Published on August 4th, 2008 | by Guest Contributor0
GTR: Green Business, Peak Oil, and Climate Change with Andre Angelantoni
GreenTalk Radio Host Sean Daily discusses greening business operations in the face of peak oil and climate change with André Angelantoni, founder of Inspiring Green Leadership.
Host: Hi and welcome to Greentalk, a podcast series from
greenlivingideas.com. Greentalk helps listeners in their efforts to
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authors, and experts from around the world. We discuss the critical
issues facing the global environment today, as well as the
technologies, products, and practices that you can employ to go greener
in every area of your life.
Sean Daily: Hey everybody, this is Sean Daily. Thanks for
listening in as always today on GreenTalk Radio from
greenlivingideas.com. My guest today is Andre Angelantoni, who is the
founder of Inspiring Green leadership and also something called Post
Carbon Marin, as in Marin County, California, which is close to where
we are at Green Living Ideas.
First of all, Andre, welcome to the program.
Andre Angelantoni: Thanks for having me.
Sean Daily: So we’re going to be talking today about peak oil. And
I understand you have a great deal of experience with this topic. So I
think, you know, why don’t we start with the most common question that
people want answered about peak oil, which is, quite frankly, what
exactly is peak oil? And we’ll go from there.
Andre Angelantoni: Yeah, that’s actually the best place to start
because people do get a little bit confused around what peak oil
means. Peak oil doesn’t mean that we’re running out of oil. It’s the
point at which the production of all the world’s oil fields can no
longer be increased. After that point, that means that the amount of
oil on the world market starts to decline. And we’ve been increasing,
except for a few dips, the amount of oil that’s been available to the
world ever since we discovered it. And peak oil means that we’re going
to radically change the context that we operate inside of. We’re going
to an energy scarce world.
Sean Daily: And I think the number one question that happens when
the conversation of peak oil comes up—and it certainly came up in the
Al Gore film and it comes up regularly in all forms of media—is exactly
when is peak oil going to occur.
Andre Angelantoni: Yeah, the ranges are really all over the map, but
they’re starting to gel into two basic groups of people. You’ve got
the near peakers and the far peakers. And the near peakers, they think
that conventional oil is going to decrease. It’s going to hit its peak
anywhere between now and, let’s say, 2015.
Some people think that the peak occurred on May 2005, but that’s a
tenuous production record and we might actually beat it soon.
And then the far peakers, they think that we have maybe until 2020, 2030. Some people even think until 2040 before we peak.
I fall into the camp of the near peakers, and I think the most
powerful way to get this sorted out for yourself is to just go to
Wikipedia and type in “oil megaprojects”. And an entry will come up,
which is being updated by the Oil Megaprojects task force. And what
they’re doing is, they’re scouring the world for all the new oil
megaprojects. And you can see how much oil is slated to come online.
And then if you go look at the graphs of how much oil we’re going to
need. We’re adding 70 million people to the planet every year and the
economies of the world are still growing, with possibly the exception
of the United States right now. And if you take a look at what we need
versus how much oil is coming on line, you can right away see that it
isn’t a match. In fact, in 2013, it’s to be frighteningly low.
We can look out that far because oil megaprojects, which you could
say are projects that have more than 50,000 barrels of oil in
production, they are big projects nowadays. And they take a long time
to finance before the first oil actually hits the market. And so we
can actually see, between five and ten years out, exactly how much oil
is coming into the market. And it’s just not enough.
Sean Daily: You know, it’s interesting. There’re a lot of variables
it seems here. I mean, certainly consumption is the biggest variable.
The more we get on renewable energies as a planet, the less of an issue
I think also you’ve got the new drilling projects which is something
that obviously I am–along with a lot of other people–not a fan of as
a solution. The only way that that would be a good solution for me
would be a short-term sort of avoiding catastrophic situations with,
you know, financial collapses or things that, you know, cause wars and
things like that. But beyond that, I’m a fan of complete conversion
over to—again, along with a lot of other people—renewable energies.
You mentioned population growth as well. So all these things sort
of factor in. I think that it seems like what’s important here is the
specter. I’m not going to say specter as if it’s a false thing, but
the specter has been raised for peak oil. It was brought to the
mainstream attention, and that’s very powerful in that it has been a
catalyst for all of the funding and the awareness and all the things
that are helping us get off of our global oil addiction.
So regardless of, you know–I mean the truth is important. Do you
see a soft landing with this? Because, I mean, I think that’s really
the important question–are we going to soft land this or are we going
to hardpan land this. And it’s going—do you see it causing these kinds
of issues based on our current course?
Andre Angelantoni: Okay, well there was a lot in there. I’ll start with the…
Sean Daily: Sorry, I do that a lot…
Andre Angelantoni: Yeah, I’ll start with the short answer first.
There’s pretty much no way anymore to have a soft landing because we’re
getting started too late. And, if you look at the renewable energy
sources that are coming online globally–you just have to go to the
International Energies and see figures to confirm this yourself.
Globally, renewable energy accounts for less than 1 percent of the
world’s overall energy. Eighty-five percent of the world’s energy
still comes from fossil fuels, and a lot of that from oil.
So as oil depletes, it’s going to make it harder to get the coal,
it’s going to make it harder to go get the natural gas. And so, in
essence, we’re going to have, not just peak oil, but we’re really about
to experience peak energy. And the problem with waiting until the
market tells you that it’s running out is because, by the time the
market gets a price signal, it’s really actually too late.
Sean Daily: Right.
Andre Angelantoni: We needed to have started at least two decades
ago. And I commend everyone to look up the Hersch report from 2005
published by the Department of Energy. In there, he goes through—he
and his co-authors go through—three scenarios. And basically, the only
scenario left for us is that we start the conversion basically at the
peak, which is right about now. If it’s in 2010 or if it’s now is kind
of irrelevant. Two years won’t make a big difference. And that’s the
first thing to get—it’s a big, big problem.
And then the second thing is—people don’t understand that all the
other energy sources are not equivalent to liquid fuel. We have over
800 million vehicles around the planet that require gas or diesel in
their tanks. And windmills don’t give you that. And neither does
marine power, tidal power. Neither does nuclear energy, if that’s
something that you like.
Sean Daily: It’s not a one-to-one conversion is what you’re saying, is it?
Andre Angelantoni: Well, there’s actually no conversion, you see.
Because a windmill gives you electricity and our cars don’t run on
Sean Daily: Oh, oh, I see what you’re saying. I was mistaken, what
you were saying. I understand, right. These are not all—right, all
fuels cannot be used for all things.
Andre Angelantoni: Yeah, there essentially is—some people think that
ethanol is a substitute. And we’re seeing what’s happening with the
world’s food supply, so we’re going to have to put the brakes on that
pretty soon. And in any case, the net energy profit from ethanol was
never very good, even from the beginning. Oil has an amazing net
energy profit. We’re still getting oil out of the ground at a 30-to-1
ratio. That means we use one barrel of oil and we get 30 back.
Well ethanol is somewhere between 1.2 and, maybe, 2.0. You can’t run a complex society on energy sources that low.
Sean Daily: Some would put forth that actually ethanol, in some studies, actually is a negative return, so…
Andre Angelantoni: That’s right. So all of a sudden we have the
United States, for instance, which has only two percent of its
population devoted to agriculture. And that is a direct function of
the fact that we’ve had such concentrated energy sources available to
us. As we move down the curve of what is available to us—oil, by the
way, started off at 100-to-1 and now it’s at 30-to-1. It eventually
will get to the oil that’s only at 10-to-1 because it’s hard to get.
Maybe it’s up in the arctic.
And as that net energy profit goes down, we’re just going to have to
have more people devoted to the basics of living—moving people around
using human power, perhaps, definitely growing more food. You can’t
have as many people doing as many high-energy things as we’re doing
right now continue. That’s actually a mathematical impossibility.
Sean Daily: Right. And Andre, we’re going to take a break right
here to hear from our sponsors. And we will be back to talk more on
peak oil and the world’s energy situation with Andre Angelantoni, who
is the founder of Inspiring Green Leadership and Post Carbon Marin.
And we’ll be right back with GreenTalk Radio. Thanks everyone.
Sean Daily: Okay, and we are back. And we’re talking about peak oil
today with Andre Angelantoni. Andre, I wanted to just, I think, talk a
little bit more about, you know, remediation of this issue that you’ve
laid out for us and that we’ll all sort of aware of at varying levels.
We definitely know we have a problem on our hands.
Before we start talking about, I think, what people can do, I want
to talk about the things that maybe we can’t control in the U.S. We
have a very U.S.-centric audience–not to the exclusion of other
countries, but we’re about 80-85% U.S.-based audience on this program.
And one of my personal concerns has to do with whether or not we can
move… And we look at the challenges of human rights and things which
are coming up in reference to the Olympics with China and India who
are, you know, in this massive industrialization to meet world demand.
And based on the growth of their economies, you know, I mean, are these
countries onboard? Or are they going to be onboard in time to make
these kind of changes? Or are we sort of, you know, banging our heads
against a brick wall here?
Andre Angelantoni: Well, very few people are actually onboard. I
think that in terms of overall countries, Sweden has put together a
plan to get completely off of oil. I don’t recall the date for that.
But for the rest of the world’s countries, they’re really not even
making it a priority. What you see here is basically what you’re
getting everywhere else. So I’m afraid that we’re all going to fall
off the cliff together.
Sean Daily: Okay, so what does the cliff look like to you? I
mean–and this really is like–so what I’m asking is, you know, what is
the impact here in your vision, based on the data and the research
you’ve accepted and collected?
Andre Angelantoni: We’re going to go through a period—we’re in a
period right now where people can still get away with thinking that
it’s not a problem. Oil is only a hundred and some odd dollars today.
And that period will last for a little bit longer. And then we’re
going to move into a new phase where it’s going to become commonly know
that we’re about to fall off the peak, so to speak…
Sean Daily: Okay.
Andre Angelantoni: And when that happens, my goal is that we have
lots of people out there who have been working ahead of time, learning
how to alter both the fabric of our society and their own lives to get
ready for that time. So we’re going to start moving to, obviously,
car-pooling. But eventually, even that’s going to get tough. You
won’t be able to get the fuel for the cars.
And we’re going to have to radically reorganize how we get things
done. And simultaneously, we’re going to have to deal with massive
unemployment. Because as the energy from the oil is removed from the
world’s economy, that means the economy can’t get things done. And if
there aren’t things to do, you can’t pay people.
So we’re going to move from an era where we once used to be
concerned—if you were to start a company, for instance, you try to
minimize your labor because it was really expensive. Well, that’s
going to completely turn on its head. Labor is going to become very
inexpensive soon because there aren’t going to be a lot of jobs.
So for people to get ready, what I encourage them to do is really
look at their energy footprint and start to understand how they could
live. Could they, for example, get by on five gallons of gasoline a
week, and then on three gallons, and so on? And going through that
process is very useful, I think, because people will start to
understand exactly how dependent their lives are on oil, including
food. Ten calories of every—sorry, for every calorie of food that you
and I eat, ten calories are used in the growing, harvesting, and
transporting of that food to us.
Sean Daily: Well, you know, and I think that what people tend to be
adverse to is the fear factor that comes along with the recognition of
these truths or at least these observations by people who are
knowledgeable and have done the research. And so there’s a lot
of—there’s that sort of denial phase. It’s like the twelve steps,
right? There’s the denial phase, but what I’ve found personally in my
own life is to kind of put that part of it out of my mind. Because I’m
not a person who’s going to live in fear regardless of what the
situation is. I don’t care if things are falling around me, I’m going
to have a quality of life that doesn’t involve fear.
So the way that I’ve done this is, I happen to believe that we do
need to make massive changes on a personal scale as well as a global
scale. And I believe in the Ghandism of, you know, that you want to be
the change you want to see in the world. So, but there’re ways to make
For example, you know, you talked about living on five gallons of
gas. Well, I’m not going to claim that I did it on purpose this way
but you know I like to be near my family. And I like to have a virtual
technology infrastructure that allows me to bring people together in a
work situation so that I can facilitate them in their lives and their
families as well as myself. So I walk to the store and I walk down to
Whole Foods or whatever, with my son and my daughter. And that’s our
time together during the day. And, you know I run my business out of
my house. And so I don’t, you know, I put less than 4,000 miles a year
on my car and things like that.
And so, it is possible but those things don’t have to be driven by
this doom and gloom sort of feeling in people. It can be driving by
seeking quality of life. And these things can be moving together.
They can be coincidental. And I just want to point that out because I
think a lot of people feel adverse to this information when they hear
it because they don’t want to go—you know, they deny and they sort of
go the other direction. I think it’s important to hear it, but just to
not go into fear.
Andre Angelantoni: Well, I think you bring up a really good point.
And I won’t go too into detail because you actually did a good summary
in just what you were saying there. But if you want to hear a little
bit more of my thoughts on that…
Sean Daily: Absolutely.
Andre Angelantoni: I recommend that you listen to another podcast at
the livinggreenshow.com. It’s episode number 32 where I really go in
depth in how is it that a person can relate to the changes coming up.
Because if we relate to them like we’re big people, if we relate to
these changes like we’re powerful and that we’re bigger than whatever
life throws at us, then it’s like someone who’s on a ship and the ship
is on the ocean and there are waves. Well, if you stand rigidly on the
deck of that ship and a wave comes along, what’s going to happen?
You’re going to get knocked over.
Sean Daily: Right.
Andre Angelantoni: But instead, if you are flexible in your needs
and you absorb the wave as it comes then you’re going to stay
standing. And that’s really what we have to do, each one of us, is get
ready for a lot of change. And get used to change and maybe even learn
to love it an embrace it because that’s definitely what’s happening.
It doesn’t have to—it’s not the end of the world that we’re running out
of oil. It really isn’t. But our lives are going to look very
different. And we’re going to need to take charge of finding what
elements of life did we say we enjoyed before and then finding new ones
that don’t require a lot of fossil energy, particularly oil. And
that’s everyone’s job coming up.
Sean Daily: Well thank you for that and we’re going to take one more
quick break and then we’ll be back with a couple more questions that I
have for you. We are talking on peak oil with Andre Angelantoni who is
the founder of Inspiring Green Leadership. This is Sean Daily with
GreenTalk Radio. We’ll be right back.
Sean Daily: Okay, and we are back talking with Andre Angelantoni of
Inspiring Green Leadership about the topic of peak oil and I just want
to—you made a reference to another program. And I’d like to give a
shout out to Meredith. Meredith Medland is a fellow podcaster in green
sustainable living. And I know you were on her program, so that I
think you had mentioned that was episode 32 on the Living Green Show,
livinggreenshow.com, or you can find it on personallifemedia.com. If
you’re listening in, it’s a great show. Meredith does a great job and
you can get more information there.
And I wanted to move on to another question. I know that some
people think—it’s been raised before—the idea that the tar sands and
the oil off our coast and things like this are going to help out in
this issue. What’s your response to those, sort of, ideas?
Andre Angelantoni: Yeah, that’s actually one of the most fundamental
confusions that I hear from people. And they just haven’t had anyone
explain to them what the difference is between oil that you can get
when you can stick and straw in the ground and oil that comes from the
tar sands. It is true, there is a lot of oil in tar sands, in Alberta
and also the heavy oil in Venezuela. But looking at Alberta for a
moment—it takes two tons of sand to create one barrel of oil and a lot
of heat from natural gas because you essentially have to cook that
sand, and then a lot of water from the Athabasca River. And the result
of that is the largest dam by volume in the world filled with the
effluent of that process. It’s probably going to be one of our worst
environment disasters on the globe, what’s happening up in Alberta.
So not only should we not do it because it’s terrible for the
environment, right now it’s only producing something like 1.4 million
barrels a day. And because it’s a mining operation and not a pumping
operation, it’s really not going to go much higher than maybe 3 million
barrels a day according to the Canadian government.
So the tar sands really—it’s great that there’s a lot of oil up
there. It’s actually not that great because it’s terrible what our
extraction of it is doing to the environment. But now, let’s look at
ANWAR. For instance, the estimates are in ANWAR there may be 10
billion barrels of oil in the Arctic. There might be something like 50
billion barrels of oil, depending on whose survey you look at. And
what people don’t understand is the scale of the problem. A billion
barrels of oil extra pushes back the date of the peak oil by roughly
six days. That’s it.
Sounds like a lot of oil, but we’re using so much right now. We’re
using 86 million barrels a day. So it’s quite easy for you to do the
math and see that even if we were to drill ANWAR, all it would do is it
would add a little bit of production on the other side of the peak.
But it wouldn’t push back the peak at all. Same thing with tar sands.
And if you go through every single one of the alternatives that we
have, there’s just not much that’s going to push back that date of the
Sean Daily: So it’s basically, I mean, the conservation efforts that
are occurring in the optimization of usage in some sectors is being
basically outpaced by the growth in China and India and in other
places. Is that basically what’s happening is we’re not keeping pace?
We’re actually continuing to grow our usage?
Andre Angelantoni: See, on a global scale we are. And that’s why
the price is going up because clearly, the demand is greater than the
supply. There is a little bit of the price going up because of the
U.S. dollar and some speculation. But no one that I’ve read that I
think has done a credible job analyzing it thinks that the price
difference is more than maybe, let’s say, $20 or $25. So the vast
majority of the increase in price is because the world really wants
more oil and it’s not available.
In going to your point about efficiency. Efficiency is just great
and it’s good on a personal basis because we want to be as efficient as
possible so that you can get what you need to get done with whatever
amount of oil you’re eventually going to get your ration of. But on a
global scale, efficiency is just—we can’t do it quickly enough and it
won’t make a big enough difference. If we really want something that
will push off the peak oil date, that will require rationing and
curtailment similar to what we did during World War II. Anything short
of that and it’s just not going to get the job done.
Sean Daily: Well, I like to leave listeners with a note of hope.
And certainly, we want to keep it real. But I’m just curious—what
would you say is a take away from this conversation? What can people
be doing in their lives and their businesses right now to prepare for
this, you know, in terms of their personal impact, their global
impact? What are the best things, the most leveraged activities that
people can be embarking upon, right now, to help with this whole
Andre Angelantoni: Well, the first thing is get involved with a
local relocalization or post carbon group. You mentioned at the top of
the podcast that I’m the founder of Post Carbon Marin. Go to
relocalize.net and find a local group or start one in your community.
If you’re listening in Europe, you can go to the Transition Town’s Web
site and find or create a community of people who are starting to
investigate how to recreate their local government and their local
society. And it really is actually quite fun working with people on a
common goal knowing that the goal is a worthy one. And that could give
people a lot of the meaning that they’re afraid is going to get removed
from their lives, you know, once they see what’s really going to happen
with peak oil.
So the very first thing I would do is get involved with your
community. Create something or join one of those groups and start
learning and start taking specific action and become a leader in your
community, someone who other people look to for organization and
Sean Daily: Yeah, well that’s great advice and that’s a great
suggestion. And I agree, I mean I think it’s one of the things where,
you know, the fear and the stress and the things that come up
emotionally are quickly dispelled through taking action and action that
one believes is effective, so great advice. Was there anything else
that you wanted to share with our listeners today before we sign off?
Andre Angelantoni: The thing is that what’s going to work is if
people are—start with first accepting what is reality. What is reality
is that oil will decline. It’s a finite resource and the sooner that
people can get past that sticking point, the sooner they can get into
action—starting to adapt. But I see so many people who get stuck
denying it, similar to climate change—and it’s not going to serve them.
Sean Daily: Well I absolutely agree with that. And again, I think
that the trick is get into awareness, get into the truth, and don’t go
into fear because that’s just, you know, that’s not a productive use of
energy—of human energy. Again, Andre Angelantoni, thank you so much
for being with us today and sharing the information. And I hope
to—since you’re not too far down, I’d love to come down to a meeting of
the Post Carbon Marin group at some point and find out more about what
you guys are doing.
Andre Angelantoni: Great, you’re invited next Wednesday, April 9th.
Sean Daily: Good, well I might just come down for that. I think I’m free.
Andre Angelantoni: Excellent, yeah, drop me an email.
Sean Daily: All right, great! Well, again, my guest today has been
Andre Angelantoni. He’s the founder of Inspiring Green Leadership.
That’s inspiringgreenleadership.com as well as the Post Carbon Marin
group. Thank you again for being on the program.
Andre Angelantoni: Thanks for having me, Sean.
Host: Thanks as always to everyone listening in today. Remember,
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