April 2006

Fairey Develops New Presenation on Peak Oil and Global Warming

Philip Fairey
Philp Fairey, Deputy Director

Shortly after Jim Fenton arrived at FSEC as the center’s new director in January, 2005, Philip Fairey began putting together some briefing materials to discuss the major energy and environmental areas with him.  Fairey, FSEC’s deputy director since 1990, was especially interested in talking about the implications of our country’s future oil use.

“I did a considerable amount of research,” Fairey explained,” and attempted to put the information on peak oil and global warming together in a way that could be understood and appreciated by both scientific and lay audiences.  I developed one slide in particular that I called world oil in perspective that is based on a 1998 article in Scientific American, and it hit me pretty hard.  It basically showed annual world oil production since 1930 and then showed where the level is today and where it will be for our children and our grandchildren.  The plunging downward line from today’s level over the next 40 years or so was really scary with respect to what my children are likely to face.  And since I am also a grandfather, the implications were frankly a little gut-wrenching”

Graph of world oil production
Click image to enlarge.

He showed his materials to a number of FSEC staff members and got a lot of feedback, with many noting that there was significant disagreement among the experts as to how much oil we have left in the world, where it will come from, and how soon we really have to worry about it running out.

“That one slide in particular got a lot of attention,” he said.  “With so many experts looking at this problem and with two basic sets of opinions —one group who thought oil would peak very soon and another who believed it would not peak for 25-30 years --  it became clear that I needed to look at this closer and try to better understand the underlying data on the future of our oil supply.  I spent the next several months reading a lot of books on the subject and spending a lot of time on the Internet.”

The result of his research is a fascinating, heavily researched but easy-to-follow slide presentation called “Into the Storm:  The Twin Challenges of Peak Oil & Global Warming.”  He finished the latest version of the presentation in the past couple of months.  It meets the need to put together information from many different sources and to tie together the thoughts of people in fields ranging from finance to population growth to politics.    “The big missing piece of peak oil information appears to be third-party reliable and verifiable data,” Fairey noted.  “What I wanted to do was to collect the things that are being said, put them together into a format where we could see the information that is available, and then look at the dual grand challenges of getting past world oil peaking and dealing with global warming.  One of the outcomes is a presentation that shows clearly that this is not just a technical problem facing us, but rather an economic one.”

He’s given this new presentation to some large groups recently, including the annual meeting of the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and the North Carolina Energy Star Conference, as well as to several local groups including FSEC staff.  He notes that “the response has been overwhelming.  People have thanked me for gathering so much factual information on these problems, and also for simply bringing the problems to their attention in a way they could relate to.  What I’ve tried to do is put together a presentation that opens up public discourse, something that is badly needed and needed now.”

You can view his complete slide presentation at http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/news/presentations/intothestorm.pdf.  “Into the Storm” not only looks at these two major challenges ahead of us, but will challenge you to think about these issues and what they mean to your future and your family’s future, as well as to the future of our planet.

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