Wednesday, April 29, 2009

EAOP Grad on State House Garden Campaign

From Carrie Abels in Montpelier, Vermont:

There’s something to be said for an advocacy group that is small, highly focused, and under an intense deadline. That’s what I discovered this spring, when I worked with five other Vermonters to win state approval for a vegetable garden on the Vermont State House lawn.

We met each other in January, at a gathering on ways to make Montpelier (Vermont’s capital) a more sustainable place to live. The six of us discovered that we all had the same idea – to create a State House vegetable garden that would inspire people to start food gardens of their own. So we decided to meet weekly to develop our idea – and meeting weekly was important, as a few of us once belonged to grassroots groups that met too infrequently to build momentum.

What’s more, we had a deadline. We wanted to start planting in May, but we only had three months to draw up a plan, create a polished presentation, and deliver our idea to the state commission that oversees the State House lawn. So we focused on tasks. It quickly became apparent that each of us had a particular skill that no one else in the group had; for example, I like to write, so I took the weekly minutes and wrote the proposal. All citizens’ groups should find out what each member does well and (just as importantly) what they like to do.

Early on, we also figured out who our key allies would be, and asked them for letters of support. We secured donations of seeds and supplies, making sure donors knew how they would benefit from the project. We also anticipated potential concerns and figured out solutions in advance.

When it came time for our presentation, we made sure each member of our group spoke – ours had been a team effort, and we wanted the commissioners to know that. They ended up voting unanimously in favor of our project.

My time in the EAOP certainly prepared me for an experience like this, and I’m grateful. Come visit the garden sometime!


At 8:18 AM, Blogger Goudz... said...

Go Carrie! Grow food everywhere. I like this feature of EAOP alumni. I'd love to see more.

At 7:15 AM, Blogger Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of New Hampshire said...

Steve and Carrie,

Great work! Keep it up!

This is a great start, and next you need to get everyone in NH and VT organized.

The Peak Oil future will be challenging, as discussed below.

I'm from NH, recently retired from UNH (both Durham and Manchester) and have some contacts that you may be interested in for Peak Oil planning in NH and VT. Keep in touch.

Global crude oil production peaked in 2008.

The media, governments, world leaders, and public should focus on this issue.

Global crude oil production had been rising briskly until 2004, then plateaued for four years. Because oil producers were extracting at maximum effort to profit from high oil prices, this plateau is a clear indication of Peak Oil.

Then in August and September of 2008 while oil prices were still very high, global crude oil production fell nearly one million barrels per day, clear evidence of Peak Oil (See Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of "Oil Watch Monthly," December 2008, page 1)

Peak Oil is now.

Credit for accurate Peak Oil predictions (within a few years) goes to the following (projected year for peak given in parentheses):

* Association for the Study of Peak Oil (2007)

* Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of “Oil Watch Monthly” (2008)

* Tony Eriksen, Oil stock analyst; Samuel Foucher, oil analyst; and Stuart Staniford, Physicist [Wikipedia Oil Megaprojects] (2008)

* Matthew Simmons, Energy investment banker, (2007)

* T. Boone Pickens, Oil and gas investor (2007)

* U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2005)

* Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Princeton professor and retired shell geologist (2005)

* Sam Sam Bakhtiari, Retired Iranian National Oil Company geologist (2005)

* Chris Skrebowski, Editor of “Petroleum Review” (2010)

* Sadad Al Husseini, former head of production and exploration, Saudi Aramco (2008)

* Energy Watch Group in Germany (2006)

* Fredrik Robelius, Oil analyst and author of "Giant Oil Fields" (2008 to 2018)

Oil production is now declining terminally.

Within a year or two, oil prices will skyrocket as supply falls below demand. OPEC cuts could exacerbate the gap between supply and demand and drive prices even higher.

Independent studies indicate that global crude oil production is now declining from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. There is no plan nor capital for a so-called electric economy. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

"By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, water supply, waste water treatment, and automated building systems.

Documented here:

Best regards,
Cliff Wirth
clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve and Carrie,

Keep up the forward thinking. Peak oil is a concern But lets not get blinded by the scare of running out of oil. If you research who owns the gas stations or mini mart chains it will lead you right back to either a refinery or a big oil company. ( if this isn't controlling the market, price, availability I dont know what is)
I know, I researched this for a convenience store product. I was shocked the local refinery United refinery ( Warren Pa. ) owns most of the gas outlets from eastern Ohio to Buffalo Ny. to the center of Pa. controlling the price. We have very high prices because of this. If you research these refineries and big oil companies they have there regional areas they "control". (approx 300 to 1,000 outlets) Think about it it is easier to communicate with a few dozen big refineries than thousands of mom and pop gas stations to instantly change the pice.
In closing, there is a local law not allowing a new gas station to be built within a specified distance or close to another existing gas outlet. This kept Walmart from selling gas at a cheaper price on there site. I don't like Walmart and what they stand for, but the refinery seen the future with competition from Walmart and shut them down from selling gas by implementing this law in our area. (The refinery owns the closest gas station and built a new bigger station.) This also deters any competition from a small business wanting to start up. The future is looking grim when you have to work for the dictator thats putting the screws to you, your family and area.
Thanks Bob...


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