Peak oil’s voice in Congress about to get louder

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett

One of just two Republicans in Maryland's House delegation, after the GOP takeover of the House in November Rep. Roscoe Bartlett stands ready to assume leadership on both energy and climate in the new Congress. An 18-year veteran of the House, Bartlett's seniority puts him in key positions on committees "at the fulcrum of two key debates in the 112th Congress -- on climate change and on the … [Read more...]

If Britain starts fuel rationing, could US be next?

gas rationing coupon

This week, a group of British MPs released a plan to start rationing fuel within the next ten years. Could the US follow suit? The plan calls for the government to issue an equal number of Tradable Energy Quotas to all British adults for free and to auction credits off to businesses and government agencies. The goal of TEQs would be to encourage conservation and to deal with any future energy … [Read more...]

Making utopia practical

cover for "Only the Super-rich Can Save Us!"

In nearly a half century fighting abuses of power, Ralph Nader has seen the worst in people, from venality in politicians to arrogance in corporate executives. And Nader knows as well as anyone that corporate control of Washington has kept the US from implementing the policy we need to fight climate change and prepare for peak oil. Now, Nader's written his first novel, "Only the Super-Rich Can … [Read more...]

US military plans for Arctic melting

USS Scranton breaking through Arctic ice.

As civilian Washington, with climate skeptics in the ascendant, continues to bicker about how-real and how-bad, the military has once again shown that, when it comes to global warming, it's a much more reality-based organization than Congress. The new House wasted no time to start moving backwards on climate. In just one example, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, who in December called the EPA's … [Read more...]

Americans: hapless fools or budding heroes?

sign "make things better"

When you worry about peak oil and climate chaos, it's easy to get frustrated at the slow pace of change in the world's biggest economy and most powerful nation, the United States. For my part, I'd like to see my country start preparing for both of these civilization-shaking challenges yesterday rather than tomorrow. Though I'll gladly settle for tomorrow if the other choice is "never," as it often … [Read more...]

An inconvenient actor: Pete Postlethwaite

The Age of Stupid poster

Described by Stephen Spielberg as “probably the best actor in the world,” Academy Award nominee and British climate activist Pete Postlethwaite died of cancer yesterday at age 64. As the Financial Times put it: On the screen, in a prolific number of films, he was a character actor with star quality: a gaunt and grizzled face, a bony physique, a voice that carried the dour burr of his native … [Read more...]

Is the peak oil debate really over?

hand holding a white flag

Just because a variety of authorities said in 2010 that the world had reached peak oil already and that its consequences for industrial society would be profound, it doesn't mean that energy cornucopians have raised the white flag. Quite the opposite. They're actually claiming victory. Yes, the International Energy Agency said that conventional oil peaked in 2006, the US military and German … [Read more...]

We’ll still have airships and GMOs

The Windup Girl cover

It's not the apocalypse. And it's certainly not the Death Star or the planet Tatooine. But The Windup Girl is a compelling vision of our industrial world as it could be in a low-energy future. The Windup Girl By Paolo Bacigalupi Nightshade Books. 361 pp. $14.95. Sci Fi for smart people Many futuristic tales inhabit a world with all the social depth of Dungeons and Dragons. Their … [Read more...]

Cocktails at the oil crash

Player One cover

Set in the cocktail lounge of a hotel at Toronto's airport in the present day, Douglas Coupland's fictional vision of an oil-crisis apocalypse is so frightening because it seems so plausible. Make it a double Player One starts out as an unremarkable meeting of middle-class North American types reminiscent of Coupland's 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. They've … [Read more...]

Low-tech for your resilience toolbox

German 19th century fireless cooker

In a world where iPhones, iPods and  iPads are everywhere and where dinner often means popping frozen mac and cheese into the microwave, pre-industrial ways of living may seem hopelessly quaint. But if you're concerned about peak oil, old tech can offer ways to increase personal and family resilience, if you're open to considering it. Can't you use less energy to do that? Lately, I've been … [Read more...]