As Phaedra Haywood asks me when I bring up the topic of peak oil, ” What’s it got to do with Santa Fe County?” Maybe the (horrible) events in the Gulf can give us some answers.
First off, peak oil just means that we’ve produced and burned the first half of our oil reserves – in America, we peaked in 1970, a date predicted almost exactly to the day by Shell oil geologist King Hubbert in 1955.
If you’re old enough to remember the Arab oil embargo of 1973, you remember that a mere shut in of 10% of imported oil caused our economy to seize up , gas lines to grow everywhere, and just general unpleasantness and chaos. What you probably don’t remember is the Arab embargo of 1967. Why ? because there were no gas lines, no disruptions, no chaos, the country just went humming along. That’s because we hadn’t peaked yet and three counties in Texas could open the valves and make up the deficit without a blip. But now, as US military intelligence informed us just a week ago(link)…we’re looking at global peak by 2015 with possible deficits of 10 million barrels (bbls) per day – serious s*** ! This will send our economy, already in deep recession, into the toilet.
Our national economy is the least efficient in the world using the most energy per unit of economic output, which means we will pay the hardest and first. And Santa Fe County ? Same thing – economic hard times, dust bowl hard, great depression hard, and maybe even harder than those days were . Hard times like a candidate for public office just doesn’t want to talk about. But what about reality ? actual issues ?
As a candidate, I have to think about this unpleasant fact. I acknowledged its reality when I ran for governor in 2002. I also have to come up with some solutions to a hard crash.
So here’s my idea(s)/solution. Number one, we launch hard on the transition to a local, sustainable agricultural economy. This would be a web that includes small gardens to several acre farms to multi acre farms and ranches.Lots of green houses and hoop houses and orchards as well. It would also include substantial trade with neighbouring counties that are agriculturally rich. Of course it would mean a net work of production, transportation, retail and wholesale – a local food web.
Concurrently, we launch hard into a sustainable energy economy – a locally owned electric grid powered by wind, solar, biomass, efficiency, same with a thermal grid, and a liquid fuel sector based on appropriate bio fuels with a strong component of algal production along with a far greater emphasis on public transportation. Radical ? A plan like this wouldn’t be radical even if global oil reserves were not about to peak, much less when it’s imminent. This is a simple road map for revitalizing our local economy – returning ownership and control of basic sectors to local hands which would then cause a huge upswing in job growth and an infusion of sustainable money into the local economy. We have to move this way, and fast, to simply survive.
But what about BP, wasn’t one problem that it sat over a field with too much oil ? Doesn’t that give the lie to global peak ? Not when you consider that BP’s top estimate of oil in that field was 6 billion bbls. Sounds like a HUGE reserve of oil, right ? Actually it’s enough to supply global demand for around 72 days, 2 1/2 weeks ! BP’s 100 miles out in the gulf, 5,000 above the sea bed, and then 20,000 feet more below that. This is hideously expensive and environmentally disastrous – all for 2 1/2 weeks of global consumption. As US military intelligence warned, we’re approaching global peak really, really fast, by 2015.
If we begin a transition IMMEDIATELY we can survive. Or we can follow Cuba’s example, wait until our fossil based energy is curtailed, and begin starving until we learn how to farm. It took Cuba several years to make that transition, during which time people got very skinny and malnourished. Now they’re the most organic country in the world. I’d rather get a jump, especially when that jump would benefit our economy and our environment. It would also allow us to survive. So, that’s what peak oil has to do with Santa Fe County…to be continued