impact timeline

We're often asked: "What does a think tank like PCI actually do? What's your method for influencing what's happening in the world?"

This selected timeline of PCI publications, speaking, media, outreach, and other influential activities offers a glimpse of our impact (and the context for that impact). If you prefer the written word, a select summary appears below. You can also learn more about and support our work.

PCI Chronology




  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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: 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, 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.