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‘Catastrophe’ if we don’t leave fossil fuels behind

‘Catastrophe’ if we don’t leave fossil fuels behind thumbnail

America has been convinced by fossil fuels industries that we’ve become a new superpower in petroleum. Industry public relations departments and U.S. Energy Information Agency get out this message. A false message.

At the turn of century, Richard Heinberg, James Kunstler and others at our local Energy Fair said the peak of oil production was going to arrive soon (2005-2006). Americans are going to have to make other arrangements, they said, to operate our economy.

Then came peak “conventional oil” and the peak of gasoline prices in 2007-2008, the onset of the Great Recession. Job losses were huge; central Wisconsin lost jobs by the thousands. Oil and gasoline prices plunged. Then recovery began. But what was fueling this recovery? One word: fracking.

The four largest U.S. fracked-oil fields began to produce a lot of oil. However, there is a fatal flaw. The wells produce hugely for a very short time, then undergo a steady decline until the point where they’re just mere “stripper wells” polluting the landscape (and groundwater) but producing under 100 barrels a day/well.

By the year 2020, U.S. oil production again will be declining, fast. How will this impact Portage County? Severely. Typical of Wisconsin, we have a working class who live far from their jobs. Our large-scale industrial agricultural system is completely dependent upon petroleum and natural gas to do all of its work. We have no regional mass transit, thanks to the big government corporate bosses who run our state Legislature. They stripped counties’ power to form regional mass transit collaboratives with Act 32, the 2011 budget bill.

All that farmland destruction for frac-sand to our west, to feed a 10-year boom-bust cycle, and no sustainable energy system to show for it. Tragic.

Our aging population depend on auto transport, as do our poor and our super-poor, yet auto fuels will be growing scarce again within 10 years. Our UWSP campus may be “100 renewable” for electricity generation, yet is a “suitcase campus” dependent on autos to get students here, and back home every other weekend. We are zoned for the 1960s, with plenty of petroleum to allow endless urban sprawl. By 2025 the fracking “bust” will leave us with obsolete zoning.

We have a looming emergency on our horizon. I would suggest that local business, ag and government leaders begin to study this problem and begin planning for economic emergency. As Art Berman says, “energy (oil and gas) is the economy.”

Bob Gifford,

Park Ridge

67 Comments on "‘Catastrophe’ if we don’t leave fossil fuels behind"

  1. GregT on Fri, 27th May 2016 12:07 am 


    Not to be a dick, but there isn’t an imaginary force field that pops up along the equator. The North may very well suffer more, at first.

  2. JuanP on Fri, 27th May 2016 12:07 am 

    Apneaman, The global rich have been buying land down there for quite a while. The majority of Uruguayan farm sales in the last decades went to rich foreigners. Farmland is very expensive in Uruguay now. No Uruguayans can afford today’s prices. You would get a very low return on your investment from farming the land. Farms in Uruguay today are for people that don’t need to make a living from farming.

  3. JuanP on Fri, 27th May 2016 12:10 am 

    Greg, I already made my point. We disagree. You think you are right and I think I am right. Time will tell who was closer to the truth. No biggie; I disagree with most people about most things most of the time. It’s the story of my life. 😉

  4. GregT on Fri, 27th May 2016 12:35 am 


    Why is it exactly that we disagree on?

  5. GregT on Fri, 27th May 2016 12:36 am 



  6. JuanP on Fri, 27th May 2016 12:46 am 

    Greg, We just disagree on how fast the Southern and Northern hemispheres will warm up. We are both speculating since not even the best scientists in the world know much about how CC will affect the hemispheres in different ways.

  7. GregT on Fri, 27th May 2016 1:40 am 


    If/when the Northern hemisphere gets to the point that us northerners begin dying off, would you mind if my wife and myself hung out with you?

  8. onlooker on Fri, 27th May 2016 3:34 am 

    Last I heard, the Bush family purchased some land in Paraguay. The rats are jumping ship.

  9. Davy on Fri, 27th May 2016 4:37 am 

    Juan, I support your view from what little I have seen on the topic. One need only use common sense and basic physics to see the very south of the southern Hemisphere is the global refuge from the heat. We know this will likely be only temporary because eventually the hemispheres will balance. The bigger issue for the area is the end of globalism and the impacts of greatly reduced economic activity in the meantime. Any resulting civilization in the south will be greatly weakened and reduced. Yet, it will still be a refuge thanks to all the water and cooling effect from Antarctica.

  10. Kenz300 on Fri, 27th May 2016 7:17 am 

    The world needs to stop building any more coal or fossil fuel power plants….

    They use lots of water to generate electricity (adding to drought problems)…they also add Climate Change gases to the atmosphere………………..Wind and solar require little or no water to produce electricity (conserving water)………

    Wind and solar also reduce emissions and do not add to Climate Changing gases in the atmosphere..

    Climate Change is real………….we will all be impacted by it……………..

  11. Kenz300 on Fri, 27th May 2016 7:18 am 

    Big Oil Could Have Cut CO2 Emissions In 1970s — But Did Nothing

    New Documents Show Oil Industry Even More Evil Than We Thought

    Climate Change is real….. we will all be impacted by it.
    Oil Giants Spend $115 Million A Year To Oppose Climate Policy

    The Kochs Are Plotting A Multimillion-Dollar Assault On Electric Vehicles

    Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire | Rolling Stone

  12. JuanP on Fri, 27th May 2016 7:55 am 

    Greg, You’d be very welcome, but we do agree that things are going to be a mess everywhere. I think your location choice might last longer than mine since it is much colder today. You live in a cold weather area, Uruguay is a temperate Mediterranean weather place prone to droughts. A megadrought could do me in while you are still having a blast up there in the snow. We can’t know, there are no certainties in this issue. 😉

  13. JuanP on Fri, 27th May 2016 8:06 am 

    Onlooker, I don’t like Paraguay and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Most people are miserably poor there, though the rich are very rich. Social and economic inequalities are rampant. Police brutality and abuse a fact of life. Most Paraguayans are very nice, though.

    You never read much about Paraguay in the news because the abused are indians and the abusers white, and the government is pro USA so there is no disinformation campaign and hybrid warfare against them.

    The social situation there is so brutal that when I visited the country, I basically couldn’t eat because what I saw destroyed my appetite, and I had a knot on my stomach. Illegal slavery is rampant there on the countryside. Many areas are in a premodern condition with very few basic services. I couldn’t live in a place like that in spite of most people being very nice there.

  14. onlooker on Fri, 27th May 2016 8:12 am 

    Well Juan the Bush family is the rich and I am sure they chose that location for the water resources, arable land and south in Southern Hemisphere as that may be the last place truly scorched by GW. Yes the rich are making their plans as we speak but they are also subject to the uncertainties and also Mob accountability if you know what I mean.

  15. PracticalMaina on Fri, 27th May 2016 8:36 am 

    Onlooker, thank you for the good news, when SHTF at least those dbags wont be in my state! The Bushs belong down their, microcephaly would probably make that family smarter….

  16. Sissyfuss on Fri, 27th May 2016 12:15 pm 

    Onlooker, concerning the last placed truly scorched by GW, were you referring to global warming or George W Bushelbasket?

  17. onlooker on Fri, 27th May 2016 12:28 pm 

    Haha, I see the source of confusion Sissy, George W. I meant global warming since he is not President anymore. If he was who knows? I do not know which GW is worse hehe.

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