"We must face the prospect of changing our basic ways of living. This change will either be made on our own initiative in a planned way, or forced on us with chaos and suffering by the inexorable laws of nature." ~ President Jimmy Carter
We hear about presentations on environmental concerns fairly often in our "oh so green city" but how much do we really learn. I attended "World Oil Supply: At The Turning Point?" at the Baghdad Theatre with John Kaufmann, Senior Policy Analyst Conservation Division at the Oregon Department of Energy of over 25 years.
I believe there are really three main issues surrounding the end of the oil age, the search for more, alternative fuels and our own consumption habits. The first is that estimates from the experts show that we have already used the majority of our oil. That's the oil fields that were the largest, easiest to find and had enough pressure from within that it pushed itself out of the ground. It's becoming harder and more expensive to search for any remaining oil fields. The second issue is that oil is the most powerful source of energy. We will not find another source of energy that packs as much punch as fossil fuel.
The third and biggest issue concerning oil is our consumption. Our demand has exceeded the supply. For every barrel of oil discovered we use three to six barrels. The world as a whole uses about 86 million barrels everyday. The concern and focus of last evening's presentation brings to attention to "what do we do when the supply stops?" if we had no oil for transportation how will emergency vehicles help people? How will we get our food from the fields to our plates? How will we heat our homes? Many questions come to light and we are yet to have an emergency plan for any of these questions.
If you have no fear of this happening you're not listening. This is not science fiction or a really bad movie. Perhaps many of us have just not heard the details or really taken a moment to think of everything that is involved if this occurred. This doesn't mean that we need to wake up tomorrow and sell our cars or stop heating our homes. What it does mean is that we need to be talking about it more, discussing ways to prepare now before anything happens. Its kind of like not paying your rent or mortgage, then the landlord or bank kicks you out and your only option to stay is to come up with more money than you have with no extra time. It's better and cheaper to be prepared than when we have no resources to help us.
That third issue we have, our consumption, is still the biggest. Even if we turn on the news tomorrow and a new discovery has been made where we can solely depend on solar power, we still must change our lifestyle in a major way. As John Kaufmann put it "there are no magic bullets". Nothing will match the energy we get from oil.
This was the part of the presentation that really put it all into perspective, none of this is about supply, it's about demand. We demand too much in our daily lives. We drive too much too far, we eat too much; get from here to there too fast. We need to stop and smell the roses. We need to consume less simply by appreciating more.
We need to take action in a few simple and beneficial ways:
- Consume less! (of everything, not just energy) Ask yourself- do I need it?
- Develop internal sources of strength-pleasures of the mind, spirit
- Build skills-trade skills, basic skills, needed skills
- Get civically active- if politics are broke, fix it-don't ignore it!
- Proselytize- spread the word
John Kaufmann did not have this specific presentation online but I was able to find some of his bio and some related presentations available as pdfs at http://postcarboncities.net/kaufmann-bio.
If your looking for more sustainable related events around Portland then keep checking back with PDXPipeline. If you know of any that we haven't posted let us know.