This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age", a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources to be using. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum.

The goal of living for 100 days without oil is to understand the extent of our dependance on oil in American society today. Specifically, how it will affect my life, as a 25 year-oil living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependance occurs in all aspects of our daily lives : How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as; an energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.

(At the bottom of this page is a link to my version of a flow diagram of 'Where Petroleum Exists in Our Daily Lives' (using information from the Energy Information Administration-Annual Energy Review 2008 fig 5.0 Petroleum flow) click and zoom to enlarge)

Friday, October 29, 2010


25 October 2010

We've been getting some crazy weather here lately....

This morning we had a light sprinkle of rain and the temp was around 55.  By the afternoon, however, winds were consistently 30 mph with gusts of 50 mph and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees (during the day!) to 35.  Planning my bike home to when there was a break in the rain, I rode home realizing that transporting myself around during the rest of this project isn't going to get any easier...

While I didn't get rained on riding home, we found ourselves riding against 30 mph winds.  Turning what is typically a 25 min commute (6-miles) into a 50 min one.  Turning around a corner anytime I was going west  STOPPED my bike.  And swirling gusts of 50 mph wind literally blew me sideways off the trail (yeah I was in the grass). We were afraid to bike next to each other and rode behind to avoid blowing into each other.  Pretty scary conditions to be biking in.  I quarantined myself into my house the entire next day (which was also really gusty, powerful winds), refusing to go out and risk my life on the road :/  I found out later that day that the crazy weather was caused by the lowest barometric pressure on record being set at 28 some in Hg.  Always one for a bit of history, my mom sent me this email,

"I heard on the news this am that we here in Minnesota have just experienced the lowest barometric pressure drop in recorded history! This has created ridiculous winds – comparable to a category 3 hurricane. The previous lowest drop in barometric pressure ever recorded happened during the storm system that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior in 1974.  Yesterday, there were already 15-20 swells on Lake Michigan, so we will see what today brings…"

On top of that, the first 32 degree temperature was reached this Friday morning, October 29, tied for the 9th latest below freezing temperature in the Twin Cities (  It really surprised me to hear that we have seen a warmer October than usual (the average first 32 degree temperature is Oct  6th).  I think this just illustrates how much more connected I am to the weather day-to-day than I have been every before in my life, it never seemed this colder before! Each morning I check, not only only the temperature, but also be sure to take note of the wind speed and direction.  I know I'm going to have a tough ride in the morning if there are strong eastern winds.  While people are generally concerned with what the highest daily temperature is, I more often care what the LOW is.  I end up biking in almost the lowest temperature every morning leaving around 7:30am.

This article on MPR's website ( mentions that snow might be a possibility during the project (ending nov 22nd).  As they say:

"It's wayyyy out in the medium range forecast models and could be pure fiction at this point...but the models are hinting at the potential for our first big snow in southern Minnesota the weekend of November 13-14."

Crossing my fingers that that won't happen.  While its already cold, dealing with ice and snow on the ground would be an even more precarious biking situation. 

We are also slowly and steadily getting less daylight.  When I am leaving in the morning now it is just dark enough to want to have bike lights on, and I try to make sure the leave campus before it gets dark.  It's getting more stressful to ride when I feel like I am less visible to drivers. 

EVERYTHING gets harder when it gets dark, and cold.