AMERICA'S PERFECT STORM: WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN IT HITS?
November 24, 2008
This past week, I attended a meeting in Denver, Colorado featuring Michael Brownlee, a speaker on the fastest growing organization in the 21st century. Over 900 cities across the globe participate in preparation for the coming resource crisis. For anyone who might be concerned as to the future of this nation, you will find a plethora of information at the websites provided. Additionally, you will be able to hook-up with people in your state.
A “Perfect Storm” gathers on the horizon as Peak Oil, Economic Instability, Climate Change and Hyper-Population Growth collide within the United States. While Americans watch multiple breakdowns throughout their economic and environmental systems, a gathering citizen armada prepares for an uncertain future—that most assuredly looms on the U.S. horizon.
Dana Miller, director of the “Denver Transition Movement” in Denver, Colorado, sponsored Michael Brownlee, a man sporting swept-back silver hair and wearing John Denver glasses, to speak about how average Americans can mobilize to deal with the coming loss of cheap oil energy, called “Post Peak Oil.” With his compelling power point program, Brownlee addressed a packed house on what all Americans face in the coming decades.
“We face a Perfect Storm with the triangulation of Peak Oil, Climate Change and Economic Instability,” Brownlee said. “These converging factors create a dynamic that we are unprepared for. James Howard Kunstler addresses them in his book, “The Long Emergency.”
Brownlee demonstrated how humans on a global scale wreak havoc on the natural world by producing, “…bigger, faster and more as they eat up the land, fowl the biosphere, lose connection with the earth, sky and water--and each other. We have lost our sacred connection to all life and with spirit.”
Economic engines wreak mayhem on the natural world. However, that ravenous global economy we created runs straight toward a wall or over a cliff—take your pick as we run out of oil. Brownlee provided the audience with sobering graphs showing how world oil production hit its peak or is about to hit its peak by 2010. From that point onward, everything must contract because nothing can provide the energy that oil provided to keep hyper-population growth accelerating.
Brownlee said, “We must learn how to prepare for the future that’s about to change dramatically. We are in for some uncomfortable surprises. Economic growth will reverse course.”
While we run face first into this growing “Hobson’s Choice”, Washington DC ‘risk mitigation’ experts demand a 20 year plan for coping with a world without cheap oil energy. As anyone with a nose on his or her face can discern, President Bush twiddled his thumbs and stuck fingers in both his ears for the past eight years—as to energy conservation or planning. He treaded water while our civilization stood nostril-deep on its tippy-toes gasping for solutions.
Brownlee told a rapt audience, “It will hit us soon and hard. We don’t have time or capital to avoid economic consequences.”
He mentioned the Hirsh Report of 2005 that somehow suffered ignominious burying at the hands of the media. Richard Heinberg, author of “Peak Everything: Century of Declines,” said, “The world has never faced a problem like this. The problem will be massive and pervasive.”
After “Peak Oil” hits in places like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other countries exporting oil in 2008, they will export only 10 percent in the coming years. That will leave America, currently importing 60 percent of the 20 million barrels of oil it burns daily, out of luck. For more information click here.
Brownlee said, “In our plausible future, we can expect $200 a barrel by 2010 and on toward $300 a barrel. Any alternatives cannot come on line fast enough or equal the power of oil.”
To show how much energy oil provides the U.S. annually, Brownlee provided a graph of one cubic mile of oil. That’s how much the USA burns annually. That equals the same amount of energy provided by 52 nuclear power plants generating energy being built every year for 50 years or 104 operating coal-fired electrical plants built every year for 50 years or 32,000 wind turbines built every year for 50 years and in continuous operation or 91,250,000 solar panels built every year for 50 years.
In other words, oil produces dramatically incredible amounts of energy that we cannot and will not be able to duplicate in the coming years. Thus, when the oil runs out, our civilization, as they say, faces Hobson’s Choice: if we turn left, we walk over a cliff; if we turn right, we walk into quicksand.
Why hasn’t the media reported what we face? Brownlee said, “The media hasn’t caught up to science.”
Brownlee mentioned James Hanson of the Goddard Space Institute who said, “We have 10 years to change the trajectory of green house gases, yet we have done nothing.”
Brownlee addressed the third crisis, “We face an economic collapse with the U.S. dollar based on fossil fuel. Those bailouts show us on the brink of unraveling. Colin Campbell said, “The second half of the age of oil will be marked by the decline of oil and all that depend on it—world depression. It will challenge the continuation of civilized life.”
While Brownlee’s soft-spoken approach landed like a brick on a Monet painting, he talked about humanity passing through its irresponsible teens and now faces adulthood. We must be realistic as he pointed out over 900 transition communities worldwide taking action toward sustainable futures. Anyone can purchase “The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience” by Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement.
Brownlee proposed a 12 point program for local action. You may find it at the web sites provided. Brownlee quoted Gary Snyder, “All things are possible when enough human beings realize everything is at stake.”
“This is the fastest growing most significant movement in the 21st century,” Brownlee said. “We must be creative, engaged and work at the local level. We may become more socially connected, produce of goods and food closer to home, and enjoy newly reconnected local networks.”
At the end of his presentation, Brownlee talked about reconnecting with our planet home. He spoke of changing from our individual obesity, inequality of incomes and status, high speed rat race, and fouling our planet—toward a simpler and more balanced humanity on Earth.
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Brownlee said in closing, “We don’t know if it will work. If we wait for the government, it will be too late; we cannot wait for someone else to do the work for us. There will be plenty to do! We will need 50 million farmers to grow our food!”
“The uncertainty of our times is no reason to be certain about hopelessness.” Vandana Shiva