Climate Change and Peak Oil consequences are going
to impact us before we can re-tool.
The crisis may be as far away as 26 years. It
could happen tomorrow. Most likely, it will crash on us in three to
five years. Action this morning will mitigate some consequences; action
this afternoon will mitigate fewer consequences. The Internet has taken
37 years to reach its current level of access; re-tooling sustainable
transportation will likely take 50 years.
It has been about 5 years since this page was first written and it looks like Abrupt Climate Change is unfolding as in 2012 there were "once in a lifetime" forest fires, Hurricane Sandy, drought, and multi-year Arctic Ice melt. We are either very lucky or the full ramifications of tilting the balance of nature are revealing themselves.
We can build great and lasting cities. Please
consider and ask others to consider the following taken from the book Good to Great. It is an
abridged conversation between the author Jim Collins and Admiral Jim
Stockdale (imprisoned in the “Hanoi Hilton” from 1965 to
1973). This book has a profound insight into the making of great
Collins: In preparation, I read In Love and War, the book
Stockdale and his wife had written in alternating chapters, chronicling
their experiences during those eight years.
As I moved through the book, I found myself
getting depressed. It seemed so bleak – the uncertainty of his
fate, the brutality of his captors, and so forth. And then, it dawned
on me: “I am getting depressed reading this and I know the end of
the story! I know he gets out, reunites with his family, and becomes a
national hero. How on earth did he deal with it when he was actually
there and did not know the end of the story?”
Stockdale: I never lost faith. I never doubted not only that I would
get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the
experience into the defining event of my life.”
Collins: Who did not make it out?
Stockdale: Oh that’s easy. The optimists.
Collins: The optimists? I don’t understand.
Stockdale: The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said,
‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas
would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say
‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would
come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be
Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.
After a long pause, Stockdale stopped and turned to face Collins:
Stockdale: This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse
faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never
afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal
facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
We cannot afford to be optimistic that energy on
which life depends will be available from oil.
We must face the Brutal Facts of our current
1. Cars kill 14 of every 100,000 Americans each year.
2. Car accidents cost Americans about $150 billion
3. Approximately 97% of trips in the US and 80% of
trips in Europe are by car. Personal mobility is essential to our
economies and cannot be replaced by mass transit. Cars are the right
answer; they are just the wrong mass and randomness of behavior for
4. Costly and relatively dense train systems in
New York and Washington DC have not solved their congestion or oil
5. Light rail projects planned will not match the
capacity of New York, Washington DC; they will not solve congestion or
6. Productivity gains in manufacturing’s
shift from Mass Production to Just-in-Time, focusing on the quality of
the process can be applied to mass transportation.
7. Oil prices are unstable. Any one of many
actions can instantly disrupt our oil based economy, force massive
lay-offs and preempt farmers’ ability to plant and harvest food:
a. Terrorist attacks on multiple pipelines or
b. Iran or Venezuela oil embargo.
c. Further civil deterioration in Iraq.
d. A Hurricane or other natural disaster.
8. No subsidies. Taxes that subsidize light rail
and buses will disappear as increasing oil prices drive workers out of
9. Neither bio-fuel cars nor hybrids will solve
congestion problems. Typical worker loses 43 hours, a workweek, per
year to congestion.
10. Two wars in 16 years. Troops are deployed and
being killed as we spend capital dollars to expand highways and our
dependence on foreign oil. Personally, I think these expenditures are
obscene; the cost of war should be part of every environmental impact
statement; $.30 should be added to the price of every gallon of
gasoline to pay for wars that protect access to foreign oil. This is
not soft thinking; I volunteered and went to Iraq because I believe
contributing to world liberty is our best defense.
11. Peak Oil. By all estimates, the maximum rate
at which oil can be extract from the earth has peaked or will peak
within 26 years. At Peak Oil, oil prices are expected to triple each
year (they tripled in the last six years). Farmers and truckers are
most at risk from unstable oil prices. But everyone is at risk; we
cannot eat food that could not be planted, harvested and delivered.
Please watch the documentary at:
12. After Peak Oil, oil based economies and
populations will be forced to decrease 5-15% every year; death on a
biblical scale, downward sloping curves (above).
13. Re-tooling. It will take longer than 26 years
to re-tool transportation to be independent of oil. Failure to act in
advance of Peak Oil will exacerbate hardships.
14. Global Warming. Adapted from NOAA, Sterns
Review and Impacts of Climate Change on Washington's Economy
a. Forest fire loses will increase by 50% by 2020.
b. West Nile virus, asthma and other health costs
c. Snowfall loses will affect lakes, streams and
d. Farmers will have longer growing seasons but
will face reduced water supplies, increased demand, changes in pests,
weeds, and crop diseases.
e. Higher temperatures will affect dairy