Maturin42's Blog

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Peak Oil and the Eastern Shore

Professor John Crisp authored an Op-ed piece in the Salisbury Daily Times that called Peak Oil a worse threat than Global Warming. This was in response to that piece.

Professor John Crisp (“There may be a fate worse than global warming” DT 4/20/06) calls attention to a problem that may indeed live up to this billing, at least in immediacy. In the same issue, a Grapevine suggested that we can solve our energy problem by “bartering a barrel of food for a barrel of oil”. Apparently the writer was not aware that the production of that food in our current agri-business model, is highly dependent on that barrel of oil. About 10 calories of energy is used to produce 1 calorie of food, as we currently do it. On our PAC 14 show “BackTalk”, (Comcast PAC-14, Tues. 7:00 PM and other times) we have presented two shows in the past year that examined the phenomenon of Peak Oil. Salisbury University physics professor Andy Pica talked about the science behind the Hubbert Peak and the projections of the scientists who have studied the likely effects of a declining supply of oil in a world in which demand is increasing. It isn’t a pretty picture, and our doing practically nothing to anticipate the effects or to buy time with which to address solutions makes it worse.
BackTalk’s peak oil shows are available on Google video ( - search for BackTalk) and have been viewed a total of over 3200 times online. In countries where media is less corporate, there is more discussion of the issue. Recently a Canadian citizen requested a DVD for use in a community discussion of the coming energy crisis, and ways to prepare for it.
Apparently, those who handle the reins of our economy have decided that here in the U. S. it is more in their interest to let us hit the wall at 100 miles per hour than to recognize the problem and begin preparing for it. Certainly the energy companies see it as being to their advantage to just let the prices climb as high as possible, seeing how each successive oil shock fattens their purses.
The Key is Sustainability. But also ignored in this almost total media blackout is the fact that the impending oil crunch and the global warming phenomenon combined represent a huge opportunity if we act in time. Weaning ourselves from our oil habit and addressing what we can do to avoid making warming worse are two sides of the same coin. It also involves reversing the unsustainable trend toward globalization, as mentioned by Mr. Crisp. Surviving the energy crunch will depend on communities marshalling their resources and coming together to reestablish local ties of mutual support. The Eastern Shore is blessed with good land, expertise in farming, and other resources that make it possible for us to prepare for the coming crisis. We should begin to plan now and inventory our assets, build the local networks of cooperation, and start the power-down. Agriculture will have to change back to food production instead of the mindless growing of corn and soybeans; good for ADM or Cargill - bad for the land. My friend Jay Martin - a Nanticoke organic farmer - demonstrates that growing nutritious organic food without depending on petrochemicals and oil-derived pesticides is practical, results in better food, and improves the land with each crop.
The key question is whether we, as a community, have the foresight, wisdom, and courage to buck the national trend and band together to prepare for the coming storm.