Reaching the peak

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Decades ago the "peak oil" argument, propagated by the granola crowd, had the same cachet as a John F. Kennedy assassination paranoia theory.

A quick scan of any of the more vituperative websites and you'd believe U.S. President George Bush, V.P. Dick Cheney and the American industrial complex are in league with the devil to destroy mankind. These apocalyptic premonitions worked in favour of the environmentalists: scare the pants off enough suburban residents about losing their precious cheap energy, and it would mean improved fuel conservation, better waste management, and sustainable transportation through public transit.

The real fear, though, is that the Mad Max fantasy may be more real than first imagined. Over the last few years, the peak oil theory has gained traction within the U.S. government, and mainstream publications. The theory states that oil has a limited life-span. Since the 1960s, oil companies have found fewer oil fields, and the ones that are in production are steadily being drained.

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil believes in the next few years humans will have extracted half the earth's oil. Some extremists believe peak oil will happen in 2008, others 2016, while some U.S. government analysts say global oil production will peak in 2037. Critics dismiss this end-of-the-world scenario, believing technology will keep oil production at bay and will lead to alternative fuel development.

So what does this have to do with Hamilton?

Last June, Hamilton councillors Brian McHattie and Dave Braden pushed the city to conduct a report on how peak oil will impact the aerotropolis plan. For the last six months, the report has been in administrative limbo, prompting a belief that city staff didn't want the report's information made public because of its negative consequences about the aereotropolis.

But McHattie said it was more of a "disconnect" between what council wanted and what the author, Richard Gilbert, a director of the Toronto-based Centre for Sustainable Transportation, produced. McHattie hopes council will see a revised report by the end of February.

Beyond the administrative miscues, McHattie wants Hamilton to seriously look at how peak oil will impact one of the most important development ideas to affect Hamilton since the Red Hill Creek Expressway. The original report on the aereotropolis was nothing more than a "cheerleading" document, he says. It provided no options to consider, no "triple bottom-line" analysis.

"This is critical," he said. "It will mean we are not spending money elsewhere. It will also be irreversible."

McHattie says Hamilton should look at other municipalities such as Calgary, which establishes 100-year planning cycles, and has already adopted alternative energy programs to safeguard their community.

Hamilton instead should focus on rail and shipping as more vital transportation systems rather than the energy-sucking airport, he says.

"There is a tendency for humans to believe nothing will change," said McHattie.

"There are examples where people didn't notice (the change) until it was too late. But the cities that wake up and understand the issues will be the successful cities."

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757, ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com

Reaching the peak

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Decades ago the "peak oil" argument, propagated by the granola crowd, had the same cachet as a John F. Kennedy assassination paranoia theory.

A quick scan of any of the more vituperative websites and you'd believe U.S. President George Bush, V.P. Dick Cheney and the American industrial complex are in league with the devil to destroy mankind. These apocalyptic premonitions worked in favour of the environmentalists: scare the pants off enough suburban residents about losing their precious cheap energy, and it would mean improved fuel conservation, better waste management, and sustainable transportation through public transit.

The real fear, though, is that the Mad Max fantasy may be more real than first imagined. Over the last few years, the peak oil theory has gained traction within the U.S. government, and mainstream publications. The theory states that oil has a limited life-span. Since the 1960s, oil companies have found fewer oil fields, and the ones that are in production are steadily being drained.

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil believes in the next few years humans will have extracted half the earth's oil. Some extremists believe peak oil will happen in 2008, others 2016, while some U.S. government analysts say global oil production will peak in 2037. Critics dismiss this end-of-the-world scenario, believing technology will keep oil production at bay and will lead to alternative fuel development.

So what does this have to do with Hamilton?

Last June, Hamilton councillors Brian McHattie and Dave Braden pushed the city to conduct a report on how peak oil will impact the aerotropolis plan. For the last six months, the report has been in administrative limbo, prompting a belief that city staff didn't want the report's information made public because of its negative consequences about the aereotropolis.

But McHattie said it was more of a "disconnect" between what council wanted and what the author, Richard Gilbert, a director of the Toronto-based Centre for Sustainable Transportation, produced. McHattie hopes council will see a revised report by the end of February.

Beyond the administrative miscues, McHattie wants Hamilton to seriously look at how peak oil will impact one of the most important development ideas to affect Hamilton since the Red Hill Creek Expressway. The original report on the aereotropolis was nothing more than a "cheerleading" document, he says. It provided no options to consider, no "triple bottom-line" analysis.

"This is critical," he said. "It will mean we are not spending money elsewhere. It will also be irreversible."

McHattie says Hamilton should look at other municipalities such as Calgary, which establishes 100-year planning cycles, and has already adopted alternative energy programs to safeguard their community.

Hamilton instead should focus on rail and shipping as more vital transportation systems rather than the energy-sucking airport, he says.

"There is a tendency for humans to believe nothing will change," said McHattie.

"There are examples where people didn't notice (the change) until it was too late. But the cities that wake up and understand the issues will be the successful cities."

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757, ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com

Reaching the peak

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Decades ago the "peak oil" argument, propagated by the granola crowd, had the same cachet as a John F. Kennedy assassination paranoia theory.

A quick scan of any of the more vituperative websites and you'd believe U.S. President George Bush, V.P. Dick Cheney and the American industrial complex are in league with the devil to destroy mankind. These apocalyptic premonitions worked in favour of the environmentalists: scare the pants off enough suburban residents about losing their precious cheap energy, and it would mean improved fuel conservation, better waste management, and sustainable transportation through public transit.

The real fear, though, is that the Mad Max fantasy may be more real than first imagined. Over the last few years, the peak oil theory has gained traction within the U.S. government, and mainstream publications. The theory states that oil has a limited life-span. Since the 1960s, oil companies have found fewer oil fields, and the ones that are in production are steadily being drained.

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil believes in the next few years humans will have extracted half the earth's oil. Some extremists believe peak oil will happen in 2008, others 2016, while some U.S. government analysts say global oil production will peak in 2037. Critics dismiss this end-of-the-world scenario, believing technology will keep oil production at bay and will lead to alternative fuel development.

So what does this have to do with Hamilton?

Last June, Hamilton councillors Brian McHattie and Dave Braden pushed the city to conduct a report on how peak oil will impact the aerotropolis plan. For the last six months, the report has been in administrative limbo, prompting a belief that city staff didn't want the report's information made public because of its negative consequences about the aereotropolis.

But McHattie said it was more of a "disconnect" between what council wanted and what the author, Richard Gilbert, a director of the Toronto-based Centre for Sustainable Transportation, produced. McHattie hopes council will see a revised report by the end of February.

Beyond the administrative miscues, McHattie wants Hamilton to seriously look at how peak oil will impact one of the most important development ideas to affect Hamilton since the Red Hill Creek Expressway. The original report on the aereotropolis was nothing more than a "cheerleading" document, he says. It provided no options to consider, no "triple bottom-line" analysis.

"This is critical," he said. "It will mean we are not spending money elsewhere. It will also be irreversible."

McHattie says Hamilton should look at other municipalities such as Calgary, which establishes 100-year planning cycles, and has already adopted alternative energy programs to safeguard their community.

Hamilton instead should focus on rail and shipping as more vital transportation systems rather than the energy-sucking airport, he says.

"There is a tendency for humans to believe nothing will change," said McHattie.

"There are examples where people didn't notice (the change) until it was too late. But the cities that wake up and understand the issues will be the successful cities."

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757, ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com