Saturday, December 19, 2009

Economic Dynamics - And the Real Danger

George Mobus has published a new summary paper on his blog Question Everything that he have written to explain the findings from his computer model of an abstract economy's dynamics when it is run mostly on fixed, finite fuel sources such as fossil fuels.

His model describes an abstract economy in which work processes use energy and raw materials to produce assets, some of which are consumed by processes that constitute the major body of the system, some of which will be reinvested in the work processes.

The dynamics of asset production and decay are governed by the laws of thermodynamics. The general conservation law applies to both matter and energy. But the second law, in particular, has ultimate influence over the efficiency and effectiveness of work processes as well as the entropic decay of all forms of assets.

A key question that needs to be addressed is: given our current heavy reliance on fossil fuels for more than 80% of our energy inputs, what happens in an economy that is growing when the resources are depleting?

Many people have realized, either intuitively or logically, that what matters insofar as economic activity is concerned is the net energy — the energy available after extraction of the gross energy (in this case crude oil) and refinement or conversion to a form useful in doing work. Energy must be reinvested in energy extraction, transportation, and refinement in order to gain net energy that can be available for asset production (other than assets needed for energy extraction). Thus there is an energy return on energy invested (EROI or EROEI) that must be taken into account in determining if an economy is viable, stable, or growing.

Check out the very interesting full post on the Question Everything blog.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Life at the End of Empire Movie - What a Way to Go

A middle class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American Lifestyle.

What is it doing to us as thoughtful human beings as we face the overwhelming challenges of:
  • Peaking fossil fuel flow rates?
  • Critically degraded ecosystems?
  • A changing climate?
  • An exploding global population?
  • Teetering global economies?
  • An unstable political climate?
And what is it doing to the rest of the life on this planet?

The Movie What a Way to Go - Life at the End of the Empire features interviews with Daniel Quinn, Derrick Jensen, Jerry Mander, Chellis Glendinning, Richard Heinberg, Thomas Berry, William Catton, Ran Prieur and Richard Manning, What a Way to Go looks at the current global situation and asks the most important questions of all:
  • How did we get here?
  • Why do we keep destroying the planet?
  • What do we truly want?
  • Can we find a vision that will empower us to do what is necessary to survive, and even thrive, in the coming decades?
Timothy S. Bennett

Sally C. Erickson

Barbara Trent, Producer and Director of the
1993 Oscar® winning feature documentary, The Panama Deception.

Friday, December 11, 2009

TEQs - Tradable Energy Quotas

TEQs - An effective and fair response to both climate change and resource depletion?

TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas) would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels fast, guarantee that we meet our agreed emissions obligations and empower communities to address the challenges of our times, allowing us to move into a happier, thriving future.

All nations need to develop a common purpose in response to two problems. There is the climate problem: oil, gas and coal produce the greenhouse gases that are changing our climate. This is already killing many species and 150,000 people each year, and is only getting worse, with the potential to hit unstoppable runaway conditions within a decade.

And there is the supply problem: reserves of fossil fuels in the ground are being used-up rapidly; in the coming years, there will be deepening scarcities with profound economic, political and social impacts.

We therefore need to manage an energy-descent, cooperating in solutions and alternatives as we go, maintaining a fair distribution of the energy on which we all depend, and starting as soon as we can. We call this the transition to Lean Energy.

TEQs provides the framework that enables a nation to do this, ensuring fair access to energy for all. It supplies the incentive for citizens, organisations and Government to work now on achieving the necessary rapid transformation in the way we use fuel into the future, and it provides time to plan ahead. It empowers localities and individuals to be able to make a tangible difference. It is fair, simple and practical, and it gets results by uniting the nation in a common purpose.

This website, and the booklet Energy and the Common Purpose explain how.


To find out more, take a look at the brief summary, or for a comprehensive view of how the system works, explore our booklet Energy and the Common Purpose, now in a revised and expanded third edition.

You may also be interested to see the Parliamentary report on TEQs (Aug 2009), read more in our TEQs In Depth section, come to an event, or join the discussions in our TEQs forum (hosted by PowerSwitch).

For links to relevant documents, articles and the work of other organisations in this field see the TEQs links page.

Other names for Tradable Energy Quotas include: Domestic Tradable Quotas (DTQs), Personal Carbon Allowances (PCAs), Personal Carbon Trading, Carbon Quotas, Personal Carbon Rationing and Tradable Permits.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In Transition 1.0 Movie - From Oil Dependence To Local Resilience

‘In Transition’ is the first detailed film about the Transition movement filmed by those that know it best, those who are making it happen on the ground. The Transition movement is about communities around the world responding to peak oil and climate change with creativity, imagination and humour, and setting about rebuilding their local economies and communities. It is positive, solutions focused, viral and fun.

‘In Transition’ has been shown in communities around the world to enthusiastic audiences, and is now available as a special edition 2 disc DVD set, beautifully packaged in entirely compostable packaging, featuring the film itself (with subtitles in Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano,and Nederlands) and an embarrassment of outtakes and extras, with interviews, films about Transition you’ve been searching high and low for quality copies of, and other gems. It is a must-have for anyone with an interest in this new take on responding to the challenges of the 21st century. You can watch the film, in full, here:

Monday, December 7, 2009

The United Nations Climate Change Conference Launched

Historic United Nations climate change conference kicks off in Copenhagen with strong commitment to clinch ambitious climate change deal and unprecedented sense of urgency to act

(Copenhagen, 7 December 2008) The United Nations Climate Change Conference -
Copenhagen, 2009 kicked off today with a strong sense of confidence that countries can seal a comprehensive, ambitious and effective international climate change deal in Demark and with an unprecedented sense of urgency to act on climate change.

The highly anticipated conference marks an historic turning point on how the world confronts climate change, an issue with profound implications for the health and prosperity of all people.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen announced that 110 heads of state and government will attend the conference at its conclusion.

The Prime Minister pointed to the fact that climate change knows no borders. It does not discriminate, it affects us all, he said. And we are here today because we are all committed to take action. That is our common point of departure the magnitude of the challenge before us is to translate this political will into a strong political approach, he added.

The two-week meeting, the fifteenth Conference of the 193 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the fifth meeting of the 189 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, is the culmination of a process set in motion in Bali, where Parties to the UNFCCC agreed to conclude negotiations on a new global deal in Denmark in 2009.

The urgency to act was underscored by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who told the conference that global emissions would need to peak by 2015 for the world to stay below a two degrees Celsius temperature rise. The costs of responding to climate change will become progressively higher as time goes on, therefore we must take action now, he said.

We have reached the deadline and there is no going back, said newly elected COP President and Danish COP 15 Minister Connie Hedegaard. Copenhagen will be the city of the three Cs: Cooperation, Commitment and Consensus. Now is the time to capture the moment and conclude a truly ambitious global deal. This is our chance. If we miss this opportunity, we will not get a better one, she said.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said there was unprecedented political momentum for a deal.

World leaders are calling for an agreement that offers serious emission limitation goals and that captures the provision of significant financial and technological support to developing countries, he said. At the same time, Copenhagen will only be a success if it delivers significant and immediate action that begins the day the conference ends.

According to the UNs top climate change official, negotiators must focus on solid and practical proposals that will unleash prompt action on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and capacity-building.

Yvo de Boer spoke of three layers of action that governments must agree to by the end of the conference: fast and effective implementation of immediate action on climate change; ambitious commitments to cut and limit emissions, including start-up funding and a long-term funding commitment; and a long-term shared vision on a low-emissions future for all.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an aggregate emission reduction by industrialised countries of between minus 25% and 40% over 1990 levels would be required by 2020 in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change, with global emissions falling by at least 50% by 2050. Even under this scenario, there would be an only a 50% chance of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences.

Industrialised countries meeting under the Kyoto Protocol need to raise the level of ambition of developed countries with regard to individual targets and the need to make rapid progress on the tools and rules that developed countries can use to reach their targets, such as carbon market mechanisms, land use and land use change and new gases,î said Yvo de Boer.

The UNFCCC working groups starting Monday will have six days to conclude negotiations before the Ministerial High Level Segment starts 16 December. Ministers will then in turn have two days to take any unresolved issues forward before the more than 100 world leaders arrive the evening of 17 December. This means a total of eight negotiating days to prepare a workable package that consists of both immediate and long-term components which leaders can endorse on 18 December.

More than 15,000 participants, including government delegates from 193 Parties to the UNFCCC and representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions, are attending the two-week gathering.

UNFCCC Press Office contacts

About the UNFCCC

With 193 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 190 of the UNFCCC Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rob Hopkins: Transition to a world without oil

In his new TED talk Rob Hopkins reminds us that the oil our world depends on is steadily running out. He proposes a unique solution to this problem -- the Transition response, where we prepare ourselves for life without oil and sacrifice our luxuries to build systems and communities that are completely independent of fossil fuels.

Rob Hopkins is the founder of the Transition movement, a radically hopeful and community-driven approach to creating societies independent of fossil fuel.

Rob Hopkins leads a vibrant new movement of towns and cities that utilize local cooperation and interdependence to shrink their ecological footprints. In the face of climate change he developed the concept of Transition Initiatives -- communities that produce their own goods and services, curb the need for transportation and take other measures to prepare for a post-oil future. While Transition shares certain principles with greenness and sustainability, it is a deeper vision concerned with re-imagining our future in a self-sufficient way and building resiliency.

Transforming theory to action, Hopkins is also the co-founder and a resident of the first Transition Initiative in the UK, in Totnes, Devon. As he refuses to fly, it is from his home in Totnes that he offers help to hundreds of similar communities that have sprung up around the world, in part through his blog,

Hopkins, who's trained in ecological design, wrote the principal work on the subject, Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, a 12-step manual for a postcarbon future.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Peak Oil: Adapting for Big Changes Ahead

Peak Moment Episode 155: Peak Oil: Adapting for Big Changes Ahead
by Yuba Gals Independent Media

With a long-time eye to declining energy resources, Bart Anderson envisions a very different society in five years. The former editor of Energy offers advice for post-oil living: Understand the problem. Prepare psychologically for big shifts and the unexpected. Find your niche and get good at it. See what your great grandparents did as a model for living well within limits. "Live poor and learn to do it well" as Bart did as a graduate student. Things will be very different, he said, but we'll make it through.