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Life without oil: Can Marquette kick the habit?

February 6, 2009
By MIRIAM MOELLER, Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - What if the world runs out of oil? The truck that brings food to Marquette will never reach its destination.

Most families will not be able to heat their homes. People won't be able to drive to work. Trucks won't move snow. Planes won't fly. And companies won't be able to produce.

A new public film series called "Preparing Marquette for a Future without Oil" is examining what can be done to live in a world independent of non-renewable natural energy resources such as oil.

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"I think first of all it's an awareness of the issues of peak oil, climate change, financial crisis and what impact it will have on our country," said Stephen DeGoosh, a geography professor at Northern Michigan University who is organizing the series. "The film series is really an awareness effort to give people a deeper understanding why we need to get together as a community and engage in our future."

DeGoosh said the seven documentaries show that the world is not only running out of natural energy resources but politics, economics and the financial system are deeply intertwined in these issues.

"We're in a time where we have less energy (use) per capita," he said. "We've actually been in that state for a long time. Energy (use) per capita is going to accelerate."

DeGoosh said researchers have said that the United States actually reached peak oil production in the 1970s and production has been declining since.

"We import 27 percent of the world's production, which puts us in an extremely compromised position," he said.

The first movie in the series, "Taken for a Ride," which aired in December, dealt with the history of oil, DeGoosh said. The January film, "Crude Awakening," discussed how oil is running out and the global conspiracies behind it.

The next film, "Crude Impact," will continue to deal with the end of the "oil era," DeGoosh said. Subsequent films, shown monthly through June, will show how a community such as Marquette can deal with a change in lifestyle - a life independent of oil.

"The subsequent steps are, at the grassroots level, to begin mobilizing the community to begin to transition into the type of community we want to be - independent of carbon based fuel," he said.

DeGoosh said the films heavily focus on the issue of sustainability.

"What does sustainability mean? Sustainability assures that the availability of energy is always going to be the same," he said. "That story is not true. Most people who study this think that the (global petroleum liquids) peak was last summer. That means our economy can't be supported (in the future)."

Films, which are free of charge, are shown at 7 p.m. Wednesdays once a month in the Community Room at Peter White Public Library. A discussion follows each film.

DeGoosh said all films will be made available at the library for individual viewing.



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