Post-Carbon Buffalo: Make Some Noise

June 12, 2008

Oil depletion is real and in an effort to avoid chaos as the supply of such a globally important resource dwindles, cities across the U.S. have begun to adopt an oil depletion protocol, a set of rules for reduction of demand and peaceful distribution of supply.

Portland and San Francisco have already adopted protocols of their own. Buffalo should, too.

We would need a lot of work. As recently as 1950, Buffalo had abundant public transportation. Rail lines ran throughout the city and were a major source of transportation for both city-dwellers and suburbanites. The vast majority of these lines have been paved over to make way for the now-tragic automobile, but they can be rebuilt, to a degree, if we act quickly. Increased rail transportation will not keep us going indefinitely, but it can serve to mitigate the effects of high fuel prices and provide for an efficient method of using what’s left of our fossil fuel reserves.

Increased rail service would also ease the problem of food distribution. Buffalo still has vibrant agricultural areas located nearby. We need to connect to these areas through a viable system of freight transit to prepare for a future where diesel-powered trucking is no longer sustainable.

This is not nostalgia; it is necessity. If Buffalo is to survive the future, our leaders need to adopt policies to ensure that we have one. They need to be nudged – hard.

Posted below is a version of the sample letter oil depletion protocol advocates recommend you send to your elected officials. I sent this to Mayor Byron Brown yesterday. We need more people sending more letters to more officials throughout the city, state, and federal government. Only through concentrated effort can we reach a critical mass where anyone actually does anything.

To The Honorable Mayor Byron Brown,

I am writing to express my concern about our systemic dependence on oil and its by-products, and how the forthcoming depletion in global oil production will affect everything from transportation to agriculture to technology. I also urge you to support the adoption of the Oil Depletion Protocol, which is designed to mitigate these effects.

Over the past century, industrialized nations such as ours have achieved economic prosperity due mostly to easily accessible and inexpensive oil – in fact, our modern industrial way of life is based upon having a sustained and abundant supply of cheap and nonrenewable petroleum. This being the case, we have developed an unsustainable dependence on oil and its by-products, and have thus come to a point in history where our survival is threatened by the very thing that allowed us to come this far.

The era of cheap and abundant oil is over. Peak Oil is on the horizon, whether it be now, in 2 years, or by 2030. Experts worldwide stress the importance of early and sustained preparation, pointing to the fact that there is not currently any energy source available that can fully substitute for petroleum. The time is now to seriously consider our options and take appropriate action to prepare for an energy-constrained world.

One such action that I strongly encourage you to take is the endorsement and adoption of the Oil Depletion Protocol, an international agreement whereby nations of the world agree to reduce their oil dependence by about 2.5 percent per year. As Peak Oil approaches, reducing our dependence on oil will not be an option: it will be forced upon us whether we are prepared for it or not. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we begin now to gradually wean ourselves off of oil. The Oil Depletion Protocol allows us to do just this. If the entire world adopted the Protocol, global consumption of oil would decline gradually and predictably, thus stabilizing prices, preserving the resource base, and reducing competition for remaining supplies.

Larger cities like Portland and San Francisco and many others have already adopted various forms of the Protocol and some have begun to enact their measurements. In Buffalo, with our smaller population numbers, our tradition of public transportation, and available local farmland, I believe the process can be easier with proper leadership. I know Buffalo can commit itself to this challenge and succeed. I encourage you to visit the Oil Depletion Protocol website, for more information on how the Protocol will work and how governments and citizens of the world can adopt it.


Jacob Drum
Allentown, Buffalo

Send your own version of this letter to as many elected officials as you can. I sent mine via e-mail because I don’t have a printer, but you should send a real paper-copy letter. I’ve worked in political offices and I know that this is much more effective than phone calls or e-mails. Those mostly get logged and ignored. Real snail-mail letters get read, at least, by somebody.

Make it happen.


One Response to “Post-Carbon Buffalo: Make Some Noise”

  1. tgetman Says:

    Last night, after reading your first post regarding peak oil and also reading many of the links that you provided within the post, I had a terrible nightmare.

    There was looting and rioting and I blame you. I feel confident that you have had this same nightmare. Just know that at least one person knows more about this topic than they did yesterday. And really, that is all you can ask for.

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