Monday, April 18, 2005

The sustainability challenge of the end of cheap oil looms ever closer

We devote this issue to the challenge of the end of cheap oil or “Peak Oil” as it is termed. We really wish our perception of the situation is wrong. But endless calculations, reading, research and meetings with experts all point us in one direction: THE PARTY IS OVER.

Get the biggest car you can. Fill it with fuel, and drive around - wherever you want to go. Enjoy it. Enjoy it thoroughly. Then get pen and paper and write about the experience. Put it in keeping for your great or great great grandchildren.

Because chances are they will be living in a world so vastly different from ours they will be enthralled to hear about what you could do in the petroleum age. Theirs will be the world of post-cheap oil. A world probably more like the 1800’s before petroleum products became widespread. More like the Amish people live today. That’s if all goes well in the power-down period we are about to enter.

What convinces us at AVBP that power-down is about to start are two simple observations. Of the 2000 billion barrels of oil presumed to be available to be pumped up, we have already used 1,000 billion. At present rate of consumption (80 million a day) we have another 30 years to go. But consumption is increasing with the expansion of the world economy, so 30 years is looking more like 15.

As consumption is increasing faster than extraction, we are looking to see the skyrocketing prices, well, any time soon. So 15 is looking more like 5 for major effects to manifest.

We know of no viable alternative energy source for powering transport and heavy equipment. And even if we did, another resource limitation, like water shortages would kick in.
We do not expect you to take our message onboard without checking.
- Look up the recent speech to Congress outlining the coming oil crisis.
- Read what Oil analyst Simmons is saying
- Read about Life after the oil crash
- Check out the Association for Peak Oil Study
- Even insiders in the oil industry are tired of being misunderstood. Their attitude – let them freeze in the dark.

For the Swedes among our readers: Quote from Prime Minister Göran Persson: “- Vi har bara en sak att göra; bort med oljan, gör oss fria från detta elände.” Rougly translated ”The only thing to do is get away from oil and liberate ourselves from this oil misery.” Read more on
So what is going to happen?
  • We will see the end of continued economic expansion. Our way of life is dependant on expansion and oil. To take some basic examples, food depends on oil for growing, storing and transport. So food prices will rise.
  • Plastics and chemicals use oil as feedstock. We will see a general rise in costs of goods.
  • Transport is oil dependant, so transport costs will rise, raising the cost of doing business in most areas.
  • As costs rise across the board say goodbye to expansion. Without expansion job losses will continue. As job losses continue more and more will be saying goodbye to their standard of living.

Already the last few weeks have been showing the signs of power down.
- Oil price hikes to $58 a barrel.
- Profitability of Airlines hit by rising fuel prices
- No increases in employment even in expanding economies
- Forecasts of slow or negative GDP expansion.
- Resource squabbles China – Japan over gas rights.

Let’s take a look on the good side:
+ Global warming will slow as fuel burning slows down
+ The toxic stress on your body (body burden) from living in a chemical– laden world will reduce as less and less chemicals are produced
+ The stress coming from the way we live will subside
+Living more naturally will come to all of us

If only we could achieve all that. On the negative side expect
- no decrease in unemployment
- resource wars as large nations get into ”last man standing” conflicts over oil.
- for the ”haves” to keep what they have so the ”have nots” get even less
- economic instability threatening the very fabric of society

Whatever organisation you are in, you need to get involved in framing a Power Down strategy. If you believe, by the way, it is not going to happen then you need to have a ”continued expansion” strategy. You will definitely be a winner if you bet on continued cheap energy boosted economic expansion and the cheap energy continues to flow.

Some approaches we have picked up along the way:
- Review the entire supply chain to find ways of reducing transport costs. Water transport is cheapest so it may be the last to go.
- Look for opportunities to use muscle and animal power.
- As power down comes it may be possible to earn money on the downturn, look for competitive advantages as power down plays out.
- Services and goods linked to the basics of life will always be needed. FOOD CLOTHING ACCOMMODATION HEALTH SECURITY AND SOCIAL COHESION.
- Consider finding other ways to finance the supply chain, using barter or points systems. Money will be getting tighter as it is inextricably linked to oil.
- Make allies in the industry you are in, so when the hard times hit you are able to support each other and still deliver standard of living supporting services to your customers.
- Prepare for your business activity to become far more local and regional as inhabitants turn to face the challenge of living within the constraints of whatever the local area provides, rather than enjoying the benefits of remote free trade.
- Handling the negative feelings. As tomorrow looks like it is not going to be like today the organization needs to deal with everyone’s negative feelings. And help people go through the different phases like disbelief, depression, panic and maybe call to action. Regardless of what you may believe at present, the coming debate about energy costs will be affecting many of your staff and customers, and you need to start to think about how you will communicate around the topic.

As we at AVBP have been working with addressing Peak Oil crash since February and the sustainability challenge for the last two years, we have gained insights and knowledge as well as put together a toolkit to meet the challenge. We are prepared to help organizations meet the challenge in various ways including:
- Providing factual information about the Peak oil phenomenon in the form of talks, summaries, reports etc.
- Providing guest speakers expert in this field.
- Helping with change management.
- Making our program management and problem-solving and innovation techniques available via our THINK TANK seminars.
- Sharing our across the board program methodology for sustainable regional development or even managing these programs.
You are welcome to contact us via our website.


Jane Arrowsmith said...

Dear Diary

Have been mulling over the information and indicators that I have been getting about the state of the world today.
I am re-reading Economist E.F Schumacher’s book “Small is beautiful”, have been ruminating about my own well-being for sometime and am involved in continuous discussions with Steve (my partner in crime) about peak oil, use of other raw materials, the nature of corporations, etc.,
It appears to me that I don’t have to have the intelligence of a brain surgeon to work out that things are severely out of balance!

As Schumacher said in a lecture in 1961 “A surprising number of people seem to imagine that by pointing to erroneous predictions made by somebody or other a long time ago they somehow established that oil will never give out no matter how fast is the growth of the annual take”. Simply calculated the growth rate of annual take since 1961 has been approx. 7% p.a. which is a doubling every 10 years. So indicators now point to that we have used over 50% of all available oil reserves.
I have checked a lot of alternatives for power but none of them can provide what we need in the timescales/quantities that we need.

Today I read in one of the quality Swedish newspapers (DN-Ekonomi) that the IMF have promised to keep things calm on the trade markets (they don’t say how, oil prices are bouncing up and down like a yo-yo). On another page I read that there is very weak interest for investments in renewable energy sources even though the capital investment markets are worried about future energy requirements being met. Is everyone closing their eyes and hoping for a miracle?

As I am one of the most positive, action orientated people around I have been looking in to the different aspects of the whole sustainability debate (for over a year now) and I am frustrated by the lack of action by any of us….are we all just tired out by our decedent life-style (is this what happened to the Roman Empire?) to see things? Do we secretly wish that everything will collapse so that we can go back to a simpler way of living? Are we not being given enough facts to get any action? Is the issue too big and complex for us to take it in?

Anyway, as I see if we don’t realise that it is up to all of us to take responsibility for our own actions and fight for our lives (or at least some sort of standard of living) I guess that I will see fuel wars, shortages and starvation on a grand scale and destruction of our beautiful earth in the name of company profits! And where does that leave my kids?

OK, now I’ve even scared myself! I would love to be proved wrong by the future! But what can we do to manage the situation, commonly called Power-down, we need to debate, lobby, vote, purchase and pressurise as authentically as we can. This means taking the time to see who we are voting for, making our voices heard to governments at all levels, using our buying power to benefit the long term as much as possible, influence your friends and families, learn about the world in which we live, plan for a likely Power-down situation.



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Anonymous said...

Essential oils, roots and herbs can be used in a variety of ways to promote healthy living and anxiety attack symptom. They are used to create natural remedies for treating ailments common to both people and animals, to add flavor to food, to make perfumes and to create environmentally friendly cleaning products.

You do not have to own a garden to tap into the benefits of plants, roots and herbs. A few herb pots located by a sunny window are enough to get you started. Then, all you need are some essential oils and you are ready to go.

For therapeutic purposes, only the purest oils will do. It is possible to be fooled into thinking that you are purchasing a pure oil. Often, a lesser quality blend of several oils is used to mimic the properties of the pure oil. Blended oils are acceptable for fragrance purposes such as for perfuming a room, but pure oils are a "must" for medicinal purposes.

A reasonable guide to the purity of an essential oil is its price. Pure essential oils are generally more expensive. Common oils such as lavender and geranium are much cheaper than frankincense and carnation oil. It is advisable to become familiar with essential oil prices and then rely on this knowledge when purchasing oils from unfamiliar sources. Keep in-mind that you will generally get what you pay for. A price list from a reputable dealer is a valuable resource when purchasing essentials oils.

Usually, pure essential oils cannot be applied directly to the skin and must be mixed in a base oil to reduce their strength. Base oils such as almond oil or wheatgerm oil are commonly used for this purpose. Base oils are generally derived from seeds, nuts or vegetables and allow you to create essential oil remedies that can be massaged into the skin.

So, what do you need to get started with essential oils and natural remedies?

Without a doubt, Lavender is one of the most useful and desirable oils. Not only does it work wonders on cuts, bruises and burns, it also aids sleep and helps with relaxation.

The Tea Tree and Eucalyptus oils are useful for treating a variety of respiratory ailments. These are excellent for the treatment of colds and coughs. They can be massaged into the chest or burned in an oil burner to help clear the airways and prevent congestion. Tea Tree oil is a natural antiseptic and can be dabbed on cuts, bites and stings. It is often used to treat spots and pimples and when diluted with water, acts as a mouth gargle (keep in-mind it should never be swallowed).

Another basic antiseptic is Geranium oil. With its distinctive perfume and pain relieving properties, it is a necessary inclusion when starting out.

Peppermint oil should also be purchased as it treats digestive complaints and may be used in preparations for freshening breath.

For fragrant perfumes and establishing ambience in a room, buy some Patchouli and Ylang-ylang oils. Often combined in scented candles and air fresheners, a few drops of each in an oil burner creates a wonderfully perfumed home. Orange oil mixed with Cinnamon oil is a lovely winter alternative that evokes seasonal, holiday smells. Besides their perfume qualities, all four of these oils have other properties. Patchouli treats eczema and dandruff. Ylang-ylang is reputed to relieve stress, palpitations and high blood pressure. Orange is used in natural remedies for depression and nervous tension and Cinnamon is excellent for warts and viral infections.

The herbs, Thyme and Rosemary can be grown in pots and used when needed. To create essential oils from herbs, stew some large amounts in pure water, collect the steam and cool it. The oil will rise to the top of the drained water and can be collected with an eyedropper. Alternatively, a "flower still" can be purchased to make the job easier. Thyme and Rosemary are both antiseptics and can be used in skin care preparations. They are also delicious when used in cooking.

Lemon oil and fresh lemons will purify water and, when mixed with honey, are effective remedies for colds and flu. Lemon and white vinegar are highly efficient cleaning agents that can be used for domestic cleaning tasks without damaging the environment. Use white vinegar as a natural disinfectant or mix it with water to clean windows and wooden floors. It is also handy to keep a bottle of white vinegar in your car if you swim in the ocean. It will bring instant relief from jellyfish stings.

Citronella oil is perfect in summer to keep the insects at bay. Another natural repellent is Garlic. Fleas will not bite a dog that has been eating garlic, so a few garlic capsules in the dog food are a cheap solution to your pet's flea problem. A soft collar soaked in Citronella will also do the job.

Garlic also helps to promote a healthy immune system when the weather turns cold and viruses begin to circulate. In fact, most of the oils and herbs listed above are effective in helping to prevent many common winter illnesses.

Whether you are looking for remedies or nature friendly products to use around the house, the oils and herbs suggested above should help get you started. You will be ready to make some healthy changes in your way of life!

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Anonymous said...

Rhodiola Rosea is the latest natural remedy to join the arsenal of natural anxiety and stress (stress symptom) reducers.

Rhodiola Rosea, also known as Golden Root, is a native plant of arctic Siberia. For centuries it has been used by eastern European and Asian cultures for physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, resistance to high altitude sickness, and to treat fatigue, depression, anemia, impotence, gastrointestinal ailments, infections, and nervous system disorders.

The first recorded medicinal applications of rodia riza (renamed Rhodiola Rosea) was made by the Greek physician, Dioscorides, in 77 C.E. in 'De Materia Medica'. Rhodiola Rosea has been included in official Russian medicine since 1969.

Despite its long history, the Western world has only recently become aware of the health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea. It has come to the attention of many natural health practitioners because of studies which tested its affects on combating anxiety and stress.

Rhodiola Rosea is considered an adaptogen. This means it has an overall stabilizing effect on the body without disrupting other functions. Its ability to normalize hormones may be effective for treating depression and anxiety.

Studies of Rhodiola Rosea show that it stimulates neurotransmitters and enhances their effects on the brain. This includes the ability for the brain to process serotonin which helps the body to adapt to stress.

Since adaptogens improve the body's overall ability to handle stress, it has been studied to identify it's effects on biological, chemical and physical stress.

A study was performed to test the effects of Rhodiola Rosea when stress or stress symptom is caused by intense mental work (such as final exams). Such tests concluded that using Rhodiola Rosea improved the amount and quality of work, increasing mental clarity and reducing the effects of fatigue.

The effects of Rhodiola Rosea have also been tested on stress and anxiety from both physical and emotional sources. A report by the American Botanical Council states that "Most users find that it improves their mood, energy level, and mental clarity." They also report on a study that indicated Rhodiola Rosea could increase stress tolerance while at the same time protecting the brain and heart from the physical affects of stress.

This report included details of studies which highlight the overall health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea.

The generally recommended dose is 200-600mg/day. The active properties should be a minimum 0.8 percent salidroside and 3 percent rosavin.

It is important for consumers to know that Rhodiola may be sold using other species that do not share the properties of Rhodiola Rosea, stress symptom, or at ineffective strengths for treatment. Anyone with depression or anxiety should also check with a health professional when treating these symptoms.

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