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Oct 11th Conference Reports

 
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DamianB
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 1:47 am    Post subject: Oct 11th Conference Reports Reply with quote

The main conference was well run, Iain Gibson was a jovial and irreverant MC but most Peakniks had heard most of the speakers thoughts and information before. There were however a lot of business people, NGO representatives, academics, etc which was heartening to see. The food was good too!

Michael Meacher basically delivered an expanded version of his recent (Guardian?) article sprinked liberally with soundbites. He was lost credibility in my eyes by saying the peak 'was sometime in the next 30-40 years' and mentioning the 'hydrogen economy' a few times.

Chris Skrebowski also failed to deliver any new information for anyone reasonably well-read on the subject but his background lent an air of credibility for those newish to the subject, even though it was poorly delivered. He said that refineries able to deal with high-sulphur crude were maxed out, which supports Chris Vernon's recent analysis and also said there was a shortage of people for future exploration. The Big Five's output is down 1.17% in the first half of 2005 - some good stats on his slides which will hopefully be available later.

Keith Tovey gave a good overview of climate change issues and reviewed the alternative sources of energy but the focus wasn't particularly on oil but he did make one point which struck a chord with me - that current electricity supply arrangements have the possiblity of serious intermittency, namely Sizewell B 'tripping' leaving an instant shortfall of 1200MW! Also pointed out that in CO2 terms, driving 1.6 miles is equivalent to heating a room for 1 hour.

Andrew Simms was eloquent, pointing out how climate change and rising oil prices were going to disproportionately affect poorer people around the world and will be proposing an 'Index of Well-Being' to replace GDP as measure of growth. Said that DTI use ?70/tonne when evaluating environmental damage caused by CO2.

Tim Lang (speaking about the politics and sustainability of food) was for me the best speaker; passionate, articulate and had a great presentation which he said would be made available -. so I didn't take notes

Richard Douthwaite talked about changing our money system and localisation and rounded the sessions off nicely by putting a positive slant on the low-energy world we face, seeing opportunities and benefits instead of the doom and gloom we'd heard from previous speakers saying we should emphasise simplicity rather than austerity.

The question and answer session wasn't really given the attention and seriousness it deserved and it was only here that the issue of population was broached.

I went to the Transport workshop which started with a superfluous presentation by a guy from Sustrans and the moderator struggled a bit to maintain order but it was great to hear the passion for change and awareness-raising by the participants.

As with PeakSpeak in the summer, it was great to put names to new forum members and get reacquainted with others.

I had high expectations which weren't fulfilled (and were probably unrealistic anyway) but it was well worth going to and I had some great conversations in the pub on Monday, during coffee and lunch on Tuesday and after the conference. Thanks again to the organisers.
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Building on Damians report....

Meacher spoke about an intermediate Gas economy (which, I guess, is now a given anyway), including its use as initial feedstock for the Hydrogen Economy. My heart sank. He also mentioned PVs as well; I think he needs a bit of education about EROEI (he should read "High Noon for Natural Gas"). He also talked about "moderating US extravagance" such as feebate on SUVs(fee)/efficient(rebate) cars and that the US should be pushed into utilising their R&D capability.

Skrebowski conjured some nice quotes, such as "when Noah built the ark, it wasn't raining". He emphasised that "flows" matter more than "reserves". He presented a CIBC assessment of shortfall and price to reduce demand. He cited that, in 2004, all spare capacity was used up, putting stress on refineries, sulphur removal and personnel. He stated that 90% of known oil was in production, and also specified some timescales (e.g. 5-6 years for a new refinery). He also specified the 3 depletion types (which are different scales - field/country/national). He said that the DTI were in denial for 2 years after UK production peaked. He specified a Peak date of 2007/2008, with Russia and S.A. being the pivotal actors.

Tovey ("are you local?"), indicated temperature changes over the past 100 years, and also showed research that indicates patches of the UK experiencing up to 80% rise in rainfall from 1961-2001. He showed how the wholesale price of gas has increased from 2p to 6p from 2003 to 2005. He said nothing about building design. He mentioned the "Broadsol project" which sounded like a co-operative clubbing together to bulk-buy solar water heating to minimise the costs. He mentioned Scappa Flow (Orkney) as being a potential tidal energy site, and also quoted a 70 year payback period of tidal barrages. He described the EROEI problem of solar PV, but then lost his way with talking about improving efficiency elsewhere to compensate (huh??) and talked about powering computers from DC to reduce conversion losses. (For a whole building the I2R losses could be tremendous, or they'd have to use busbars which are high EMERGY).

Simms mentioned some estimate of the global economy being bankrupted by the effects of severe weather by 2067. He also said that Peak Oil will be "hidden" from rich countries as poorer countries "drop off" and suffer shortages (i.e. selective demand destruction).

Lang described the "Plan A Food Policy" of being "Leave it to Tesco/Wal-Mart". He said that insurance companies cannot afford to cover healthcare costs (e.g. obesity). The most critical issue to him is culture in terms of the public's willingness to change. An interesting point, in conjunction with the DEFRA food report, is that the Distribution Centres are "hubs" and the motorways are "storage", and the farm->hypermarket transport stage being the most energy intensive. Apparently, Spanish tomatos are less energy intensive than those from Kent. There were some good slides on "food culture in tension", as well as one indicating grain production, and some bizarre drawing from Puska (Finland).

Douthwaite talked about rationing allowing fair distribution of fossil fuels, and the importance of sustained high prices to trigger lifestyle changes and investment in alternatives. A nice quote about the market system was "When things get scarce, only the rich get to have them".

I attended the Food workshop. It was funny that it finished promptly at 4, but there was no washup session, so why couldn't it have gone on longer?

Gundula Azeez, from the Soil Association, described benefits of Organic farming (such as drought tolerance), as well as the yields in comparison to existing methods (slightly less in UK, about the same in America, much more in the developing world). Rob Hopkins mentioned Agro-Forestry with sweet chestnuts and walnut trees growing reliably in the UK. Market gardening is the most efficient production method, and woodland is best for EMERGY. Uppsala University is studying EMERGY. A lengthy discussion was mostly about whether the UK could feed itself, the consensus was "just about", but all wastage would have to be minimised, with less meat production, and little or nothing left over for energy crops. Which would leave no room for population growth. The idea of community land ownership (a kind of tribal system) was also banded about. It appeared that a lot of the "Permaculture crew" were in the workshop; I do think there are worthwhile synergies between Peak Oil solutions, Permaculture and the Soil Association.
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Rob Hopkins



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to add to the previous comments; I enjoyed the morning, the speakers were interesting even if they each had things one could question (as has already been mentioned, Meacher's belief in the hydrogen economy seemed incredibly naive). Tim Lang was the standout for me, very good. After that however, it all went a bit flat. My afternoon group, on Food, was appallingly facilited, it was really frustrating. Why not break us down into smaller groups to discuss certain topics and then feed back to the rest of the group? Then everyone would have been heard and felt they had contributed. People at the back were unable to hear those at the front and vice versa. It was very unsatisfactory.

I would have thought that it would have been far better to have used Open Space Technology as a tool and have had each of the 4 groups report back their findings to a closing session. Also 4 groups when there are 300 people is way too few, it would have been better to have a wide range of choices, there were some amazing people there with great ideas to share who we never heard from. This would have been far more useful and would have closed it up nicely. The Cultivate Centre in Dublin uses Open Space for big events and it is great. It all felt like a real anticlimax after the morning. There wasn't even a coming back together and a thanks for coming. The other thing was that there was very little opportunity to network, there were 300 of the UK's peak oil interested people there, it would have been great to get to meet some of them, but I had no idea who was there, and there were no real opportunities to meet, which a better facilitated event could have provided. Findhorn in Scotland is excellent at this, they have trained facilitators at all their conferences and it makes such a difference.
So, a good day, glad I went, morning 8 out of 10, afternoon 2. Met some great people and it was very enjoyable. Good food too (though neither local nor organic...).
Many thanks to all involved and look forward to the next one.
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DamianB
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
We are hurtling towards ?apocalyptic? crisis unless we manage a move from oil-fuelled economies to sustainable development based on renewable energy. This was the message from The End of Oil conference in London chaired by Norwich North MP Ian Gibson and organised by the University of East Anglia's CRed carbon reduction initiative.

After a series of speeches and workshops, a ?next steps? body was set up to plot future action.



Eastern Daily Press
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Billhook



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damian & all raporteurs -

Thanks for your accounts of the meeting - wish I'd been free to go.

Three questions about the presentation by Andrew Simms of NEF.

To what extent did he propose international political action to address climate change ?

Did he get around to describing the meaning and significance of Contraction & Convergence ?

If so, how did he compare it with the Uppsala Protocol, if at all ?

Bill
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) I don't think he did. From what I remember his concern was more about equality.
2/3) The Rimini protocol was mentioned (the one after Uppsala) and, in its context, it was said to be "like C&C" i.e. we should cut our consumption and allow the 3rd world a bit of headroom until they catch up.
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Billhook wrote:
Three questions about the presentation by Andrew Simms of NEF.......

Audio files from the conference are now available here:

http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/portal/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=976&Itemid=2
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Billhook



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandidoz -

many thanks for the link and info.

Billhook
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