Get a FREE Issue of Earth Island Journal
Sign up for our no-risk offer today.

Go Back: Home > Earth Island Journal > Issues > Winter 2014 > +/-

+/-

Peak Oil – Are We There Yet?

+/-Ten years ago, an academic named Richard Heinberg published a book that landed like a bomb. The Party’s Over predicted that global oil production would soon peak, forcing tectonic changes for industrial society. The book – praised by environmentalists, name-checked by Bill Clinton – was the first in what would become a whole peak oil literature. A decade later, we still haven’t hit the peak, and new, extreme sources of energy threaten to fuel climate change for years to come. So, were the peak oil-ers wrong? And does the idea of energy depletion help or hurt the effort to break our fossil fuel addiction? Tom Athanasiou, director of Eco Equity, says we have enough fossil fuels to roast the planet, and that peak oil is a dangerous distraction. Aaron Lehmer-Chang, an advocate for locally resilient communities, argues that peak oil is a potent way to talk about our reliance on fossil fuels.

Preparedness Matters More than CO2 Targets

by Aaron G. Lehmer-Chang

Aaron G. Lehmer-Chang is an author, activist, and social entrepreneur. He is also a member of the Oakland Food Policy Council and co-founder of Bay Localize, a project of Earth Island Institute.

If we environmentalists were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that several decades of heroic efforts to curb carbon emissions have yielded little progress. Despite repeated warnings from scientists and the inspiring rise of climate activism, global emissions continue to grow, having recently passed the dangerous threshold of 400 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere.

“Passing the 400 [ppm] mark reminds me that we are on an inexorable march to 450 ppm and much higher levels,” says Dr. Michael Gunson of the Global Change & Energy Program. Such views are sobering, to say the least, especially knowing that it takes about four decades for the impacts of prior emissions to take full effect. We’ve already witnessed nearly a 1°C increase in average global temperatures from emissions between 1900 and the early 1970s. If you add the emissions “already in the pipeline” over the decades since, we’re almost guaranteed another 0.5°C in warming by mid-century. This would take us precariously close to the much-dreaded 2°C increase that scientists warn would have severe climate impacts on social and natural systems.

… more …

What do you think: Is peak oil smart talk, or does it miss the point?

small excerpt of a poll page

Vote and Be Counted.

   

Email this article to a friend.

Write to the editor about this article.

Subscribe Today
cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJFour issues of the award-winning
Earth Island Journal for only $10

 

Comments

Its probably worthless to make this into an argument, as most of the responses to peak oil will also help reduce CO2 emissions.

But, we are going about this all wrong.  First, if an energy company produces some oil, is it not going to be used?  Of course it will.  We are attempting to get the addicted to cut back, but we should get the pushers to cut back.  Don’t bother talking about carbon offsets, its rubbish.  Cap and trade is just a way to enrich traders. Carbon tax might work, but really, if they produce it, it will be used.

By Dave on Wed, December 04, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Leave a comment

Comments Policy

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Subscribe
Today

Four issues for just
$10 a year.

cover thumbnail EIJ

Join Now!

 

0.2030