The Oil Poster

I don't often tell people to go out and buy something.  I've long been an advocate of Transition initiatives (TI) managing their activities on next-to-no funds.  But on the list of drop-dead essential equipment for your TI to own, next to Rob Hopkins' Transition Handbook, I would place The Oil Age poster.

I bought one about a year or so ago out of curiosity.  Since then I have put it on a tripod at garden classes, "intro to Transition" sessions, and at street fairs.  Even without explanation, this thing does its work.

I did add one small thing:  I made a post-it arrow with "you are here" and put it on the curve at 2010.  People tend to come up to the poster and read aloud:  "You are here."  Then they get really silent.

There are a few tools that display well alongside the Oil Poster, such as a print of the Department of Energy's detail of the peak (explanation here.  Diagram is slide 8 of the pdf here.) and a print of Holmgren's Energy Descent scenarios (explanation here.  Diagram here.). 

I also like to have a copy of the CNET review of Ripudaman Malhotra's forthcoming book because the reporter stated so well why solar, wind, and nuclear won't ever make up the gap.  I tend to highlight the key sentences.

Actually, it's because of the Department of Energy's curve that I write this post today.  I'd heard about the DOE admission of peak oil via Richard Heinberg's article in March.  But like most people, I hadn't seen the actual admission by DOE, aside from the couched politician-speak in the Le Monde article.  To view the actual diagram was horrifying.

And Mr. Nicholas C. Arguimbau's commentary is even more so:

  • zero time to plan how to replace cars in our lives
  • zero time to plan how to manufacture and install milions of furnaces to replace home oil furnaces, and zero time  the infrastructure necessary to carry out that task
  • zero time to retool suburbia so it can function without gasoline ... etc.

Within the Transition movement, we continuously encourage each other to see the world of possibilities.  Rob Hopkins broadcasts a firm belief that the creativity that got us into this mess can get us out of it.  The Transition movement is an entire workforce that is actively cultivating that very creativity.  So it is with that shred of hope that I counter Arguimbau's commentary.

We might have "zero time to PLAN to support nine billion people without the 'green revolution,'" because the flaw in Arguimbau's statement is the emphasis on planning.  In many cases people are already into the action part.  People worldwide are already building the grassroots infrastructure to do it, as documented daily by sources such as City Farmer.

We might have "zero time to plan how to replace cars in our lives" but the increasing numbers of bicycles on Los Angeles streets each time that gasoline prices take a jump says that people are beyond PLAN, they already are figuring out what to do.

Arguimbau asserts we have "zero time to plan for replacement of oil in its exclusive role of transporting people, agricultural produce, manufactured goods."  Actually, we do have time to PLAN -- in this brief hiatus while oil is still here, but is simply getting more and more expensive with scarcity.

But Arguimbau's panic-laden list of assertions makes it all the more crucial that each Transition Intiative stay on track toward producing their Energy Descent Action Plan.  The EDAP document shows people that we do have ability to create our way out of this mess, and shows people how to quit panicking and get down to work. 

Of all the groups mankind has yet devised -- governmental, business, NGO, etc. -- the Transition movement is best situated to prove Arguimbau wrong.  We do have time to plan, because people in T.I.'s have already gotten the process well underway.

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