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The Challenges

As there are no alternative energy sources which can provide as much energy as fossil fuels, especially conventional oil, reaching peak oil means that dramatic adjustments will be required on a global scale in terms of energy production and consumption.  Peak oil will create a growing gap between rising global energy demands and a falling supply.

Adjustments will be required not only in energy technologies, but also in economic activities and social priorities.  The adjustments required are both inevitable and profound.

Energy and Economic Prosperity   Energy is vital for economic activities, both to maintain existing human infrastructure and for growth to meet unmet basic human needs. As the cost of energy increases and the supply declines, there will be considerable economic disruption as these phenomena work their way through the global economy.  Business models which rely on cheap energy (especially energy required for transportation, over 90% of which relies on oil) will no longer be viable. Significant investments will be required to both make the transition away from fossil fuels, and to develop and implement new business models.

Maintaining an adequate energy supply is essential to meeting basic human needs to ensure both survival and well being.

Energy and Equity   The past century of economic activity have resulted in enormous gaps in wealth across the globe. The combined wealth of the world’s 400+ billionaires is equal to that of the 40% of humanity at the bottom of the wealth pyramid. This pattern is repeated in terms of access to energy: in highly developed nations the per capita energy consumption grossly exceeds that necessary for human well being, while some 2 billion people in the poorer nations do not have access to electricity.

Social equity is critical for ecological sustainability.  The transition to a new energy regime must include planning and implementation of strategies dedicated to eliminating social inequality, while ensuring adequate energy for all.

Energy and Ecological Sustainability   The more the world uses fossil fuels, the greater the ecological damages to both local and global ecosystems.  All the alternatives to oil will involve a reduction in energy quantity and quality; some of the alternatives will also increase ecological degradation.

As a transition to alternative energy sources occurs, it is imperative that sustainable technologies are employed as quickly as possible. In addition, the connection between energy use and ecological limits needs to be clarified.

Energy and Violent Conflict   Wars have been fought over valuable resources from the beginning of human history.  The importance of energy to national well being has the potential to increase violent conflicts on a global scale. Such conflicts exist in the world today over oil and related resources. The risk of violence will increase as supply dwindles with the approach of peak oil.  Changes in economic activities also have the potential to generate considerable social chaos and violent conflict within nations.

Avoiding violent conflicts (and the inevitable attendant violations of human rights) as energy supplies decline, will require an unprecedented level of international cooperation and political will.

A Way Forward

The social and ecological challenges we face with the advent of peak oil are unprecedented in human history.  A new paradigm is required to meet these challenges which will soon be manifest by the imminence of peak oil and other fossil fuels.  Three key criteria for a new paradigm must be:


An international campaign is needed to work toward the development of a binding agreement amongst all nations for the sustainable production and equitable consumption of energy. 

The Energy Future Campaign seeks to bring together civil society organizations from various sectors to both articulate the goals and details of such an international campaign, and to work toward its implementation.
A DRAFT Energy Future Protocol(currently referred to as the Energy Future Framework) has been developed as a Discussion Piece.  Your comments, suggestions and critique are welcomed.

If you are interested in participating in the effort, please contact Jack Santa-Barbara (jacksb@sustainablescale.org ).

Eminent Persons Who Support the Energy Future Campaign (to date)


1.     Herman Daly

One of the Founders of Ecological Economics

University of Maryland


2.     Johan Galtung

Professor of Peace Studies, Transcend Peace University

Director, Transcend: A Peace and Development Organization for Conflict Transformation by Peaceful Means

One of the Founders of Peace Education and Research

VERSONNEX (Ain), France



3.      Robert Goodland

Formerly, Environmental Advisor

World Bank


4.     Richard Heinberg

Core Faculty, New College of California

Author, Journalist, Educator and Lecturer

Santa Rosa, CA, USA



 5. William E. Rees, PhD


University of British Columbia

School of Community and Regional Planning

6333 Memorial Road

Vancouver, BC, Canada

V6T 1Z2

6.  Sulak Sivaraksa

Teacher, Scholar, Publisher and Activist

Founder of the International Network of Engaged Buddists (INEB);Founder and Director of Spirit in Education Movement

666 Charoen Nakhon Road, Klongsan Bangkok 10600 Thailand


7.   David Suzuki

      Broadcaster and Environmentalist




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