Newsletter #8, March 2008
Newsletter #8, March 2008
IN THIS ISSUE:
- New report on U.S. cities' preparedness for $100 oil
- Updates from peak oil task forces across the U.S.
- Book review by Erica Etelson
- Recent news and resources
- Post Carbon Cities in Ireland and the U.K. next month
- What can Post Carbon Cities do for you?
If you've read the book How Green is Your City?, you're familiar with the work of Warren Karlenzig. While at SustainLane, he authored that much-lauded sustainability ranking of the 50 largest U.S. cities.
Karlenzig, now President of Common Current, recently released an important new city ranking: "Major US City Preparedness for an Oil Crisis," which ranks those same 50 largest U.S. cities by their readiness for $4+ per gallon gasoline and $100 per barrel oil. The report couldn't have been more timely: the day before its release on March 4th, oil burst through the all-time high of $103.76, and has since risen as high as $110.98.
The top five most-prepared cities according to the report are:
- San Francisco (#1 in the telecommuting category)
- New York (#1 in public transit commutes and metro area transit use)
- Washington, DC
(Post Carbon Cities' hometown, Portland, made sixth.)
It seems like every few weeks we hear of another local or state government agency starting some sort of action on peak oil. If your local, state or regional government body is starting a task force or other initiative to respond to global oil depletion, please let us know and we'll add it to our our tracking database.
- The Austin, Texas Energy Depletion Risks Task Force is "currently conducting interviews with subject matter experts in the fields of Land Use & Transportation, Food & Agriculture, Public & Social Services, and Economic Change. The purpose of survey is to gather community and business input on issues related to the planning uncertainties and economic impacts of depleting energy supplies on Central Texas." Their meetings are monthly.
- The 13 members of the climate and energy uncertainty task force of Spokane, Washington have been selected and will begin meeting in April, intending to produce a final report by December of this year.
- Bloomington, Indiana's task force will have its next meeting on March 12, also with the intention of releasing their final report by the end of 2008.
- As reported in last month's newsletter, the task force in Oakland, California, "Oil Independent Oakland by 2020," presented the final draft report to the Public Works Committee on February 26. Their key initiatives include adoption of the Oil Depletion Protocol, a thorough rethinking of the city's design to encourage more village-like development, and encouraging of transit.
- The regional peak oil task force for Brattleboro, Vermont made a presentation to Brattleboro's Selectboard in February, urging officials to take up preparation for peak oil in earnest. The Selectboard will continue that conversation when they meet again in March.
- In February, we learned that a peak oil task force in Haines Borough, Alaska had just released its final report for public comment. At 2,241 people, Haines Borough is the smallest local government that we know of working on peak oil.
"Spend a few minutes surfing most of the peak oil websites, and you will quickly arrive at the grim conclusion that civilization is doomed, or worse -- we oil-addicted humans are all going to die of starvation or be killed in the violence of a society in its death throes. Time to close your web browser and open Post Carbon Cities, a reference manual that offers a cautiously optimistic and pragmatic assessment of the looming twin crises of peak oil and climate change."
--Erica Etelson, in Permaculture Activist, Spring 2008
Post Carbon Cities staff were happy to read Erica Etelson's excellent review of the Post Carbon Cities guidebook in the Spring 2008 issue of Permaculture Activist. We've been given permission to share: read it on our site.
Ms. Etelson is also the founder and coordinator of Oil Independent Berkeley (Calif.). "Permaculture" is a design system, originally created for agricultural systems, that aims to create a potentially "permanent culture" - another way to define sustainability.
Each business day, the Post Carbon Cities editor combs through the news for articles about how global warming and rising energy costs are affecting cities, and what city leaders are doing in response. We also collect relevant policy documents and government reports, which you can browse in the resources section of our website.
Here are a few recently-posted news items:
|California cities, counties invited to low-carbon workshops
Published 20 February 2008 by Environment News Service International Daily Newswire
The state of California is offering a series of workshops for mayors, local planning directors, and county supervisors about what cities and counties can do to reduce the climate impact of their planning decisions. According to the California Attorney General, "these workshops will launch the first statewide movement to reduce the negative impact of local planning decisions on global climate."
|Transit-Oriented Development -- By the Numbers
Jan/Feb issue, New Towns
The compact, walkable neighborhood built around public transit rather than the private car has long been one of the ideals of new urbanism. Now significant new research confirms with hard numbers the advantage of transit-oriented development over conventional suburbia. With the United States in the midst of a light-rail building boom, it’s a great time to be finding this out.
|Beyond Hope and Doom: Time for a Peak Oil Pep Talk
Published 29 February 2008 by Richard Heinberg
Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg, on the psychological aspects of working to counteract the problems caused by peak oil and climate change. His "pep talk" reaches out to those working hard to make sure their families, their communities, and their planet are safe in a situation with many unknowns.
Also on the go, Post Carbon Cities' Daniel Lerch will be in Ireland and the United Kingdom in early April with a full slate of appearances planned. Among these are presentations to the Dublin City Council, the Belfast City Council, Cultivate Centre's annual Convergence gathering, and the annual Transition Network gathering. See Daniel's full tour schedule here.
"[With all the talk about sustainability,] the elephant in the bedroom is peak oil. It's staring us in the face, saying 'What are you doing?'"
-- Peter Newman, Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, Perth, Australia. Presentation 5 Mar 2008 in Portland, Oregon
So, what are you doing? We'd like to hear. And if you're not sure what to do -- let us know, too.
The Post Carbon Cities program's mission is to help local governments understand the challenges posed by energy and climate uncertainty, and provide resources for elected officials, planners, managers and others to develop plans and responses appropriate to their communities. Are we doing our job? How can we help you develop your community's plans? Would you like to see us offer events, trainings or online tools? Tell us how we can help you! Contact Laurel with your suggestions.
To stay as up-to-date on Post Carbon Cities' doings, point your RSS reader to our feeds -- choose to see news, or blog posts, or everything.
Photo credit: Spare gas tank on highway, copyright Sacha Burkard. Used with permission.