Post Carbon Newsletter #31 September 2007

Post Carbon Newsletter

Post Carbon Newsletter #31 September 2007

1. Putting the Heat on Lomborg
2. Julian Darley Reports from ASPO Conference in Ireland
3. CNN's Listens to Post Carbon
4. Post Carbon Cities
5. Global Public Media
6. Relocalization Network
7. Energy Farms Network
8. Forthcoming Events
9. October Preview





Post Carbon is happy to announce a new website, Putting the Heat on Lomborg, where you will find the most complete and up-to-date information about a best-selling new book that claims global warming is not going to be much of a problem. Written by controversial Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg, Cool It: A Skeptical Environmentalist Looks at Global Warming, is a shallow but sophisticated effort to downplay the need to take action to stop global warming. At Putting the Heat on Lomborg, you will find a blog, reviews of the book, background information on Lomborg, and a great list of books, DVDs, websites, and blogs that present reliable information about global warming.


2. Julian Darley Reports from ASPO Conference in Ireland


Post Carbon Institute President Julian Darley attended the 6th annual conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas, held this year in September in Cork, Ireland. ASPO, which was founded by Dr. Colin Campbell, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of the phenomenon of Peak Oil and raising awareness about it. The conference brings together leading experts on Peak Oil from around the world. Here's Julian's quick report on some highlights from the two day conference:

I wish every subscriber to this newsletter could have been in Cork with me - there was much more going on than any one person could take in, and it was a great opportunity to sample the richness of the research and analysis about the arrival of Peak Oil. I was struck that a number of speakers working in the oil industry were in agreement that a peak was coming. Ray Leonard, now vice president at Kuwait Energy Company, predicted peak production at 95 to 100 million barrels per day (mbd) before 2020. But Chris Skrebowski, the editor of the Petroleum Review, whom I greatly respect, showed from publicly available data (EIA) that world oil production has been on a plateau at about 84 mbd for almost two years. After looking at these numbers, it is hard to imagine that we will ever get up to 100 mbd, unless there is a completely unexpected huge new discovery of easy oil before 2010.

CERN Physicist Michael Dittmar cast grave doubt on the hype about the "resurgence" of the nuclear power industry. Dittmar showed that there just isn't enough uranium out there to support a major increase in the number of nuclear plants. Only about 50% of the uranium going into today's plants was just mined; the rest is being recycled from retired nuclear warheads. And even so, prices for uranium have soared by over 1000% in the past few years.

Dittmar's presentation touched on a theme that ran through the whole conference: we need substitute technologies that we can deploy now, at scale that we know will work sustainably. Nuclear advocates talk of fast breeder reactors as a way around the looming shortages of uranium, despite the fact that this technology is not even remotely close to commercialization. And as Dittmar noted, the nuclear industry is still shackled with its failure to come up with politically and environmentally acceptable solutions for disposing of nuclear waste.

ASPO will be selling conference proceedings on DVDs, which will be worth studying. Send an email to this address for more details.


3. CNN's Listens to Post Carbon

CNN Money

CNN's Money took a look at Peak Oil in September, with a nice mention for Post Carbon Institute and Post Carbon Fellow Richard Heinberg. The piece was titled, "The end of oil: A small--but growing--group of experts think world oil production will peak in the next few years to devastating effect." There's a quote or two from the "we'll never run out of oil" crowd, but the thrust of the article is that Peak Oil is coming, and that the impact will be huge. Click here to read the article.


4. Post Carbon Cities

Guidebook cover image

Post Carbon Cities: Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty, our new guidebook for local governments, will be available October 5 ($30, 113 pages) at Post Carbon Books. You can also download an abridged preview version of the Guidebook at This free download includes the Executive Summary, the Introduction, a guide to making a local government statement on peak oil, and a guide to establishing a peak oil task force.

This month, Post Carbon Cities Program Manager Daniel Lerch is traveling to promote Post Carbon Cities. His tour includes public presentations and meetings with government agencies and citizen groups working on local responses to peak oil and global warming. Watch in the coming weeks for Daniel's full itinerary, and contact him if your group would like to set up a meeting or host a presentation when he's in your area.

Current tour schedule:

  • 10/16 - 20: Houston, TX (partly at ASPO-USA conference)
  • 10/22 - 23: Montreal, QC
  • 10/26 - 11/2: New England (partly at CommunityMatters07 conference)
  • 11/5 - 9: New York City / New Jersey / Philadelphia area
  • 11/12 - 16: Toronto, ON area


5. Global Public Media

Andrew McNamara

The big news on Global Public Media in September was the appointment of Queensland Parliament member and peak oil proponent Andrew McNamara to the Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation by the state's new Premier, Anna Bligh. On the heels of the announcement of McNamara's newly created portfolio, Queensland's prominent Courier-Mail newspaper gave front page news coverage to McNamara's eagerly-awaited report on "Queensland's Vulnerability to Rising Oil Prices." A number of governments have by now completed reports on oil vulnerability, but as far as we know, Queensland was the first to commission such a report anywhere in the world, back in 2005. Andi Hazelwood from Global Public Media spoke with Minister McNamara, as well as ASPO Australia member Stuart McCarthy and Paul Syvret, the journalist that broke the story of the soon-to-be-public report.

Andrew McNamara

Oil prices hit record highs of over $80USD/barrel in September, and Julian Darley of Global Public Media discussed it with Chris Skrebowski, editor of the UK's Petroleum Review. We've featured numerous new episodes of Peak Moment Television, oil exploration geoscientist Jeffrey J. Brown on the Reality Report, and a new episode of Deconstructing Dinner. Finally, this month on GPM Richard Heinberg previewed his forthcoming book, "Peak Everything."


6. Relocalization Network

This month we welcome three new groups: Oil Independent Berkeley in California, Crestone/Baca Sustainability Initiative in Colorado, and Earth Crisis Response in Massachusetts.

Relocalization groups across the Network have been busy gearing up for fall activities. In southern Ontario, the County Sustainability Group (CSG) is in the process of starting a LETS alternative currency system for the local community. Read more about it below.

In Virginia, US, two citizen-led subcommittees of the Loudoun County Committee for a Sustainable Society (LCCSS) met in the summer of 2007 to develop questionnaires for Loudoun County candidates to "learn their positions regarding sustainability-related projects and platforms, and educate them on ways their office can advance our County's economic and environmental health." The results from the collected survey responses will be posted online at and sent out in a press release in later this month. LCCSS is also sponsoring an Energy Summit with George Washington University.

If you or your group is interested in joining the Relocalization Network and building a strong and collaborative network of community groups, contact us!

Subscribe to the monthly Relocalize Newsletter and visit to stay current with all the Relocalization Network activities!


Featured Post Carbon Group: County Sustainability Group, Ontario


County Sustainability Group adopts LETS (Local Exchange Trading System)

We got the following report from the County Sustainability Group on Prince Edward Island, Canada, about the organization beginning to work with a Local Exchange Trading System:

As more and more people are learning that our future will not be a smooth continuation of the past, the CSG hopes that our island community will begin to see the many reasons that LETS will enhance the "buy local" slogan already promoted here. One of our members found an easy to use free software system online. A few CSG members joined fist, and we are now beginning to invite the public. We note that other relocalization groups have taken similar steps, like Project Port Lyttelton in New Zealand, and Post Carbon Sweden's alternative currency, where cog stands for Circle Of Gifts.

Our hope is that the LETS idea can some day be expanded to include GETS, (Global Exchange Trading System) in order to facilitate local and international trade. Peak Oil is only one of the potential apocalyptic horsemen that will soon stop the "growth forever" mantra of today's global economies. Gaia, Earth's natural system, is shifting state from global warming and other pressures of the human footprint: And yet population growth is still nearly exponential. The fiat dollar is in runaway mode, now expanding by billions annually to prevent inevitable collapse - today's fiat dollar will not be suitable in a sustainable future.

We need a global standard to represent real human wealth that accommodates human well-being and happiness, both now and in the future. Naturally, this needs include a relatively stable Gaia. There are many change organizations working in specific areas throughout the world in issues such as: monetary reform, new sociopolitical systems, population issues, and footprint measurements. Perhaps these groups could be brought together to establish an international standard for real human wealth, suitable for the world at large, and individual nations and in local regions. And this could become the basis for a dollar use in our local LETS.


7. Energy Farms Network

Andrew McNamara

In the 2007 season, the Energy Farm Program has been working to manifest a portion of the Relocalization vision as it pertains to a local food and biofuel system. The farm is a natural place to establish any local economic system because it produces items of tangible value for the community. Thus, we talk a lot about CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), a means of encouraging "prosumers" to not only invest in the products of an organic farm, but also to support practices that build healthy soil, provide examples to the youth, and strengthen bonds between friends and neighbors. Read more.


September Garden Tours: A Harvest of Hope

Post Carbon gardener Aaron Friedman reports on the open house for the Energy Garden at Post Carbon's Sebastopol headquarters at the end of September:

Post Carbon's Energy Garden was a featured attraction for three days at the end of September, as both a demonstration of how productive even a small tract of suburban land can be, and as an educational laboratory for small-scale farmers.

On Tuesday, September 25th the Permaculture Class from the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) arrived with thirty people to see the Energy Garden. Well informed and inspired by the holistic education delivered by Brock Dolman and other teachers at OAEC, the students engaged in an interactive tour and design session at Post Carbon's Energy Garden. To see the details of the design charrettes please see the blog at The students learned about the context of Peak Oil and the purpose and reasons behind the Energy Farm Network. We here at Post Carbon also benefitted from their understanding of permaculture theory and design as they suggested several great ideas to improve the Energy Garden site.

Three days later, on Friday, September 28th, Post Carbon staff ran a full day of garden tours and free workshops on ethanol production, appropriate technologies, and relocalization. On Sunday, September 30th, we had more than 40 people turn out for another round of tours and workshops, including many children. The kids brought an extra burst of enthusiasm, as people harvested vegetables from the garden, used a leg powered Japanese winnower and mill to process wheat and barley, and talked about the benefits and problems of biofuels.

The tours marked the end of summer for us at the Energy Garden. Soon the fifteen-foot high Jerusalem artichokes will be gone, and we will have harvested the millet, corn, and sorghum, and some crops that even seasoned local gardeners have never seen, like kenaf, switchgrass, and quinoa. As we transition into the rainy season, we are planting winter crops to feed the soil. Working in the garden, I love to see cars slow down to look into our "yard," checking out the progress we've made with during the Energy Garden's first full year. Now it's time to enjoy the autumn.



8. Forthcoming Events

October 17-20, 2007
ASPO-USA 2007 Houston World Oil Conference
Houston, Texas, USA

Speakers include T. Boone Pickens, Matt Simmons, Henry Groppe, Chris Skrebowski, Roscoe Bartlett, Robert Hirsch, Roger Bezdek, David Hughes, Peter Tertzakian, Debbie Cook, Stuart Staniford and many more.


BioneersOctober 19-21, 2007
Bioneers 2007 Conference
Marin Center, San Rafael

The Bioneers Conference is a major gathering of leading experts and speakers on every aspect of making the transition to a sustainable world. Sustain Spokane will host a downlink site, combining local sessions with feeds from the main conference. Relocalization Network coordinator Shelby Tay will participate in the Spokane panel on Friday the 19th.


October 23-25, 2007
Community Matters '07 Conference
Burlington, Vermont, USA


Community SolutionOctober 26-28, 2007
Planning For Hard Times: The 4th Annual US Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions
Kelly Hall, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio


9. October Preview

Stay tuned for news about why nuclear power is not the answer to peak oil or global warming.


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