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Richard Heinberg: Decline of Oil, Rise of Local Economies

  • Broadcast in Environment
Shift Shapers

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What happens when the very thing that has fueled the global economy for more than 100 years - fuel itself - gets past its peak and begins a sure, steady decline?

Author, educator and peak oil authority Richard Heinberg has a prediction for us, in the title of his latest book: The End of Grwoth. He visited "Shift Shapers" on KBBF-FM 89.1.

Heinberg is a Senior Fellow at Post Carbon Institute. In this 55-minute interview, he says global oil production peaked about 6 years abo, and is now declining as demand escalates. Growth requires resources, so it is no coincidence that the world's banks and governments have plunged into financial collapse.

Since the U.S. hit peak oil production in 1970, its growth has been propped up by computer innovations, the use of 3rd world labor to replace U.S. workers, and recently by a toxic soup of financial schemes pumped out by Wall Street.

Those new schemes caused a series of bubble-&-bust cycles, each trading on debt. The latest one had investors betting that U.S. real estate values would grow forever, so fast that even bad loans would soon be made good by the property backing them. The bubble burst, leaving a global economy poisoned by trillions in bad mortgages, and declining resources for generating a recovery.

So, don't expect that new smart grid or solar & wind farms to curb our use of fossil fuels. Expect paralysis as the fuel supply winds down and prices soar.

What do we do when we can't count on government and global corporations to provide what we need? Be the kind of community that provides its own needs, suggests Heinberg. Local currencies are promoting local trade. "Transition" groups are growing food on former lawns. Wise city councils are  making sure water and other essentials will be provided as oil declines. Widespread shock turns to community preparedness and people helping each other. We become Shift Shapers!