Peak oil and Asheville’s future

I’ve been thinking about the coming decline in oil availability this morning. This reflection has been spurred by a note from Jim Barton on Twitter concerning a soon-to-be-released book about how we can successfully cope with the shift to a post-petroleum economy.

We’re already seeing the wild price fluctuations and sudden shortages that can be reasonably expected as the resource dwindles. (This has happened with other materials in the past, though none so critical to modern industrial civilization as we know it.) Recall last fall’s abrupt disappearance of gasoline in WNC. How are we preparing our city and region for more of the same?

Local energy options are the best answer and the cheapest “source” is referred to as “negawatts”—that is, power we don’t use. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a leading energy think-tank, if all of the states used electricity as efficiently as the best three, we could shut down 80 percent of the coal-fired power plants in America. How do we do that? At the local level insulation retrofits are the cheapest step and provide local green jobs that can’t be exported.

At my upcoming house parties I’ll be asking citizens for their ideas about how we can cope, and meanwhile I’m reading more about how other folks around the globe are preparing for the shift. It is clearly coming soon.


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