The era (century?) of low-cost energy is not over yet, but it’s ending fast. Dwindling supplies of fossil fuels (especially oil) combined with growing demand (mainly from developing countries) ensure that the 21st century will be a century of volatile and rising energy prices and periodic disruptions. However, it’s not entirely clear how soon all of this will happen, how bad/disruptive it will be, nor exactly what should do about it in exactly what order.
This is separate from the climate change problem, but closely related to it. The two reinforce each other in that both point to a need to begin transitioning away from fossil fuels. But, accelerating global warming makes a transition away from fossil fuels even more difficult by making it more urgent and limiting our freedom of action.
So, obviously, this is a big topic. We probably need to do multiple meetings on different aspects of the problem. But, on TH I’ll give a brief opening on the general issues involved, and then we can throw it open for discussion. My non-expert intro will cover:
- How close are we to a permanent state of energy crisis — meaning to repeated shortages and wildly swinging prices, and to the accompanying economic and social disruptions?
- How bad will the consequences be and will the permanent crisis lead us to take seriously the need for a new energy system, or just to fight harder for dwindling fossil fuel supplies?
- What should we do to speed the transition towards more renewable (and cleaner) energy sources without crashing the economy and losing public support which must be maintained to do this?
- NEW: The head of the IEA says, “The Era of cheap energy is over.”
- Primer on peak oil.
- NEW: Peak Oil for Dummies. That’s us!
- NEW: Even world coal reserves may be much lower than thought!
- Peak energy in general.
- How will dwindling energy supplies affect geopolitics? Not for the better.
- For much more detail: IEA 2010 World Energy Report
- Very brief intro to the solutions to global warming, using the 15 “wedges” or 15 strategies approach.
If you know (or are) someone who has expertise on these issues, please come and help us to understand them! See you on Thursday!