Peak oil fails to register with Gordon Campbell and Carole James

The two main provincial political parties, the B.C. Liberals and the B.C. NDP, don't like talking about peak oil. They both seem to think it's good public policy to build a new multibillion-dollar bridge across the Fraser River.

Today, I've been reading Jeff Rubin's startling new book, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and The End of Globalization (Random House Canada, $29.95). And I've got to say, it's pretty depressing to think that the two people with a shot at becoming premier both seem completely oblivious about international oil markets.

Rubin is not some left-wing flake who can easily be dismissed by B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell and NDP Leader Carole James. He's the former chief economist at CIBC World Markets, and he presents a compelling case that the future is not going to be a continuation of the past.

Sky-high oil prices caused the global recession. And as soon as the economy starts to recover, it will likely be hobbled again by rapidly rising oil prices.

This requires some innovative thinking on the part of our provincial leaders. The Greens seem to be the only ones with a clue about the whole nature of peak oil—which suggests that once global oil production peaks (or has peaked), it will result in an inevitable decline in supplies. The mismatch between demand and supply will cause wild price gyrations, crippling economies around the world.

Rubin's analysis of demand for oil in oil-producing countries is particularly riveting. He notes that demand has declined in areas where it was traditionally the strongest—i.e. North America and Western Europe.

However, demand for oil has  risen sharply in oil-producing countries, such as Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. That's because governments in those countries have suppressed the price of oil for their own citizens.

"So great is the popular demand for fuel subsidies that in many OPEC countries higher world oil prices actually raise oil consumption, in total defiance of conventional economic logic," Rubin writes. "Subsidies turn what otherwise is rational economic behaviour on its head."

So as supplies decline, overall demand can continue increasing, benefiting OPEC producers. "If you are Hugo Chavez, the oil market is a virtuous cycle where self-indulgence leads to self-enrichment," Rubin writes.

It's too bad that Campbell and James are too busy to read Rubin's book. Because if they did, they would both overhaul their platforms, kill the Gateway Program, and place a lot more emphasis on generating alternative energy.

Comments (21) Add New Comment
Stephen Kronstein, BC greens candidate
Let's get prepared then in spite of these two failing politicians and their parties.

http://tinyurl.com/oojmta

The above link will help people understand what peak oil farming will be all about, as food security will be the major challenge in the next decade. Consider that the food on our dinner tables has travelled an average of 5000km by means of cheap oil. This supply line will not last much longer.

According to Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., each mouth will need over half a hectare (or about 1.3 acres) of farmable land to feed it, to provide enough calories over the year, which means land with sufficient levels of essential growing elements like phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen, which is to say not just any old plot of land. We'll need to take the soil to a lab to be sure it can produce food. And lots and lots of humans, not gas powered tractors, will need to work the land.

The Vancouver Lower Mainland is a 4.2 million hectare region, be it paved, residential, commercial, industrial, farm, park or whatever. With 2 million people, that means roughly 2 hectare's per person, while population density on the downtown peninsula is 121 people per hectare. The reality is that there just isn't enough land in the area capable of being farmed, even if every hand were working it.

There's hope. Some insightful few were able to create the Agricultural Land Reserve in 1974, today including 4,716,516 hectares in all of BC, a province of over 4 million people. We'll need to relocate mass amounts of population to make it work, and the government will somehow need to make the ALR available for meaningful production, and soon.

A few of the challenges are that the ALR isn't all class 1 agricultural land, it isn't all within a reasonable distance of the population, and it's currently being farmed with conventional methods, meaning intensive oil-based farming practices, if it's being farmed at all.

What we'll need is traditional farming, breaking the ground with hand and hoe, if we're to expect it to provide more than a season of meaningful production, as the essential growing elements will deplete without oil-based fertilizers and other enrichment materials being trucked in from hundreds of kilometres away. We'll need train lines to bring the food in from the far away BC fields into the cities. We'll need wind, geothermal, tidal and solar in a major way.

A wind turbine, for example, can provide a neighbourhood of 500 homes with meaningful, yet intermittent, power. A big rebuilt model with a 25-year life span costs a bit less than $1million, about $20,000/yr to service, and could pay itself off with energy savings in just a few years.

We don't need two hundred turbines in some far away location, we need one in every neighbourhood, solar panels on homes, solar water heating on roofs, geothermal grants to make it affordable. Private individuals need to be able to produce their own power, civic governments need to produce their own power, and BC Hydro needs to be given free reign to build up new public power generation facilities again, whereas the Liberals have stopped this.

A government in denial could cost many of us our lives, and this is why voting green and supporting STV is so important - the two lead parties just don't get it, or they don't care, because today's votes are the end all for them, rather than our future security.

I'm going to be working hard at this issue beyond the election, because it's obvious a first-past-the-post election is not going to produce anything but politics as usual. Change will need to come from the people governing the government.

Please contact me if you need some guidance, or if you have some ideas.

Stephen Kronstein
BC greens MLA candidate
Vancouver-Point Grey
green @ Kronstein . ca
www.Kronstein.ca
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Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D.
Peak Oil is the most important issue facing the world.

Global crude oil production peaked in 2008 and oil production is now declining terminally.

Within a year or two, oil prices will skyrocket as supply falls below demand. OPEC cuts could exacerbate the gap between supply and demand and drive prices even higher.

Independent studies indicate that global crude oil production is now declining from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. There is no plan nor capital for a so-called electric economy. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

"By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, water supply, waste water treatment, and automated building systems.

Documented here:
http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html
http://survivingpeakoil.blogspot.com/
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thecossack
Natural gas reserves are huge and a viable alternative to oil. 80% of the gas wells on the prairies are and have been capped for decades. Oil reserves off the coast have yet to be fully explored. Although research and development should be vigorously pursued, the doom and gloom is tiring and getting old.
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Charlie Smith
Stephen Kronstein has offered some thoughtful comments. The Vancouver Peak Oil Executive is a group of citizens that have also been trying to elevate awareness and start some planning. One of the members, Rick Balfour, has focused a great deal of attention on food security in Metro Vancouver. For more info:
http://www.straight.com/article-141231/preparing-peak-oil
http://www.straight.com/article-142962/ready-peakoil-refugees
http://www.straight.com/article-142932/peakoil-planning-counterintuitive...

Here's a book worth reading:
Strategic Sustainable Planning: A Civil Defense Manual for Cultural Survival, by Richard Balfour and Eileen McAdam Keenan (Old City Foundation Press)
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Eric Chris
Charlie, being an economist doesn’t mean that you’re a prophet; it just means that you weren't smart enough to get accepted into law, engineering or medicine. Peak oil is irrelevant to building bridges, freeways and roads for vehicles.

Within a very short time, everyone is going to be driving electric cars with electricity derived from power plants which are at least twice as efficient as internal combustion engines in cars. You have your head in the sand and expect everyone to take transit because it suits you. Transit does not suit me and many other independent individuals who want the freedom to do as we please in our own vehicle.

Suggested reading are my article and comment on April 23, 2009 “Cut emissions with new electric cars, not buses” in the Georgia Straight. By the way, I voted Green already in the advance polling, even though I don’t agree completely with Stephen’s (Green candidate) views or your views.
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Charlie Smith
Trust me, I don't have faith in economists as prophets. Economists have been denying what the petroleum geologists have been saying for years. Rubin, however, is one economist who pays attention to the petroleum geologists. Most of the others don't.
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seth
The Green Party's existence rides on the brand name of the European Green movement who with their MMP electoral systems can actually get elected. Greenies cannot ever elect a single person in the First Past the Post system and it appears that STV is a lost cause. All you will ever do is in every election is allow Neocon's like Harpo, Gordo, and George Bush to get elected just about every single time.

Your kind is despised in the US after your leader Ralph Nader elected George Bush and sent the greatest Green politician the world has known Al Gore to the sidelines. Your odious participation in that election gave us a million dead Iraqis', a fatal 10 year hiatus in the global warming war and the worst global recession in 80 years. Listen to progressive leaders like Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, and Dennis Kucinich describing their disgust for the now thankfully decimated American Green party.

You elected Gordon Campbell last time, Stephen Harper twice and put BC and Canada back years in the battle against global warning. You have caused enormous damage to my county, my province and my planet.

You are the spoiled little boy who because the other neighborhood kids wouldn't play by your rules, took your ball away and went home so nobody could play. Lots of Green politicians are running for the NDP and have made enormous progress in turning that party towards sustainable policies. Yes much more needs to be done. If you weren't such a bunch a silly destructive children you could have signed up Green supporters by the thousands to NDP memberships, taking over entire constituency associations, sending green delegates to policy conventions, nominating green candidates and making sure the party went in your direction. Stephen Harper even showed you how to do it with his Christian fundamentalist takeover of the Progressive Conservative party. In fact in the last several days Carole James has been inviting you to do just that.

Unfortunately instead of coming up with a policies and campaigns to save the world, Canadian progressives first have to spend our energy eliminating your odious presence from the Canadian electoral scene just as the Americans have eliminated you from theirs.

On this same page you have an opinion from Stephen Kronstein who seems to have studied photojournalism at Kwantlen. Yet he talks about things like hoeing fields, locating wind mills in suburbs, solar power on roofs. Not a clue does he have about baseload power, what happens when the wind hits 50 mph and the grid saturates, what happens when there is no wind for weeks on end, when the wind varies up and down thirty mph every thirty seconds, what happens at nighttime in the winter and early morning, late afternoon when there is no solar energy and the enormous cost of such a silly scheme. Has he ever had to spend days out in the field hoeing. I very much doubt it. And yet Charlie you call those thoughtful comments???

Why is it none of the parties have addressed the obvious telecommuting and 3 day work week methods which alone would eliminate half the vehicle traffic from our road. Why is it none of the parties have asked why so many of our goods travel by truck when far cheaper barge and rail transportation is already available.

Global warming is a serious issue and requires serious treatment not the nonsense that the Green party, the cons (80% who don't believe in global warming) , and yes the NDP have come with. It's much too late for pirate power, hydro dams, carbon Taxes/ Cap n'Trade. windmills, solar and geothermal power. As James Lovelock has shown only a massive mass produced nuclear power construction effort has any chance of getting us ahead of the curve and the cost of that process is far less than the solar/wind scenario.

I would agree with the Kevin Washbrook's proposal for a climate change citizens assembly as the only likely method of getting the resources necessary to attack the impending end of civilization.
seth
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geolog
Peak Oil can be mitigated with new exploration technology which provides a threefold increase in oil field discoveries.
www.binaryseismoem.weebly.com
Andrey Berg, Ph.D
San Jacinto, CA
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Shepsil
I've been following Rubin for 6 years now, even before I actually heard about Hubberts "Peak Oil" and Charlie is right about him being one of the best informed Peak Oilers in the world today.

As for Stephen Kronstein's political endorsement of the "insightful few", meaning the BCNDP's ALR where he said,
"There's hope. Some insightful few were able to create the Agricultural Land Reserve in 1974, today including 4,716,516 hectares in all of BC, a province of over 4 million people.


How convenient for him to try and ride the coat tails of one of the most forward thinking policies of its time, the BCNDP's Agricultural Land Reserve truly shows that they were Green and sustainable before it was even considered stylish back in 1974. Back then the Greens didn't even exist. Now, they pretend they are the only party that ever thought a green thought just because they go by that same name. With such disingenuous commentary from a Green candidate, I would question their true motives and ability.

The BCNDP are the only party that can stop 8 years of Gordon Campbell's total neglect. Why else would environmentalists like Alexandra Morton, GreenPeace and others switch from the greens publicly to the New Democratic Party of British Columbia

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Sweetness
seth and Shepsil's comments are absolutely correct. Thanks to both of you for posting them.

I was not aware of the NDP's agricultural land reserve, and I hadn't considered the fact that the North American Greens were inspired by the Europeans, yet they have proportional representation and we do not.

Voters, the NDP is a left party. Stop buying the BS put out there by Campbell, stop dividing the left. Unite, vote intelligently, prevent CampHarperbell from staying in power and selling even more of the province to corporations who will do much more harm than anything saved by the misled carbon tax, which targets consumers rather than producers, effectively leaving any change to the market, which will take years. The NDP will put in place a Cap n Trade system, targetting producers rather than consumers, and will save the province from being sold off. What the hell more could you want, realistically?

No mainstream politicians will place high priority on Peak Oil until awareness becomes as common as Climate Change has become. Put your energy into spreading awareness, the politicians will follow. In the meantime, resist voting Green and pray that STV passes.
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mooks
Seth:

The NDP and Carole James are against electoral reform and STV. It makes your entire argument and impassioned post about how all Green Party supporters are the selfish ones a bunch of nonsense. You don't want to reach out and work with others, you instead want to crush others and force them to support you.

You're like the school yard bully - you punch someone in the face, and then order them to do as you say. Carole James had the opportunity to reach out, to mend fences, to build a coalition to defeat the Liberal Party, but she decided a while ago to move the party to become Liberal light, and lost direction in the process. But of course, I'm supposed to do like a lemming and rally behind someone that has demonstrated to me that she doesn't share my values and is utterly incompetent in the process.

Federally, it's been the NDP that's allowed Stephen Harper to form government by denying the Liberals votes. What irony. I suppose you're too much of a hypocrite to apply the "spoiled kid" metaphor to your own party. How about following your own advice and "sign up NDP supporters by the thousands to Liberal memberships, take over entire constituency associations, send NDP delegates to policy conventions, nominate NDP candidates and make sure the party goes in your direction". Basically, why don't you take a dose of your own medicine before you start prescribing it for others. What's the point of a federal NDP party when all they do is try and save their own hides, even if it means forming an alliance with Stephen Harper to block an election. And you have the audacity to finger point me and tell me all the things I'm responsible for?
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jlavoie
Hoeing a field? By hand? Even in the 1800s they were smart enough to use horses. What kind or ridiculous idea is that?

Additionally, any economist that has paid even the slightest bit of attention knows that it is the financial crisis and the fallout in the credit markets that have caused the recession. Not peak oil. I'm not ignorant enough to declare that high oil prices had no impact but they certainly weren't the major factor.

Additionally, as many have said, the bridge has nothing to do with peak oil. A new Port Mann is about reducing absolutely horrendous traffic, and thousands of cars idling for hours the vast majority of the day. Have any "environmentalists" out there stopped to consider that a replacement Port Mann may actually reduce CO2 emissions by reducing traffic, and idling? The delays caused by the current bridge are so obscene that for certainly the current term, and most likely the mid, the new bridge will likely reduce CO2 emissions, and fuel consumption.

Use you heads! Think!! Don't pay attention to the rhetoric.

There are economists who's primary interest is environmental preservation. Until you've learned what they've learned, and studied what they've studied, don't presume that you're smarter than them.

People that call themselves environmentalists, and left wingers that do nothing but pay attention to the rhetoric are no better than those on the right that blindly follow Harpie into the abyss.

.. For those that care, and are still reading, I did take economics at university, and specialized in the economics of the environment. Additionally, despite what I consider to be unfounded opposition to the Port Mann expansion I did vote Green. I also voted for STV because it's just common sense. I agree with 99% of the Green party platform and consider myself to be quite progressive. But, if we push blindly ahead with vitriol and left wing stupidity without using facts and logic we're no better than the idiots on the right following Harper and the Cons like they were an NHL team..
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Charlie Smith
The Gateway Program is all about international trade. It's about creating opportunities for goods to move through the region. If the peak oil theorists like Rubin are correct, global trade will shrivel, which reduces the need for a South Fraser Perimeter Road, an expanded Highway 1, and a new Port Mann Bridge. I'm surprised that the people commenting don't seem to realize that Gateway is about trade.
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Eric Chirs
jlavoie, you are one of wise and one of the few. It is an uphill battle trying to convince people who are just too brainwashed to have an open mind. The sun revolved around the earth until Galileo thought outside the box, and trying to convince the ignorant that transit without freeways may actually be polluting more than cars is an exercise in futility.
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seth
Oh mooksie, people will start to think we are related with you lobbing softballs at me like that.

Last I looked the polls about 10% for the Greens and mid 40's for the Liberals and NDP. Do you think Joe Clark welcomed the Harpo religious fundamentalist takeover? The party was vunerable and he just did it. If you cared a wit for the environment, you can get your supporters together and do a Stephen Harper on the NDP. Carole James would last as long as Joe Clark if you did.

Last federal election, the NDP/ Liberals were reasonably close in popular support and if you were awake then you'll remember they actually did form a European style coalition.

Fact is Greenies really are in love with their silly ideas and their right to destroy much more than they love their country or the environment.
seth
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OldNeil
Sorry NDP, you lost my vote when you decided to play opportunistic politics and promised to kill the carbon tax.

As for peak oil, don't let the power-down doomers get you depressed. I've been following this story for a couple of years now, and even within that time frame, I've seen huge strides in the electrification of ground transport and alternate energy generation. When there's a will, there's a way. Those that want us to return to some "idyllic" 17th century agrarian existence are going to be disappointed. Some day we'll think of our current "brown pall of automobile fumes" city air the same way we think of the coal smogs of London in Dickensian times. Don't buy another car unless it has a plug.
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Stephen Kronstein
- to thecossack: Natural gas increases carbon dioxide levels, doing nothing to address climate change concerns. Also, like oil, demand for gas will increase and production eventually peak. The key from an environmental perspective is to leave carbon in the Earth to begin with.

- to Eric Chris: Everyone is not going to be driving electric cars in a very short amount of time. According to an industry estimate from a few years ago, it would take about 13 years to change over the North American fleet to green-tech vehicles, and that’s if we stopped producing Hummers today, and we haven’t. So if peak oil is on our doorstep as the geologists are predicting, electric cars on their own are definitely too little too late.

- to seth: You, like your party of choice, turn to personal attacks and degrading comments probably because ideas stand on merit and due diligence. Merit is hard to achieve when due diligence has been ignored, and thus you’re grounding is fundamentally flawed.

Union donations and votes are what ultimately drive NDP policy, not ecocentric foresight, therefore your party cannot honestly claim to represent the values of the environmental movement. Environmentalism is not a right/left issue, not private vs. union, whereas the NDP’s non-negotiable unioncentric position unfortunately is. It’s therefore impossible for greens to flood into the NDP. If there’s to be a flooding, it necessarily must flow from NDP to green.

Perhaps most greens - 60 per cent - are left-ecocentric, full heartedly supporting the union’s right to bargain, and some are right-ecocentric, full heartedly supporting local private enterprise, but most are both. The NDP cannot possibly represent our views, which is why many people who are on the fence are undecided between the Liberals and the greens.

Seth, the NDP does not own green votes, and they certainly haven’t earned mine. If there wasn’t a green in my riding, I wouldn’t vote, because the Liberals and NDP are so polarized they haven’t any idea how to represent my values.

To put it right back at you, “your kind is despised” for not supporting the carbon tax, the most useful policy tool the environmental movement has at its disposal, which was originally introduced to BC politics years ago by the greens. The carbon tax is the only policy on the table that will effectively rid us of our oil dependency, which is why we’re in trouble if the NDP takes power.

A carbon tax needs to be pursued across industry rather than just at the pump, and the cap-and-trade system will take the better part of a decade to implement, as negotiations will delay the plan until the point of irrelevancy in terms of peak oil.

You, seth and the NDP, “elected Gordon Campbell last time, Stephen Harper twice and put BC and Canada back years in the battle against global warning,” as jlavoie did well to point out.

If the NDP could pull away from its polarized stance and support ecocentric and economic sanity, I’d enthusiastically support it. But it hasn’t. What’s a green to do? Answer me that.
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davidglover
it was Corponicus who published the theory of earth revolving around the sun
galelio was later
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Perplexed
I'm off topic but need to speak my mind. I have always voted for conservative minded parties. I like the Federal Conservatives, but for the first time in my life when I cast my ballot tomorrow I am at a loss provincially. I do not care for Gordon Campbell. Should I cast a vote to clean house? My gut is certainly pulling me in that direction.
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Wheeldog
We have indeed reached the Rubicon in our voracious consumption of fossil energy. Those who say that great quantities of oil remain beneath the ground are right. Unfortunately, remaining reserves are generally smaller and increasingly difficult to develop. The total world rate of production has peaked and almost certainly is entering a phase of accelerating decline. To a world economy founded on the concept of continual growth, this is literally the death knell of modern living arrangements in more affluent countries. The days of happy motoring and much of our high tech transportation cannot continue without copious volumes of cheap oil flowing without interruption. In the coming years we will be forced to become far more locally focussed and rely less on the far flung supply system that developed over the 20th Century. The challenge now is accepting reality to doing whatever is necessary to prepare for it.
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