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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Energy Literacy

From James Howard Kunstler this week:
...we have to rescale the activities of daily life to a level consistent with the mandates of the future, especially the ones having to do with available energy and capital. We have to dismantle things that have no future and rebuild things that will allow daily life to function. We have to say goodbye to big box shopping and rebuild Main Street. More people will be needed to work in farming and fewer in tourism, public relations, gambling, and party planning. We have to make some basic useful products in this country again. We have to systematically decommission suburbia and reactivate our small towns and small cities. We have to prepare for the contraction of our large cities. We have to let the sun set on Happy Motoring and rebuild our trains, transit systems, harbors, and inland waterways. We have to reorganize schooling at a much more modest level. We have to close down most of the overseas military bases we're operating and conclude our wars in Asia. Mostly, we have to recover a national sense of common purpose and common decency. There is obviously a lot of work to do in the list above, which could translate into paychecks and careers -- but not if we direct all our resources into propping up the failing structures of yesterday.

....Some theorists out there say that economy follows mood, not vice-versa, and that the anger and sourness on display around the USA, in events like the weekend Washington march, is a clear sign that tectonic shifts in the structures of everyday life are sure to follow. There are too many truly good and intelligent people in this country, to leave our fate to the Palins and the Glen Becks. But the good people had better man up and start telling the truth with some conviction that the truth matters.
Becoming energy literate is a helpful start. Take the Oil Quiz!

Quiz:

1. United States oil production has been increasing at about 2% per year since 1960.

a. True
b. False

2. Saudi Arabia is currently the largest producer of oil in the world.

a. True
b. False

3. Each country publishes information about its reserves. This gives us pretty good information about future oil production.

a. True
b. False

4. The following were the largest oil producing countries in 2005: Saudi Arabia, Russia, United States, Iran, China, Mexico, Norway, and Venezuela. Of these, which showed declining production in 2006?

a. None of them. Oil production is growing almost everywhere.
b. Only Norway and Venezuela
c. Six of the eight: Saudi Arabia, United States, Iran, Mexico, Norway, and Venezuela.
d. All of them

5. Increases in Canadian oil production as a result of developing the Canadian Oil Sands can be expected to offset declines in oil production elsewhere.

a. True
b. False

6. If oil production in an oil-exporting country declines by, say, 5% per year, oil exports are expected to decline by a similar amount.

a. True
b. False

7. Geologists are in agreement that worldwide oil production can be expected to continue to rise, at least until 2030.

a. True
b. False

8. If worldwide oil production were to decline at 2% per year for several years, this could easily be accommodated with little disruption.

a. True
b. False

9. If there is a worldwide shortage of oil, the richest countries can be expected to get the majority of the oil, and within those richest countries, the wealthiest people can be expected to get the largest share.

a. True
b. False

10. If we know that a major oil shortage is on the horizon, we can make necessary changes (develop alternative fuels and plug in electric vehicles, for example) in a five year period.

a. True
b. False

11. Even after oil production in an area declines, there is still a substantial amount of oil remaining in the ground.

a. True
b. False

12. Technological solutions will overcome the likely oil shortfall.

a. True
b. False
c. We can’t know yet.

Gail the Actuary has the answers and is a contributor to The Oil Drum.

That was the multiple choice, now for the essay questions:

Questions for Discussion

  1. If your family were permitted to purchase only five gallons of gasoline per week, how would this change your lifestyle?

  2. Geologists and economists seem to have very different ideas regarding the importance of the decline of oil. Who would you agree with? Why?

  3. Oil production in Mexico began to decline in the past year, and is expected to continue to decline in the future. In the past, revenue from oil income has been one of the country’s primary sources of tax revenue. What kinds of changes would you expect in Mexico, as production declines in the next few years?

  4. If you were the President of the United States and knew about the likelihood of oil shortages, what policies would you recommend? If you knew that it was likely that worldwide oil production was about to decline, would you tell the American people?

  5. Some people have suggested that there may be a link between expected future oil shortages and the war in Iraq. How likely do you consider such a connection to be?

  6. Given the likelihood of oil shortages in the future, what might be good careers for young people making choices today?

Learn more about Peak Oil with the Peak Oil Primer and follow the links.

There is no more exciting time to be alive than today.

Our descendants need you.

Be part of a positive change.

Join us, September 26th.



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