Recent Blog Posts

Ottawaprofessor Ottawaprofessor 13 October 2011

Conditions for reform

In thinking about the Ottawa we may want, we invariably come to the point of having to transform the way we do things and the relationships that underpin the way we do things. Whether we talk about economic reform (recently popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement), health care reform (as has been recently championed by the Canadian Medical Association), climate change, reforming our energy supply system, (as the Ontario provincial government has tepidly tried to do), the justice system (as the Canadian federal government is doing in amongst their monster omnibus bill), or education reform, the focus of reform must transform the local conversations which shape the values, assumptions, patterns and worldviews which are themselves the …

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Ottawaprofessor Ottawaprofessor 12 September 2010

Heinberg's Letter From the Future: Where Business As Usual May Well Lead Us

Almost a decade ago Richard Heinberg published "A Letter from the Future" a fictional letter set in 2107 and written to the people of the early 21st century in the hope of changing their behaviours towards, energy consumption, climate, food security, and the health of the planet. Heinberg has recently republished this letter in his book "Peak Everything: Waking up to the century of declines".

The difficulty for most people in taking action regarding energy (particularly oil energy) consumption and climate change is that we have no clear history of experience that suggests oil will run out or that a warmer climate means anything other than a more pleasant winter. In fact just the opposite. The gas pumps keep pumping - albeit with more input …

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Ottawaprofessor Ottawaprofessor 21 May 2010

Are the Alberta tarsands becoming ground zero in the global competition for oil?

 With investments from its sovereign wealth funds and wholly owned subsidiaries, China is upping its stake in the Alberta tarsands. “Through a combination of state-run enterprises and state-controlled investment, Beijing has, since last autumn, lavished more than $8 billion on oilsands projects in Canada as part of a worldwide scramble for energy security” (refer).

 Simultaneously, the US is increasing its imports of tarsands oil. Even now Canada has become the largest source of US oil imports. Canada now exports 1.9 million bpd to the US., almost a million bpd more than Mexico (refer).

 Saudi Arabia which is another of the top suppliers of US oil imports, is consuming more and more of its own production making less available for sale elsewh…

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Ottawaprofessor Ottawaprofessor 9 January 2010

Sharon Astyk Blog Site

Sharon Astyk is one of America's well recognized voices about peak oil and climate change. She is a writer, teacher, blogger, polymath and farmer who covers issues that range from agiculture to energy policy, from food preservation and cooking to religious life and democracy, while trying to live a life that corresponds with her principles.  Some days she even succeeds.   She is the author of three books: Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front, which explores the impact that energy depletion, climate change and our financial instability are likely to have on our future, and what we can do about it; A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil co-authored with Aaron Newton, which considers what will be necessar…

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Ottawaprofessor Ottawaprofessor 14 August 2009

Putting it all together

According to Abdalla Salem El-Badri, Secretary General of OPEC, world demand for oil in 2030 is likely to increase 25% to 106 million bpd from 84.2 million bpd in 2009. At the same time Dr Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the respected and conservative International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris,warnsthat production from existing oil wells is declining at 6.7% per year so that by 2030 today’s existing wells will be producing only 24 million bpd. The supply-demand gap is therefore potentially huge -- as large as today's total oil consumption!

According to Dr. Birol, “even if demand remained steady, the world would have to find the equivalent of four Saudi Arabias to maintain production, and six Saudi Arabias if it is to keep up with the e…

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Ottawaprofessor Ottawaprofessor 9 July 2009

Food Security, Peak Energy and Climate Change: A Governance Challenge

The questions of food security, peak energy and climate change are complex in themselves but together they represent the essence of a ‘wicked problem’. “We are simultaneously threatened by both the scarcity and the abundance of fossil fuels,” [1] says David Keith, Canada Research Chair in Energy and the Environment at the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Department of Economics, University of Calgary.

How strange! Something that is simultaneously scarce and abundant. The vary inter-relatedness of these problems necessitates their being treated as a system of effects, but in doing so we are confronted with the coexistence of opposites and non-linear logics. Oil is both scarce and abundant. The food system is both a global…

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