Peak Oil in the Age of Fracking and The Climate Change Emergency

Back in the good old days we might have thought that we were all going to run out of oil and that was going to at least partly solve the problem of rising CO2 emissions for us. Well, as we can see below, in a way, we were absolutely right. However, human ingenuity (and greed) has ensured that we have managed to not only find new sources of oil (‘tight oil’, unconventional, shale, oilsands, etc) but also keep increasing oil production even while traditional sources peak and decline naturally.

Below is a twitter thread from Andrew Leach, a professor at the University of Alberta and “self-appointed expert waving a Ph.D. around.” He’s got a good sense of humour, and he knows his stuff when it comes to energy, emissions, and what reducing oil production to meet CO2 emissions targets actually means.

On peaking oil production specifically, he saves that tidbit to the very end.

“That said, remember that lower oil production does not equate to no new oil investment. Decline rates of existing assets exceed the decline in demand associated with increased climate action. So, don’t @ me with your hot takes on pipelines or upstream investment. 15/15”

You read that right. Mathematically, because new oil sources are peaking in production so quickly, we can actually lower oil production while still investing in new oil because we need so much new oil just to keep up with demand.

There are a lot of ways you can take that fact, including that we have the ability to do better than the 2ΒΊC or even 1.5ΒΊC scenarios, and save ourselves a whole lot of pain and trouble, if we don’t invest in new oil, as a world, at all.

I’ll let you ruminate about it.

Here’s Leach’s full thread.

The featured image is from Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm”, which is more topical than you might think. To satisfy copyright and fair use, if not musical taste, here’s the original video.

Climate Preparedness

This is what I just sent off to the Province in response to the call from Edna to get us to contribute to the discussion about the Province’s climate preparedness initiative. It’s a little terse and leaves out some stuff, but, hey! it’s Friday afternoon and it was a rush job.

Submission to Climate Preparedness BC

First, preparation should include mitigating steps. Stop the LNG masquerade and redirect those resources into wind, solar and geothermal energy production. The same should apply to Site C, an expensive boondoggle that will flood some of the best farmland that we will need to feed ourselves. Remove subsidies for fossil fuels, along with preferential tax and royalty schemes, shifting those funds to less destructive and more sustainable practices.

Stop clear cutting of any kind, and any cutting of old growth forests. Instead, plant new trees with an idea that we will have forests, as opposed to tree farms. This will help not only to mitigate climate disruption, but will reestablish watersheds that support both wildlife and drinking water sources. Ban the export of raw logs and help rejig mills so that they can use fewer trees, but use them thoroughly and efficiently.

Set up farmland so that farmers can actually farm, including the provision of housing for farmworkers and subsidies to ensure that farmers actually make a living and provide nourishing local produce, meat and dairy to people around the province. Restructure agricultural studies to reflect the need for organic and regenerative practices so as to improve soils, restore nutritive value and sequester carbon in our soils. Eliminate the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Discourage urban sprawl in the strongest terms so that no further encroachment is made on land that has even marginal value to agriculture or forestry. Densify urban cores, build walkable neighbourhoods and shorten commutes, ensuring that foot, cycle and public transit become the primary modes of circulation. Make public transit free. Stop building freeways. Rebuild rail corridors wherever possible.

Dedicated to a resilient, low carbon society.