feel pretty good where I'm at. I moved 2 miles from work, drive only a couple times a week, sold off all the gas powered toys including the lawnmower, got serious about gardening, etc. I still feel like there's much I can do, but I'm also grateful that I've had this long time period to experiment and wean myself off the old lifestyle. It will come as a shock to most we're starting to already see!

peaknik said...

Well, Kez, there's no better time than now! I'd rather find out now than 4 years down the road. I wished I would've found out a lot sooner myself but as you can see, I've had some time, and we still haven't hit rock bottom yet. So, take hope and do something with fast as your life allows!

Jeff, you sound like you're further along than me. I'm only 10 minutes from work but riding my bike or walking are out right now because it would be too dangerous to come home at midnight by myself. I've had my dh looking at a non-powered mower but I don't think he's "there" yet! I make do and change the best I can with what I'm given. I've been approved for rain barrels at the downspouts so I'm going to order these tonight! :) Inch-by-inch I'm doing it.

Chile said...

I am usually "a day late and a dollar short" but luckily we stumbled across all the peak oil information when I started blogging a year ago. We're now fully aware of the issues and working as hard as we can to prepare. The last piece in the puzzle continues to elude us, though: relocating to a permanent home where we can really garden, as opposed to renting in a crappy neighborhood in a big city. Makes me nervous, when it seems like the roller coaster has sped up and there are no brakes.

Thanks for providing all the great links in your sidebar. Nice resources!