Wednesday 22 June 2011

Achtung! Peak Oil Reports and Community Transport

What have a leaked German military think tank report on Peak Oil, a Guardian article stating that for two years the British government (i.e. the Department of Energy and Climate Change - DECC) has consistently played down and dismissed as ‘alarmist’ warnings from its own civil servants about the threat of civil unrest in the face of ‘peak oil’ energy shortages, and Sustainable Bungay’s midsummer bike ride and Green Drinks on Community Transport got in common?

The German report is clear, sobering and well worth reading. It outlines the systemic risks involved in an “unavoidable peak in oil production, which go beyond gradual shifts in energy systems and economies,” and discusses those risks from the standpoint of globalised, industrialised economies – oil being the base for 95% of all industrial output. The paper also addresses energy security and changing international and geopolitical relations – who has the remaining oil reserves and what that means in terms of potential political power shifts.

The Guardian article looks at the DECC report on the risks and impacts of a potential future decline in oil production within the present global context of historic oil price highs ($115 or £71 a barrel). The report had been unavailable to the public until a student gained access to it through a Freedom of Information demand.

Community Transport was the theme for Sustainable Bungay's solstice Green Drinks yesterday as a group of cyclists set off from the Buttercross in the centre of town to St. Peter's Brewery a few miles outside. Margaret Sheppard, SB's own full-on cycling campaigner, organised the ride both as part of National Bike Week and as one of a series of summer rides to raise awareness, show how enjoyable cycling can be and "get bums on bikes."

Some of us chose to go with Richard in the Beccles and Bungay Area Community Cars' wheelchair-assisted van - also to raise awareness of its existence as an alternative to private cars for groups of up to six people for anything from day trips to evenings out. The BBACC also have a network of drivers using their own cars to take people on shopping or hospital trips (this costs 43p per mile). In an area with a large rural hinterland, diminished bus services and many (especially older) people without private transport, this is proving to be an increasingly popular and valuable service.

Whatever the future holds in terms of energy provision, the current trend of rising oil and food prices seems set to last. We need to get more and more into the spirit of sharing our resources - and making it as enjoyable as possible - like cycling (or community bussing) out together at summer solstice for a drink to discuss the practical ways we can go about it.

Pics: Richard, Charlotte and the Community WAV; Bungay bikers at the Buttercross and entering St. Peter's Brewery, Summer Solstice 2011

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