On the 28th of August I had the pleasure of speaking to grade 5 and 6 students at my former primary school, Marlborough located in Heathmont on the role of local government. It was great to see the students take such a keen interest in the operations of council and asking so many questions. I remember the former Mayor of Ringwood speaking when I was in grade 6, so perhaps in years to come another student of Marlborough Primary will find themselves on Maroondah City Council.
I also wish to discuss is an event I attended last Monday organised by the Committee of Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) on the issue of peak oil.
CEDA is a not-for-profit independent think tank that aims to promote Australia’s economic development in a sustainable and socially balanced way. As a result CEDA invited Chris Skrebowski, a leading oil analyst to discuss the reasons behind rising oil and rising petrol prices.
Chris Skrebowski spoke about peak oil, which is when global oil production begins an inevitable decline causing a gap in supply and demand, ultimately resulting in rising petrol prices as the supply of oil becomes more and more scarce.
The concept of peak oil is not new; it was first suggested in 1956 by American geophysicist Marion King Hubbert who, despite being criticised at the time, successfully predicted the year that oil production in the United States would peak.
In recent years, the debate surrounding peak oil has shifted from being a question of IF to WHEN it will occur. There is now general consensus that peak oil is real and will generally occur sooner rather than later.
Chris Skrebowski’s research, as well as several other leading commentators, suggested that the production of oil would peak at the very latest in 2010, or possibly even earlier, depending on the true state of oil reserves in the Middle East. After 2010 the cost of oil and hence the cost of petrol will rapidly increase as the supply of oil will no longer be able to meet increasing demand.
This will have serious repercussions for Melbourne, the world, and of course Maroondah and as a result several alternatives have been suggested.
Unfortunately no single alternative exists to replace our dependence on oil. Simply replacing our dependence on oil with biodiesels, such as ethanol, would require all the land that is currently for agricultural within the world to be diverted into producing ethanol. This would obviously leave no arable land available for the harvesting of food thus not being a practical alternative. Hydrogen, another potential replacement for oil, requires more energy to produce than it actually provides as a fuel making the mass usage of hydrogen incredibly inefficient.
Ultimately rising petrol prices and the advent of peak oil will affect the very concepts of transportation and mobility. With cars being one of the major users of oil it is clear that an alternative to excessive car dependence is required, such the provision of more frequent and more readily available public transport.
People cannot use public transport when no or poor public transport is available and it is clear that this requires urgent redress.
While debate still surrounds peak oil, it is increasingly becoming obvious that the thinking of old, of cheap and never-ending oil is a relic of the very dinosaurs that were fossilized to create the very fuels we have blindly grown dependent upon.
I will be tabling the rest of my delegates’ report with a written report on the CEDA conference.