The End of Fossil Energy
A Plan for Sustainability

by John Howe

-  John Howe and his 10hp solar powered Farmall Cub -

Excerpted from Chapter 3 - with permission

It has been a most revealing and daunting task to summarize and make understandable something so complex as world and U.S. energy statistics. There is overwhelming information available especially from the Internet. There are so many different organizations manipulating the numbers that one hand may not know what the other is doing. Very few, even in the U.S. government information alphabet soup of agencies (DOE, EIA, DOT, and the BTS: Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration and Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics) are clarifying the energy shortfall of the future.

A number of other groups are attempting to project a clearer message and sound an alarm, but they do not agree with the optimistic forecasts of the DOE. Several examples of these organizations are:

The World Watch Institute

Quoting their mission statement, “By providing compelling, accessible, and fact based analysis of critical global issues. World Watch informs people around the world about the complex interactions between people, nature, and economics. World Watch focuses on the underlying causes of and practical solutions to the world problems … etc.”

CEES The Center for Energy and Environmental Studies (in conjunction with scientists for a sustainable future and the National Academy of Sciences)

On May 18, 2001 this prestigious organization published an open (electronic) letter in an attempt to convey a sense of urgency regarding energy. The above website shows this letter and the names of hundreds of distinguished scientists and educators who stand behind the messages relating to the subject of finite fossil fuels, the folly of drilling in ANWR, the problems with nuclear fuel, and the subject of climate change. Also included is a list of responses to this public letter including policy statements from President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, showing a concern for the energy issues facing our nation and the world. Unfortunately, their concern has not always been consistent with administrative action.

NREL National Renewable Energy Laboratory

This is a government agency with the honest mission of educating the public and leading us to a sustainable future. On their home page they specifically state that their “research is paving the way to the hydrogen economy.” Perhaps this is the government agency that is instrumental in guiding our decision makers to a future less dependent on fossil fuels. If they are, where is their input when legislative votes are called regarding energy conservation, permitting trucks to be considered as cars, or improving fuel mileage standards? It seems like either nobody’s listening or they serve a cross-purpose to delude the public into believing all is OK, and our government is watching out for us. With less than 1% of the U.S. energy supply coming from renewable fuels (other than hydro), we are not making progress nearly fast enough to prepare for the coming fossil fuel crisis.

Many additional websites, links, and references provide a variety of energy messages. I have prepared a partial list of those I have used while researching this book. These are in addition to, or repeat specific cited sources in other chapters. The most comprehensive and concerned references are listed first: The basic worldwide site concerning oil depletion. The same site as The home site for ASPO (The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas) The newsletter for ASPO Oil Depletion Analysis Center, an excellent, new summary site from the U.K. This is a very aggressive new movement to help the public take control of America’s energy future. This website maybe a key to coordination and action in the critical available time frame. This website is prepared by the M. King Hubbert Center of the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. The statistics and interpretation are prepared by U.S. geological experts. An excellent site with an interjection of humor into a very serious subject. This the site for the Busby Report referred to later in this book. Another wonderfully diverse and informative source of related information and references. A very comprehensive site originating in New Zealand with many links, books, essays. People the world over are really trying to be heard. Founded by environmental philosopher, Julian Darley. Read “When Markets Fail, America Leaps Off the Gas Cliff without a Parachute.” Photovoltaic market development. Solar Energy Industries Association American Wind Energy Association

The remaining sites are of a more general nature but do cross reference to energy issues: A good reference for current energy related issues. For instance, see “Rage for SUV’s fuels oil import surge.” (Dan Ackman, 5/5/03) Encourages political and popular support for clean energy and action about global warming. The name speaks for itself. Another attempt to reach the public. Solar power information plus a significant foray into sustainable agriculture and an electric tractor. This and the next two sites are excellent sources for renewable energy related products and technology. Similar voices in England. Matthew R. Simmons, the chairman of an international investment company, has been a key advisor to the Bush administration, yet his dire warnings are not receiving appropriate attention. You can download his lectures on depletion from Canadian tar sand oil issues from the optimistic industry viewpoint. The alternate site for CEES (Center for Energy and Environmental Studies) The home site for the Union for Concerned Scientists. Focuses on the critical issues of population, which are directly related to energy. (National Resources Defense Council) Energy is only one of many related issues. An excellent and reasonably priced weekly electronic subscription covering timely energy issues. (Rocky Mountain Institute) A strong case for energy efficiency as well as hydrogen and Amory Lovins’ Hypercar. Independent Natural Resources Inc. Developer of the “Seadog” wave pump. This and the next site teach micro-agriculure solutions. See “From The Wilderness” published by Michael Ruppert. Advocating a carbohydrate economy. by Paul Maycock, industry consultant and editor of “Photovoltaic News.” by John J Berger, environmental author and consultant. The Institute for energy and Environmental research Another attempt to send a message to the public Read about the critical mass energy project. by philanthropist, George Soros. Encouraging transparency of issues needing public knowledge. The name speaks for itself. Zero Air Pollution vehicles (all electric) are available in all forms. The Sustainable Agriculture information service. Does not directly warn of fossil fuel depletion, otherwise good concepts. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy An excellent site for the Cambridge Energy Research Associates headed by Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize. A conservative news site that sometimes explores the news and mysteries of energy. The site for The World Resources Institute. Another attempt to reach the public regarding sustainability and climate change. The site for CESA (Clean Energy States Alliance). At least 12 states joining together to commit to energy related activity that is not being addressed nationally. (American Petroleum Institute) This last site is a typically feel good industry source seemingly more concerned with perpetuating the habit and intent of an American culture to consume more, look bigger, go faster, deny the message, and negate the big picture. the official administrative response alluding to much concern about energy.

There are many other cross links and reference sites, which relate to the crisis at our doorsteps but are limited only to the internet audience, not the general public, which is more influenced by mass media.

We are not going to make it to any acceptable civilized future if we don’t reach the public with the story of the depletion of finite fossil fuels as well as a plan for an acceptable future lifestyle without plentiful energy.

I repeat again, energy depletion is certain to be the greatest crisis ever to face civilization. Yet, the message is lost in a blitz of bland media coverage supported by hyper advertising of high-energy products. Our elected leaders either don’t understand or are reluctant to address the subject of energy. Unless we act quickly, we will be fossil fuel bankrupt in another 40 years with very little left for our children. There will be no possibility for a renaissance of an energy intensive civilization. The earth’s original endowment of fossil energy will be gone. If you question this statement, investigate the references. I contend the more you research the subject the more concerned you will become.

© 2004 John Howe, McIntire Publishing