Oil Depletion: March 2008 Archives

Surprising how little record oil and gas prices have been covered in the media, unless you count daily financial reporters covering the slumping dollar, crude supplies and inventories, the equivalent of a shell game.

I went past a gas station in San Francisco today that had regular unleaded for $4.19 a gallon, and it was a station that is typically one of the city's least expensive. Can you imagine the impact that will have on regular working people? Now imagine that figure doubled and you begin to get my drift.

Luckily, there's at least one national NPR show that is willing to investigate what an oil crisis or peaking oil might mean to the economies of our cities. This morning, I was interviewed for a 25-minute segment by host Carol Coletta of Smart City Radio

The show will be online and on air by Saturday.

We discussed which cities are best prepared--and worst prepared--for an oil crisis based upon Common Current's new report "Major US City Preparedness for an Oil Crisis," which we released this month.

Strange days: last time I was in the media related to this subject in March 2006 (oil was about $60 a barrel) The New York Times had an exclusive and ran a column on the study I put together, and all the wires followed. Now with oil at $105 a barrel after hitting its all-time inflation-adjusted high of $111 a few weeks back, there is little coverage of what these price levels or further price rises may mean to our auto-centered economy, let alone our lives.

On Friday I followed the fruit blossoms up Old Gravenstein Highway up to Sebastopol, CA (pop 8,000), where The Post Carbon Institute is based.

Present were the Institute's founder and executive director Julian Darley, co-director Celine Darley, along with authors Richard Heinberg (The End of Oil, Peak Everything) and Daniel Lerch (Post Carbon Cities).

We had tea in the local energy farm garden surrounded by a quarter acre of food-sunlight-energy-soil experiments, including an ethanol distiller and apple press. Chickens clucked in their pen and mosquito fish swam in the caputured rainwater reservoir. The garden epitomizes a sort of working lab for how communuities can achive greater self-reliance in the face of global climate change and energy volatility.

We discussed how Common Curernt and the Post Carbon Institute can collaborate on our visions of a more sustainable future. Daniel has been leading up work with North American cities on oil-depletion protocol, while Common Current has worked with regions, the State of California and national governments on creating frameworks for green cities.

Besides the challenge of climate change, government, businesses and citizens need to prepare for scarcer resources, namely crude oil, which has risen more than four times in price the past few years. For the first time, even Goldman Sachs and UBS energy analysts, automotive companies and the McNeil Lehrer show are mentioning the "P" word--peaking oil.

The Post Carbon Institute's energy garden is one response to figure out how a society responds to the diminishing availability of the economy's key resource. More critical has been the institute's development of Relocalization Networks.

The Relocalization Network is composed of more than 170 grassroots groups and affiliate organizations all over the world. Consider Willets (CA) Economic Localization, which includes an inventory of how the Northern California town is preparing for greater energy and food security, to the Grateful Gleaners, wich last year picked four tons of unwanted fruit and distributed it to schools, senior centers and food distribution centers. 

PCI has also started a fleet of carbon-free carsharing in Sebastopol. Julian took me for a spin in two different electric vehicles, one parked in front of the local energy farm, and one in the driveway of a former Sebastopol mayor. All he had to do was wave a fob over a transponder in the dashboard to get access to the cars, which were being partially charged through solar energy panels.

Banish thoughts of isolationist hippie back-to-the-landers--the Post Carbon Instutute is more an internet savvy organization with 20 employees, a book publishing arm and a carefully researched framework for new community networks and municipal mangers to plug into.

PCI and Common Current are planning how we can expand their network statewide and into Marin County, CA, where Common Current is based. We expect to make presentations to the city council of Fairfax and Sustainable Fairfax, and to get involved in county leadership efforts to develop communtiy choice aggregation for community owned renewable energy.  

 

About the Author

    Warren Karlenzig
Warren
Warren Karlenzig, Common Current founder and president, has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (lead co-author United Nations Shanghai Manual: A Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century, 2011); United Nations Center for Regional Development (training of mayors from 13 Asian nations on city sustainable economic development and technology); provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong, China (urban sustainability master planning and green city standards); the United States White House and Environmental Protection Agency (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations developing policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20 years.

Present and recent clients include the Guangzhou Planning Agency; the Global Forum on Human Settlements; the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the non-governmental organization Ecocity Builders; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations. Read more here.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oil Depletion category from March 2008.

Oil Depletion: February 2008 is the previous archive.

Oil Depletion: April 2008 is the next archive.

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