Creating resilience and fighting Climate Change with Alternative Energy

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Dr. Doone Wyborn held a day long workshop on Peak Oil, Debt, Climate Change and Appropriate Technology at Holos on the 5th of November, 2016. Dr. Doone is a life long scientist in the field of renewable energy and founder of Bindarrabi, an 800 acres Community providing affordable housing and enabling people to prepare for an energy descent future using Permaculture and organic principles, adjacent to the Koreelah National Park in NSW. The practical workshops empowered people to use solar energy as much as possible for a multitude of functions. Dr. Doone’s talks, however, were at the same time alarming and inspiring. Crammed with information about how Peak Oil, Debt and Climate change are setting the stage for major societal and environmental changes his talks, and leading role-model, left everyone with a profound urge to act.

Peak Oil
Based, chiefly, on M. King Huppert‘s projections many other scientists and environmentalists have been warning us of oil depletion or Peak Oil, as it is commonly referred to. Dr. Doone introduced the American Geologist and Geophysicist King Huppert’s work in his talk and shared how many other scientists and prominent thinkers have been approaching Peak Oil based on Huppert’s 1950’s projection. Huppert projected that, if trends of consumption and ‘growth’ continued, global oil production would peak in 1994. In fact, oil continue to drive our economies; literally. Industrial food production and distribution relies exclusively on oil. It is oil that powers tractors to cultivate, plant and harvest. Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are all based on chemicals derived from oil. And it is oil that underpins our current patterns of global mobility. Conventional oil, which consumes low energy during extraction, peaked globally in 2005 just 3 years before the Financial Crisis of 2008. Most new unconventional oil such as shale oil, tar sands and deep offshore oil is too low in net energy to sustain Western economies.

Oil Discoveries since 1947

In 1972 MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – issued a report (edited in a book format) called The Limits to Growth. The report was based on a computer simulation of exponential economic and population growth with finite resource supplies. The majority of the report’s projections appeared to be quite acurate and we are now heading to a decline, as shared by Dr. Doone.

Limits to Growth graph report

In order to keep ‘business as usual’ or, in other words, an economy that demands endless growth in a planet with finite resources, governments world wide adopted Fiat Money and have been printing billions of dollars every year without any real value to back it up. With printed money with no real value, governments have been subsidising oil, coal, gas, mining and other corporations and opening credit lines for the population in order to keep economic growth steady. The current state, corporate and personal level of debt however is no longer sustainable and we are seeing natural resource based economic crisis and uprisings in many countries. The financial crisis of 2008, Dr. Doone shared, was just the tip of the iceberg and have triggered a huge global crisis that is already unfolding (in different ways and intensity) in different countries.

Climate Change
The majority of the people’s detachment from nature coupled with the corporate’s and government’s propaganda have kept us blind to the gravity of our predicament. We run most of our societies as if the massive amount of energy we need to maintain it was endless. We live our lives on an energetic frenzy that stills thousands of years of solar energy trapped into the Earth’s crust and robs our children and grandchildren of their necessary share to look after themselves in an energy descent future. Climate change and the massive extinction we are currently experiencing are a direct effect of our disconnection from nature and denial of our life-style’s  impact on the planet. As pointed by Dr. Doone, with an increase of only 1°C on the Earth’s temperature we are already seeing major, and mostly likely irreversible catastrophes, such as the dying of the Great Barrier Reef, loss of Arctic Sea Ice, and the melting of glaciers causing see level rise.

Volume of Article Sea Ice loss since 1979

These climatic changes are set to have much larger impact in the future. also certain to enlarge even more the current mass extinction our ways of living have triggered. We are also certain to experience more extreme weather events (e.g. storms and cyclones) while some regions will have their climates changed to oscillate between droughts and floods. And yet, the Paris Climate Agreement signed on the 22 of April 2016, was very elusive in saying that the 193 countries who signed the agreement “would do their best to keep global warming well below 2°C”. It was an elusive statement because with just 1°C increase in planet temperature we are seeing a major human-caused mass extinction. It is also elusive in the sense that there was no agreement on how the participant countries would keep global temperature increase below 2°C and what the consequences will be for those who despite “doing their best” do not meet the agreement.

The effects of Global Warming on the Great Barrier Reef

For most people it is a shock to suddenly become aware of all these facts presented by Dr. Doone. For some it is overwhelming to think about how our children and grandchildren will live on this planet. Most people’s question is ‘how long do we have to do something, to prepare ourselves?’. And although most people in Western society are in a privileged position to ‘do something’, it is exactly this position of unequal consumerism of the Earth’s resources that caused our current problems. The reality is we need to discern between needs and wants and start acting immediately to provide for everyone’s needs in harmony with nature.

The effects of Sea Leval Rise in Melbourne

Dr. Doone shared some insights as into what we might do to mitigate our impact upon the economy and the planet. Regarding how to act upon this overwhelming predicament, Dr. Doone stressed how important it is to start providing more of our needs in terms of water, food, energy and waste in a decentralised way wherever we might be.

We need to take personal responsibility for our impact on the Earth. Although we individually have a small impact we can set an example and eventually a critical mass of individuals will make a difference. This is the only way to “be the change”! (Dr. Doone Wyborn)

According to Dr. Doone, we should all consider relocalisation. That is, to find a place in which the impacts of climate change can be minimised, water is abundant, land is more suitable for the production food and the neighbours are like-minded people. According to Dr. Doone

It is important to live our lives to minimise our impact. Although it might seem selfish to consider your own needs first, this is a natural condition of all organic life. How can you reduce your impact and still have a happy life. (Dr. Doone Wyborn)

Such a thorough approach to relocalisation might not be at everyone’s reach. Still, there is plenty one can do in the cities and suburbia to build resilient communities. The most important change to be made is on our attitude. We must take responsibility for our own needs.

You may decide that living in the city is not justified, or that you can be close to self sufficient in food, energy and water in a suburban house with a large back yard. Be the example so others will follow. (Dr. Doone Wyborn)


If the information shared by Dr. Doone has urged you to act, you might consider attending our course Introduction to Permaculture on December 9th.

Dr Doone’s next workshop at Holos will be in March, stay tuned.

A few resources and contacts have been shared during Dr. Doone’s workshop for those interested in start using renewables to build resilience:

John Harding from Microsolar Pty Ltd
– Dr. Doone’s Solar PV expert that is developing a PV panel with batterie included)
Phone 0429 149 080

Syd Welling from SunBeam Solar
– Holos’ Solar PV expert in the Northern Rivers area
Phone: 02 6679 7228

Rod Anderson from SolarOz
– Solar hot water – it is possible to order evacuated tube solar units on the web page.
Phone: 0411424322

Murray Hallam from Practical Aquaponoics
– Murray has some great videos on aquaponics and you can visit his operations at 21 Hives Road, North Maclean not far from the Gold Coast.
Phone: 07 3200 0272

Renew Magazine
– A must to keep up with all sorts of information on solar, batteries, inverters, and many other green technologies. You can order Renew Magazine on line and/or become a member of the Alternative Technology Association and get the magazine, or it is also available in many newsagencies.