Are we at peak oil? Jeremy Leggett, author of Half Gone (The Empty Tankhere in North America), writes in this very long opinion piece on the subject, that not only are we peaking, but we'd better get moving on the responses. Nothing new if you've been reading all the stuff we post on the subject, but a good overview if you're looking to catch up:
Microcosms of what could be done can be found already on the local government scene. Take the small town of Woking. Its borough council has cut carbon-dioxide emissions by fully 77 per cent - yes, more than three quarters - since 1990 using a hybrid-energy system involving small private electricity grids, combined heat and power (CHP), solar photovoltaics (PV), and energy efficiency. Woking has turned its town centre, its housing estates, and its old people's homes into inspirational islands of energy self-sufficiency. The UK grid could go down for ever, and these folks would have their own heating and electricity year-round. The technologies work in perfect harmony. The CHP units generate heating when needed in winter, and lots of electricity along with it when the PV is not working at its best. The PV generates plenty of electricity in the summer, when the heating isn't needed, meaning the CHP can't generate much electricity. Because the use of private wires is so much cheaper than using the national grid, the whole package costs fractionally less than the equivalent heating and electricity supply would cost from the big energy suppliers.
Compare such out-of-the-box ingenuity with what nuclear has to offer. Even if there were no environmental problems associated with it, and we could afford the billions needed in perpetuity from the public purse to make the voodoo economics stack up, a new fleet of stations couldn't come on-stream in the UK much before 2020. And if we and the Americans can't solve the energy crisis without resorting to nuclear, the whole world will follow our example. Bad as the terrorist threat is now, it would be compounded many times as a result.
(Thanks, Peter, for the tip!)
Seems very sensible. Now if only SOMEONE with some power'll bloody read it!
Peak Oil: the next big thing. (Part Two.)
Let me offer a lone voice of dissent here: it may not matter whether or not Peak Oil is real the *perception* of Peak Oil will drive oil prices up causing the economic cascade effects predicted.
Now, is that a good thing? From a climate change perspective, hell yes. Expensive oil is green oil :-)
But I think there's enough uncertainty about peak oil - questions about biological basis of oil production, about actual size of reserves, about seaches made with modern tools, about wells refilling from deeper underground sources etc. that to take Peak Oil as fact rather than theory is premature.
But, by all means, let the stampede proceed: isn't the invasion of Iraq pretty good evidence that people with some pretty hefty power (i.e. the authors of "Rebuilding America's Defenses") understood the concept of Peak Oil well enough to mount an invasion as a hedge against it?
They took effective action, just not the action we should have wanted them to take.
"Peak Oil: Panic-based carbon taxation."
Wish I'd thought of that in the previous paragraph!