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Drying Up Fast
Experts address the state of oil resources
By Joy Lanzendorfer
Reaching the global peak in oil production will have an incalculable impact on the world as we know it," says Richard Heinberg, writer and professor at the New College of California. "It's a horrific picture. This should be front-page news in every major newspaper in the country."
Heinberg, author of The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies, will be one of several lecturers speaking at a series of events hosted by New College later this month. The message? The world is running out of oil fast and we had better start preparing for it now.
The two events--a symposium on Oct. 30 in Sebastopol and an all-day workshop on Nov. 1 at New College--will each cost $15 at the door. At the symposium, Heinberg will be joined by Mike Ruppert, investigative journalist and former Los Angeles Police Department narcotics investigator, and Julian Darley, author and co-founder (with Heinberg) of a think tank called the Post Carbon Institute. The follow-up workshop on Saturday will present a series of solutions to how people can best prepare for a world without oil.
The world's oil supply is in big trouble, believes Heinberg, pointing to historical evidence.
"In the early 20th century, the U.S. was the Saudi Arabia of oil supply," he says. "But that peaked in the 1970s. Since then, 24 of the 44 principle oil-producing nations have followed suit. We're running out of oil."
In addition, he adds, recent studies have said that the world's oil supply has been overestimated by 80 percent. When the world runs out of oil, the lecturers believe disasters will follow, including the breakdown of the U.S. economy, a shortage in the food supply, skyrocketing costs of gas, and a veritable collapse of the world as we know it.
And it's all in front of everyone's noses, but no one wants to see it.
"People are scared to look at this," says Ruppert. "But would they rather be scared or would they rather die because they don't want to face these problems in the first place?"
Ruppert made a name for himself in 1977, while working for the LAPD, when he uncovered the CIA trafficking heroin. He says his attempts to expose this fact caused him to be forced out of the LAPD in 1978. In his newsletter, From the Wilderness, which has over 12,000 subscribers, he claims he broke some of the key stories of 9-11 first, including Bush's connection to the Carlyle Group and how Clinton built up the Taliban. Ruppert has also given lectures on 9-11 called "The Truth and Lies about 9-11."
He believes looking at the truth is just a matter of knowing the facts. "Often the major media will not realize what they printed," Ruppert says. "They will bury something in the middle of a story, and I will say, 'Wait a minute,' because I know it is connected to other facts."
The symposium will also cover how alternative energy, though useful in some cases, will not be our savior after all. Hydrogen is just an energy carrier and "takes more energy to produce a given quantity of hydrogen than the hydrogen itself will yield," according to Heinberg. Nuclear power leaves radioactive waste, and solar and wind power will take a long time to catch on.
The only answer left is for people to adjust to a world without oil. The lecturers will talk about how it is essential to reduce consumption and constrict the global economy. But it will take a huge effort, according to Heinberg. "We're talking a World War II kind of effort," he says. "I expect that won't actually happen until there is a dramatic event of some kind that forces people to act."
Despite the doomsday message, the New College says the events are not intended to scare people, but rather help people look for solutions.
"We want people to understand that this is a potential crisis unlike one we've ever faced before, and we have to start dealing with it," says David Baker, coordinator of special events for New College. "But this is a message of hope. It's optimistic. When people understand what the risk is, we can do something about it."
The symposium on Oct. 30 will start at 6:30pm at the Sebastopol Veterans Auditorium. The all-day workshop begins on Nov. 1 at 9am at New College in Santa Rosa. For more information, call 707.568.2605.
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From the October 23-29, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.
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