Post Carbon Newsletter - October 2008
Post Carbon Newsletter - October 2008
Here in the US, election fever is in full swing. The process of deciding on the next leader of the nation has an added poignancy in these difficult times of financial crisis. The right to elect our political leaders and representatives is an important one and something which we should not take for granted, but does democracy end there?
The theme of this month’s newsletter is ‘democracy’. Shelby Tay describes how Relocalization groups are engaging in events to influence policy in their local areas. Daniel Lerch from Post Carbon Cities discusses the relationship between citizens and their representatives that is necessary in order to allow for the major changes needed to respond to peak oil and climate change. Two articles from Energy Bulletin explore different aspects of democracy, challenges to it and how to keep it alive.
Also this month, Julian Darley shows how the California Proposition 10 ballot initiative is one of the biggest 'boone'doggles of them all; and in Delay and Fail, Richard Heinberg exposes the myth of clean coal.
Finally, take the chance to catch up with highlights from our Commentaries, 2008 M. K. Hubbert Award winning Global Public Media, our upcoming events and an important Post Carbon Institute update.
Vote NO On 10: The California Natural Gas and Big Truck Addiction Scam
It is surely not often that reading a dry piece of legal verbiage causes one to take flights of fancy and think of Hollywood, of great movies, and of even greater skullduggery. But California Proposition 10 changes all that. On November 4th 2008, voters will be asked to back this disgraceful farrago of rebates for fake clean vehicles cooked up by T Boone Pickens and his gas-producing friends. So think of ‘Chinatown', ‘The Third Man' and ‘The Sting' all rolled into one. Here's how the story unfolds:
If Prop 10 - misleadingly called 'The California Renewable Energy and Clean Alternative Fuel Act' - passes, California taxpayers (of which I am one) get to shell out five billion dollars spent over a 10 year period to help Pickens and friends get America further hooked on a fast depleting non-renewable natural resource - natural gas, while brilliantly further dooming America's long distance freight transport system to early collapse and obsolescence and doing almost nothing to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other pollutants... Read More
Last week, speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, Al Gore suggested that young people should engage in civil disobedience to stop the building of new coal power plants “that do not have carbon capture and sequestration.”
I sympathize with Gore’s intent. Coal is the most polluting of the fossil fuels, and if we burn more of it there is little hope of averting catastrophic climate change.
But is carbon capture and storage (CCS) a solution? The technology exists only in the sense that its components have been demonstrated on a small scale. Deploying it broadly would require the development of an infrastructure that would require trillions of dollars of investment and decades of work. According to Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba, in a recent letter to Nature, we would need to handle a volume of CO2 twice as large as the world’s crude oil flows just to sequester one quarter of carbon dioxide emitted in 2005 by large stationary sources... Read more
Keep up to date on energy issues with Post Carbon Institute's commentary feature. Staff, Fellows and guest contributors post short, daily responses to the news of the day. Below are a couple of recent highlights. Be sure to visit our commentaries page regularly for more.
|Tangled Embrace of the Three E's
Asher Miller • September 26, 2008
One of the frightening consequences of the $700,000,000,000 government bailout... Read more
|Complex issues in a world of soundbites
Daniel Lerch • October 2, 2008
I've been doing a lot of writing on peak oil and cities recently... Read more
| Bailout Blues
Richard Heinberg • September 26, 2008
Ever since Hank Paulson made his pitch for a $700 billion slush fund to prop up teetering Wall Street financial institutions... Read more
Showing leadership on peak oil
Preparing our communities for peak oil is no easy task. From local zoning codes to national highway bills, just about every policy and infrastructure decision made since World War II has prioritized driving over walking, bicycling and taking public transportation. As a result, today most Americans and Canadians are powerless to meet even their most basic daily needs --whether going to work or buying food-- without using a petroleum-powered car or truck.
Fortunately, policy and infrastructure decisions are just that: decisions. We can choose to set policy as if we're still in a world of cheap oil, or we can choose to set policies more appropriate for the new and very real and world of energy and climate uncertainty. For most people that means electing government leaders who understand peak oil, and letting them figure out what exactly to do about it. As people who work in government know, however, it takes more than winning on Election Day to change policy... Read More
Photo credit: alexbcthompson
On a local community level, democracy manifests itself through participatory action, in the form of demonstrating interest in issues that matter. People contribute to democracy in many ways, not limited to casting a ballot. Democracy is aided through open communication where participants have the opportunity to explore different views and are able to gather information to make informed decisions.
With upcoming civic and federal elections, many groups are stepping up to ensure that the issues that matter to them come to the forefront of discussions. In British Columbia, Vancouver Peak Oil is organizing an event with the mayoral candidates specifically to discuss strategies to address peak oil in light of the upcoming municipal elections. In the last civic election in Toronto, Post Carbon Toronto collaborated with various other groups to organize the 'Pledge to Green' campaign. In Berkeley, California, members of Bay Localize participated in a meeting with the Berkeley Energy Commission:
"The last couple of weeks have seen an incredible outpouring of support for Community Choice Energy! In late September, 25 people showed up to the Berkeley Energy Commission meeting calling for greater community control over our local renewable energy mix. As a result, the Berkeley Energy Commission formed a subcommittee to explore how they could move Community Choice forward (read report on the meeting)."
For more information and resources for taking action, visit relocalize.net.
|Dr. Abby Gold on Local Foods and Food Deserts in North Dakota and Minnesota
Dr. Gold, a nutritionist, talks with Brian Magee about the diets of people in the Red River Valley - an agricultural area that is nevertheless often a "food desert" for its residents.
This month's issue of the MuseLetter is a compilation of several recent short writings. The last of these, a set of frequently asked questions about Peak Oil, is a work in progress that will appear in expanded form at www.postcarbon.org.
After talking with a Louisiana resident about the impact of hurricanes on the Gulf of Mexico and people's reactions, The Reality Report turned to coverage of the economy.
|As usual, Peak Moment Television brought us a variety of thought-provoking material this month, touching on psychology, school gardens, and middle-class jobs before making the trip to the ASPO-USA Conference 2008, where they captured excellent interviews with Matt Simmons, Richard Heinberg and Julian Darley.
|Deconstructing Dinner: Backyard Chickens III
This month saw the third installment in Deconstructing Dinner's Backyard Chickens series. To get the collected chicken wisdom of Bucky Buckaw, listen to all three: Part I | Part II | Part III
A selection of articles appearing at Energy Bulletin.
Can Democracy Survive Without Fossil Fuels?
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights, June 29, 2005
Is it an accident that the great modern revolutions, both American and French, occurred shortly after James Watt vastly increased the efficiency of the steam engine? Recall that the steam engine's primary purpose at the time was to pump water out of coal mines. Its perfection ignited an industrial revolution built on fossil fuels. Those fuels also indirectly ignited huge social and political changes that included modern demands for greater equality and democracy. Can those values thrive without fossil fuels?
Ancient Athens was democratic long before fossil fuels were discovered. In reality, democracy depends on some energy source that makes it possible for citizens to have the time to govern themselves. The citizenry must also enjoy a rough equality that doesn't put some citizens so far above others as to threaten their solidarity. So, what was that energy source? Slaves... Read more
Photo credit: flickr/buddhakiwi
“Democracy Only Works When Ordinary People Claim It as Their Own
Bill Moyers on, Democracy Now, June 9, 2008
... You represent millions of Americans who see media consolidation as a corrosive social force. It robs them of their voice in public affairs, pollutes the political culture and turns the debate over profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy while refusing to speak the truth about how our country is being plundered.
The patriarch of your movement warned a generation ago of what was coming. In his magisterial book, Media Monopoly, Ben Bagdikian wrote, quote, “The result of the overwhelming power of relatively narrow corporate ideologies has been the creation of widely established political and economic illusions with little visible contradictions in the media to which a majority of the people is exclusively exposed." In other words, what we need to know to make democracy work for all Americans is compromised by media institutions deeply embedded in the power structures of society... Read more
Photo credit: flickr/in da mood
Post Carbon Institute Speakers Schedule
Friday, October 17 & Sunday, October 19, 2008 - Marin Center, San Rafael, CA
Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow will participate on two panels at Bioneers.
Kootenay Energy Conference
October 17-18, 2008 at Selkirk College, Castlegar, British Columbia
Post Carbon Cities Program Manager Daniel Lerch will present via webcast to the Municipal Planners and Leaders Seminar on Friday, Oct 17, 2008, to an invited audience of planners and elected officials.
Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg will present via webcast on Saturday, October 18, 2008 to the general audience at the Kootenay Energy Conference, presented by Selkirk College and Kootenay Association for Science and Technology.
AERO’s 34th Annual Meeting
Nov 1, 2008 in Flathead Lake, Montana
Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg will keynote at AERO’s 34th Annual Meeting on Nov 1, 2008 in Flathead Lake, Montana. Richard will speak on Building Resilient Communities. AERO (Alternative Energy Resource Organization)is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to solutions that promote resource conservation and local economic vitality.
American Planning Association, Fall Conference
November 7, 2008-Salt Lake City, UT
Daniel Lerch, Post Carbon Cities Program Manager will present at the Utah Chapter of the American Planning Association, Fall Conference. The meeting will be held at University of Utah.
The Conference on Michigan's Future: Energy, Economy & Environment
Friday, Nov. 14 - Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008, in Crystal Mountain Resort, Thompsonville, MI
The Conference on Michigan's Future: Energy, Economy and Environment looks at how rising oil and energy costs are crippling Michigan's economy and proposes solutions to prepare Michigan for the economy of tomorrow. Confirmed speakers include: Richard Heinberg - Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow
3rd Biennial Organic Connections Conference
November 16 to 18, 2008, in Grand Salon, TCU Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Featured Speakers: Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, Joel Salatin, “Everything I Want to do is Illegal”, and “You Can Farm”, Xingji Xia, the first organic inspector in China, and Martin Ent, University of Manitoba
H2Oil: Mixing Oil and Water
November 18, 2008, at the Chicago History Museum
Water shortages in the western and southern states; the rising cost of gasoline; the backlash against bottled water - these are just some of the myriad ways in which oil and water have become resources under stress. This opening program will feature Richard Heinberg, author and Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, in conversation with Steve Edwards of Chicago Public Radio.
Plan C: Individual and Community Survival Strategies for the Energy Crisis
The Fifth US Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions
October 31 – November 2, 2008 in Rochester, Michigan
At this groundbreaking conference participants will explore strategies for reducing energy use in the areas of housing, food and transportation, including both theory and practice. We will examine the long energy decline of the 21st century, the psychological barriers to rapid change, and the challenge of persuading our communities to embrace local, low-energy living. Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, (via webcast)will be one of the featured speakers.
2nd Annual Climate All Stars Conference
Thursday, November 6th. 8am - 4pm in San Francisco, CA
Don't miss this one day conference where Bay Area Leaders present Real Solutions for Speed and Scale to achieve bold green house gas reductions regionally.
Featuring Keynote Speakers: Adam Kahane, author of “Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities.”; Andrew Revkin, award winning author and New York Times reporter; Fran Pavley, author of landmark legislation on global warming that is a model for other states and countries.
Post Carbon Institute is pleased to announce two exciting changes within the organization! After five years at the helm, Julian Darley and Celine Rich, founder and co-founder of Post Carbon Institute, have decided to shift their roles within the organization to devote their time and energies to research, writing, and outreach.
"I'm thrilled to begin working with Celine and Julian on think tank issues," said Richard Heinberg. "The experience that they both will bring to the table as Senior Fellows will greatly enhance our ability to produce research and create policy recommendations that are desperately needed in the world today."
Celine has handed the Executive Director baton to Asher Miller—previously Director of Programs and Relocalization Network Manager—while Julian has formally stepped down from his position as President of Post Carbon Institute... Read more
Post Carbon Institute encourages the following courses of action: