If You Love This Planet, Dr. Helen Caldicott

Best of 2008/2009: Richard Heinberg on the crisis and opportunity of peak oil and peak coal

Photo Credit : ballona.org, wilshirecenter.com

If You Love This Planet is replaying some of our most popular programs through February 2010, as well as offering some new episodes. In March 2010, If You Love This Planet will start a whole new season of programs. Here is Dr. Caldicott’s October 6, 2008 interview with Richard Heinberg, the Director of the Post Carbon Institute, on the topics of peak oil and peak coal. Heinberg’s institute is a non-profit organization in California that conducts research, educates the public, and organizes leaders to help communities around the world understand and respond to the challenges of fossil fuel depletion and climate change. In this engrossing discussion with Dr. Caldicott, Heinberg explains the impending crisis of peak oil, and reminds us just how reliant our society is on the finite resources of oil, coal and gas. We are reaching a state, he says, where the depletion of these fossil fuels will force us to undergo a major transition to low-energy and re-localized societies with food grown and products made close to home. Heinberg describes how transportation will need to change - currently oil is responsible for 95% of transportation technologies in the United States.

Richard Heinberg

Richard Heinberg

The impending decline in coal, at a time when coal burning is rapidly increasing, is also discussed, and will be the subject of Heinberg’s next book. New research suggests that world coal supplies will be gone in 20 years or less, with China’s coal supply depleted much sooner. Heinberg also draws our attention to the industrialization of food: only 2% of the population in the USA grow food for the rest of the country, and
most food has traveled 1,500 miles from farm to plate.

Heinberg is the author of Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century Of Declines, Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World and other books. He is featured in the documentary films The End of Suburbia and The 11th Hour. Read his articles The View From Oil’s Peak and What Will We Eat as the Oil Runs Out. This program is a startling conversation about the energy crisis with one of the clearest thinking environmental commentators today.

The show concludes with a clip of a speech by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist James Sterngold, who contends there is insufficient media coverage of nuclear threats. Read Sterngold’s 2008 article in Mother Jones about nuclear weapons here.

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