Friday, April 07, 2006

A little PR for our Meetup group

The Atlanta Oil Awareness Meetup Group
Addressing Our Addiction to Oil

ATLANTA, GA -- April 3, 2006. If oil reaches $70 a barrel soon, as some analysts are predicting, it won't surprise members of the Atlanta Oil Awareness Meetup Group.

The group meets the second Wednesday of each month to discuss energy, sustainability, and peak oil, the theory that worldwide oil production is entering irreversible decline. The theory was developed in the 1950's by petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert, who correctly predicted that oil production in the US would decline after peaking in 1970. He also predicted permanent decreases in world production after 2000.

"Official forecasts predict a 50% increase in oil consumption by 2025, but discoveries peaked 40 years ago, and production over the past few years has been essentially flat. Where will this extra oil come from?" said member Douglas Hartley. He quickly adds that the world is not running out of oil.

"We will be pumping and using oil in a hundred years. But soon every year will bring less and less oil, while our growth-based economies require more and more. This is the problem of peak oil."

Hubbert had been largely forgotten since the oil shocks of the 1970's, but the late scientist has generated renewed interest since oil prices began their sharp climb earlier this century. The US Department of Energy commissioned a report published in February 2005, known as the Hirsch Report after its lead author. It concluded that about half the recoverable oil in the world has been produced and that even the most optimistic forecasters predicted a production peak within 25 years. The Hirsch Report is available for download from the Atlanta Oil Awareness Meetup website.

The report recommends aggressive development of alternative energy, but group members are skeptical that alternatives can replace relatively cheap oil.

"The hydrogen economy is a myth and transportation fuel from coal and coal sands, when possible, is much more expensive than the old fashioned oil gushers or even oil that has to be forced out of the ground with high technology. These costs will affect industry and consumers,” said Hartley.

A common topic is what the group calls "our energy-intensive infrastructure." Hartley cites it as the US's chief obstacle to overcoming oil addiction.

"Can you walk or bike from your home to a grocery store? It is absurd that our infrastructure requires us to use a 2,000 pound, fossil-fuel-burning machine to go get a two pound loaf of bread while polluting and endangering out neighbors."

Group organizer Liz Logan agrees and emphasizes the group is not a doomsday club.

"We have great discussions about exciting developments in urban planning and localized agriculture. It sounds odd, but decreasing oil supplies could have some very positive effects on our communities."

She adds, "An ideal city would feed its own citizens. The grocery you could walk to would be an in-town garden or micro-farm. And it would be owned by the family down the street, and they would live next to the small school you can watch your children walk to."

Many members found and joined the group after watching the award winning feature documentary The End of Suburbia. The film is one of the first to discuss peak oil and its effects on US infrastructure. It features Matthew Simmons, CEO of the world's largest energy investment bank and author of Twilight in the Desert, and James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency. The group held a free public screening last fall. They plan to show a documentary on the reaction of Cuba to loss of oil imports from the Soviet Union.

The group has 40 members and usually has several new people at each meeting.

"I get information, support and motivation by coming to meetings. It is an important part of my life," said Logan. She training to facilitate and educate communities relocalizing their food and energy supplies.

Members note that they don't have the answers yet, but they are learning what questions to ask and where to find reliable information.

No comments: