Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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24 Aug 2006

ASPO 5. Jeremy Leggett Intertwines Peak Oil and Climate Change.

**Jeremy Leggett. Peak Oil, climate change, and the daunting arithmetic of carbon fuels.**

leggett*By the time Jeremy Leggett stepped up to the podium, I was starting to wonder whether I was the only person in the conference who had ever heard of climate change. We had heard Hirsch telling us with a straight face that we should dig up all the tar sands and turn all the coal into petrol, and Bauquis arguing that we needed 3,000 new nuclear power plants. I am used to people arguing for climate change solutions with no peak oil awareness but rarely the other way round.* *Leggett told it like it is, and convincingly and with great urgency weaved the argument that peak oil and climate change are in fact, two sides of the same problem. You can see the Powerpoint of his talk here.*

“This talk will look at peak oil in the context of climate change, the conflagration of two huge problems, what we might think of as the Two Great Oversights of our times. They are certainly the two biggest problems we fact, and they have an interesting set of comparisons. The biggest single difference is that excepting the USA, there is pretty much a consensus on climate change now, whereas peak oil is still a minority view, although it is certainly less so thanks to the work of ASPO. It has moved from being a hobbyist issue to a more general one.

hgPart of my work is advising the Government. I don’t know of a single UK Government official who is worried about it. The main linking theme is that the survival technologies are the same, alternative energy and efficiency, which need to be fast tracked. We need to be able to trigger the survival reflex.

4.5 billion years ago there was carbon without life. Then the atmosphere began to change. Oil was created 150 and 90 million years ago. I would like to offer a history of our recent past.

**1859.** Man drills oil for the first time, in Pennsylvania.
**1914.** World by this stage is already running on oil.
**1930.** Peak year of discovery in US48, although no-one knew it at the time.
**1956.** Hubbert predicts that world oil production will peak in 1971.
**1965.** Peak of world oil discovery.
**1973.** The first oil crisis hit, a huge shock despite being only a 9% drop, by then we also knew that Hubbert was right.
**1978.** The second oil crisis, triggered by the Iranian Revolution. Led to a real fear of depression, but 3 things came to our rescue, fresh oil supplies coming in, new reserves and no long food supply chains, none of which we have to fall back on this time round.
**1981.** The crisis was over and it was a peak year for the construction of refineries, rigs and pipelines.
**1985.** Doubts begin. You mean we’re not sure? The OPEC upwards revisions.
**1989.** Jim Hansen, climate scientist of NASA tells a Congressional committee “it is time to say that global warming is here

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Myke's Weblog
24 Aug 5:29pm

Who Needs Oil, We Have COAL

Here’s an excerpt from a presentation at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) by Jeremy Leggett, who worked in the oil industry until 1996. Link: Transition Culture » ASPO 5. Jeremy Leggett Intertwines Peak Oil and Climate

Trends I'm Watching
24 Aug 5:39pm

The Link Between Peak Oil and Climate Change.

Trend: Global warming and burning fossil fuels are highly correlated. The cause-and-effect may be the most important question of this century. Here’s a timeline from a presentation at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) by Jeremy Leggett,…

29 Aug 2:13am

Ref Jeremy’s conclusion that the dislocation will happen and that the choices we make after that will influence the kind of future we leave.

Did he say what those choices might be?

hi rob,
hate to be a nitpicker, but he surely did not?

“1956. Hubbert predicts that world oil production will peak in 1971.”

just about to walk out to catch train down to sydney for the H2 gig!

29 Aug 8:49am

Ref: Jeremy’s conclusion that the dislocation will happen and that the choices we make after that will influence the kind of future we leave. . . . .

While I’d well agree that the “dislocation” is no longer avoidable, I’d observe that the choices (investments of goodwill, time, money) that we make now while society is fairly coherent will govern the degree of dislocation we face, as well as setting parameters for peoples’ choices thereafter.

For instance, the adoption of the policy framework of “Contraction & Convergence” as the basis of a Treaty of the Atmospheric Commons, (see ) is one such supremely urgent action, in that the greater the dislocation, the less the chance of success.

Another such urgent action is, IMHO, the development of small-scale wood-alchohol stills, to process feedstock from sustainable forestry into this traditional fuel that can serve in ICE engines, CCG-Turbines and Direct Methanol Fuel Cells.

As such, it offers an easily-stored liquid transport fuel, whose feedstock can utilize non-arable land, and can be produced worldwide wherever forest will grow.

And suprise suprise this option has hardly had chickenfeed research funding since the oil-barons gained power, for all wood alcohol was first commercially traded in 1684.

The need for these and other such actions seems so clear that I wish Jeremy would explain what he meant on this issue – as I’m certain he didn’t wish merely to promote fatalism or apathy.

Could he be asked for a clarification ?



29 Aug 4:52pm

Believe that 1956 should read, “U.S. peak of production of oil predicted”, not world production.

He was right to emphasize coal as the killer. The U.S., China and others are going full steam ahead.

30 Aug 2:10pm

Gosh, you gotta love the technophiles’ “We’re just gonna have to switch to alternative fuels like wood ethanol,” without considering the ramifications of such a massive switchover.

Every person who thinks we’re just going to “imaginate” our way out of significant societal disruption is the same person who thinks peak oil isn’t going to affect their daily life materially.

One day they’ll just go to the gas station and Voila! the pumps everywhere will all dispense biodiesel or ethanol, and cars will magically and in a cost-free manner ALREADY have been converted to run on any old fuel there is.

Because those kinds of cars are EVERYWHERE, aren’t they? And being manufactured EVERYWHERE for a reasonable price, aren’t they? Replace every oil-burning engine with an ethanol-burning engine! Easy! No time at all! Faster than it takes to watch an informercial!

Before taking off on this statement, I urge you to poll you friends and see how very, very many of them subscribe to this pie-in-the-sky, everything’s-gonna-be-fine, technology-will-step-up-to-the-plate canard. Watch for the waving hand and the professions of faith in Yankee ingenuity.

And then watch them change the subject when challenged.