Summary of Petro Collapse II conference in DC
Sat May 06, 2006 at 07:57:05 PM PDT
Earlier today about 100 concerned citizens gathered at All Souls Unitarian Church
in Washington, DC for the second Petrocollapse Conference on surviving in a world
with declining fossil fuel resources.
1truthteller's diary :: ::
The event was sponsored by Jan Lundberg's organization, CultureChange.org, he
of the Lundberg Oil Survey Letter family, although not involved with that publication
since the late 1980's. Nine speakers and two videos were on the program. They
dealt with a variety of topics related to our current energy, environmental, and
related political issues.
Dr. John Darnell is energy advisor to Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett,
MD-6th, the only member of Congress who is talking about peak oil and the realities
of our dismal energy future. He compared our current energy situation to the Apollo
13 near-disaster of 1970, when that Moon mission suffered a catastrophic explosion
and only made it back to Earth safely through training, cooperation, conservation
of remaining energy, and innovative thinking on the fly. He called for a similar
emergency crash effort to deal with declining fossil fuel resources and the need
to move to a sustainable society, both in the short and long-terms.
Several themes recurred among various speakers. Micheal Kane of "FromtheWilderness.com"
warned of the big lie of Big Renewables, and the political snake oil sales people
pushing them. Mark Robinowitz of "Permatopia.com" also warned of malicious
politicians guiding the World to a "Last man standing" scenario in a
global struggle for the World's remaining oil reserves while defrauding voters
at home in electonically rigged elections, while Jan Lundberg said that if our
leaders won't tell citizens the truth, then it's up to us to spread the word.
Conference moderator Jenna Orkin, whose child was a high school student four blocks
from the WTC on 9/11, added that most Congressional staffers are totally in the
dark about our energy problems, and that most people in this Country can't comprehend
the coming crisis because they have no reference point for anything this dire
in their memory or that of anyone they know.
Three presenters and one video did provide positive visions of a more hopeful
future - if we act soon:
Diana Leafe Christian, editor of "Communities" magazine, and a resident
of Earthaven Ecovillage in NC, showed how sustainable communities and practices
can succeed in rual, urban and suburban settings.
Alternative farmer Joel Salatin explained how environmentally sound agriculture
can be sustainable, nutritionally healthier and profitable. He also warned not
to believe the "organic" label on food products, since that designation
has been hijacked by the corporate food industry. His was perhaps the most uplifting
and humorous presentation of the day.
Pat Murphy of Community Service, Inc. presented their video "Cuba After Peak
Oil". This look at how Cuba coped with the end of Soviet support of their
economy and the U. S.'s virtual blockade of the island nation for trade, by drastically
reducing individual energy consumption, implementing local, organic agriculture,
and concentrating on local communities and solutions. They went from the most
petroleum dependent agriculture in the Caribbean to the least, and are able to
sustain a life expectancy as good as ours and an infant mortality rate better
than ours while consuming 1/8th the energy per capita as the U. S. does.
After a lunch break and press conference that did not include very many reporters
and no TV coverage (just one indication of how much we have to overcome to get
the message out), featured speaker Richard Heinberg, the professor and author
of "The Party's Over and "Powerdown" presented his take on the
Colin Campbell term "The Oil Depletion Protocol". Warning of resource
wars and mass die-offs in a global economic collapse if we do nothing, Prof. Heinberg
presented a rational plan to deal with declining energy resource alocation on
a global basis.
A second video on plastic pollution in the seas painted a grim picture of how
universal the problem of petroleum based plastic pollution is to sea life and
the other creatures that live off of them. There is virtually no place left in
the oceans that has not been touched by this problem.
Allan K. Bates, the final speaker, and a resident of "The Farm" in TN,
dealt with what would happen to any country, like ours that tries to go it alone
to maintain an oil-intense economy. He suggested that terrorism is a logical outcome
of such a policy, as well as accelerated climate change resulting in more intense
storms, rising sea levels, and increased release of greenhouse gases into the
Several speakers did touch on the very sensitive topic of overpopulation, something
either ignored or denied by the mainstream media and commercial interests. They
did vary widely in their judgements of how big a sustainable population would
be. Mark Robinowitz suggests that as many as 9 billion people could live in a
low energy consumption sustainable world, while most who comment at all on this
believe that without massive petroleum inputs the world can only sustain a population
of less than 2 billion.
The conference ended with a peak oil folk music jam session led by Jan Lundberg
on guitar and Richard Heinberg on violin.
All told, the conference left one with mixed feelings of doom at the lack of interest
by most of the world at the train wreck we're headed for environmentally and energy-wise,
but hopeful that at least some people are working to build a human-scale sustainable
future for those willing to change their ways and learn how to survive.