Portland Peak Oil

Welcome to the new website for Portland Peak Oil, a grassroots group of concerned local citizens, from different backgrounds, with different interests, who've separately become aware of the looming crisis caused by the peaking of world oil supplies. We’ve come together to try to:

PPO meetings are held on the 1st Wednesday of the month from 7 to 9pm in the St. Francis Dining Hall. 1182 SE Pine St. Portland, OR.



What is Peak Oil?

1. Peak oil primer (from http://www.energybulletin.net/primer )

What is peak oil?

Peak oil is the simplest label for the problem of energy resource depletion, or more specifically, the peak in global oil production. Oil is a finite, non-renewable resource, one that has powered phenomenal economic and population growth over the last century and a half. The rate of oil 'production', meaning extraction and refining (currently about 84 million barrels/day), has grown almost every year of the last century. Once we have used up about half of the original reserves, oil production becomes ever more likely stop growing and begin a terminal decline, hence 'peak'. The peak in oil production does not signify 'running out of oil', but it does mean the end of cheap oil, as we switch from a buyers' to a sellers' market. For economies leveraged on ever increasing quantities of cheap oil, the consequences may be dire. Without significant successful cultural reform, severe economic and social consequences seem inevitable.

Why does oil peak? Why doesn't it suddenly run out?

Oil companies have, naturally enough, extracted the easier-to-reach, cheap oil first. The oil pumped first was on land, near the surface, under pressure, light and 'sweet' (meaning low sulfur content) and therefore easy to refine. The remaining oil is more likely to be off-shore, far from markets, in smaller fields and of lesser quality. It therefore takes ever more money and energy to extract, refine and transport. Under these conditions, the rate of production inevitably drops. Furthermore, all oil fields eventually reach a point where they become economically, and energetically, no longer viable. If it takes the energy of a barrel of oil to extract a barrel of oil, then further extraction is pointless, no matter what the price of oil.

M. King Hubbert – the first to predict an oil peak


The Hubbert Curve is used to predict the rate of production from an oil producing region containing many individual wells. Source: aspoitalia.net

In the 1950s the well known U.S. geologist M. King Hubbert was working for Shell Oil. He noted that oil discoveries graphed over time tended to follow a bell shape curve. He supposed that the rate of oil production would follow a similar curve, now known as the Hubbert Curve (see figure). In 1956 Hubbert predicted that production from the US lower 48 states would peak between 1965 and 1970. Despite efforts from his employer to pressure him into not making his projections public, the notoriously stubborn Hubbert did so anyway. In any case, most people inside and outside the industry quickly dismissed the predictions. As it happens, the US lower 48 oil production did peak in 1970/1. In that year, by definition, US oil producers had never produced as much oil, and Hubbert's predictions were a fading memory. The peak was only acknowledged with the benefit of several years of hindsight.

No oil producing region fits the bell shaped curve exactly because production is dependent on various geological, economic and political factors, but the Hubbert Curve remains a powerful predictive tool.

In retrospect, the U.S. oil peak might be seen as the most significant geopolitical event of the mid to late 20th Century, creating the conditions for the energy crises of the 1970s, leading to far greater U.S. strategic emphasis on controlling foreign sources of oil, and spelling the beginning of the end of the status of the U.S. as the world's major creditor nation. The U.S. of course, was able to import oil from elsewhere. Mounting debt has allowed life to continue in the U.S. with only minimal interruption. When global oil production peaks, the implications will be felt far more widely, and with much more force.

What does peak oil mean for our societies?

Our industrial societies and our financial systems were built on the assumption of continual growth – growth based on ever more readily available cheap fossil fuels. Oil in particular is the most convenient and multi-purposed of these fossil fuels. Oil currently accounts for about 43% of the world's total fuel consumption [PDF], and 95% of global energy used for transportation [PDF]. Oil and gas are feedstocks for plastics, paints, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, electronic components, tyres and much more. Oil is so important that the peak will have vast implications across the realms of war and geopolitics, medicine, culture, transport and trade, economic stability and food production. Significantly, for every one joule of food consumed in the United States, around 10 joules of fossil fuel energy have been used to produce it.

The 'Hirsch Report'

A U.S. Dept. of Energy commissioned study “Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management” [PDF] was released in early 2005. Prepared by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), it is known commonly as the Hirsch Report after its primary author Robert L. Hirsch. For many months the report, although available on the website of a Californian High School, remained unacknowledged by the DOE. The executive summary of the report warns that:

as peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking. [Emphasis added.]

A later paper by Hirsch recommends the world urgently begin spending $1 trillion per year in crash programs for at least a decade, preferably two, before peaking. Obviously, nothing like the kind of efforts envisaged have yet begun. Hirsch was not asked to speculate on on when the peak was likely to occur.

So when will oil peak globally?

Later in life M. King Hubbert predicted a global oil peak between 1995 and 2000. He may have been close to the mark, except that the oil shocks of the 1970s slowed our use of oil.

As the following figure documents, global oil discovery peaked in the late 1960s. Since the mid-1980s, oil companies have been finding less oil than we have been consuming.

Source: www.aspo-ireland.org

Of the 65 largest oil producing countries in the world, up to 54 have passed their peak of production and are now in decline, including the USA in 1970/1, Indonesia in 1997, Australia in 2000, the North Sea in 2001, and Mexico in 2004. Hubbert's methods, as well as other methodologies, have been used to make various projections about the global oil peak, with results ranging from 'already peaked', to the very optimistic 2035. Many of the official sources of data used to model oil peak such as OPEC figures, oil company reports, and the USGS discovery projections, upon which the international energy agencies base their own reports, can be shown to be frighteningly unreliable. Several notable scientists have attempted independent studies, most famously, Colin Campbell with the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO).

Source: www.aspo-ireland.org

ASPO's latest model suggests that regular conventional oil reached an all time peak in 2005. If heavy oil, deepwater, polar and natural gas liquids are considered (the 'all-liquids' category), the oil peak is projected for around 2010. Combined oil and gas are expected to also peak globally around 2010.

Other notable researchers such as Princeton University Professor Emeritus Kenneth Deffeyes, senior advisor to the Iranian National Oil Company A. M. Samsam Bakhtiari, UK Petroleum Review editor Chris Skrebowski, energy banker and former advisor to the president Matthew Simmons and the researchers at The Oil Drum, have all projected similar peaks using quite varied methodology. A recent survey suggests that their perspective has become the consensus among informed observers and industry insiders[PDF].

Already peaked? A study by the German Government sponsored Energy Watch Group, oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens, and the former head of exploration and production at Saudi Aramco, Sadad al-Huseini have all recently supported the view that global crude oil production has peaked. However, the previous long standing production peak from May 2005 was finally surpassed in February 2008. The Wikipedia Oil Megaprojects database, maintained by contributors from The Oil Drum, suggests that production could rise again until a peak in 2010.

Decline rates

Whether or not we've passed the peak, the most significant question may be: What will be the future rate of decline of oil production? Some form of co-ordinated adaptation might be possible if the annual drop in available oil was no more severe than 1-2% a year. Whereas 10% or more would soon implode the global economy. Most models project decline rates which reach 2-4%.


Nations dependent on imports are likely to find that their access to oil will fall at a far sharper rate than the global decline rate. Higher oil prices are stimulating the economy of exporting nations which increases their internal consumption. Combined with a national peak in oil production, exports from any particular nation can drop to zero disturbingly quickly.

Natural gas peak

The effects of natural gas peak are relatively localized. This is due to the enormous economic and energetic expense of liquefying and transporting natural gas as a compressed liquid. Both European and North American natural gas production have already peaked, so these regions are facing the extra severity of a dual energy crisis.

But it's just oil and gas – there are other fossil fuels, other energy sources, right?

To evaluate other energy sources it helps to understand the concepts of Net Energy, or the Energy Returned On Energy Invested ratio (EROEI). One of the reasons our economies have grown so abundant so quickly over the last few generations is precisely because oil has had an unprecedentedly high EROEI ratio. In the early days of oil, for every barrel of oil used for exploration and drilling, up to 100 barrels of oil were found. More recently, as oil recovery becomes more difficult, the ratio has become significantly lower. Certain alternative energy 'sources' may actually have EROEI ratios of less than one, such as many methods of industrially producing biodiesel and ethanol, or extracting oil from shale. That is, when all factors are considered, you probably need to invest more energy into the process than you get back.

Hydrogen, touted by many as a seamless solution, is actually an energy carrier, but not an energy source. Hydrogen must be produced using an energy source such as natural gas or nuclear power. Because of energy losses in transformation, the hydrogen will always contain less energy than was invested in it.

Some alternatives such as wind and hydro-power may have much better EROEI, however their potential expansion may be limited by various physical factors. Even in combination it may not be possible to gather from renewable sources of energy anything like the rate and quality of energy that industrial society is accustomed to. Peak oil author Richard Heinberg uses the metaphor that whereas fossil fuels are akin to a massive inheritance, one spent rather drunkenly, renewables are much more like a hard won energy wage.

For certain tasks, such as air travel, no other energy source can readily be substituted for oil. As noted by the Hirsch reports, alternative energy infrastructures require long periods of investment, on the scale of decades, to be widely implemented. We may be already leaving the period of cheap energy before we have begun seriously embarking on this task.

It's worth noting briefly that any EROEI study is complex and different methods of accounting can come up with vastly different results, so any net energy study might be viewed with some suspicion. We may not know with total certainty the usefulness of any renewable energy technologies until the hidden fossil fuel energy subsidies are finally removed.

2. Further information

Deeper introductions:

Wolf at the Door: A Beginner's Guide to Oil Depletion – available in French, Polish and English.

Life After The Oil Crash – Matt Savinar's question and answer style peak oil blockbuster website.

Peak oil and climate change: If peak oil merely threatens industrial civilisation, climate change promises to destabilize the planetary biosphere. The two issues are integrally related, and solutions to peak oil can also address climate change. Consider how we might bridge peak oil and climate change activism. David Holmgren has begun integrating peak oil and climate change into a global scenario planning framework.

Peak coal: Recent studies suggest that we may reach 'peak coal' much sooner than previously thought. Chris Vernon rounds up five recent reports to that effect over at The Oil Drum: Europe.

Peak everything: Peak Everything is the name of a forthcoming book by peak oil author Richard Heinberg. Globally we have already passed peaks or are soon to be facing them in copper, phosphorous, fish catches, grain production, per capita fresh water and uranium to name but a few. This is no coincidence, we have been consuming the world's resources at an unprecedented rate. The human population, which has risen in lockstep with fossil fuel production, will likely peak more or less in sync with these fuels.

Oil and food production: Essays The Oil We Eat by Richard Manning, and Eating Fossil Fuels by Dale Allen Pfeiffer both look at modern agricultures' dependence on fossil fuels. Both are highly recommended.

Audio and video:

Global Public Media – essential interviews on peak oil and environmental issues

Peak Oil? – a 44 minute TV special from Four Corners (Australia), viewable online (July 2006)

The End of Suburbia and A Crude Awakening – two excellent peak oil documentaries purchasable on DVD.

Research and reference articles:

ASPO – original research from The Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas

ASPO Ireland – the Irish branch of ASPO through which Colin Campbell now publishes the ASPO monthly newsletter

ASPO-USA publishes about 3 good articles every week (many of which are republished here)

The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC) has a good website that is frequently updated

The Oil Drum – the breaking edge of community peak oil research

DieOff.com – an alarming but scholarly archive of research. The original peak oil website.

News and commentary:

The Oil Drum the daily Drum Beat is a collation of news stories

Peak Energy Australian Big Gav's aggregation and commentary on energy related news

Gristmill – environmental news and articles, with an increasing emphasis on energy, sustainability and climate

Resource Insights – Kurt Cobb publishes intelligent peak oil informed commentary on a broad range of issues.

Casaubon's Book – several essays and how-to articles a week from author, mother and farmer Sharon Astyk

James Kunstler's blog – peak oil commentary with a special focus on cultural decline. See both www.kunstler.com and jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com

Crisis Energética – peak oil news in Spanish

Mailing lists:

RunningOnEmpty3 – a group for peak oil beginners

EnergyResources – the original peak oil focused email list

RunningOnEmpty2 – a more solutions, self-sufficiency focused list

groups.yahoo.com/group/EnergyRoundTable – a group emphasizing discussion and politics

There are numerous local mailing lists too, many on yahoo can be found at this link:


More links, including books to read: An excellent list of links is maintained here:


3. What can be done?

Many people are working on preparations for peak oil at various different levels, but there is probably no cluster of solutions which do not involve some major changes in lifestyles, especially for the global affluent. Peak oil presents the potential for quite catastrophic upheavals, but ultimately also some more hopeful possibilities: a chance to address many underlying societal problems, and the opportunity return to simpler, healthier and more community oriented lifestyles.

The Post Carbon Institute Outposts.The Post Carbon Institute is a think tank devoted to exploring the implications of, and preparing for, peak oil, focusing on relocalization. They write, “the most important initiative of the Post Carbon Institute is working with groups of concerned citizens to prepare their community for the Post Carbon Age. These groups are Outposts in the sense that they are community-based extensions of the Post Carbon Institute; they operate autonomously yet receive guidance and electronic infrastructure from the Institute. Outposts work cooperatively in their local community to put theory about living with less hydrocarbons into practice while sharing knowledge and experiences with the global network of outposts.”



The Community Solution to Peak Oil. Many excellent resources are available through the website of this Ohio based organization "dedicated to the development, growth and enhancement of small local communities... that are sustainable, diverse and culturally sophisticated." The Community Solution have hosted several recent grassroots peak oil conferences, and have developed an important film, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, documenting how this country has relatively successfully adapted to a political oil peak after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Permaculture: Permaculture is a 'design science' which can allow us to live in relative abundance with minimal resource use. Permaculture principles and practice can be applied to functionally redesigning social systems, built environments, ecological and agricultural practices the post-peak era. David Holmgren's 2001 book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, deals explicitly with the global oil peak and proposes permaculture as the best set of strategies for dealing with what he terms 'energy descent'.




Transition Towns: Several communities around the world have begun their own preparations for peak oil, and are documenting the process. The Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan out of rural Ireland is the world's first local action plan for peak oil, dealing with broad issues relating to peak, including health, education, tourism and youth issues. The plan and its initiator Rob Hopkins have inspired the Transition Towns movement of peak oil preparing towns, focused in Europe. In the US, local organizers within the town of Willits, Califonia have begun work on the Willits Economic LocaLization Project (WELL). Many other communities around the world are embarking along similar paths.

www.transitionculture.org - Rob Hopkins' blog



Oil Awareness Meet Ups is a grass roots awareness raising network helping people meet up and discuss peak oil. Join or start a meet-up in your neighborhood.


Local Currencies and Steady State Economics:

Local Currencies: Richard Douthwaite, a 'recovering economist', has proposed a number of alternative monetary systems to deal with energy decline and the associated monetary crises which might arise post-peak. Local currencies like LETS are in operation around the planet already (although LETS itself may be somewhat problematic). Experiment now with local currencies to help survive economic crises.

The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability (FEASTA) has some of Richard Douthwaite's publications available for free online, including entire books as well as masses of other excellent research and articles by other writers, relating not just to economics and local currencies, but to various aspects of sustainability.

See also:www.communitycurrency.org/resources.html

Intentional Communities: Intentional Community (IC) is an inclusive term for ecovillages, cohousing, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives and other related projects and dreams... ICs represent one of the sanest ways of dealing with energy peak.




The Oil Depletion Protocol: is a global framework for distributing the world's remaining oil reserves more equitably than free market forces would allow, to avoid resource wars, profiteering and economic collapse. Help promote it:

How to avoid oil wars, terrorism, and economic collapse by Richard Heinberg

Oil Depletion Protocol website

Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs) are a system for rationing fuel which includes everyone – individuals, industry and the Government – and which enables users to sell any rations they do not use.


Lobbying: Lobby governments to spend now on renewable energy and improving agricultural practices. Many facts are summarized in the following 'convince sheet' by Bruce Thomson: greatchange.org/ov-thomson,convince_sheet.html

Peak oil FAQ

The goal here is not to provide all of the answers regarding peak oil, but to touch upon many of the questions asked most often. By all means, read up on the issues as much as you can. We provide lists of book, magazines, films, web sites, blogs, articles, and more sources of information in the resources section.

Q. What does "peak oil" mean?

Short Answer: It is the point at which easily (and cheaply) extractable oil is no longer available.

More Complete Answer: "Peak Oil" is the most common term for the end of cheap and easily available oil resources. The "peak" refers to a model created by M King Hubbert. A discussion of Hubbert's Peak can be found at Wikipedia - Hubbert's Peak. Briefly, the "peak" is the point at which any given oil well, field, or global oil supply, reaches the production peak. After that point, the remaining oil becomes increasingly costly to extract and refine. Peak oil as a term generally refers to the global availability of oil.

Energy Bulletin's Peak Oil Primer has a nice discussion of the basics of peak oil.

Q: What are the implications of peak oil?

A: Essentially any process, activity, or product that utilizes petroleum will become increasingly more expensive the further past the global peak we move. Most of the public awareness of this situation is felt as the gas pump. However, both modern societies and the global economy are based on cheap oil. It has fueled the rapid developments seen through the 20th century. We are now in a situation where everything from food production (industrial agriculture), to plastics, to transportation, is totally linked to this one resource. The cost and availability of petroleum will (and is) driving up the prices in all of these areas. Since the various industries this crosses also involves millions of jobs, each of those are impacted as well. This is why national and global economic collapse frequently comes up in peak oil discussions and scenarios.

Q. Can't we use the remaining oil in the oil fields?

A. As you pump deeper into the "heavy" oil it gets more expensive both to bring it to the surface, and to process it for traditional uses. The "heavy" crude has much higher mineral content - particularly sulfur. This means it takes more energy (and more water - another diminishing resource) to get it to the surface. It then must be more intensively processed to make it clean enough for most uses - particularly as fuel. As oil becomes scarcer the costs goes up which then makes the expense more "acceptable." Abandoned fields, and otherwise costly extraction (tar sands for example) become more attractive as the price is high enough to pursue these activities.

That is the rub, however - the cost is high enough to engage in increasingly expensive (and often environmentally destructive) oil extraction processes. Either way, cheap and easily available oil is now history.

Q: Can't we just shift to alternative energy sources and nuclear power?

A: Yes and no. Roughly 50% of oil consumption is for transportation purposes. When we look at generation of electricity, very little petroleum is used. According to the Department of Energy as of April 2005 Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), 1991 through April 2005, the breakdown of power generation by source is as follows (numbers are rounded):

Sources Percentage of generation Coal 51% Petroleum Liquids 2% Petroleum Coke .05% Natural Gas 16% Other Gases .4% Nuclear 19.9% Conv. Hydroelectric 7% Other Renewables 2% Other .01%

As you can see from the above table, replacing petroleum source power generation would add only a small amount to other uses (petroleum energy generation in the U.S. is only 2.05% of total power generation). On the other hand, petroleum is not the only non-renewable energy source we need to consider. Natural gas is being pushed at this time, but it has already "peaked" in the United States and is now largely imported. Coal is relatively abundant, but not over the long haul. Nuclear power, likewise, is based on radioactive materials which are not overly abundant.

Alternative energy, and alternative transportation fueling options, are good for the long term, but there is nothing to replace oil at the levels needed at this point in time.

Q: If this is such a big deal, then why isn't it all over the news?

A: Good question. One assumes that it is because there are vested interests that don't want it in the news. However, from small localrags to National Geographic it is being discussed. Willamette Week had an article - ODOT's Peak at the Future - which was a short expose of the recent Oregon's Mileage Fee Program and Road User Fee Pilot Program - Report to the 73rd Oregon Legislative Session by the Oregon Department of Transportation. In that report, they also discuss the implications of peak oil on Oregon's road tax revenues. The August 2005 edition on National Geographic has an article by Michael Parfit titled "Future Power - Where Will the World Get It's Next Energy Fix?", which also discusses the viability of replacing oil with some other energy source (or sources).

Q: So when is this going to happen?

A: That is a difficult question to answer. Many are now arguing that we may already have passed the "peak." Some feel that peak will be reached in 2005-2006. Others, that the peak will happen somewhere between 2008 and 2030. One might wonder at all the variation in dates. This is based on several issues. The first is accurate information about existing reserves. It has come to light in the last couple of years that everyone from oil producing nations to oil companies have overestimated their reserves. They have done this because it is profitable to do so. More oil in the ground means more collateral and longer production capacity. Another factor is calculating increasing demand. One can only estimate demand and the usual "estimate" is 2% growth per year. However, Asian nations are in a rapid development cycle (particularly China and India) and the U.S. consumption is increasing at above 2%. Since we are likely to "overshoot" (continue increased usage past the peak without knowing we have done so) it is likely that we will be at some point beyond the peak before we know it has happened.

Q: What is the best thing we can do to face the immediate crisis?

A: CONSERVE. The most immediate and effective thing that can be done to delay an "oil crash" is to conserve.

There is no replacement energy source, or combination of sources that can replace oil - at this time. There are no new fields, or proposed fields (including the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge), that will add significantly to the amount of cheap oil available. Further, petroleum geologists think the likelihood of a discovery of major oil reserves is very unlikely. What we currently have is pretty much what we have to work with, and that supply is in high demand with a global demand of roughly 83 million barrels a day - for 2005. Demand is expected to increase at rate of at least 2% a year. There is no sign of decline. The faster the demand increases, the faster the oil will run out.

About Portland Peak Oil

We're a grassroots group of concerned local citizens, from different backgrounds, with different interests, who've separately become aware of the looming crisis caused by the peaking of world oil supplies. We’ve come together to try to:

  • Develop individual and collective strategies to cope with this crisis
  • Create awareness in the Portland community about Peak Oil
  • Influence policies of local government to help mitigate the crisis
  • Serve as a community resource as the crisis becomes more severe

Several years a ago, a few concerned people in Portland found each other through Meetup.com and met at a small pizza joint to discuss peak oil and its ramifications. The group grew substantially in the spring of 2005 and moved from cramped quarters to the large dining hall of St. Francis Church in Portland, a space donated to the group free of charge once a week. Members decided not to let the space go unused and expanded the schedule from one general meeting per month to events every Wednesday night.

How to get involved:

Portland Peak Oil puts on events every Wednesday night in Southeast Portland. We feature relevant speakers, show films, hold small and large discussion groups, host workshops, etc. Between 30-120 people come each week. In between Wednesday evenings, there are monthly meetings of our working groups: Outreach, Preparedness, Policy, and Business. These monthly meetings are usually regular (e.g. the Business meeting is first Sunday of the month at 6pm). All Wednesday evening events and monthly meetings are posted to the events calendar.

All events and meetings are free and open to the public and there's been great flexibility over the past year in incorporating the skills and energy of new members. We invite you to get involved!

Executive Summary of City of Portland's Peak Oil Taskforce

Introduction: Preparing for Peak Oil

Every day, businesses, government agencies and households around the world plan and make decisions based on the assumption that oil and natural gas will remain plentiful and affordable. In the past few years, powerful evidence has emerged that casts doubt on that assumption and suggests that global production of both oil and natural gas is likely to reach its historic peak soon. This phenomenon is referred to as “peak oil.”  Given both the continuous rise in global demand for these products and the fundamental role they play in all levels of social, economic and geopolitical activities, the consequences of such an event are enormous. This report assesses Portland’s vulnerabilities in the face of wide-ranging changes in global energy markets and provides an initial set of recommendations for addressing that challenge thoughtfully and prudently.

Task Force Created by City Council

In May 2006 Portland City Council adopted Resolution 36407 establishing the Peak Oil Task Force consisting of 12 citizens from a wide variety of backgrounds. The resolution charged the Task Force with examining the potential economic and social consequences of peak oil in Portland and developing recommendations to mitigate the impacts of rising energy costs and declining supplies. Over the past six months, the Task Force held more than 40 meetings and involved more than 80 stakeholders and interested citizens in gathering information.

Impacts and Vulnerabilities: High Fuel Prices Will Change Portland

Fifty years from now, the peak of global oil production will be a distant memory. Predictions for the year oil production will peak range from present day until 2040, with the most common estimates between 2010 and 2020.  Despite the apparent breadth of current projections, even the most optimistic forecasts offer little time to adapt given the very long lead times required to change such things as transportation and building infrastructure. 

Of all the impacts from rising oil prices, the clearest are those on transportation, which will experience profound pressure to shift toward more efficient modes of travel. For personal travel, this means transit, carpooling, walking, bicycling and highly efficient vehicles.  Transportation of freight will become more costly and either decline or shift modes from air and truck to rail and boat.  Population may shift to city centers, and density and mixed-use buildings will increase.

Food is a critical resource, and the American food system has become highly dependent on fossil fuels. Food production and distribution accounts for 17 percent of U.S. energy consumption. Because of this, higher oil and natural gas prices are expected to lead to a decline in the amount and variety of food produced and available locally, even with Portland’s proximity to the agricultural production of the Willamette Valley. Food prices will rise, further straining the ability of low-income households to put food on the table.

Like agriculture, the economy as a whole is expected to experience significant disruption and volatility. Impacts will vary widely by industry and firm, and Portland has strengths in high technology and a relatively diversified transportation system. Portland also enjoys a strong and growing clean energy sector, which is likely to see increased demand.  Nevertheless, many of Portland's industries are dependent on national and global markets, and business start-ups and failures are likely to increase.

Unemployment could be a major economic and social issue. This is of particular concern, since social services are already stretched to their limits.  Vulnerable and marginalized populations are likely to grow and will be the first and hardest hit by rising oil prices. Increasing costs and decreasing incomes will reduce health coverage and further stress the health care system, which is already in crisis.  Heating, maintenance, and monthly housing costs will consume a larger share of household budgets and push people toward lower-quality housing choices at the same time that auto transportation costs increase dramatically. First responders, especially police, are likely to be further taxed as social service agencies struggle to meet demand.

Recommendations: Act Big, Act Now

The Task Force findings illustrate the profound economic and social vulnerabilities that could result as fuel supplies cease to be abundant and inexpensive. The magnitude of this issue led the Task Force to explore bold and far-reaching solutions. The Task Force is unified in urging strong and immediate action.

The Task Force recommends preparedness on two different levels. Most of the recommendations seek to reduce Portland’s exposure to rising fuel prices, anticipating the economic and lifestyle adjustments that will be needed in the future. Other recommendations prepare Portland to maintain community stability as volatile energy markets trigger conditions ranging from emergency shortages to longer-term economic and social disruption.

Reduce Portland’s exposure:

The Task Force proposes cutting oil and natural gas consumption in half, transforming how energy is used in transportation, food supply, buildings and manufacturing. It proposes strategies to maintain business viability and employment in an energy-constrained marketplace.

Strengthen community cohesion: However well Portland succeeds in its energy transition, it will not be able to isolate itself from global energy crises or the resulting economic implications. The Task Force sees the potential for profound economic hardship and high levels of unemployment, and it recommends having plans in place to adapt social and economic support systems accordingly. Similarly, contingency plans are needed for fuel shortages that may last for months or years, well beyond the time considered in existing emergency plans. 

The Task Force recommends a comprehensive package of actions, proposing strategies to initiate institutional change and to motivate action by households and businesses.  The recommendations propose major changes for Portland, but the Task Force believes their implementation can have a positive social and economic impact as local residents and businesses spend less on imported fuels and redirect dollars into the local economy. This presents a significant economic development opportunity for Portland.

While all the recommendations are important, achieving a significant reduction in oil and natural gas use is a necessity for easing the transition to an energy-constrained future. 

1.     Reduce total oil and natural gas consumption by 50 percent over the next 25 years. 

Leadership builds the public will, community spirit and institutional capacity needed to implement the ambitious changes. Leadership is needed to build partnerships to address these issues at a regional and statewide level. 

2.     Inform citizens about peak oil and foster community and community-based solutions.

3.     Engage business, government and community leaders to initiate planning and policy change.

Urban design addresses the challenge at a community scale.

4.     Support land use patterns that reduce transportation needs, promote walkability and provide easy access to services and transportation options.

5.     Design infrastructure to promote transportation options and facilitate efficient movement of freight, and prevent infrastructure investments that would not be prudent given fuel shortages and higher prices. 

 Expanded efficiency and conservation programs shape the many energy choices made by individual households and businesses.

6.     Encourage energy-efficient and renewable transportation choices.

7.     Expand building energy-efficiency programs and incentives for all new and existing structures.

 Sustainable economic development fosters the growth of businesses that can supply energy-efficient solutions and provide employment and wealth creation in a new economic context. 

8.     Preserve farmland and expand local food production and processing.

9.     Identify and promote sustainable business opportunities.

Social and economic support systems will be needed to help Portlanders dislocated by the effects of fuel price increases.

10.  Redesign the safety net and protect vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Emergency plans should be in place to respond to sudden price increases or supply interruptions.

11.  Prepare emergency plans for sudden and severe shortages.

Each of these 11 major recommendations is accompanied by a series of action items detailing how it can be implemented.

Next steps

A number of the recommendations imply the need for a central program to coordinate goal setting, tracking and communications. Other recommendations are policies, programs or projects to be implemented by specific bureaus or groups of bureaus. The Task Force proposes that a team of city staff be appointed to translate these recommendations into a funded, operational course of action.

Acting on this report, however, does not need to await further study or analysis. City bureaus can immediately look for ways to incorporate these energy concerns and impacts into ongoing planning activities and educational programs around sustainable development. City Council can challenge bureaus to align their investments and activities with the recommendations outlined in this report.

Finally, the Task Force members would like to express their willingness to continue assisting the City of Portland as it engages City staff and the public about peak oil and Portland’s energy future.

Gardening notes and charts

A collecting point for gardening notes and charts.

Herb Companion Chart

Again, this is suggestions and might work for you but this is not capital T truth.



Herb Companions Pests Repelled Angelica Avoid Dill   Basil Tomatoes

Dislikes Rue Flies, Mosquitoes Borage Tomatoes, Squash, Strawberries Tomato Worm Caraway Plant throughout the garden to loosen the soil.

Avoid Dill   Catnip Eggplant Flea Beetle, Ants Chamomile Cabbage, Onion   Coriander   Aphids Chervil Radish   Chives Carrots   Dead Nettle Potatoes Potato Bug Dill Cabbage

Dislikes Carrots and Caraway   Fennel Most plants dislike this herb   Feverfew roses attracts aphids away from roses Flax Carrots, Potatoes Potato Bug Garlic Roses, Raspberries Japanese Beetle, Aphids Horseradish Potatoes Potato Bug Henbit   General Insect Repellent Hyssop Cabbage, Grapes

Dislikes Radishes Cabbage Moth Lavender   Moths -- combine with southernwood, wormwood and rosemary in an anti-moth sachet Marigolds Plant throughout the garden Mexican Bean Beetles, Nematodes, others Mint Cabbage, Tomatoes White Cabbage Moth, aphids, flea beetles Mole Plant   Moles and Mice Nasturtium Radishes, Cabbage, Cucurbits, fruit trees Aphids, Squash Bugs, Striped Pumpkin Beetle Pennyroyal Roses Flies, Mosquitoes, Fleas, others Petunia Beans   Pot Marigold Tomatoes Tomato Worm, Asparagus Beetles, others Pyrethrums   Use dried flower heads as a general insect repellent. Rosemary Cabbage, Beans Carrots, Sage Cabbage Moth, Bean Beetle, Carrot Fly Rue Roses and Raspberries

Dislikes Sweet Basil Japanese Beetles Sage Rosemary, Cabbage, Carrots

Dislikes Cucumbers Cabbage Moth, Carrot Fly, Flea Beetle, Slugs Southernwood Cabbages Cabbage Moth Sowthistle Tomatoes, Onion, Corn

Plant in moderation   Summer Savory Beans Bean Beetles Tansy Fruit Trees, Roses, Raspberries Flying Insects, Japanese Beetles, Striped Cucumber Beetles, Squash Bugs, Ants, Flies Thyme Cabbage Cabbage Worm Wormwood   Plant as a border to keep animals out of the garden. Yarrow Plant near aromatic herbs to enhance production of essential oils.  

Plants that give you more bang for your buck(et)!

This is the outline presented at the 3/1/06 PPO meeting, for those who did not get a copy or were unable to attend. If enough people are interested, I am willing to do a follow-up where we do "hands on" and actually PLANT some containers. Please indicate your interest in a response to this post so all the answers will be in one place, thanks! : ) Carla

- Productive - good harvest
- Easy cultivation
- Most available as plants (rather than seed)
- Amenable to pot culture (mostly)

Growing conditions of participants
- Experience gardening?
- Garden space available?
- Sun exposure?
- Indoor only?

Growing techniques
- Pot
- Pot w/trellis
- Raised bed (see Organic Gardening magazine for more details)
- Ground (w/trellis if needed)
- Indoor lights

- Size
- Material (clay, plastic, wood, etc.)-
- Color (light v. dark)
- Temperature issues
- Watering issues
- Planting medium

Making your plant choices
- What do you like to eat?
- Sun requirements
- Water requirements
- Space requirements
- Pollination requirements
- Trellis
- Ornamental value
- Seeds v. starts
- Annual v. perennial

Recommended plants

- Fig Negronne (OGW)
- Goumi (OGW, PDX NURS?)
- Blueberry Sunshine Blue (OGW)
- Strawberry Tristar (OGW, PDX NURS?)

- Green bean bush-type Nugget, Dragon Tongue, Dwarf Bees (TER), Derby, Oregon 54 (seed NIC)
- Cucumber Armenian (many sources, needs trellis), Salad Bush (NIC), Marketmore 86 (TER, trellis?)
- Radish (seed only) Cherry Belle (TER, NIC) or other quick variety (less than 30 days to maturity)
- Pepper sweet Jingle Bells (seed TG), PDX?, various, Miniature Bell Red/Yellow/Chocolate (TER)
- Pepper hot - Early Jalapeno (various), Aji Colorado (seed only SC), Thai Hot Ornamental (seed TG)
- Tomato Stupice (trellis, various), Principe Borghese (trellis), Oregon Cherry (TER), Gardener’s Delight (trellis), Patio F Hybrid, Micro-Tom (all seed only, TG)
- Zucchini Sun Green (TER), Eight Ball (trellis?, NIC)
- Kale (various)
- Lettuce/mesclun/greens “mesclun” mixes, any “looseleaf” lettuce variety (various)

- Oregano Greek (various)
- Mint peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint (best kept in pot)
- Basil Genovese, Sweet, Mammoth or Lettuce Leaf, Thai (various)
- Chives (various)
- Parsley Italian (flat leaved), Moss Curled (various)
- Sage Dwarf (various)
- Rosemary (esp. prostrate for pots)
- Thyme English (or just “Thymus vulgaris”) - check variety for hardiness
- Stevia (various)

Edible flowers
- Nasturtium
- Violet/Viola/Johnny Jump-up
- Sweet William (Dianthus)
Also flowers from strawberry, Dwarf Bees, radish, zucchini/squash, kale, mint, chives

- Tea plant (yes, real tea! OGW, TER, NIC, various)
- Sprouts (many types, TER or local sources)

Plant preferences

Full Sun
Thyme (can take some shade)

Part sun
Dwarf Bees ok
Goumi (needs at least ½ day sun)
Sweet William

Window sill or fluorescent light

Needs moister soil

Does not play well with others
Larger beans
Larger blueberries
Cucumber if not trellised
Goumi (room for groundcover only w/o pruning)
Fig (room for groundcover only w/o pruning)
Tea (room for groundcover only w/o pruning)
Tomato (except Micro Tom, possibly Patio)

Sample pots

Salad pot - ½ whiskey barrel with assorted greens, chives, parsley, and violets (Eastern exposure w/afternoon shade good for this pot.)

Mediterranean pot - ½ whiskey barrel with fig (lowest branches pruned), dwarf sage, prostrate rosemary and thyme trailing over sides, could add red nasturtium for color. Place attractive 12" or larger pot of oregano nearby. (South or west exposure for this pot.)

“Tea” pot - 24" or larger pot with tea plant (lower branches pruned) with stevia and frequently harvested mints. Tea plant will give partial shade for mints. (6 hrs or more of sun good for this pot. Decrease afternoon sun if mints start to get crispy!)


Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon
The Maritime Nortwest Garden Guide by Seattle Tilth
The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie Nichols McGee & Maggie Stuckey
Herbal Remedies in Pots by Effie Romain & Sue Hawkey
Organic Gardening Magazine by Rodale

Seed/plant catalogues
Territorial Seed Company (TER) www.territorial-seeds.com
Nichols Garden Nursery (NIC) www.nicholsgardennursery.com
Seeds of Change (SC) www.seedsofchange.com
Tomato Growers Supply Company (TG) www.tomatogrowers.com
One Green World (OGW) www.onegreenworld.com (located in Mollala, open Fri. & Sat.)

Local nurseries
Portland Nursery (2 locations)
Buffalo Gardens Nursery (NE 30th & Alberta)

Portland Permaculture Guild www.pdxpermaculture.org has many knowledgeable people and monthly informational meetings on all aspects of sustainability, including gardening

The secret life of soil


CORVALLIS - Soil is alive. Much more than a prop to hold up your plants, healthy soil is a jungle of voracious creatures eating and pooping and reproducing their way toward glorious soil fertility.

A single teaspoon (1 gram) of rich garden soil can hold up to 1 billion bacteria, several yards of fungal filaments, several thousand protozoa, and scores of nematodes, according to Kathy Merrifield, nematologist at Oregon State University. Most of those creatures are exceedingly small. Compared to these Lilliputians, earthworms and millipedes are giants. Each has a role in the secret life of soil.

Bacteria make up the largest group in the soil jungle, and they are as diverse as they are numerous. Some kinds of bacteria are responsible for converting atmospheric nitrogen to plant-available forms, a process known as nitrogen fixation. Actinomycetes, with cells like bacteria and filaments like fungi, are thought to contribute chemicals that give newly tilled soil its earthy aroma.

Mycorrhizae are fungi that attach to plant roots and increase their ability to take up nutrients from the soil. These filaments, along with root hairs and other binding substances help hold soil particles together prevent erosion. Protozoa feed on bacteria and each other, release nitrogen and make it available to plants. As much as 80 percent of the nitrogen in plants can come from bacteria-eating protozoa.

Nematodes, simple roundworms, have evolved several feeding strategies. In temperate soils, some eat bacteria while others eat fungi or soil algae. Some nematodes attack plants, piercing plant cells and sucking out the contents. Some nematodes eat other nematodes or other small invertebrates.

Earthworms, giants of the soil jungle, mix and aggregate soil particles, creating deep channels that help aerate the soil and provide channels for growing roots. They shred and bury plant residue that stimulates microbial activity and increases the soil's capacity to retain moisture. Earthworms consume tiny soil organisms, and excrete even more microorganisms in their castings.

The base of the soil food web is organic matter, material derived from living stuff that provides a source of energy stored as fixed carbon. Nutrients are "served" along with fixed carbon, as carbon is converted to energy. Chemical fertilizers supply specific nutrients directly to plants, but do not replace the other kinds of food that bacteria and fungi need. Mulching with compost, cover cropping and no-till farming practices increase organic matter and the number and diversity of microorganisms in soil.

"All these things that live in the soil may seem unimportant," says Merrifield, "but they work together in a system that is the foundation of life."

Year-Round Planting Calender

From: Growing Vegetables west of the cascades by Steve Solomon, 5th edition.

  • Entire month - Transplant asparagus roots
  • 15th - Sow peas, favas, spinach


  • Entire month - Sow peas, favas, spinach, asparagus seed, mustard and related Asian greens radishes, parsley, bulb onions, scallions
  • 15th - Transplant earliest broccoli and cabbage seedlìngs
  • 17th - St. Patrick's Day ritual - sow potatoes


  • Entire month - Snow peas, scallions, spinach (summer varieties), beets, turnips, radishes kohlrabi, chard, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, parsley, sorrel, cauliflower, potatoes
  • 1st - Transplant earliest cauliflower
  • after 15th - Transplant onion seedlings and early leeks. Sow celery and celeriac


  • Entire month - Sow cauliflower, cabbage, beets, radishes, chard, carrots, lettuce, broccoli winter leek nursery bed, scallion, potatoes, lettuce
  • 15th - Sow snap beans, squash (summer and winter), basil, dill, dry beans, sweet corn. Transplant tomato, celery, and celeriac seedIings


  • Entire month - Sow cucumbers, summer squash, melons, snap beans, beets, carrots, lettuce broccoli, fall and winter cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, scallions
  • 15th - Transplant peppers and eggplant


  • Entire month - Sow lettuce. Transplant winter leeks
  • before 15th - Sow parsnips, carrots, summer beets, fall cauliflower, bush snap beans, scallions
  • after 15th - Sow rutabaga, kale, winter beets, spinach, overwintering broccoli


  • Entire month - Sow endive, spinach
  • before 15th - Sow overwintering cauliflower, loose-leaf lettuce
  • after 15th - Sow overwintering bulb onions


  • before 15th - Sow endive, corn salad, garlic and shallots, field turnips (as green manure)


  • Entire month - Sow green manures: favas, crimson clover, field peas

common garden vegetables, their companions, and their antagonists

I would recommend that this be looked as a recommendations and possible, but not capital T truth.






tomatoes, parsley, basil



Potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, cabbage, summer savory, most other vegetables and herbs

Onion, garlic, gladiola, chives

Pole beans

Corn, summer savory, sunflowers

Onions, beets, kohlrabi, cabbage

Bush beans

Potatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, celery, summer savory



Onions, kohlrabi

Pole beans

Brassicas (Cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli)

Aromatic plants, potatoes, celery, dill, chamomile, peppermint, sage, rosemary, beets, onions

Pole beans, strawberries, tomatoes


Peas, leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks, rosemary, sage, tomatoes



Leeks, tomatoes, bush beans, cauliflower, cabbage



Carrots, tomatoes

Peas, beans


Potatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash



Beans, corn, peas, radishes, lettuce, sunflowers

Potatoes, aromatic herbs


Beans, Potatoes



Onions, celery, carrots



Carrots with radishes, strawberries, cucumbers, onions


Onion (and garlic)

Beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, summer savory, chamomile, leeks, parsley

Peas, beans


Tomatoes, asparagus



Carrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans, most vegetables and herbs

Onions, garlic, chives, gladiola, potatoes


Beans corn, cabbage, horseradish, marigold, eggplant (as a lure for the Colorado potato beetle)

Pumpkin squash, cucumber, sunflowers, tomatoes, raspberry





Peas, nasturtium, lettuce, cukes



Grows/helps with everything






Nasturtiums, corn



BUSH bean, spinach, borage, lettuce (as a border), onions






Chives, onions, parsley, asparagus, marigold, nasturtiums, carrots

Kohlrabi, potatoes, fennel, cabbage




PPO's Principles of Preparedness

Principles of Preparedness

from the

Portland Peak Oil Group

Portland, Oregon

July, 2005 - Version 3

Prep Guide Introduction

This is a working document. It is not complete, but it is an attempt to be as inclusive as possible. You will surely think of many things that could have been included, but were not. You may be unhappy with the underlying assumptions, such as the inclusion of information about considering moving out of the country. Please feel free to leave a comment on page in question.  Also, their is an attempt here is to be as complete as possible without being any more political than necessary. 

Originally, this document was divided into two sections. The first section was entitled Long Term Advanced Preparation. This section has been removed. The reason being the belief that Long Term Advanced Preparation is no longer a possibility; the need for action is already here. Peak oil and U.S. financial problems will be upon us soon if they are not already. So the Principles of Preparedness that are presented here are of a more immediate nature.

There are many suggestions here. Many of them will require a good deal of work to accomplish. No one will do all these things. But doing some will involve you in the process of making decisions about what to do with the money, space, and time you have available. The suggestions will also stimulate you to discover the thinking that is behind these suggestion. Sometimes you will think, “Why would anyone think that would be necessary?” Other ideas will make you think, “I wouldn’t have thought of that.” Don’t let this long list stop you. Start doing what you can and what you think is most important. Doing something now helps with the anxiety of knowing that problems are on the horizon.

Finally, there are three ideas that inform all the suggestions made below. Please keep them in mind as you look at the more specific recommendations.


This is probably the most important and most difficult thing that any of us can do. It creates the most flexibility in times of difficulty. It also makes you less able to be manipulated and threatened by those to whom you owe money.


Building groups and small communities to work together means delegation of responsibilities is possible with fewer tasks for each person, but maybe more important, it allows us to support each other, to talk about these difficult times and plan, and to protect each other and work together on a larger scale.


It’s important not to get too extreme here, but everyone wants to do what they can especially if there are few opportunities to coordinate with others. The more each person prepares the more there is to share when needed and the easier it will be for everyone to accomplish needed changes.

Use less energy

Buy ONLY what is needed
  • Give up frills.
  • Make an effort to stop being a consumer.
  • Don’t watch advertising; it affects you no matter what you think.
  • Buy from local merchants.
  • Buy food grown locally.
  • Don’t buy styles; buy long term quality.
Evaluate vehicle needs & use
  • Combine many auto trips into one.
  • Consider a Flexcar.
  • Give up one or more vehicles.
  • Get a job closer to home.
  • Take your vacation at home and relax.
  • Consider not flying any more.
Evaluate alternative energy
  • This is a big topic; let’s take it in steps:
  • Start with small scale solar hot water heating.
  • Buy the most efficient appliances.
  • Have your home site evaluated for solar use; so you know what will be possible.
  • Consider construction of small passive solar solutions, for heat retention.
  • Get an estimate for construction of a solar grid-tied system.
  • Consider buying a diesel vehicle and using biodiesel fuel.
  • Is there a micro hydro power project you could develop?
  • Is wind power a possibility for you?
Remodel now
  • It is cheaper to make expenditures now because of expected inflation.
  • Make needed repairs.
  • Clean out septic systems.
  • Fix the roof.
  • Insulate attic, walls, windows, & doors.
  • Build green.
  • Consider solar.
  • Consider a well.
  • Consider composting toilets.
Buy used
  • Shop at local thrift stores.
  • Visit your neighborhood garage sales.
  • Buy used clothes, shoes, coats, linen.
  • Buy used building materials.
  • Buy antiques and old stuff; it’s trendy, too.
  • Sell used things.
  • Buy what is durable and will last.
Consider shared ownership
  • Buy occasional use items with friends & neighbors.
  • Buy a truck together.
  • Live with family, a very old idea.
  • Move your parents into your house.
  • Rent space.
  • Own a time share instead of a one owner second home.
Recycle everything you can
  • Find out who sells used, the items you need.
  • Buy extra used materials you will need soon.
  • Reuse all types of containers, especially plastics.
  • Learn more about greywater so you can use it safely.
  • Consider reusing water.
  • Greywater water can be used on some plants.
  • Learn as much as you can about recycling and practice it regularly.
  • Don’t throw away things if you can give them away or recycle them some way.
Stay home more (ie, use the car less)
  • Go out for entertainment less often.
  • Develop nearby neighborhood friendships.
  • Socialize more with your neighbors.
  • Work in your yard.
  • Stay home and enjoy your own company.
  • Eat at nearby restaurants.
Walk, bike, public transport
  • Try NOT using a car for a week; for a month.
  • Go shopping on your bike.
  • Find the nearest farmers market is; shop there.
  • Talk to neighbors about carpooling.
  • Combine trips with many stops with your neighbors.
  • Get familiar with the buses, especially near home.
  • Walk everywhere.
Pollute less
  • Find ways to produce less garbage at your home.
  • Don’t use the dry cleaners.
  • If you burn wood buy the most efficient stove.
  • Keep pollutants out of drains.
  • Be careful what you do with solvents and oils.
  • Buy biodegradable products.
  • Recycle everything possible.
  • Buy natural products instead of synthetics.
  • Stop smoking.
Use less
  • Give up some of the things you think you need.
  • Buy fewer comfort items.
  • Use less water.
  • Turn the furnace down; the lights & computer off.
  • Cut electricity use and use your furnace less often.
  • Use a clothesline not a dryer.
  • Discuss with the family what the real necessities are.
  • Wear clothing longer before giving it up.
  • Grandma used to darn socks.
  • Don’t just go shopping; stay out of the malls.
  • Make gifts, especially useful gifts, for others instead of buying things.

Organize with other people

Share with neighbors
  • Have a party.
  • Invite neighbors over when they move in.
  • Eat together as an initial way to start involvement.
  • Meet and plan with neighbors.
  • Start a neighborhood garden.
  • Start up work parties to accomplish large projects.
  • Develop regular meals together.
  • Own expensive tools and equipment together.
  • Have a garage sale or clothing swap.
  • Share vehicles, costs, insurance, fees and maintenance.
  • Share land for gardening, farming, animal husbandry, solar & water projects.
  • Share your labor - like old time barn raising.
  • Barter labor hours for return labor or things others need.
Support local businesses
  • Learn about CSA - Community Supported Agriculture
  • Buy at local food coops.
  • Make a relationship with the people you buy from; appreciate them.
  • Support local crafts and artisans.
  • Encourage small businesses to stay in your neighborhood; get the neighbors help.
  • Learn about the Sustainability Movement.
Plan with your family
  • Meet with your family to plan.
  • Have an intentional gathering to get organized.
  • Start with what to do in a power outage; ie, outage in California; it’s a reasonable way to start.
  • Make plans that assume no cell phone communications are possible.
  • Know where to meet locally.
  • Know where to meet, if an in-town meeting is impossible.
  • Make a communication phone tree.
  • Know whose house to go to and under what circumstances.
  • Make financial plans as well.
  • Talk about what to keep at home for emergencies.
  • Develop your plans and supplies as far as you can with your family.
  • This may take a long time to complete with your family; don’t push too hard.
Make community disaster plan
  • Volunteer with Red Cross Disaster Relief
  • Find out about the Disaster Planning in your city or county.
  • Become a volunteer fire fighter.
  • Join a local organization or steering committee
  • Run for a position or the local water board.
  • Join a political group or a political action committee.
Boycott unsustainable business
  • First, what IS a sustainable business?

1 - A business that people can still get to if gas is very expensive.
2 - A business that sells things that people must have to survive.
3 - A business that sells things made locally.

  • Nearby buyer & seller, plus a basic inventory  =  more sustainable.
  • Support these: the nearby shoe repair shop, feed store, and hardware store.
  • Support CSA, farmers markets, local agriculture, community gardens.
  • Stop supporting large impersonal retail chains.
  • Boycott stores with mostly foreign made goods.
  • Don’t support stores in large malls.
  • Don’t buy things advertised on TV.
  • Buy from the small local person nearest you, even if it costs more.

Develop new skills

Collect skills information - build a library
  • Collect how-to info.
  • Craft info and trades.
  • First aid information & drug use.
  • Collect old magazines for specific subject matter.
  • Find edible plant, medical plant, & cooking info.
  • Organic farming  and permaculture info.
  • Animal husbandry info.
  • Tool making info.
  • Survival info.
  • Small engine repair info.
  • Home repair info.
  • Construction info.
  • Collect information on any needed skill you can learn from a book.
Sustainable living
  • Take a class in Voluntary Simplicity.
  • Take a class in permaculture.
  • Make longterm friends with your classmates.
  • Take sustainability as a long term personal philosophy.
Growing food
  • Become a Victory gardener, like your grandparents.
  • Learn to garden in winter with a cold frame.
  • Plant berries & nuts.
  • Start composting and improve your soil.
  • Think like a person who plans to live in the same house for 30 years.
  • Develop your garden plan for what it will be like in 30 years.
Small motor repair
  • Buy & keep the appropriate books handy.
  • Take a small engine repair class at the community college.
  • Learn how to service your lawn mower.
  • Some day you may need to pump water with that lawn mower engine.
  • Learn how to tune it up too.
  • Do the same with your chain saw.
  • Now learn how to work on a small electric motor.
  • Keep needed part at home.
  • Now graduate to a tune up on a larger engine.
  • Change your brake pads.
  • Buy & keep the appropriate books handy.
  • Build your own first aid kit from scratch, a big one.
  • Take a first aid class.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Learn to rely on herbal medicines & remedies.
  • Get a Wilderness First Responder Certificate.
  • Become part of a Mountain Rescue Team.
  • Make a first aid kit for your car.
  • Become responsible for the health of your animals.
Home repair
  • Buy & keep the appropriate books handy.
  • Take free classes at Home Depot; just walk in any Saturday.
  • Do some home repairs if you don’t already; it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Build a chicken pen.
  • Build a small out building or shed.
  • Learn to fix your roof.
  • Learn to do some basic wiring, and keep some materials around.
  • Store plumbing parts and learn how to use them.
  •     Small animal care – Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can learn these things overnight from a book.
  • Get chickens and raise them from chicks.
  • Get rabbit fryers and breed them.
  • Learn how to butcher small animals.
  • Get bees and learn to tend them and get the honey.
  • These can be done on a small scale in the city to learn the basics.
  • Now it’s time for a goat.
Food preservation & canning
  • Learn how to can food & juice the way your grandmother did.
  • Have canning equipment on hand.
  • Have lots of extra jar lids too.
  • Learn how to sun dry food and keep the flies off.
  • Get a food dryer, even better build one.
  • Learn how to smoke food to preserve it.
  • Make apple cider with your press.
  • Build a smoker; have firewood too.
  • Learn how to preserve food by salting it.
  • Keep enough salt.

Evaluate home security

Secure your house

  • Evaluate window & door security.
  • Add curtains or shades.
  • Add metal grates to unsecured windows.
  • Limit entries to your house.
  • Replace doors with single pane glass.
  • Have important phone numbers handy.
  • Have a safety deposit box or safe or both.
  • Put important things where they normally would not be found.
  • Prepare a hiding place in your home for small items.
  • Get a bigger dog.

 Improve your computer security

  • Update software.
  • Use spam & email filters.
  • Use power surge protection.
  • Backup important files.
  • Backup online.

Keep emergency equipment on hand

  • This is a big subject, from generators to biohazard gear.    
  • For starters: flashlights, batteries, a radio, food, and water.
  • Buy kits to suit the emergency you expect.
  • Weapons, tools, more food, and more water.
  • Flares, signaling devices, water filters, more food, and more water.
  • Rain gear, camping gear, cold weather clothing.
  • First aid, cell phones, extra gas, local maps.
  • Finally, more food, and more water.
  • There are many other items to add to this category. Add most specifics for  particular types of emergencies.

Keep the car prepared

  • Have a traveling kit in the car.
  • Keep a first aid kit in the car.
  • Have extra clothes and an extra radio.
  • Be sure to have extra maps.
  • Extra water and snacks.

Keep cars in good repair

  • Have it well repaired and know where to go to get some extra gas.
  • Keep oil and filters on hand.
  • Have spark plugs and an extra distributor if needed.

Protect yourself

  • Have a powerful flashlight to use as protection.
  • Learn self defense skills.
  • Keep a low profile.
  • Stay home and watch your neighborhood.
  • Have a plan for the family to stay at another location.

Protect your mail

  • Shred papers.
  • Buy a strong mailbox or get a P.O. box.
  • Keep paper with personal information out of recycling.
  • Burn old mail.

Secure your yard

  • A dog provides considerable security.
  • Install outdoor lighting.
  • Fence your yard(s)?
  • Make doorways easily visible.
  • Gate your driveway?

Improve your health

  • Stop smoking.
  • Give up fast food.
  • Become more active: walk, bike, garden.
  • Evaluate your health care plan.
  • Take care of current health needs now.
  • Do needed dental work now.
  • Develop strong personal relationships.
  • Find ways to be creative.
  • Develop your spiritual and emotional life.
  • Learn first aid.
  • Learn medical self-care.
  • Talk a workshop on herbal remedies.
  • Learn local edible plants.
  • Learn butchering animals.
  • Improve cooking skills.
  • Learn to eat less.

Act in concert with neighbors

  • Get to know your neighbors.
  • Trade off vacation watch with an immediate neighbor.
  • Learn about local threats.
  • Start a neighborhood watch.

Evaluate your job

Shorten the distance to travel

  • Work in your neighborhood.
  • Carpool.
  • Work fewer days per week.
  • Make fewer trips to work each week.
  • Move to a branch or division closer to home.
  • Interview with your company’s competitors near your home.
  • Change jobs.


Become indispensable

  • Evaluate the likelihood of job loss.
  • Consider retraining.
  • Work yourself into a position that is critical to your employer’s business.
  • Be the only person who can do your job.
  • Continue upgrading your training.
  • Work in the food or water industries.
  • Get certified/qualified for your supervisor’s job.


Plan new income sources

  • Keep your resume current.
  • Interview for new positions even if you plan to stay where you are.
  • Keep your interview skills sharp.
  • Network with others continually.
  • Is your current job likely to continue in a crisis?
  • Learn new skills and professions.
  • Work for yourself.
  • Consider growing and selling food specialty items.
  • Consider ways to start your own business.
  • Sell something you make.
  • Evaluate skills and crafts that could turn into a job.



Work at home

  • Reduce driving.
  • Write off more expenses.
  • Write off a home office.
  • Write off equipment and trips.
  • Stay with your family.
  • Develop skills to sell.
  • Become self reliant.


Additional considerations

  • Decide on your priorities.
  • Identify important concerns.
  • Develop goals.
  • Evaluate locations.
  • Determine weather & fuel needs.
  • Determine agriculture potential.
  • Consider your family & friends.
  • Evaluate job possibilities.
  • Consider cost of living.
  • Consider language.
  • Determine the cost of housing.
  • Evaluate the local economy and the inflation rate.
  • Be clear about visas and citizenship.
  • Visit many times.
  • Do your homework well.
  • Learn the local geography and climate.
  • Evaluate specific homes to live in.
  • Be employed BEFORE relocating.
  • Consider everything, again !

Get your finances in order

Get out of debt

  • This is the most important thing you can do.
  • The less you owe and the fewer places you owe money, the less you can be manipulated.

Have cash on hand

  • Keep two to three months worth of expenses on hand in cash.
  • Do not live month to month.
  • Keep enough money on hand to be flexible.
  • Find a safe place to keep things.

Copy important documents

  • Keep copies of documents.
  • Keep copies of contracts and agreements.
  • Make a copy of your passport.
  • Renew your passport BEFORE they start using biometric ID.
  • Make copies of your credit cards and ID.
  • Know how to cancel credit cards quickly.

Invest expecting the worst

  • Save if you can.
  • Buy physical gold; it is a hedge against inflation.
  • Buy physical silver. Gold & silver are real money.
  • Keep gold in your IRA.
  • Buy gold and silver stocks.
  • Consider cashing in most stocks & bonds.
  • If you invest, invest in commodities, companies that make real things and pay dividends.
  • Be conservative when investing; expect the dollar to loose its value over time.
  • FDIC insurance is not a guarantee.
  • Your pension may not be there.
  • Investment accounts could vanish.
  • When stocks, bonds, and the dollar go down - gold & silver will go up.
  • Invest in education – classes and skills training.

Cut entertainment

  • Stay home and save on gas, food, and tickets.
  • Cut out sports and lessons for children.
  • Become involved in neighborhood activities.
  • Create entertainment within walking distance of home.
  • Start activities that don’t cost money and are near you.
  • Be more involved with school and churches near by.

Stop buying alcohol

  • Save money.
  • Brew your own.
  • Drinking is a luxury.
  • Have more useful time in the evenings.

Quit athletic clubs

  • Save the money you would pay for dues.
  • Save on the gas to drive there and back.
  • Get your exercise in the garden, or your bike, and walking.

Don’t give expensive gifts

  • Make something by hand.
  • Just send a card.
  • Make a handmade card.
  • Make a meal instead.
  • Give your labor.

Grow & organize food

Lawn out; start a garden

  • Cover parts of your lawn with newspaper or cardboard.
  • Put compost or chips over that.
  • Take out small pieces of lawn at a time and plant them in food.
  • Use mulch to cut summer water use.
  • Learn more about gardening.
  • Learn what grows in the Willamette Valley.
  • It takes practice to produce good food.

Learn permaculture gardening

  • This integrated system makes a great planning tool for a yard or bigger area.
  • Develop an edible yard.
  • Plant more edible shrubs.
  • Learn about tree guilds and food forests.
  • Plant fruit, berries, & nuts.
  • Learn pruning.
  • Start composting: weeds, yard debris, kitchen waste, grass.
  • Keep bees.
  • Get chickens, rabbits, maybe a goat.
  • Collect rainwater.
  • Use your grey water.
  • Save seeds.
  • Build a greenhouse or cold frame.
  • Learn canning & preserving.
  • Consider a root cellar.

Support local agriculture

  • Seek out local farmers & craftspeople.
  • Support CSA.
  • Buy local produce.
  • Find local meat producers.
  • Buy local & buy from small businesses.
  • Store food.
  • Learn new ways to cook.
  • Use local coops.
  • Support everything small and local.
  • Don’t buy from the big box chain stores.

Store up things you consume

Store food

  • Do what the Mormons do: store a year’s supply of food.
  • Rotate food supplies.
  • Can garden vegetables and fruit.
  • Learn how to sun dry your fruit.
  • Keep extra glass jars on hand and lots of lids.
  • Buy extra canned food at the store, on sale.
  • Buy food in cases of #10 cans.
  • Example - Mountain House products.
  • Buy vaccuum sealed, nitrogen packed food with oxygen absorbers in the cans.

Store water

  • Store drinking water (potable water).
  • Can you store rainwater ?
  • Learn what greywater is safe.
  • Plan how to use grey water from showers, sinks, and washer.
  • Use garden soaking systems to conserve water.
  • Mulch.
  • Learn how to store rooftop rainwater in tanks.
  • Take a class to learn all this low tech water info above.
  • Or store plastic pipe, tanks, and fittings to build a system when you need it.

Store fuels

  • Store firewood if you have a way to burn it.
  • Have fire starters and wood cutting tools.
  • Keep newspaper and matches; also use newspaper to kill your lawn.
  • Do you have a barbecue? Get more propane tanks.
  • Store some extra gasoline; keep your car’s gas tank full.

Store materials to build with.

  • Store building supplies.
  • Store hardware supplies.
  • Have good hand tools.
  • Store insulation, pipe, tanks, extension cords, wood.
  • Know how to repair and sharpen tools.

Communication equipment

  • Don’t give up your telephone land line; batteries could be gone fast.
  • Get a hand crank radio and flashlight.
  • Consider CBs and short wave.
  • How can you contact your family without electricity?

Other consumables

  • Have animal feeds and medicines, fencing and wire.
  • Store cleaning supplies, paper products, TP, candles, batteries, and cosmetics.
  • Have extra medical supplies, medical books, and drugs.
  • Store computer ink and paper.
  • Consider getting a supply of rechargeable batteries and a charger.

Evaluate consumption AGAIN !

This section is meant to detail the things a person would do or consider doing under the very worst of conditions. Cut back again, to a more basic level.

Cut to basic energy needs

  • Keep power switched off most of the time.
  • No clothes or hair dryer use.
  • No cell phones.
  • Use furnace only occasionally.
  • Stove only occasionally.
  • No computer, TV, electronics, or stereo.
  • Stop mowing the lawn.
  • No electric yard tools.

Reduce living space.

  • Live and work in one room.
  • Cook in the one living space that you heat.
  • Insulate and seal off the living and working space.
  • If sleeping in another room, no heat.

Reuse everything

  • Begin reusing SOME water - grey water
  • Bath water, to dish water, to garden water, etc.
  • All water should end up watering crops.
  • Start a no garbage life style.
  • Keep all containers.
  • Food waste to compost or chickens.
  • Or to feed worms.
  • Packing material is insulation.
  • Reuse any building materials.
  • Kill the lawn with newspaper.

Consume even less

  • One or two meals a day.
  • Sew up clothes; keep all rags.
  • Don’t break things.
  • Buy as little as if possible.
  • Share anything that others can use too.
  • Stay home; garden with hand tools; watch your home.

Live in a family group

  • Give up living at multiple houses.
  • If gas is available, plan car use to accomplish many tasks in one trip.
  • Pool labor at one central location.
  • Garden, cook, tend animals, cut wood as a group.
  • Fill a house with many family members living together.

Set up barter

  • Store things to trade.
  • Trade for your skilled labor.
  • Search out barter currencies.
  • Find swap meets.
  • Gold and silver will most likely be the money.
  • Learn what the neighbors around need most and have to trade.
  • Online swaps: Craigslist, Yahoo, Freecycle, even Ebay.

Start a NO-EXTRAS routine

  • Everything will revolve around food and water.
  • Reduce the energy and work you put into nonessentials.
  • Take stock of everything you have.
  • Work on the necessities first, no matter how hard.

Turn your heat WAY down

  • Evaluate whether you need heat at all.
  • Living in the Willamette Valley, you can survive all winter with no heat, but you must stay dry.

Protect your family

  • Consider weapons of all and any types.
  • Keep your mouth shut; think ... “Loose lips sink ships.”
  • Become invisible.
  • Always know what is going around you and in your neighborhood.
  • Set up neighborhood patrols that are not observed.
  • Consider blocking off your street to vehicles.

Consider helping others

  • You can’t help everyone, but you must help some.
  • Be selective.
  • The old and the young are the most vulnerable.
  • Helping people is a form of barter.
  • People you help will help you.
  • People you feed will feed you.
  • People you protect will protect you.


  • It’s time to go to the dump, so to speak.
  • Figure out where the abandoned resources are.
  • Stores and businesses will close without notice.
  • Some people will abandon their homes.
  • Abandoned vehicles have many resources, more if you can cut metal.
  • Get there first; don’t fight over things, it won’t pay.
  • Have a way to move things: a cart or wagon or cycle or horse.
  • You will need help, especially getting things home.

Don’t discuss preparations

  • Keep your own counsel.
  • Even in your closest circles be careful who you tell what you have.

Develop water sources  *

  • This is probably the toughest problem besides getting out of debt.
  • You need at least 2 quarts of water to drink daily, minimum.
  •     Best solutions:
  • Drill a well. ( 20-30 feet could get you water to use for everything, EXCEPT drinking.)
  • Start rainwater collecting.
  • Buy a water tank, or two.
  • Build a cistern.
  • Keep a supply of potable water on hand all the time.
  •     Other solutions:
  • Never use water you can drink for anything else; save it.
  • There is drinking water in the water heater and the toilet tank.
  • Cooking water needs to be clean but not perfect; boil it and drink it after use.
  • Buy a water filter and purification tablets.
  • Reduce washing and cleaning to very little; put it on the garden.
  • Bath water doesn’t need to be very clean.
  • Don’t give pets or animals the best water you have.
  • Learn how to hold various grades of water to reuse many times.
  • You need some tanks, at least tubs and buckets.
  • You need a good siphon or manual pump, or both
  • Clean it, and filter it, and put tablets in it, and use it again.
  • * MINIMUM - A family of two ( 2 qts/day  X  2 people) can “get by” with one gallon of drinking water per day. Your hot water heater holds from 40 to 80 gallons.

John Kaufman presents...

John Kaufmann bio

John KaufmannJohn Kaufmann was the lead staffer for the groundbreaking Portland, Oregon Peak Oil Task Force (2006-2007), which looked at the implications of declining oil and gas supplies for the city.  John has also presented to Portland Peak Oil on multiple occasions and is highly recommended.

John is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Oregon Department of Energy, responsible for oil and natural gas supply issues. He has worked with that agency for over 25 years, starting as one of the nation's first state-level solar energy specialists. John received a Professional Achievement Award from the American Planning Association in 1988 for his work in getting 25 cities in Portland, Oregon metropolitan area to adopt solar orientation and solar rights ordinances. He managed Oregon's Business and Residential Tax Credit Programs, and Building Technologies program for 10 years.

About John's presentation

John is available for presentations at conferences as well as for government and public audiences. To request John for a speaking engagement outside Oregon, please contact the Post Carbon Institute.   To request John for a speaking engagement within Oregon, please contact John directly, please note that the group's minimum size is 20 people.

John has spoken to government and public audiences across the country about peak oil and the experiences of the Portland task force. He has a 40-60 minutes presentation that can modify emphasis based on the audience:

  • Peak Oil: Causes and Prospects
    • the facts, data and driving forces behind peak oil and peak natural gas;
    • the current and future impacts of peak oil on global, national and local economies
    • the potential for other energy sources to supply global demand
    • the potential for planning and economic behavior changes to to reduce global energy demand

Supporting Materials

You are free to re-use materials from John's slideshows, but please attribute them to him and let him know. Please also do not change and then use any of these presentations without permission.