We’re often asked: “What does Post Carbon Institute do, and how does PCI influence what’s happening in the world?” This timeline and chronology (below) of highlights offer a glimpse of how your support translates into meaningful impact through publications, speaking, media, outreach, and other influential activities (there’s more on our mission, values, and strategy here).
PCI Highlights: Chronology
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- Book: Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels includes 15 essays by PCI Senior Fellow-in-Residence Richard Heinberg that explore critical issues we face as society embarks on the transition to life beyond fossil fuels.
- Videos: A series of four short videos, PCI Senior Fellow-in-Residence Richard Heinberg explores The Laws of Diminishing Returns, The Great Burning, Our Renewable Future, and Community Resilience. These are covered more thoroughly in Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels.
- Report: Drilling Deeper: A Reality Check on U.S. Government Forecasts for a Lasting Tight Oil & Shale Gas Boom, by PCI Fellow J. David Hughes, calls into question optimistic government forecasts and industry claims about U.S. energy independence and the viability of oil and natural gas exports. The report shows that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) produced exaggerated forecasts about America’s long-term energy future.
- Briefing: Held joint event on Drilling California: A Reality Check on the Monterey Shale with Tom Steyer and Next Generation and report author David Hughes in Sacramento, CA.
- Media: Orchestrated press coverage (including Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Scientific American, Bloomberg, CNBC, and many more) of the United States Energy Information Agency’s downgrading their estimate of recoverable oil in California’s Monterey Formation by 96%, as presaged in Drilling California.
- Milestone: 100,000 reads/downloads for Drilling Deeper and Drilling California.
- Video: Petrolify! spoofs Big Oil and Big Pharma, while pointing to the deeper truth about our addiction to fossil fuels. It has been viewed more than 50,000 times.
- Report: Weaving the Community Resilience & New Economy Movement, by Marissa Mommaerts, Ben Roberts, and Ken White, who interviewed eighteen leaders (read the interviews) and held group conversations with dozens more, all working to build an economy based on respecting biophysical constraints, preferring decentralization, and supporting mutuality.
- Campaign: Distributed 35,000 Public Energy Art Kits (P.E.A.K.), a large-format compendium of 14 posters about the challenge of tackling climate change, energy inequality and fossil fuel dependency in conjunction with hundreds of local activists and more than 100 environmental and energy groups.
- Influence: Post Carbon Institute’s Daniel Lerch hands over the Chairmanship of the Sustainable Communities Division of the American Planning Association, having led it from its inception, to now one of the largest and most active of APA’s 20 Divisions.
- Video: Produced Fracking America animation.
- Personal tech: Launched daily/weekly “Resilience” digest, and Resilience mobile app.
- Report: Drilling California: A Reality Check on the Monterey Shale, by PCI Fellow J. David Hughes, with Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy is the most comprehensive study of the true potential of the Monterey Shale Formation, and an antidote to studies and PR campaigns touting huge economic benefits from exploiting this complex and difficult resource.
- Report: Resilient Against What?: How Leading U.S. Municipalities Are Understanding and Acting on Resilience, by Jim Thayer, Morgan Rider, and Daniel Lerch reveals that leading US municipalities already have sophisiticated understanding of resilience, and are creating policies to enhance it.
- Report: Climate After Growth: Why Environmentalists Must Embrace Post-Growth Economics and Community Resilience, by Asher Miller and Rob Hopkins, argues that meaningful climate legislation is impossible as long as the environmental community continues to embrace growth-dependent economics.
- Book: Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future, by Richard Heinberg is a crowd-funded, crowd-edited, and crowd-promoted dissection of the “game-changing” hyperbole around fracking. The PCI “crowd” adds huge value to the book.
- Campaign: The Energy Reality Campaign, with various allies, the most hard-hitting social media campaign to date on the reality of modern energy and ‘overpowered’ society.
- Book: ENERGY: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth, edited by Tom Butler and George Wuerthner, published by Watershed Media with the Foundation for Deep Ecology uses stunning images and powerful essays to make plain the true cost of our energy addiction.
- Book: The ENERGY Reader, edited by Tom Butler, Daniel Lerch, and George Wuerthner, published by Watershed Media with the Foundation for Deep Ecology offers the ENERGY essays in a more convenient, less expensive form.
- Book: Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems, by Philip Ackerman-Leist, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, provides a roadmap for taking the food movement to the net level through regional food systems.
- Report: Drill Baby Drill: Can Unconventional Fuels Usher in a New Era of Energy Abundance, by J. David Hughes.offers the most in-depth analysis of shale gas and tight oil production in the U.S. ever produced (cited in The Economist, USA Today, among many references). PCI also launches the ShaleBubble website with evidence-based insights and tools for engaged citizens.
- PCI partners with Chelsea Green Publishing to produce three Community Resilience Guide books (the most in-depth to date on the emerging “community resilience” concept).
- Book: Power from the People: How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects, by Greg Pahl, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, describes how communities across the country are sharing power rather than importing it.
- Book: Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity, by Michael Shuman, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, advocates for a $30 trillion shift in how we invest our money.
- Website: Post Carbon Institute launches Resilience.org, the successor website to EnergyBulletin, as a resource platform for communities building local self-reliance, emphasizing community-based responses to the rapidly emerging fallout from the end of cheap fossil fuels.
- Video: “We Quit You, Keystone XL.” PCI helps produce this clever spoof, equating the Keystone XL pipeline with a bad boyfriend who won’t take the hint and go away.
- Video: “Don’t Worry, Drive On” uses intriguing visuals and Richard Heinberg’s narration to counter the fossil fuel industry’s hype about oil supplies. It has been viewed nearly 150,000 times.
- Video: “300 years of fossil fuels in 300 seconds” featuring Richard Heinberg, wins a YouTube DoGooder Nonprofit Video of the Year award, and has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.
- Book: The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg, published by New Society Publishers, explains how and why he financial crisis occurs and recurs, and what we must do to avert the worst potential outcomes.
- Report: Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?, by J. David Hughes (2011)analyzes data from more than 64,000 wells to provide a comprehensive look at the true potential of this “game-changing” resource.
- Video: “Who Killed Economic Growth?” explains how growth became a given, and why it will be taken away by its own flawed premises, and has been viewed nearly 150,000 times.
- Presentation: “The Oil Journey” offers PCI supporters a mulimedia tool to offer a personalized, compelling story suitable for community groups, congregations, etc.
- Report: Searching for a Miracle: ‘Net Energy’ Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society, by Richard Heinberg, with the International Forum on Globalization (2010), describes the advantages and limitations of all the major energy resources; and marks one of the first major introductions of concepts like “Energy Returned On Energy Invested” to non-specialist audiences.
- Book: The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises, edited by Richard Heinberg & Daniel Lerch, published by Watershed Media (2010), winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal. This major, 500-page book by PCI’s 29 expert Fellows outlines the interconnected sustainability challenges and the most promising possible responses, and is currently in its fourth printing. It’s the first to market sustainability reader for academia, and used in more than 50 college courses.
- Partnership: PCI enters into partnership with EnergyBulletin.net.
- Change: Julian Darley and Celine Rich leave PCI; Asher Miller becomes Executive Director; Richard Heinberg becomes Senior Fellow-in-Residence. PCI broadens its mission from peak oil awareness to tackling the world’s interconnected sustainability crises. Many existing programs are consolidated or discontinued. 29 Fellows are recruited from various disciplines and backgrounds to inform and guide this new direction.
- Book: Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis by Richard Heinberg discusses the inevitable decline of coal, which at that time powered nearly half of U.S. electricity production.
- Report: The Real New Deal: Energy Scarcity and the Path to Energy, Economic, and Environmental Recovery by Richard Heinberg, Daniel Lerch, and Asher Miller, offers a compelling alternative to rehashed Keynesian “solutions” proffered by the usual economic suspects.
- Report: The Food and Farming Transition, by Richard Heinberg and Michael Bomford, outlines steps for moving agriculture away from fossil fuels.
- Transition: PCI shutters Relocalization Network, encouraging groups to join the Transition Towns movement.
- Support: PCI begins helping Transition US with its startup, and provides $200,000 in seed funding.
- Richard Heinberg joins PCI as Senior Fellow-in-Residence.
- Paper: PCI publishes “10 Steps for Individuals,” a guide to individual action in response to energy, economic, and environmental crises.
- Report: Preparing for Peak Oil: Local Authorities and the Energy Crisis by The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC) and Post Carbon Institute (2008), is released, modeled on Post Carbon Cities.
- Ongoing: Global Public Media, Relocalization Network, presentations, Energy Farms. Solar Carshare, local currency for Sebastopol.
- Video PCI produces Peak Oil for Policymakers DVD, a practical call to action for government officials.
- Context: The Transition Handbook is published as the nascent Transition Towns movement begins to spread rapidly around the world.
- Context: A consistent, five-year climb in oil prices culminates a price spike, and set the “new normal” price at $80-$110.
- Context: In a not-unrelated event, the Great Depression begins in earnest.
- Move: PCI relocates to Sebastopol, California.
- Book: PCI publishes Post Carbon Cities: Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty by Daniel Lerch, to educate local government leaders on the challenges our communities face in peak oil and climate change. First to market peak oil for governments); see: http://www.postcarboncities.net/quotes
- Book: With major support from PCI, Richard Heinberg’s book Peak Everything is released.
- Ongoing: Global Public Media, Relocalization Network, presentations by PCI staff, PCI co-sponsorship of events like “A Renaissance of Local” (Relocalize Boulder conference), Energy Farms.
- Launch: PCI rolls out the Oil Depletion Protocol project to demonstrate the feasibility of a worldwide “ramp down” of oil dependence. Richard Heinberg releases the book The Oil Depletion Protocol.
- Influence: Julian Darley gaining some prominence as a speaker/thought leader on peak oil and relocalization.
- Experiment: Energy Farms project started.
- Ongoing: Global Public Media, Relocalization Network.
- Context: Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth released, marking the entrance of climate change into mainstream consciousness.
- Context: Richard Heinberg delivers “Fifty Million Farmers” lecture to E.F. Schumacher Society. The content (and the speaker) proves perenially popular.
- Context: US housing bubble peaks; other asset bubbles continue to inflate.
- Experiment: Julian, Celine and others write manuscript for Relocalize Now! (never published).
- Ongoing: Global Public Media, Relocalization Network.
- Context: “The Oil Drum” website launched, offering a gathering place for informed conversation on resource (especially fossil fuels) constraints.
- Context: Association for the Study of Peak Oil—USA launched, and holds first major conference in Denver.
- Context: James Howard Kunstler’sThe Long Emergency previewed in Rolling Stone and then published, marking the entrance of “peak oil” into mainstream consciousness.
- Book: Julian Darley releases High Noon for Natural Gas.
- Ongoing: Global Public Media and Relocalization Network continue to broaden their work.
- Context: Richard Heinberg’s book Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World outlines four options for industrial societies during the next decades: Last One Standing; Waiting for a Magic Elixir; Building Lifeboats; or Powerdown.
- Context: EnergyBulletin.net launched to promote greater understanding of, and informed discussion about, peak oil and its implications, as evidence supporting the hypothesis mounts. (Post Carbon Institute will relaunch EnergyBulletin in 2012 as Resilience.org, which also emphasizes community-based responses to the rapidly emerging fallout from peak oil.)
- Context: The Death of Environmentalism released by Breakthrough Institute, concisely outlining the neo-environmentalist, techno-optimist viewpoint, and providing a fine counterpoint to theview represented by Post Carbon Institute.
- Origin: Post Carbon Institute launched in Vancouver, BC by Julian Darley and Celine Rich, with Richard Heinberg as an adviser.
- Launch: PCI debuts the Relocalization Network, the first online grassroots approach to reducing fossil fuel dependence by building and self-reliance. At its peak, the Relocalization Network was an online networking hub for hundreds of grassroots groups around the world. (By 2012, this work had matured into the Community Resilience Initiative, and support for—and work with—Transition US and other groups supporting locally based efforts.)
- Expansion: Global Public Media continues to produce and distribute interviews with thought leaders.
- Context: Richard Heinberg’s groundbreaking book The Party’s Over published; it turns up on Bill Clinton’s reading list, driving interest and sales through the roof.
- Context: Oil prices start leaving the “old normal” of $15-$35 in April/May (with a consistent climb that culminated in 2008 price spike and the current ‘new normal’ of $80-$110).
- Beginnings: Julian Darley and Celine Rich found Metafoundation (predecessor to PCI).
- Launch: Metafoundation debuts Global Public Media, which produces and distributes interviews with thought leaders on peak oil, climate change, and relocalization. Products include audio clips, video clips, DVDs, and the “Oil Age” poster
- Context: 1998, “The End of Cheap Oil” by Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère appears in Scientific American, the first major introduction of the peak oil concept to a non-specialist audience.
- Context: 2000, Association for the Study of Peak Oil launched, the first (and only) international association of analysts concerns about peak oil (see this interview for more on Colin Campbell, peak oil, and ASPO).
- Context: 2001, First International Workshop on Oil Depletion in Uppsala, Sweden.
- Context: 2002, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (Holmgren) published, helped crystalize resurgence of interest in permaculture.
- Context: 2002, Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems (Gunderson and Holling) published, helped crystallize resilience thinking/science.