Peak Everything

Earlier today I was reading stories on the web about the peaking of world fisheries. For example:

"In 1994, seafood may have peaked. According to an analysis of 64 large marine ecosystems, which provide 83 percent of the world's seafood catch, global fishing yields have declined by 10.6 million metric tons since that year. And if that trend is not reversed, total collapse of all world fisheries should hit around 2048. "Unless we fundamentally change the way we manage all the oceans species together, as working ecosystems, then this century is the last century of wild seafood," notes marine biologist Stephen Palumbi of Stanford University."

I'm sure we've all heard the stories as well about the dramatic decline of bees, and the slower but long term decline of many birds. Washington state alone has at least 39 endangered plant and animal species. Climate change has finally become a headline grabbing national concern (better late than never). Some of us are trying to raise awareness about Peak Oil. It becomes a bit overwhelming to think about and comprehend all of these problems at once and together, but it is quite important to do so. As long as we keep thinking about the problems we're seeing with the world's "resources" as isolated problems to be dealt with individually, the more likely we are to turn to technological band-aid solutions. (Albert Bartlett: "We should remember the words of Eric Sevareid; he observed that “the chief source of problems is solutions.” This is what we encounter every day: solutions to problems just make the problems worse.")

All of these problems are connected to the fact that we're living on a finite planet with finite resources at a time when the compounding effect of population growth is finally being felt and experienced. Meanwhile, we live in a culture who's religion is what Erich Fromm called "the religion of industrialism and the cybernetic era" (To Have or To Be, 1976), which worships at the alter of hyper consumption and endless economic growth. So, we have peak oil, peak C02, and past peak on clean water, seafood, wood, resource minerals and metals, etc. etc. On a whim, I decided to Google 'Peak Everything.' What I found was a new book coming out soon by the leading peak oil educator Richard Heinberg, with that exact title: "Peak Everything." I also found an article from New Scientist by David Cohen - Earth's Natural Wealth: An Audit. A good article I recommend, although it falls short on the solutions. Info on Heinberg's book below. Before that, however, I have to stop and highly recommend 2 other presentations. These presentations go deeper than technological band-aids.

1) Albert Bartlett, on Arithmetic, Population, and Energy. This is the most downloaded recording from Global Public Media. It should be required listening for every activist, environmentalist, planner, politician, scientist, theologian, philosopher, and thinker. The retired Professor of Physics from the University of Colorado in Boulder examines the arithmetic of steady growth, continued over modest periods of time, in a finite environment. These concepts are applied to populations and to fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal. Options are given for downloading audio, streaming audio, or reading the transcript:

2) Pat Murphy on Plan C: Curtailment and Community. Massive change is in the offing and we are totally unprepared. We will discuss options for addressing these threats under the rubric of four 'plans' arbitrarily labeled A, B, C and D. The alternative we propose, Plan C, is to tackle the issues of food, housing and transportation, preparing for a world of greatly reduced fossil fuel consumption.

Now, about Heinberg's forthcoming book...


Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines

By Richard Heinberg

The 20th century saw unprecedented growth in population, energy consumption and food production. As the population shifted from rural to urban, the impact of humans on the environment increased dramatically. The 21st century ushered in an era of declines, in a number of crucial parameters: * Global oil, natural gas and coal extraction

* Yearly grain harvests * Climate stability * Population * Economic growth * Fresh water * Minerals and ores, such as copper and platinum

To adapt to this profoundly different world, we must begin now to make radical changes to our attitudes, behaviors and expectations. Peak Everything addresses many of the cultural, psychological and practical changes we will have to make as nature rapidly dictates our new limits. This latest book from Richard Heinberg, author of three of the most important books on Peak Oil, touches on the most important aspects of the human condition at this unique moment in time.

A combination of wry commentary and sober forecasting on subjects as diverse as farming and industrial design, this book tells how we might make the transition from The Age of Excess to the Era of Modesty with grace and satisfaction, while preserving the best of our collective achievements. A must-read for individuals, business leaders and policy makers who are serious about effecting real change.