Monday, October 20, 2008

Peak Oil Note - Come Join Us!

*** I wrote this 'note' on facebook on April 26th, 2008, to recruit more students to the Peak Oil cause at UT. Although the economy started slipping in August of 2007, last April we were financially far better off than we are now, so the note is still, if not more so applicable. The Peak Oil Club of UT had a fun tabling session the following week.

Peak Oil Note - Come Join Us!

If you’ve been paying attention to the economy, you’re probably a little anxious to say the least. We’ve never lived through a lasting economic downturn. We know only of expanding markets, prosperity, and exponential consumption. We are growing to learn, however, that our world has limits, and that our current lifestyles are not only unsustainable, they are destructive to the human ethic.

There are many reasons for the documented slowing of the global economy. Freshwater, which we have falsely assumed is infinitely accessible, is proving to be scarce, and is being extracted from aquifers across the globe at unsustainable levels. Biofuels, like corn ethanol, are failing to be the energy panacea many had hoped they would become, and are taking valuable land and food resources away from the hungry – it is important to note that America, because of our rich soils and powerful trade agreements, truly is the world’s bread basket. Climate change is no longer discussed by scientists in the future tense, but instead the present. Approximately 15 of the 24 ecosystems we depend on as a species for survival are being dismantled by the unaccounted byproducts, like plastic waste, of our throw-away economy. These are all imminent, real, and terribly important issues that need to be addressed. There is one issue though that’s synergetic qualities unite all the problems listed above together, and is proving to be the defining concept of our generation.

Peak Oil will affect every individual on this planet in a big way. If you need the clarification, 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 85 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 to 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” (

The computer that you are reading this off of took ten times its weight in oil to produce. In our current agricultural system, for every one calorie of food we consume, it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel input to get that food on our plate. The implications of these facts are stark. What will we do when fossil fuel input is in decline?

The process of understanding Peak Oil is tumultuous. Many people get stuck at the first stage of denial. It’s hard to accept the fact that our current lifestyles are not only harmful for the future, but are impossible to maintain in the present. Whether we deny the facts or not, facts are facts, and in the end, denial will prove to be a short-term solution to a long-term problem. The truth is, we must start taking action, and we must do so immediately.

I understand the tendency to gravitate towards apathy. Please avoid doing so. It is our lawmakers’ responsibility to change the system from the bottom up, and begin diverting substantial amounts of money into the development of alternative energy technologies. It is our responsibility to make those lawmakers aware of why failing to do so would be catastrophic. So, come join us!

This Monday, April 28th and Wednesday April 30th, the Peak Oil Club will be collecting emails and signatures at the West Mall. This upcoming year – being an ‘on’ year for the state legislature – will define the fate of Texas for many years to come. The Peak Oil Club will be distributing Peak Oil information packets to each member of the state legislature, to other important Texan political figures like Governor Rick Perry, and to an array of federal representatives. Our message will gain strength with each member that joins.

So, come help us table if you would like, or simply just sign up. If you want to simplify things you can just message me and I’ll add you to the member list.


P.S. if you aren’t a UT student and feel alarmed by this issue, there are many active groups around the country working to mitigate Peak Oil. Just google search peak oil and your city, and most likely something will pop up.

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