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When Peak Oil Meets Climate Change

Updated on September 8, 2011


If disaster strikes do you have a plan? For example, what would you do in cse of any of the following, for example, flood, hurricane, fire, forest fire?

Do you have a first aid kit? How about an emergency kit? Do you have them near by where you can grab them if you need to leave your home fast?

Many people do and many do not.

Does your community, city, town village have an emergency plan that, for example, tells you where you and your family should go if disaster strikes and you need to evacuate your home?

peak oil & climate change

What is Peak Oil? The Energy Bulletin describes peak oil as follows:

Peak oil is the simplest label for the problem of energy resource depletion, or more specifically, the peak in global oil production. Oil is a finite, non-renewable resource, one that has powered phenomenal economic and population growth over the last century and a half. The rate of oil 'production', meaning extraction and refining (currently about 84 million barrels/day), has grown almost every year of the last century.

Once we have used up about half of the original reserves, oil production becomes ever more likely stop growing and begin a terminal decline, hence 'peak'. The peak in oil production does not signify 'running out of oil', but it does mean the end of cheap oil, as we switch from a buyers' to a sellers' market. For economies leveraged on ever increasing quantities of cheap oil, the consequences may be dire. Without significant successful cultural reform, severe economic and social consequences seem inevitable.”

What is global climate change?

Simply put, global climate change is a gradual warming of the earth caused by the greenhouse effect. Many scientists believe this is the result of man-made emissions of green house gases such as carbon dioxide, CFCs, and methane.

What might happen when these two phenomenon occur at the same point in time?

Future Scenarios

David Holmgren, in his book Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change, provides four possible scenarios that detail what our future may look like during the decades long period of energy descent.

Eugene Odum and Howard T, Odum first put forward the concept of energy descent.

Holmgren has further developed their original concept and a prior work Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability elaborates on what it means and created a set of permaculture principals to enable people to address the reality of living in a world when the cheap and readily available supply of oil dries up.

Future Scenarios may be unique or at least rare, in that, it began as a website and then became a book.

The first three chapters of Future Scenarios cover history and energy, offers four possible energy futures and looks at both Peak Oil and Climate Change.

The next two chapters detail the four possible future scenarios that the author has developed.

The four scenarios that Holmgren puts forward are:

1-Brown tech (slow oil decline, fast climate change)

2- Green tech (slow oil decline, slow climate change)

3- Earth Steward ( fast oil decline, slow climate change)

4- Lifeboats (fast oil decline, fast climate change).

The author then proceeds to detail each of the four scenarios he puts forward. There is a chart on page 88 that summarizes the main elements and characteristics of the scenarios.

Perhaps the best way to approach Holmgren’s work is to think of those who will come after us, our children, grand children and their children. Bear them in mind while you are reading.

Future Scenarios is published by Chelsea Green Publishing in White River Junction, Vermont.


Submit a Comment
  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    9 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome.

  • kerryg profile image


    9 years ago from USA

    Thanks for the link! I wasn't familiar with that website.


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