This is also the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System, the symbol of the American oil based lifestyle. As I said here there are no alternatives to oil that will allow us to maintain our lifestyle. Well I'm not alone and I have some company from the energy sector. Former energy analyst Jan Lundberg reports that Matthew R. Simmons, Chairman of the energy-industry investment banking firm Simmons & Company International has joined the club. We first heard of Mr Simmons from his book Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy . Mr Simmons suggested that too much dependence was being placed on what many presumed to be a unlimited supply of Saudi Oil. He decried the fact that there was no "Plan B". He has now gone even further.
Simmons' alarm over the lack of a "Plan B" to replace our status-quo petroleum dependence has lately turned him into something more like an Ecotopian than a soldier for nonstop industrialization of the entire world; that global pursuit seems nearing its end soon in Simmons' view, due to the "inability to grow" thanks to the energy crisis he says is already here. Such an analysis is close to that of Culture Change, which, like Simmons, urgently offers a picture of the future without oil and natural gas to spare. Like this reporter, a former petroleum industry analyst and supporter of truly renewable energy, Simmons does not see alternative fuels as able to rush in and maintain the economy as we know it.
Transportation wastes energy.
Matt Simmons is a man who has reflected on the waste of energy that ordinarily would be delightful for any businessman in energy. But he wryly complains of "blueberries in Maine imported from Chile even during blueberry season." Likewise for the nation’s infrastructure: "You can tear up the roads," he said, to stop the wasteful trucking and start barging on water, to save 35 times as much energy. He mentions rail also as a major replacement for our highways, as freight by rail saves 8 times the energy. He would know, however, that today’s volume of trade cannot fit on existing railcars and barges, and that there’s little likelihood that the nation’s infrastructure can change quickly enough for the peak oil timetable.So we must change our lifestyle which includes growing food at home.
No Business as usual:
In the past Culture Change has identified Simmons and Robert Hirsch of SAIC as interested in maintaining economic growth and seeing the economy somehow bridge the supply gap that is about to get bad due to peak oil. (Hirsch, a former oilman, can be described as less daring than Simmons at the podium, but Hirsch is another of the few courageous analysts.) Simmons all but states that growth and business-as-usual are no longer possible or appropriate. Simmons addressed the meaning of peak and the certainty of tightness by saying "Running out is really the inability to grow." For an economy and a culture conditioned to endless growth, this is really the end. What replaces growth and the ability of petroleum to feed and provide us with almost everything is the unknown, but Simmons would probably agree it involves culture change.