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Now even the conservative International Energy Agency (IEA) has set a date for Peak Oil: 2020. Still to far in the future to worry? Not far enough? Think we cannot Transition fast enough? Still wonder what all this means? Read on.

Attached are some slideshows produced by Richard Balfour, a local Vancouver architect and early Peak Oil activist.

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How about this for stunning, good news:
4 million more cars in America were scrapped this past year than sold! Yes, for the first time since World War II, the number of cars on American roads is dropping. OK, there are still 246 million left. Read this article from the Guardian of London, and comment here.
I think much of Toby Hemenway's perspective makes sense. The world's cities and rural areas are all facing enormous changes as all the bounty we have grasped from nature, such as oil, lumber, and fish become scarce and expensive, and this reality forces our economies into continual contraction. And, most likely, as Hemenway states, many of these changes will happen over time in a very uneven, stop and spurt manner.

I also agree that we will need a collective response, and this may prove very difficult for many, in both rural and urban areas, who hold to a very firm set of indivualistic values.

Where I critique Hemenway is that we cannot afford to focus on one crisis when we face numerious crises which overlap and feed into each other in ways that are extemely threatening. And further, a focus on one crisis can lead to solutions which exasperate another crisis.

For instance, it is not be enough to just champion the goals of cutting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to safe levels and/or to move away from fossil fuel dependency when every year, in our economic efforts, we use up the natural world beyond its ability to replentish itself. We also need a different set of economic goals from those we now strive for.

For biologists worldwide have declared that we are now in a human made era of major biological exstinction. We are losing too many of the species which are vital to the crucial ecosytems which maintain the planet's life support systems. Consequently, the earth's climate, waters, oceans, soils, are being undermined.

And we do this while we marginalize the majority of the world's peoples, leaving them in poverty, as we legally and illegally take their resouces through the workings of numerous western institutions. Institutions based on financial wealth creation, the market system, and western values and beliefs that are held to so tightly, even when they prove disasterous, that they are akin to a fettish.

Who can know the exact times when oil peak will finally overwhelm our present way of life, or when food will become scarce due to climate change. What we do know is that from a systems point of view, far too many of the earth's natural feedback loops are moving from negative into positive mode, and this is anything but a positive reality. Chaos in nature, as I understand it, is averted because the number of feedback loops turning positive are offset by the vastly more numerous ones who stay in a healthy negative equlibrium. We are now near the point on the planet where this balance is threatened. We do not want to tip the scale where we face an overwhelming number of feedback loops in nature that are in postive mode. It is at that time we face collapse.

We have a major task ahead of us to change a very destructive social/economic system, which has now "gone global", which is taking humans and the rest of nature, as we now know it, to ruination. We need to pay attention to all the crises, but we don't need to, nor do we have time to speculate which crisis is the key crisis, and frankly, we don't have time to argue about the details of the crises.

We just need to get on with the task of consciousness raising, and relocalizing, and building resiliant communities. And we need to become aware of the institutional blocks and power blocks that will threaten our efforts so that we can plan ways to move right through them, or past them, when they try to stop us from developing a meaningful future. There really is no time to spare - the task is enormous.
Another peak oil study has just been published forecasting peak within the next 5 years. This one is by the Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security in the UK and includes the contribution from a number of highly respected business leaders.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the study conclusions today. see link

Unfortunately, WSJ chooses to downplay clean alternative energy in favor of nuclear. Stated as the way to make a significant, short term impact on our energy supply. How they come to this conclusion when it can take a decade or more to get a project through planning, I have no idea. Not even considering how long it takes to construct and commision a new nuclear facility. Or finance one. Probably why they are banging the drums for nuclear. Unless there is significant financial support from government, nuclear hasn't got a chance.

Ah well, at least the PO message is getting play with one of the more influential business newspapers.
Here is that Wall Street Journal article as a PDF, in case the link above ever fails. For those familiar with a primary cause of World War II, both in Asia and Europe, it was oil. This article makes it clear that there will be shortages, as there were in the 1930s, and insatiable demand from ever richer and more powerful developing countries will result in overt struggles for control of that limited supply.

China is now the great exporter and banker to the world that was once the position of the US after WW II. With economic power comes both political and military power. Conflict would of course limit supplies even more, but even if we found an "orderly way" to share what is left, the price will be very high, and our economies and social cultures must radically change.
Here attached is the February 2010 Metro Vancouver regional district staff report on Peak Oil that states "oil production will peak between 2005 and 2040, with the majority of published estimates between 2005 and 2010."

When oil was last scarce and hard to extract (due to poorer technology), it was the 1930s. The rush to secure oil fields to maintain or restore economic growth (during a global depression) was a major contributing factor in the territorial disputes that precipitated World War II, both in Asia and Europe.

If Metro is correct, we are right now in the same resource crisis, and possibly by serendipitous accident of history, national economies across the globe remain on the brink of collapse following the 2008 market collapse that was the worst since 1929. Even if we have learned a lot since then--debatable--the end of cheap, or even available, oil will occur in most of our lifetimes.
There are many independent pundits following Peak Oil, and for good reason, the mainstream media is not. One reason is that the energy industry is not open to sharing its knowledge or game plans, for both political and financial reasons. Investigative reporting is expensive, and also dangerous considering the immense advertising dollars at risk.

Chris Nelder is a four-year devotee to Peak Oil news and a shrewd analyst of the facts, but he is also a speculator in energy stocks and a favoured media pundit. His independent viewpoint is welcome, but it is still important to take a measured perspective on his reporting.

Attached are two April 2010 articles from the publication Energy and Capital, wrapped up on one 8-page PDF, which argue persuasively and with excellent sources that Peak Oil--the start of the decline in global oil production--will occur within the next five years, 2012 to 2015. As we know, global demand for oil is now at an inflection point headed the other direction, with huge developing world populations embracing industrialization and an oil-fed economy. Demand will outstrip a peak supply of 90 million barrels per day (mbpd) by as much a 10 mbpd by 2015, and that shortfall will continue to increase by 2-2.5% per year.
I would think that as oil prices rise and the poorest peoples are priced out of the market they will be forced to follow Cuba's lead. I would think that it would be good for the Transition Movement to have a foreign policy calling for TT members to support education programs which build awareness about the need to revisit traditional agriculture and to learn permaculture in such countries. Permaculture, I think, is one of the best sustainability development strategies available to in the least westernized economies.

I hope that the well off western economies will be forced by a people's movement to use the last oil effectively to build alternatives, that we will not simply let the market delegate who obtains the ever shorter amounts of oil avaliable as demand outstrippes supplies, and that we do not let the maket determine what the oil is used for.
Hi Randy
Interesting and practical approach. A society arranged based on a community of 5,000 would offer many of the benefits of a small town with the advantages of city life. Our current provincial government has actively centralized power in the Premier's office and gutted the authority of School Boards, Health Authorities, cities and municipalities. Centralizing power has allowed the Premier to divert public assets for (his friends) private profit; the current changes to the Power Commission's regulatory powers will continue this trend. We need to relocalize many of our public institutions ASAP.

Stewart Brand in Whole Earth Discipline has a chapter on how urbanization offers many opportunities for energy savings compared to rural life. Urbanization is also rapidly changing the demographic picture in the developing world for the better.
A reasonable example of sustainable local development exists in the city of Nelson, BC, which owns its own hydro dam, the power from which it sells to build and maintain civic assets and services. Of course the new BC "Clean Power" Act takes us ever further from the sanctity and sustainability of public use of the public commons, and in fact strips local communities of their resources while adding new hidden taxes.

Urbanization is no panacea, as the current practice of urban living depends hugely on trucking and transport to sustain itself. Little food is ever grown in modern cities, let alone any other consumable, and modern zoning principles ensure that even city dwellers have to travel--farther than by foot and still often by car--to buy goods. Consumerism is also heightened in cities, as is speculation, neither part of the culture of sustainability. This all could change, and living closely to others does offer opportunities to collaborate and work more efficiently, explore district energy solutions, and perhaps use one's car less.

Is this happening? Not hardly enough.


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