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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Public Health Community Plans for Coping With Peak Oil: Solutions and Studies
"Energy – Cause of the Current Economic Crisis"
By Rob Content, Community Solutions
On Thursday, March 12, the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore hosted the world’s first gathering devoted to Peak Oil and Health, with support from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. These are two of the nation’s most prestigious institutions in the fields of public health and health education, and about a hundred people attended in person, with a larger number tuning in to the simultaneous web-cast. The audience was offered a wealth of information about the many ways in which today’s health care services rely on infrastructure and practices that depend upon petroleum. The most likely impacts of peak oil on public health were discussed, along with opportunities for public health professionals to prepare for the roles they will play in a post-peak oil world.
Early in the program Congressman Roscoe Bartlett reviewed the evidence for the coming peak in oil production, adding “We can’t say we haven’t been told.” Five federal government reports from four different agencies have unanimously concluded that peak oil will happen, and informed us that the consequences will be dramatic, he said. At the same time, Bartlett reported that he’s seen no evidence that the Obama administration understands that we are approaching the end of the era of fossil fuels. In Bartlett’s view, today’s federal government efforts to prepare are inappropriately focused on trying to fill any future energy supply gap with substitutes for fossil fuels—although there is in fact no set of substitutes that can make up the difference. “We are still in a phase of irrational exuberance over alternatives,” he concluded, “despite the failure of hydrogen only a few years ago, and despite the recent failure of corn ethanol.”
The conference program was structured as training for health professionals. The early morning sessions built on Bartlett’s introduction to make the case for a near-term peak in global oil supply. A survey of the socioeconomic impacts was also offered. Peak Oil activists would have recognized many of the charts, reports, sources, and authorities cited to bring newcomers up to speed on the “big picture” that peak oil is real, it is imminent, and it will change the way most of us live our lives…
As you know, we have championed a “Smart Jitney” approach to solving the transportation challenge that faces us as a result of Peak Oil, climate change and global inequity. We remain grateful for the many ways in which you have supported us in the development of this approach. We continue to believe that ride-sharing using our existing vehicle fleet, and enabled by such existing technologies as cell phones, the Internet, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), provides the best opportunity to achieve deep reductions in energy use for transportation.
In view of this, we are pleased to be able to share with you a report that has been made available to us by the MIT Research Team on “Real-Time Rides.” This group hosted a Workshop on April 16-17, 2009 in which Community Solutions was pleased to participate. Twenty presenters from seven countries attended, including transportation modelers, IT experts, software developers, state and federal policymakers, and entrepreneurial ride-share providers. A common theme was that a Smart Jitney-type approach is technologically workable. We could say that “proof of concept” has now been achieved.
This New Solutions reports on two Peak Oil conferences: the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health conference on Peak Oil and Public Health held in March 2009, and the September 2008 ASPO-USA Conference. It also introduces our new Board, discusses the rise and fall of the quick techno-fix, and takes a look at the risks of “Plan B.”
This New Solutions explores the root causes and implications of the financial collapse with articles on "Energy – Cause of the Current Economic Crisis" and "Plan C and Debt – Defining a New Renaissance Man." It looks at locality-dependent energy solutions and also covers our 2008 annual fall conference.