ALP Seminar - The End of Oil  

Posted by Big Gav

The Labor party seems to be making a bit of noise about Peak Oil lately - Carmen Lawrence is organising a seminar in Fremantle next month.

Though the Greens were probably the first party to talk about Peak Oil here, they seem to have gone silent on the issue (or they simply aren't getting any newspaper coverage). Then again, maybe they are busy defending themselves against unjust lawsuits.

The Adelaide Review also has an article called "As The Well Runs Dry" that does a fairly standard introduction to Peak Oil.

If we are fortunate enough to receive the leadership we will need from our government, what form of society can we move towards that will be sustainable in a world without cheap and plentiful oil? Sustainability will only be possible if a number of conditions are met. Food production must become much more local in nature and must use techniques that do not require large inputs of chemical fertilizers. A great number of the people who lose their jobs in the coming oil crisis will find employment as human labour resumes its traditional place in agriculture.

The end of cheap, rapid, oil-fuelled transport will mean the end of globalisation. Thus, we will need to recreate our manufacturing industries to provide basic needs such as clothing, bicycles, farm tools/machinery and books. Some of Adelaide’s population will need to disperse to rural areas and a greatly expanded public transport sector will be needed to provide mobility for the rest. Long-distance transport between Adelaide and other regions and capitals should be by rail which is far more energy efficient than road freight. The cost of air travel will be beyond the reach of most people and the era of mass tourism will be at an end. Finally, computer modelling performed as long ago as the 1970s has shown that the only way for a society to be sustainable in the longer term is if its population numbers do not increase. (In our finite world, the ultimate result of continuous population growth can only ever be misery and starvation).

The South Australian government is now moving to run public transport on biodiesel and natural gas. Its a shame the Sydney public transport system isn't trying to take some forward steps (though simply running a train system that runs somewhere near schedule and has the same number of trains running as the previous week seems to be enough of a challenge for them).

"This clean fuel initiative is part of our State Government plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption by doing our bit for the environment," Mr Rann said. "Together with the extensive use of compressed natural gas in buses and the purchase of new Euro 4 standard emission buses, this will make our public transport system fleet the cleanest in Australia."

About two-thirds of the 810-bus fleet will run on biodiesel, with the remainder using natural gas. Mr Rann repeated his call for a meeting of Australian governments on greenhouse emissions. "We as a state are committing to Kyoto, but it's shameful that Australia and the United States are the only two industrial nations in the world that are refusing to sign up," he said.

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