From Peak Oil To Dark Age?

By Eugene Linden, BusinessWeek, published June 25, 2007

Oil output has stalled, and it’s not clear the capacity exists to raise production

With global oil production virtually stalled in recent years, controversial predictions that the world is fast approaching maximum petroleum output are looking a bit less controversial. At first blush, those concerned about global warming should be delighted. After all, what better way to prod the move toward carbon-free, climate-friendly alternative energy?

But climate change activists have nothing to cheer about. The U.S. is completely unprepared for peak oil, as it’s called, and the wrenching adjustments it would entail could easily accelerate global warming as nations turn to coal (see, 4/19/07, “Rx for Earth: Sooner Not Later”). Moreover, regardless of the implications for climate change, peak oil represents a mortal threat to the U.S. economy.

Peak oil refers to the point at which world oil production plateaus before beginning to decline as depletion of the world’s remaining reserves offsets ever-increased drilling. Some experts argue that we’re already there, and that we won’t exceed by much the daily production high of 84.5 million barrels first reached in 2005. If so, global production will bump along near these levels for years before beginning an inexorable decline.

What would that mean? Alternatives are still a decade away from meeting incremental demand for oil. With nothing to fill the gap, global economic growth would slow, stop, and then reverse; international tensions would soar as nations seek access to diminishing supplies, enriching autocratic rulers in unstable oil states; and, unless other sources of energy could be ramped up with extreme haste, the world could plunge into a new Dark Age. Even as faltering economies burned less oil, carbon loading of the atmosphere might accelerate as countries turn to vastly dirtier coal.

GIVEN SUCH UNPLEASANT possibilities, you’d think peak oil would be a national obsession. But policymakers can hide behind the possibility that vast troves will be available from unconventional sources, or that secretive oil-exporting nations really have the huge reserves they claim. Yet even if those who say that the peak has arrived are wrong, enough disturbing omens-for example, declining production in most of the world’s great oil fields and no new superfields to take up the slack-exist for the issue to merit an intense international focus.

The reality is that it will be here much sooner for the U.S.-in the form of peak oil exports. Since we import nearly two-thirds of the oil we consume, global oil available for export should be our bigger concern. Fast-growing domestic consumption in oil-exporting nations and increasing appetites by big importers such as China portend tighter supplies available to the U.S., unless world production rises rapidly. But output has stalled. Call it de facto peak oil or peak oil lite. It means the U.S. is entering an age when it will have to scramble to maintain existing import levels.

We will know soon enough whether the capacity to raise production really exists. If not, basic math and the clock tell the story. All alternatives-geothermal, solar, wind, etc.-produce only 3% of the energy supplied by oil. If oil demand rises by 2% while output remains flat, generation of alternative energy would have to expand 60% a year. That’s more than twice the rate of wind power, the fastest-growing alternative energy. And all this incremental energy would somehow have to be delivered to transportation (which consumes most of the oil produced each year) just to stay even with the growth in demand.

Nuclear and hydropower together produce 10 times the power of wind, geothermal, and solar power. But even if nations ignore environmental concerns, it takes years to build nuclear plants or even identify suitable undammed rivers.

There are many things we in the U.S. can do (and should have been doing) other than the present policy of crossing our fingers. If an oil tax makes sense from a climate change perspective, it seems doubly worthy if it extends supplies. Boosting efficiency and scaling up alternatives must also be a priority. And, recognizing that nations will turn to cheap coal (recently, 80% of growth in coal use has come from China), more work is needed to defang this fuel, which produces more carbon dioxide per ton than any other energy source.

Even if the peakists are wrong, we would still be better off taking these actions. And if they’re right, major efforts right now may be the only way to avert a new Dark Age in an overheated world.


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues of environmental and humanitarian significance. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The Earth today stands in imminent peril

…and nothing short of a planetary rescue will save it from the environmental cataclysm of dangerous climate change. Those are not the words of eco-warriors but the considered opinion of a group of eminent scientists writing in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

By Steve Connor, Science Editor, The Independent (UK) published June 19, 2007

Six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.

They also implicitly criticise the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for underestimating the scale of sea-level rises this century as a result of melting glaciers and polar ice sheets.

Instead of sea levels rising by about 40 centimetres, as the IPCC predicts in one of its computer forecasts, the true rise might be as great as several metres by 2100. That is why, they say, planet Earth today is in “imminent peril”.

In a densely referenced scientific paper published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A some of the world’s leading climate researchers describe in detail why they believe that humanity can no longer afford to ignore the “gravest threat” of climate change.

“Recent greenhouse gas emissions place the Earth perilously close to dramatic climate change that could run out of control, with great dangers for humans and other creatures,” the scientists say. Only intense efforts to curb man-made emissions of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases can keep the climate within or near the range of the past one million years, they add.

The researchers were led by James Hansen, the director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who was the first scientist to warn the US Congress about global warming.

The other scientists were Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha and Gary Russell, also of the Goddard Institute, David Lea of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Mark Siddall of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York.

In their 29-page paper, “Climate Change and trace gases”, the scientists frequently stray from the non-emotional language of science to emphasise the scale of the problems and dangers posed by climate change.

In an email to The Independent, Dr Hansen said: “In my opinion, among our papers this one probably does the best job of making clear that the Earth is getting perilously close to climate changes that could run out of our control.”

The unnatural “forcing” of the climate as a result of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases threatens to generate a “flip” in the climate that could “spark a cataclysm” in the massive ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, the scientists write.

Dramatic flips in the climate have occurred in the past but none has happened since the development of complex human societies and civilisation, which are unlikely to survive the same sort of environmental changes if they occurred now.

“Civilisation developed, and constructed extensive infrastructure, during a period of unusual climate stability, the Holocene, now almost 12,000 years in duration. That period is about to end,” the scientists warn. Humanity cannot afford to burn the Earth’s remaining underground reserves of fossil fuel. “To do so would guarantee dramatic climate change, yielding a different planet from the one on which civilisation developed and for which extensive physical infrastructure has been built,” they say.

Dr Hansen said we have about 10 years to put into effect the draconian measures needed to curb CO2 emissions quickly enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperature. Otherwise, the extra heat could trigger the rapid melting of polar ice sheets, made far worse by the “albedo flip” – when the sunlight reflected by white ice is suddenly absorbed as ice melts to become the dark surface of open water.

The glaciers and ice sheets of Greenland in the northern hemisphere, and the western Antarctic ice sheet in the south, both show signs of the rapid changes predicted with rising temperatures. ”

The albedo flip property of ice/water provides a trigger mechanism. If the trigger mechanism is engaged long enough, multiple dynamical feedbacks will cause ice sheet collapse,” the scientists say. “We argue that the required persistence for this trigger mechanism is at most a century, probably less.”

The latest assessment of the IPCC published earlier this year predicts little or no contribution to 21st century sea level from Greenland or Antarctica, but the six scientists dispute this interpretation. “The IPCC analyses and projections do not well account for the nonlinear physics of wet ice sheet disintegration, ice streams and eroding ice shelves, nor are they consistent with the palaeoclimate evidence we have presented for the absence of discernible lag between ice sheet forcing and sea-level rise,” the scientists say.

Their study looked back over more than 400,000 years of climate records from deep ice cores and found evidence to suggest that rapid climate change over a period of centuries, or even decades, have in the past occurred once the world began to heat up and ice sheets started melting. It is not possible to assess the dangerous level of man-made greenhouse gases.

“However, it is much lower than has commonly been assumed. If we have not already passed the dangerous level, the energy infrastructure in place ensures that we will pass it within several decades,” the scientists say in their findings.

“We conclude that a feasible strategy for planetary rescue almost surely requires a means of extracting [greenhouse gases] from the air.”


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues of environmental and humanitarian significance. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

World oil supplies are set to run out faster than expected, warn scientists

Scientists challenge major review of global reserves and warn that supplies will start to run out in four years’ time

By Daniel Howden, The Independent (UK), published June 14, 2007

Scientists have criticised a major review of the world’s remaining oil reserves, warning that the end of oil is coming sooner than governments and oil companies are prepared to admit.

BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, published yesterday, appears to show that the world still has enough “proven” reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates. The assessment, based on officially reported figures, has once again pushed back the estimate of when the world will run dry.

However, scientists led by the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, say that global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years before entering a steepening decline which will have massive consequences for the world economy and the way that we live our lives.

According to “peak oil” theory our consumption of oil will catch, then outstrip our discovery of new reserves and we will begin to deplete known reserves.

Colin Campbell, the head of the depletion centre, said: “It’s quite a simple theory and one that any beer drinker understands. The glass starts full and ends empty and the faster you drink it the quicker it’s gone.”

Dr Campbell, is a former chief geologist and vice-president at a string of oil majors including BP, Shell, Fina, Exxon and ChevronTexaco. He explains that the peak of regular oil – the cheap and easy to extract stuff – has already come and gone in 2005. Even when you factor in the more difficult to extract heavy oil, deep sea reserves, polar regions and liquid taken from gas, the peak will come as soon as 2011, he says.

This scenario is flatly denied by BP, whose chief economist Peter Davies has dismissed the arguments of “peak oil” theorists.

“We don’t believe there is an absolute resource constraint. When peak oil comes, it is just as likely to come from consumption peaking, perhaps because of climate change policies as from production peaking.”

In recent years the once-considerable gap between demand and supply has narrowed. Last year that gap all but disappeared. The consequences of a shortfall would be immense. If consumption begins to exceed production by even the smallest amount, the price of oil could soar above $100 a barrel. A global recession would follow.

Jeremy Leggett, like Dr Campbell, is a geologist-turned conservationist whose book Half Gone: Oil, Gas, Hot Air and the Global Energy Crisis brought ” peak oil” theory to a wider audience. He compares industry and government reluctance to face up to the impending end of oil, to climate change denial.

“It reminds me of the way no one would listen for years to scientists warning about global warming,” he says. “We were predicting things pretty much exactly as they have played out. Then as now we were wondering what it would take to get people to listen.”

In 1999, Britain’s oil reserves in the North Sea peaked, but for two years after this became apparent, Mr Leggett claims, it was heresy for anyone in official circles to say so. “Not meeting demand is not an option. In fact, it is an act of treason,” he says.

One thing most oil analysts agree on is that depletion of oil fields follows a predictable bell curve. This has not changed since the Shell geologist M King Hubbert made a mathematical model in 1956 to predict what would happen to US petroleum production. The Hubbert Curveshows that at the beginning production from any oil field rises sharply, then reaches a plateau before falling into a terminal decline. His prediction that US production would peak in 1969 was ridiculed by those who claimed it could increase indefinitely. In the event it peaked in 1970 and has been in decline ever since.

In the 1970s Chris Skrebowski was a long-term planner for BP. Today he edits the Petroleum Review and is one of a growing number of industry insiders converting to peak theory. “I was extremely sceptical to start with,” he now admits. “We have enough capacity coming online for the next two-and-a-half years. After that the situation deteriorates.”

What no one, not even BP, disagrees with is that demand is surging. The rapid growth of China and India matched with the developed world’s dependence on oil, mean that a lot more oil will have to come from somewhere. BP’s review shows that world demand for oil has grown faster in the past five years than in the second half of the 1990s. Today we consume an average of 85 million barrels daily. According to the most conservative estimates from the International Energy Agency that figure will rise to 113 million barrels by 2030.

Two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves lie in the Middle East and increasing demand will have to be met with massive increases in supply from this region.

BP’s Statistical Review is the most widely used estimate of world oil reserves but as Dr Campbell points out it is only a summary of highly political estimates supplied by governments and oil companies.

As Dr Campbell explains: “When I was the boss of an oil company I would never tell the truth. It’s not part of the game.”

A survey of the four countries with the biggest reported reserves – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait – reveals major concerns. In Kuwait last year, a journalist found documents suggesting the country’s real reserves were half of what was reported. Iran this year became the first major oil producer to introduce oil rationing – an indication of the administration’s view on which way oil reserves are going.

Sadad al-Huseini knows more about Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves than perhaps anyone else. He retired as chief executive of the kingdom’s oil corporation two years ago, and his view on how much Saudi production can be increased is sobering. “The problem is that you go from 79 million barrels a day in 2002 to 84.5 million in 2004. You’re leaping by two to three million [barrels a day]” each year, he told The New York Times. “That’s like a whole new Saudi Arabia every couple of years. It can’t be done indefinitely.”

The importance of black gold

* A reduction of as little as 10 to 15 per cent could cripple oil-dependent industrial economies. In the 1970s, a reduction of just 5 per cent caused a price increase of more than 400 per cent.

* Most farming equipment is either built in oil-powered plants or uses diesel as fuel. Nearly all pesticides and many fertilisers are made from oil.

* Most plastics, used in everything from computers and mobile phones to pipelines, clothing and carpets, are made from oil-based substances.

* Manufacturing requires huge amounts of fossil fuels. The construction of a single car in the US requires, on average, at least 20 barrels of oil.

* Most renewable energy equipment requires large amounts of oil to produce.

* Metal production – particularly aluminium – cosmetics, hair dye, ink and many common painkillers all rely on oil.

Alternative sources of power


There are still an estimated 909 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves worldwide, enough to last at least 155 years. But coal is a fossil fuel and a dirty energy source that will only add to global warming.

Natural gas

The natural gas fields in Siberia, Alaska and the Middle East should last 20 years longer than the world’s oil reserves but, although cleaner than oil, natural gas is still a fossil fuel that emits pollutants. It is also expensive to extract and transport as it has to be liquefied.

Hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen fuel cells would provide us with a permanent, renewable, clean energy source as they combine hydrogen and oxygen chemically to produce electricity, water and heat. The difficulty, however, is that there isn’t enough hydrogen to go round and the few clean ways of producing it are expensive.


Ethanol from corn and maize has become a popular alternative to oil. However, studies suggest ethanol production has a negative effect on energy investment and the environment because of the space required to grow what we need.

Renewable energy

Oil-dependent nations are turning to renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric, solar and wind power to provide an alternative to oil but the likelihood of renewable sources providing enough energy is slim.


Fears of the world’s uranium supply running out have been allayed by improved reactors and the possibility of using thorium as a nuclear fuel. But an increase in the number of reactors across the globe would increase the chance of a disaster and the risk of dangerous substances getting into the hands of terrorists.


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues of environmental and humanitarian significance. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Televised Water Conservation Series

Tucson Access Television is airing a six-part information series focused on water conservation.

Hosted by:
Pima County Cooperative Extension
SmartScape Program
June 23 and 28, 2007 – Arizona Cooperative Extension: Water Conservation Programs Throughout Arizona
Guest: Jim Christenson, Arizona Cooperative Extension
July 14 and 19, 2007 – Turf: A Xeriscape Landscape Component
Guest: David Kopec, Karsten Turfgrass Research Center
July 21 and 26, 2007 – Drip Irrigation and Timers for the Residential Landscape
Guest: Steve Mallgren, SmartScape and WaterSmart instructor
August 4 and 9, 2007 – Water Quality – How Desert-Adapted Landscape Plants are Affected by Salinity
Guest Host: Dan MacDonald
Guests: Ursula Schuch, UA plant sciences, and Jack Kelly, PCCE Commercial Horticulture
August 18 and 23, 2007 – Harvesting Rainwater for Landscape Use
Guest: Scott Calhoun, WaterSmart instructor

These cable television programs will air on Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. on Access Tucson: Cox Channel 99 and 
Comcast Channel 74.

Buffelgrass Eradication and Control Training

Buffelgrass is threatening Arizona‘s native deserts; it is a fire risk and doubling its stronghold annually!

You can Help! Sign-up and Learn How!

The Class Goal is to teach and activate as many people as possible to join the effort to eradicate buffelgrass during the upcoming July and August monsoon growing season!

The class will cover the following topics:

· Regional Impacts and Consequences
· Identification
· Eradication Methods and Tools for site specific area
· Ongoing Maintenance Programs
· Safe practices (will include a short field trip)

SAIAT is committed to the Community’s Goal to Stomp-out Buffelgrass and offers classes this June and July!

About the Instructor:

Charles Barclay earned his degree from the University of Arizona in Renewable Natural Resources and 1996. Since then he has worked for the National Park Services, the U.S. Forest Services, and is currently a supervisor for the Management of Invasive Species with the Arizona Department of Transportation. Mr. Barclay is a certified pesticide applicator and manages and trains teams in the conservation of the native desert while eradicating buffelgrass and other invasive plants along our roadways.

Who Should Attend: All are Welcome!

Target Groups are developers, HOA’s, landscape companies, public agencies, property management companies, utility companies, and YOU!

Buffelgrass Eradication and Control Training
When: June 29th, 2007
July 14th, 2007
Time: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Where: SAIAT
3000 E. Valencia Rd., Ste. 190
Tucson, AZ 85706
Cost: $49.00 (Continental
Breakfast Included!)
Register Today!

Visiting team points Tucson greenward

Hundreds of Tucsonans participated in the three-day Sustainable Tucson Forum on June 11-13 to share their vision of a sustainable Tucson and talk about the details of accomplishing that goal.

The 2-hour community conversation on the first night was the highlight event with everyone giving voice in an frank open forum addressing Tucson’s sustainability challenges and opportunities.

To accomplish this emerging vision of a sustainable Tucson, the key recommendation was to create an inclusive community-wide sustainability coalition. Many possibilities were explored through a process of community interaction with a national Sustainable Design Assessment Team.

Many members of Sustainable Tucson took part in the process and supported the priority of forming this inclusive coalition.

Visiting team points Tucson greenward

By Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star, June 17, 2007

Promote “walkability,” leave East Broadway open as a potential light-rail corridor, and build out the region’s bicycle route network. stadium.jpgUse less water from the ground and collect more water from the sky.

Tighten up the grids in Tucson’s road network and loosen up on parking requirements for Downtown businesses.

Recycle restaurant cooking grease into biodiesel fuel and harvest the sun’s power.

Create a council of neighborhoods and an umbrella organization of developers, environmentalists, planners and neighborhood activists.

Finally, start a community conversation on how, how much and where Tucson wants to grow.

These and dozens of other recommendations aimed at promoting sustainable development, transportation, energy use and design landed on Tucson’s doorstep in the last week.

A team of seven planners, academics and architects from six states put together the proposals after a three-day visit that included a bus tour and walking tours, a public forum, five hours of public discussion group meetings and 1 1/2 days of closed-door debate.

The Sustainable Design Assessment team, brought in by the American Institute of Architects, laid out the recommendations via PowerPoint to more than 100 people from all sectors of Tucson’s growth debate Wednesday night.

The entire effort cost $40,000, with $20,000 from the local and national architects’ groups and $10,000 each in donations from the city and county governments.

The biases and values of the team members lay clearly in the “green” direction. They preferred infill development to sprawl, renewable solar power to nonrenewable fossil fuels, transit, bikeways and pedestrian walkways to more and wider roads, and the removal, streamlining or reduction of government fees and regulations that slow close-in development.

One of their PowerPoint slides showed a gasoline pump with the price spiraling up from $2.55 to $8.55 per gallon. Another showed a bulldozer butting against a saguaro.

But a Tucson architect who organized the team’s visit said that she and the team members are well aware of the potential obstacles in proposing a sweeping agenda of environmental change. Team members said this is just the start of their efforts at turning ideals into reality.

In 60 to 90 days, they’ll produce a written report. In mid-October, the local architects’ group will hold a citywide community forum to discuss the report as part of American Institute of Architects’ Week. In a year, a team member will make a followup visit to see how the recommendations are faring.

Tucson is one of about 20 cities for which the national architects’ group has sponsored these sustainability efforts over the past three years.

Those involved know this is an uphill battle and that there is going to be skepticism, said Susan Kliman, a local architect who helped organize last week’s sessions.

But she said she believes that the national influence of former Vice President Al Gore has brought awareness and momentum toward the green movement. “I was doing research on a lot of this stuff in grad school, but nobody cared,” Kliman said. “I think people are starting to care a little more.”

Specifically, the assessment team focused on six topics: renewable energy and green resources, land use, transportation, water, Downtown revitalization and infill. Proposals ranged from the very general to the highly specific.

Some highlights:

Land use. Lecturer Kit McCullough of the University of Michigan said in an interview that a broad discussion on where and how much Tucson should grow is necessary for the community to reach consensus on how to proceed on development both on the edge and within the city.

While people have been arguing about growth in Tucson since the 1960s, the discussion hasn’t proceeded as far along as it has in other places, said McCullough, an Austin architect and urban designer in the 1990s before moving to Michigan.

In Austin, discussions on the growth issue had gone nowhere until the Sierra Club formed coalitions and found common ground with groups of opposite views, she said. Then change began to happen, “and I hope this will happen here.”

But McCullough also said local governments should remove obstacles from infill development, by helping developers assemble land parcels to build on, streamlining the process of approving development in the core and reducing or eliminating impact fees in city areas where development is desired.

Transportation. Planner Paula Reeves of the Washington Department of Transportation posted on a Power Point slide “Sun Belt or Road Belt?” to describe her view of big traffic questions facing Tucson.

“How long will we try to build our way out of congestion?” she said.

While Tucson builds roads and makes bus service improvements called for in the voter-approved Regional Transportation Authority plan, Reeves suggested that the door to light rail be left open. It wasn’t on last year’s RTA ballot and voters overwhelmingly turned a rail proposal down in 2003, but Reeves said the Broadway corridor should stay on the table as a potential future rail site.

For now, she urged Tucsonans to push for smaller-is-beautiful transportation improvements, such as “context sensitive design” and reducing the scale of the area’s road-grid system.

“Context sensitive design” is a planner’s term for a road design that takes in other community values besides the usual faster-is-better considerations, by including landscaping, public art, narrower lanes, lower design speeds, sharper turns and other special features not included in standard road designs.

Infill and Downtown. One key to success is the formation of neighborhood councils that include residents, businesses, bankers and other leaders in a neighborhood in which people can learn from one another, said Scott Page, an urban designer from Philadelphia.

Another idea is creating a neighborhood planning challenge fund, inviting neighborhood leaders and groups to apply for money to build projects in their communities. A third is to promote neighborhood pride.

Page also called for the creation of meaningful neighborhood plans involving neighbors who are affected by the plans as well as city officials. The purpose would be to capture values in a neighborhood as well as lay down rules, he said. “There’s a fundamental lack of trust. … Tucson is not the first city in which neighborhoods don’t trust the city, or (they) fight with one another,” Page said.

Some of the proposed policies

  • Transfer 3 to 4 percent of Tucson’s annual energy use from petroleum-based to renewable sources.
  • Use deep space radiation to radiate heat from buildings into the nighttime sky.
  • Urge that every rooftop have a solar or sustainable power source.


  • Use more stormwater and reclaimed water.
  • Address the question of whether Tucson is conserving water to support more growth, or the issue will undermine public support for conservation.
  • Set a water budget for each home lot. Those who use more than what’s budgeted would pay skyrocketing rates.


  • Reduce road grid networks from one mile long to a quarter-mile, to encourage more walking between major destinations.
  • Finish building Tucson’s bicycle lane system, install more signs to mark paths and routes and build stations along routes where people can store and lock their bikes, grab a bite or get tires changed.
  • Promote Flexcars, Zipcars and other car-sharing and renting arrangements where cars are parked in specific places, rented by the hour and shared among various renters. One shared car can displace 15 individually owned private cars.


  • Change the area’s development cycle from a conventional one aimed at producing standard single-family homes and more roads to one that promotes mixed-use development, a diversity of housing and business types, and walking and bicycling over cars.


  • Put a diversity of small businesses and homes within a street block, over “superblocks” bounded by widely spaced, high speed blocks.
  • Urge zero parking for new businesses, to reduce driving and congestion.

Community voices

“There was so much positive energy generated by this event for this community. Now my concern is, ‘How do you build on it, how do you maintain it, so something actually happens?'” – Ruth Beeker, former president, Miramonte (Neighborhood) Association in Midtown.

“It’s great that we have people who are objective and independent coming in for this process. But at the same time, there are a lot of issues, the complexity of which isn’t easy to understand.” – Leslie Liberti, director of the city of Tucson Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development.

Contact reporter Tony Davis at 806-7746 or


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues of environmental and humanitarian significance. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Education for Sustainability Conference

The Arizona Association for Environmental Education will hold its annual professional development conference for teachers and instructors wishing to learn how to teach sustainability principles and practices. Go to after July 1 for a complete agenda and to register. The conferenece will take place on the UA Campus during Campus Sustainability Week, October 25 – 27. Workshop and field trips will follow four theme tracks: permaculture, water conservation, climate change, and energy. Contact Jessi Williams, Conference Coordinator:

Rock the Earth! – Defenders of Wildlife at O’Malleys


Tucson LiveEarth Concert Screening and Sustainability Festival – FREE!!

C’mon Tucson. Get your Earth on! Tell people about your organization – tables are FREE!!


We are reaching out to our colleagues & friends to rally the troops for Tucson’s participation in a great event.  On July 7, 2007 we are organizing a “watch party” for the LiveEarth climate concert and combining it with a mini local community sustainability festival. This free, all ages public event is focused on outreach and education regarding climate change. You can have a table for your organization and join us in making this festival GREAT!


O’Malley’s on 4th Ave

Saturday, July 7 from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Be part of this fantastic event – exciting visuals, great music, local big-wigs, diverse groups doing sustainability, green beer, food, and lots and lots of networking!!  

Your organization is invited to come and set up a table displaying your work.  But hurry – tables are limited and available on a first-come, first served basis. Let the public know what sustainability methods you can provide. Educate the community about your organization! 

TABLES ARE FREE so we expect them to go quickly.


Defenders of Wildlife is hosting this and we really want to establish a diverse team to reach out to the masses on this crucial issue.  Come and show other Tucsonans about curbing carbon emissions through the use of alternative energyenergy efficiencies, alternative transportation,  green building, local food production, water harvesting, etc.  Green businesses are invited to apply, but no selling of goods will be allowed on site.

We are expecting a big turnout and want organizations that can provide diverse information to the public.  Come and hop on the sustainability train (or bike, if you will)! Let people know who you are and what you have to offer Tucson

Invited speakers are Congressman Raul Grijalva, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Governor Janet Napolatano, Supervisor Richard Elias, Mayor Bob Walkup and more. The LiveEarth ( 7.7.07) concert features Dave Mathews, The Police, Mellisa Etheridge, The Foo Fighters and many more!  See more about the concert at

The event will run from approximately 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. Set up for tabling must be done by 4:30 p.m..


To request a space for tabling call Dianne @ 885.1187 or Nathan @661.4331. Call now while you’re thinking about it! 


Community Conversation on Water

Save October 26th for a meeting on water in the Tucson region”Community Conversation on Water”
Friday, October 26, 2007
Approximate Time: 8:30 to 2:30
Doubletree Hotel
(445 S. Alvernon, Tucson, Arizona)

This event will be an important opportunity to learn, listen and participate
in a discussion on water resource issues in the Tucson region

The “Community Conversation” is being organized by:
The University of Arizona, Water Resources Research Center
Arizona Department of Water Resource, Tucson Active Management Area
Pima Association of Governments
Southern Arizona Leadership Council

Sustainable Tucson Himmel Library Film Nights!

During the summer Sustainable Tucson is hosting a monthly film/discussion instead of holding general meetings. All are invited to attend.

Himmel Library, 1035 N. Treat Avenue

Thursday, June 21st Film: Relocalization and the SmallMart Revolution

6-7:45 PM

Sustainable Tucson will be hosting a monthly summer movie series at Himmel Library starting Thursday June 21st. The film this month, Relocalization and the SmallMart Revolution, by Michael Shuman is a comprehensive introduction to relocalization – solutions for strengthening small businesses and community economics. Join us for this great documentary, organic popcorn, and savory discussion!

Films will also be shown on:

Monday, July 23rd and Thursday, August 16


Are you concerned about the future of the Tucsonarea? Do you have ideas about how we should be using our resources today in order to meet our needs while ensuring that there will be adequate resources for future generations? Here is your opportunity to have a voice—a real Community Forum addressing Sustainability in the Tucson Area.

As part of a three-day event entitled Tucson/Pima County, Arizona: One Million Reasons to Plan forSustainable Growth, the Southern Arizona Office of the American Institute of Architects is hosting a Community Forum on:

Monday, June 11th, 2007
The Double Tree Hotel
445 S. Alvernon Way

You are invited to participate in this unique opportunity to help our community begin to address the critical issues of dwindling resources and sustainability. The Neighborhood Infill Coalition believes that, as neighborhood stakeholders, you have a very important perspective to add to this discussion. With yourenergy, creativity, knowledge and experience, we can begin to provide direction to the public policies that will be crucial to ensuring that we, and future generations, will continue to enjoy this special place we call home.

Water In Our Desert


Do you have questions about our water supply and what we need to do to ensure its sustainability? These open meetings are an opportunity to have your questions and concerns addressed. The Pima Association of Governments will be on hand to present and answer questions. These meetings are scheduled for the following days and times.

Saturday, June 9th
Councilwoman Karen Uhlich’s Office
1510 E. Grant Road


Tuesday, June 12th                                                                                                              6:00-7:30 PM
Nanini Branch Public Library
Small Conference Room
7300 N. Shannon Road

If you would like to see the flyer about these meetings, go to http://www.tucsonaz .gov/dnr/ Documents/ CMS1_027724. pdf