This puts the maths well….

Just a quiet piece of maths from a contributor to the oil drum…

Even a modest worldwide economic growth rate of 2% will result in a doubling of our resource requirements within 35 years. Does anyone here think that is going to happen and that we’ll consume as much energy during that period as had been consumed from the dawn of history up to the year 2010.

Quite succinct, eh?


Power Prices, Gerry Brownlee, Rail, Treasury putting it all together

This is a dance on a unicycle, while juggling, on the deck of a sinking ship. By which I mean, there are several variables in the mix, all morphing concurrently. Boolian Algebra, perchance?

Power prices will reflect any shift from fossil fuels, like a partial move to electric transport (cars/trains/buses) and from diesel heaters etc. To that extent, they will relatively escalate. The problem will be compounded by the relative lessening in incomes, due to the lack of energy. Tack on a growing demand, and a lack of ability (fuel to build infrastructure – or even maintain existing) to grow, and you just compound the problem. The only pressure-relief is efficiency, aided perhaps by more home generation.

Brownlee has promised ‘savings, from a programme we’ve put (or are putting) in place. Read: selling off the state enterprises. Why do I predict that? He’s intellectually probably not capable of thinking further than that, he’s mixed up with a Cabinet awash with that ideaology, and it has in turn made Treasury go the Scott way – so there’s no query, no devil’s advocate.

Joyce is in the same intellectual band, in my opinion. The monetarist approach just doesn’t do anticipation very well – read: at all. His comments about rail, are just dumb ideaology. Hey boys, we can’t have that in Government hands, so if we can’t sell it without howls of protest, we’ll choke it to death, then say ‘we told you so’. Tragic that such a socially essential service will be curtailed by such a clodhopper. Just hope it isn’t too far gone in five years time or so, when we need it.

Treasury – and in behind it Bill English via Scott – is tramping on through the Government services. I don’t mind an audit from time to time, but a mature society needs to acknowledge the need for governance, and ensure it exists.

Monetarism is just an excuse for greed, and if things are sold off by this Administration, we must cogitate upon ways to get back what is socially essential. If, for instance, we need to get rail back from an overseas owner, that can be done. If fiscal systems are operating still, you can boycott the service, and pick it up for a song, you can buy it as Cullen did, or you can comandeer it as is done in wartime. All are on the table.

We can expect that somewhere around 2011-15, there will have to be a ‘fireside chat’, where the PM acknowledges that things are not flash, that it will require sacrifices, all hands to the pumps, esprit de corps, blah blah. I think it may be sooner rather than later. Excess capacity is running at about 4 mbpd at the moment, on a depletion rate of say 5%. That says no excess by next year – which is exactly what Birol is saying. Demand growth will not be answered at that point – prices will rise, bubble and burst. One more of them, and you can’t see them blaming investors again. It will be interesting to see who does what internationally. Suppliers will hold onto their stocks more, unless militarily threatened. Whether ‘demand for dairy products’ holds up in that scenario, is anyone’s guess. I don’t think fiscal systems will survive, but that may be pessimistic – it’s a big juggernaut to fail overnight.

Don’t be in debt – grow plenty of Veges, invest in having a community of friends…….

Don’t come visiting the Thunderdome, I’m not as receptive as Tina, and besides, there won’t be the plastic around…

The first Peak Oil contingency plan in Australasia? Press release….

Maribyrnong City Council’s Peak Oil Contingency Plan first for Australia

Making history as the first-ever local government organisation to strategically address the impacts of rising oil prices, Maribyrnong City Council has completed their Peak Oil Contingency Plan.

The newly completed Peak Oil Contingency Plan spells out the threats and shifts required by Council to achieve the same level of community service provision in times of reduced oil availability and subsequent escalated prices.

In April 2008, Council endorsed the Peak Oil Policy and Action Plan following engagement with the Maribyrnong community. The Peak Oil Contingency Plan, one of the recommendations listed in Council’s Peak Oil Action Plan, was undertaken by Council’s consultants, Institute for Sensible Transport.

“As the level of government closest to the community, it’s local Councils that residents will turn to in times of peak oil crisis when petrol prices will become unaffordable and food prices will skyrocket,” said the Mayor of the City of Maribyrnong, Cr Michael Clarke.

“And it’s the very core community services provided by Councils that will be potentially affected by a reduction of oil availability, yet it’s these same services that cannot be compromised. This includes things like rubbish collection, home meal deliveries and other aged care, maternal and child health services and our road maintenance programs.”

“The Peak Oil Contingency Plan illustrates the ways we can maintain these services and survive significant threats, with as little impact on our community as possible when times of limited oil supply hit global and local economies.”

“In coordinating our responses to peak oil threats, Council will introduce a greater level of resilience into our operations, as well as assist in creating a more resilient, prepared community,” said Cr Clarke.

The Peak Oil Contingency Plan has made a number of recommendations, which will be worked into the annual Peak Oil Action Plan.

“We have been on the front foot the last few years in addressing environmental issues, with our carbon neutral commitment. Some of the Contingency Plan actions have already been implemented, while others will require greater planning and resources. Nevertheless, we are steadily implementing key steps to prepare Council for a reduction in global oil supply,” said Cr Clarke.

Recommendations in the Plan to boost resilience to oil depletion included:

  • Introduce car pooling software, boost work from home options and encourage sustainable transport use and video conferencing facilities
  • Create opportunities for urban food production
  • Boost the proportion of Council budget dedicated to sustainable transport
  • Advocate to State and Federal Governments for improved public transport
  • Reduce demand for oil consumption across Council service areas.”

Cr Clarke said Council is continuing to embark on an exciting, challenging journey to tackle Peak Oil and has undertaken considerable work so far to ensure Council’s core services are delivered in an environmentally sustainable way.

“We have incorporated our Peak Oil work into existing Council processes such as our Risk Management Framework, Council Policies and our Business Continuity models. From here, there is plenty more to be done – and now that we are equipped with out Peak Oil Contingency Plan, we are ready for the challenge,” said Cr Clarke.

Here is what Elliot Fishman at the Institute for Sensible Transport had to say:

Our team worked closely with council staff to assess council’s operations and vulnerability to oil supply constraints. This process led to the identification of ten service areas considered most vulnerable to either a short or long term reduction in available fuel supplies.

We facilitated a workshop in which council staff nominated the key threats to their business area posed by a reduction in fuel availability and what response measures they could implement to mitigate against these threats.

Using a risk management approach, we were able to develop risk profiles for each of the ten service areas and prioritise the recommendations made by council staff. This analysis enabled our team to provide practical recommendations to assist council to meet its fuel use reduction targets and increase Maribyrnong’s resilience to future threats posed by fuel supply disruptions.

Project deliverables:

  • Analysis of local demographics and transport patterns
  • Analysis of council’s operations, services and oil consumption
  • Identification of ten critical service areas most vulnerable to oil supply disruptions
  • Facilitated workshop with over 35 council staff
  • Risk analysis of service areas against a short and long term reduction in oil supply
  • Critical analysis and prioritization of response measures to oil depletion
  • Recommendations to increase council and community resilience to future oil supply disruptions.

The full report is available from the Institute for Sensible Transport website here (2.8MB PDF).

Maribyrnong is one of several local Government organisations in Australia starting to move on peak oil, so we hope to see more peak oil policies and action and contingency plans soon. Thanks to my colleagues Elliot and Joe, and Grace and Gavin and the rest of the team at Maribyrnong for what was a very interesting and enjoyable project to be involved with.

Maybe the next level of Government will step up to the challenge soon?

Peter Lyons – I couldn’t put it better…..

It’s ten o’clock, I’m tired, and to be honest, any comment at this brain-befuddled hour would be a repeat, or a space-filllllllllller. Besides, this comment (below) today was unbeatable, and for those who skipped it in the ODT, or for those outside it’s area, it’s the best thing of the day, by a country mile. I suspect it’s good that the writer teaches – if he moved in the private sector, I suspect they’d do to him what the Presby’s did to Lloyd Geering….  do you need carbon-offsets for burning at the stake?

Ain’t that good?

ETS. an Emissions Trading Scheme

There is a great op/ed piece in the ODT today from an NZ Herald writer, one Brian Fallow. I couldn’t have beaten it, and the Colin James one alongside is a reasonable support act. Both well worth reading.

That said, yet again we are looking at it from a Business as Usual political point of view. This is the old ‘who gets which slice of the cake’ thing, with the traditional left/right standoff.

The whole thing about an ETS is that there is not the genuine underwriting of the sink, anywhere on the planet. Early bits of nonense included designing a building with coal-fired boilers, changing to heat-pumps, and claiming the change as an ‘improvement’, deserving of credits. Others were non-existent forest plantings in various African countries.

Once they are weeded out, there won’t be enough real left. The price will go up. It has to be remembered that mature forests are a zero-sum game – their biomass does not change. You can of course, chop them, burn them or clear them, and you go backwards. Keeping them only maintains the status-quo. Then there is carbon sequestration – the thing Al Gore was so keen on. Only in the lab at this point, and not in the real world – and with an EROEI issue.

That leaves new-planted forests. With a lead-time of 20 years to any biomass worth contemplating, they will get there just as the oil-driven society ceases. The question, then, is coal. If we burn it, our kids are dead. If we don’t, out way of life is dead. Ah, decisions….. I think they’ll burn it, pretent sequestration but cheat, and deny until it is too late.

Either way, an ETS is a stop-gap to attempt to keep our way of life keep going. Neither version will make it – given the lack of sink available. Whether the cost of carbon would kill economic activity is doubtful, greed would just  – temporarily of course – set the charge to one side. The bigger likelihood is that the unavailability of oil is the king-hit, being uncircumventable.

This ETS, if it goes, will last less than three years.

Don Elder Gerry Brownlee coal to urea.

There went the bus. There will now be a race down to the wire, as to whether we get going, or not. Sequestering carbon is only in laboratory form at the moment. It was tried in the North Sea once, and abandoned. A trial is underway in Astralia, but no stats. Best estimates are 2:1. EROEI. So you halve the estimated quantity.

What I think we have here, is an attempt to jump into the first soft round of the ETS, then cry foul if the goal-posts shift, as they will. If we burn that coal without sequestration, our kids are dead. Even if we sequester it, they are handed a depleted world, and less options.

The nonsense that is the effort to keep on with BAU is going to be gone in 5 years – Brownlee and co have no answers, and will be gone by lunchtime. Sayonara.

Sue Bradford resigns

Inevitable, really. Sue Bradford was a socialist – a re-distributor of wealth. The greens are about conserving natural wealth. It’s a bad fit. She’d have had a place in Labour, pre ’84. Not after. And it didn’t fit with the green approach, by a country mile. Only hurt them, I would judge. You have to respect her commitment, but not her ability to think.

In macro terms, this is less baggage, and a good move.