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Richard Heinberg talk

SNAKE OIL: How the Petroleum Industry’s Misleading Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future


Oil, coal, and natural gas are finite and depleting, while burning them changes Earth’s climate and compromises our future. You might think that curtailing their use would be simple common sense.

Despite these realities there are major players in the energy debate that want to keep us burning more.

In the past five years this debate has reached a significant turning point with the development of hydrofracturing for oil and gas production. Is this the dawning of a new golden age of cheap energy—or the last gasp of a fuel industry in steep decline?

Richard Heinberg is one of the best analysts and writers on the triple threat that faces human civilization: Environmental degradation, climate change and resource depletion.

His books, 'The Party's Over', 'Powerdown', 'Peak Everything', 'Blackout', 'The Post Carbon Reader', his award winning 'Museletter', as well as his work at the Post Carbon Institute represent the platinum standard in his field.

Post Carbon Toronto in support of Transition Toronto and Transition Guelph is thrilled to present such an accomplished and brilliant thinker. This is a night not to be missed.

Mr. Heinberg will not be paid but the participating groups are paying his expenses. To help us defray these costs there will be a charge of $8 for this talk. (a deal at twice the price:-) Payment at the door.

 

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  • jeffberg

    2) In this case there was also confusion resulting from the difficulty in finding the location. For this reason we held the talk so that people who were struggling to find their way would not miss any of the event. In fact I spent from 7 pm to 7:35 pm outside in the snow and cold directing people instead of taking the time I was allotted to speak on behalf of PCT because of the circumstances. So again I apologize. It was not our intent to diminish your experience, and to whatever extent PCT was responsible for this outcome we ask for your indulgence. Sincerely,

    Jeff Berg
    Chair PCT

    March 24, 2013

    • Martina R.

      Thank you, Jeff. And dito that from Transition Toronto. I would like to add to please give any community group some lee-way too. We are all unpaid volunteers and spend many hours doing this in addition to our day-jobs. That said, we could have done better with the registration process - our timing was a little off - and signage. We had no idea the venue had so many different entrances! It was like a rabbit's warren there! :)

      1 · March 25, 2013

    • Martina R.

      Anyhow, thank you to everyone who attended, for your patience, and for having small change. :) We were very pleased with the high attendance and the talk itself. Thanks again and we look forward to seeing you at future events by PCT and TTo!

      1 · March 25, 2013

  • jeffberg

    There have been some critical comments about the Heinberg event that I would like to address. Unfortunately I have to post this message in two parts as a result of the software's character limit.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1) Our talks bring in experts from all over North America. Their expertise is why people come to the talks - granted. There is however a secondary purpose to our organizing. I.e. To enlist people locally to involve themselves in helping to foster the conditions necessary to creating a transition to sustainability.

    As a result we have always allowed ourselves and/or the groups we are working with the chance to speak about local initiatives at the beginning of our talks. As a way to ask for engagement from the audience for these initiatives. Of the 97 Meetups we've had I can't remember any that did not start this way.

    March 24, 2013

  • Ken

    I keep wondering why we don't have $150/barrel or $200/barrel oil that was predicted previously by economists based on the peak oil concept. The demand goes up and the supply goes down - thus the price of oil goes up. In 2008 there was a huge demand contraction, as Richard Heinberg mentioned, and the price of oil collapsed. But since then we have supposedly emerged from the recession and yet the price of Brent Crude oil is only about $110/barrel. The supply doesn't seem to have increased much. Which suggests that the demand is still low. Maybe the next recession will be triggered by $130/barrel oil, or perhaps by the persistent cost of oil being greater than $100/barrel for the past number of years. And I think the persistent high cost of oil is driving change. In Toronto the recent debate was about differing types of public transportation - subways versus Light Rail Transit - not about cars/roads/highways versus public transit (which was the debate when we had cheap oil).

    March 24, 2013

    • Michael H.

      A) The recession isn't over. And austerity economics is the reason. Europe is teetering on the edge of a jobs collapse because their leaders are trying to 'cut' their way out of the down-turn (which I believe is part of a political agenda to reduce the power of unions in the EU (90% of jobs are unionized) - part of corporate power's globalization agenda). Same in the U.S. - "Austerity Theatre" I call it - I think it's aim is to increase corporate profit and reduce people's standard of living. Austerity in Canada coming now as the Feds back-loaded the cuts onto the end of the last budget, and now they intend to add more cuts in the budget just tabled. We'll start to feel it - even though over the last 30 years services have been off-loaded by the Fed. onto the Provinces.

      March 24, 2013

  • Ray

    Oil sources with EROI less than 1:1 are not out of the question, if we have another source of lower quality energy with which to feed the extraction machines. Ignoring the CO2 issue for a moment, we could use poor quality oil sources as a method of storing intermittent energy sources such as wind or solar. Set up solar thermal concentrators in the tar sands area and use solar heat to melt the bitumen, and PV electricity to run the machinery. The works would shut down during winter. Even with a 0.9:1 EROI this would essentially transform a seasonal energy source into liquid fuel. The tar sands would become a kind of renewable energy storage device.

    March 24, 2013

  • Stuart

    Come on people, how much does 30 minutes matter? I agree, they should say "7pm for 7:30 start", but really, you broke the speed limit (endangering peoples lives) because you didn't leave yourself enough time to get to an event, and you try to blame the organizers of the event. That's just petty. People were still coming in at 7:20, so clearly saying 7pm meant that things were ready to start by 7:30.

    Decolonize your time. It's called resilience...

    March 22, 2013

    • Ray

      Even Mr Heinberg had to sit around and wait. I would have gotten in some extra sleep had I known the event was actually going to start at 7:40. Come over and watch my 11 month son while I take a much-needed nap please.

      March 24, 2013

  • Edward I.

    The Net Energy argument does not seem that convincing to me. If Saudi Oil is at 1:20 and tar sands 1:5, then if tar sands is 5 times as big you will have then you will get the same amount of free oil. Of course productivity would not be that great. The economy will grow as materials and man power are put into the tar sands. Of course the energy sector would grow relative to other sectors, It would be growth with declining productivity -- a different scenario from economic contraction.
    If you had a barrel of free energy what would be the best investment you could make? Investment in making more until net energy is drops to1:1. So energy sector should continue to grow until 1:1 EOROI is reached. And the economy would grow until 100% of the economies end products serves the energy sector. At which point we are all slaves to the energy sector. My point is that we will continue to grow contrary to peak oil theory, but into what is the scary part. Politicians will look good.

    1 · March 23, 2013

    • Edward I.

      Peak oilers have 3 or 4 different arguments. They lose credibility if they keep on changing the goal posts. It think the most immediate clear metric, the argument, is productivity (EROEI). That is related directly to standard of living. If that is the measure, then Big Oil and Harper lose. If you shove that in front of economists -- they understand productivity -- they will understand. I believe the other metrics, like decline in growth, decline in production will come to pass but it is still quite distant But the first immediate casualty is productivity.

      1 · March 24, 2013

    • Peter S.

      Seriously I have no idea of the purpose of your posts or the direction of your argument. If you do not believe in Peak Oil please go elsewhere.

      March 24, 2013

  • Sylvia

    OMG- I can't believe that 2 days later- after Richard's terrific talk, this negative BS is still on topic! Actually though it is VERY topical because it points to the crux of the challenge we will confront living together communally: EGO. Figuring out how to live with far less of a carbon footprint will become easier as we co-create brilliant solutions. Learning to live and share together with open mind and heart, beyond intrinsic, archetypal patterns leading to dualistic thinking (such as competition) will be DIFFICULT. Solution: start MEDITATING NOW- and everyday.

    1 · March 23, 2013

  • John S.

    Why does the webmaster allow these petty, sniping comments which detract from the quality lf the site, and are not relevant to the subject of the meetup?

    1 · March 23, 2013

    • Edward I.

      Hi John, This site is Meetup.com. So it is both about the quality of the meetup and about the content of the meetup. If you look in your emails, you will see that Meetup.com has solicited your opinion about the Meetup. So comments like "publishing the meetup at 7:00 and having start at 7:30 is dishonest" is fair game.

      March 23, 2013

  • Peter S.

    Thanks to Jeff and the organizers for their hard work that enabled Heinberg to give such a great presentation. It certainly calls for a follow-up.

    1 · March 23, 2013

  • Andre

    Talk was fine - organization was horrible. Time of the talk given was 7:00. The speaker was told 7:30. I rushed and risked speeding tickets to get there for 7 only to find out at the door that I could have calmly planned for 7:30. I deeply resent the subterfuge. If the speaker is told 7:30, that's what we should be told. What happened tonight was complete bullshit!!!!!!

    2 · March 22, 2013

    • Andre

      What's irresponsible is wasting any more time on this nonsensical discussion as you keep twisting my words to make whatever exaggerated argument you want to make. I blame the organizers for misrepresenting the start time. Full stop. Anything else is your words, not mine. The only fuss has been made by you focusing on a simple off-the-cuff comment not even relative to the main point of the discussion and blowing it completely out of proportion - like I'm the first person in the world to maybe do 60 in a 50. Sue me. You can keep pontificating to yourself about whatever you like - knock yourself out. Good night and good bye.

      March 22, 2013

    • Erich Nolan B.

      Andre, take responsibility for your own behaviour and chosen actions. I assume you are no longer in pre-school.

      March 22, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Does anyone have a copy of Richard's PowerPoint presentation? I would love a copy. I can be emailed at [masked].

    March 22, 2013

  • Renia

    Unfortunately I had to miss his brilliance in Toronto and, by 24 hrs, at the Transition Guelph Resilience Festival tonight. He's a keynote speaker, along with the equally clear-sighted Helena Norberg Hodge.

    March 22, 2013

  • Michael M.

    I just wanted to thank the organizers for an overall great job getting everyone together, bringing out Richard, financing the event, and putting in their time (for free) to make it happen.

    1 · March 22, 2013

  • Blake P.

    I know of no speaker more informed and engaging on this topic. Brilliant that we were able to have him here.

    March 22, 2013

  • Edward I.

    The late start was dishonesty.

    1 · March 22, 2013

  • Mark G.

    Good talk (although little new from what I have heard from the speaker before) but I agree that the organisation was not good. 7pm should mean 7pm. It messed up my plans.

    1 · March 22, 2013

  • Danny H.

    The talk was excellent - and well worth taking the time to attend

    March 22, 2013

  • Peter S.

    Excellent presentation, thank you for Transition Toronto and PCI for organizing. Great presentation. Thought the handling of questions on a an incredibly wide range of subjects was outstanding. Can't wait for the book!

    Clearly there is no hope for the continuation of the current way of life and people need to prepare themselves.

    1 · March 22, 2013

  • Adam

    Great to see and hear him in person.

    March 22, 2013

  • jeffberg

    He did an excellent job of explaining why energy is such a crucial component to affluence, and to those looking to craft argument for change that will have wide political appeal. I.e. Appeal for the majority, and the business class. Both being necessary if significant change is to occur.

    1 · March 21, 2013

  • David F

    Very interesting talk, I learned a lot and was impressed by Richard's depth of knowledge and that he favors a revenue neutral Carbon Fee. Now planning to read some of his books... Thanks Jeff & Andrew!!

    March 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great talk! I learned a few new things although a lot I had known abut before. That however is because of the my own interest in the subject matter and does not indicate a shortcoming in the talk in any way.

    March 21, 2013

  • Betty

    Very sorry to miss this.

    March 21, 2013

  • Rita B.

    See you there.

    March 21, 2013

  • Edward I.

    one thing I am wondering is if there is an associated financial bubble with this growth.

    March 20, 2013

  • franke j.

    Looking forward to hearing Richard! I supported his new Indiegogo "Snake Oil" book campaign. Check it out: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/snake-oil-how-big-energy-s-misleading-promise-of-plenty-imperils-our-future/x/527666

    1 · March 18, 2013

  • Ray

    Hoping to make it. Ill try to remember bring that video I made last year and promised to give to Betty or someone else from the renewable energy group.

    March 17, 2013

  • David K.

    Now that the GREEN energy act requires all provincially funded institutions to report their energy plan and their CARBON welcome hearing this presentation. I am working with FirstCarbon Solutions to provide the global GHG track software as a service.

    March 16, 2013

  • John S.

    I need to learn more about sustainable life styles.
    I expect oil fuel shortages within three years.

    March 15, 2013

  • Blake

    Really looking forward to this.

    March 5, 2013

  • Andrew

    This talk is going to answer many of my fracking-related questions.

    March 5, 2013

  • Renia

    Spreading the word.

    1 · March 5, 2013

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