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)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


13 April, 2011

The May issue of Minnesota Monthly just came out and has a 2-page article featuring my project!  Thanks to Ellen Burkhardt for a well-done summary of my experience and the metrics that go along with it:

(click to enlarge)

Now for an update on my current efforts.  As I mentioned before, I've spent that last few months compiling my '100 days' experience into a 170 page document which is a much more complete description and analysis of the facts behind the issues I explored here as well as a series of design considerations presented as hypothetical solutions to many of the things I struggled with during the project.  Because the project was essentially exploring what systems exist in our current society to support a world post-cheap-oil, many of these design solutions focus on the urban form, while the others focus on the scale of our homes. 

I'm working on exploring publishing options at this point.  My desire is to make this information as available as possible to anyone who might be interested in exploring changed actions in their lives similar to those I explored.  The publication will be titled '100 Days Without Oil: Lessons learned from attempting to live in a resource balance.'  Please check back for more information about this soon!

On another front, I have been collaborating with a public policy student at the University of Minnesota to brainstorm how we can continue the work I began with this project at a larger, community scale.  While we are still generating ideas for how to carry this forward, our goals are to attack this problem from its two ends- both from the bottom up (as my project was) and from the top down (in environmental policy changes).  I'll continue to update on our efforts here!


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