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if you have the patience for another governmental greenwash meeting this evening

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  • Mark Robinowitz
    The Eugene Climate and Energy Action Plan office of the City of Eugene is having another public meeting about its proposals, this time on transportation
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2009
      The "Eugene Climate and Energy Action Plan" office of the City of Eugene is having another public meeting about its proposals, this time on transportation issues.

      It's today, Tuesday December 1, 6 pm at the complex that soon will no longer be the EWEB headquarters.  It's ironic to have a government meeting about using less energy when the government is about to spend lots of energy to relocate the EWEB headquarters, resources that could be spent on weatherizing homes and putting solar hot water panels on Eugene's homes, if the energy crisis is something that demands immediate attention and not gradual efforts over a couple decades.   
      Since governments rarely suggest that immediate efforts are needed now that the cheap oil is winding down and climate change is accelerating, they shouldn't be too surprised when many citizens suggest that these problems are overblown or manipulated by political elites -- this is part of the reason why climate change denial is increasing (it's not only because of industry propaganda).

      Peak Oil's impacts on transportation were not mentioned in any detail in a draft discussion list (as of November 30), even though the organizers are aware of them.

      If you have the patience to attend yet another governmental greenwash meeting, it would help to have the public ask the bureaucrats why they are not prioritizing the impacts of Peak Oil, why they don't want to address the plans for about a billion dollars in highway expansions in the Eugene Springfield area.   Worse, the meeting plans to begin with an ODOT consultant for the widening of Interstate 5 (the consultant also has worked for notorious polluter Louisiana Pacific and more recently, to publish a report claiming that the Seneca sawmill forest incinerator will supposedly be a good thing).

      It is always sad when well informed people who are privately concerned about the scale of these crises muzzle their opinions in their public writing to avoid offending their supervisors.

      It's also sad that most "environmentalists" are reluctant to state publicly that an economy with less oil is going to be a much smaller economy.   The "alternative" after Peak Oil is not a wind powered consumerist society, but a much less intensive economy based on steady state principles, not continued "growth" (which requires concentrated resources).  Unfortunately, the laws of physics are not subject to wishful thinking, even if it's sincere and politically liberal in its origin.  The smaller economy would also require a monetary system not based on exponential growth, an even more forbidden topic.

      Peak Oil doesn't mean that we need to shift to the wind and solar powered globalized society, but that the long descent away from cheap oil means that our way of life is coming to an end.   If we accept the limits to growth, we might be able to shift support for continued frivolous overdevelopment toward efforts designed to mitigate the crash and hold our society together as we enter the decline.  Unfortunately, there is a bipartisan consensus to ignore these paradigms (that "growth" has ended), attack the messengers, and suggest that technological innovations will be able to keep the consumerist juggernaut powered for decades to come.

      The fact we can't even get frivolous pollution sources like leaf blowers, styrofoam food containers or plastic bags restricted or banned -- even though the oceans are now choked with plastic trash -- shows that the claim that our society is somehow going to meet the challenge of the end of cheap oil is probably not realistic.   If we fail, hopefully our descendants, should there be any, will be able to understand why we failed to adapt.  But whatever their level of understanding, even a future Ecotopia type society will not have access to the concentrated resources that we are squandering.

      www.sustaineugene.com/eugeneclimate is the official city of Eugene's website for this effort

      www.sustaineugene.org is a citizen effort to separate greenwash from sincere steps toward actual sustainability


      from the ASPO-USA Peak Oil Notes, October 29, 2009

      Quote of the day:
      “(Steven Chu, US Secretary of Energy) was my boss. He knows all about peak oil, but he can't talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just can't say anything about it.
      -- David Fridley, scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, quoted in an article by Lionel Badal (see Peak Oil News, 10/28, item #23)



      Too fearful to publicise peak oil reality
      The economic establishment accepts the world soon won't be able to meet energy demands, but wants to keep quiet about it

      Madeleine Bunting
      Tuesday 10 November 2009 14.30 GMT

      It is very hard for the average person in the street to come to a sensible conclusion on peak oil. It's a subject that prompts a passionate polarisation of views. The peak oilists sometimes sound like those extraordinary Christians with sandwich boards proclaiming that the end of the world is nigh. In contrast, the the international economic establishment – including the International Energy Agency (IEA) – has one very clear purpose in mind at all times: don't panic. Their mission seems to be focused on keeping jittery markets calm.

      Faced with these options the majority of people shrug their shoulders in confusion and ignore the trickle of whistleblowers, industry insiders and careful analysts who have been warning of the imminent decline in oil for over a decade now.

      Remember the Queen's question – that uncannily accurate and strikingly obvious question she put to economists at the London School of Economics a year ago after the financial crisis: did no one see it coming? Apply that question to peak oil and the answer is that many people did see it coming but they were marginalised, bullied into silence and the evidence was buried in the small print.

      Take the 2008 edition of World Energy Outlook, the annual report on which the entire energy industry and governments depend. It included the table also published by the Guardian today, and the version I saw had shorter intervals on the horizontal axis. What it made blindingly clear was that peak oil was somewhere in 2008/9 and that production from currently producing fields was about to drop off a cliff. Fields yet to be developed and yet to be found enabled a plateau of production and it was only "non-conventional oil" which enabled a small rise. Think tar sands of Canada, think some of the most climate polluting oil extraction methods available. Think catastrophe.

      What made this little graph so devastating was that it estimated energy resources by 2030 that were woefully inadequate for the energy-hungry economies of India and China. Business as usual in oil production threatens massive conflict over sharing it.

      Now, this all seemed pretty gigantic news to me but guess where the World Energy Outlook chose to put this graph? Was it in the front, was it prominently discussed in the foreword? Did it cause headlines around the world. No, no, no. It was buried deep into the report and no reference was made to it in the press conference a year ago.

      The fear is that panicky markets can cause enormous damage – panic-buying that prompts fights over resources, which in turn could lead to power cuts in some places and other such mayhem. But so far in facing this huge challenge, our political/economic system seems unable to cope with reality. We are forced to carry on living in an illusion that we have so much time to adapt to post-oil that we don't even need to be talking or thinking much about what a world without plentiful oil would look like. Reality has become too dangerous.

      So in reply to the Queen's question of a few years hence, we did see it coming but we chose to ignore it.

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