We attended a conference on “Peak Oil” at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio today. The conference focused on the societal shift that needs to happen now that we’re now on the verge of peak oil production worldwide, and we are starting to move into a downward oil cycle. Put another way, speaker Pat Murphy echoed what many environmentalists are now saying: “The fossil fuel party is over.” Murphy, who is the Executive Director of Community Services, Inc. in Yellow Springs, called for much more of a phasing in of solar and wind technologies: “as soon as possible.” Murphy pointed out that during the oil crisis of the late ’70s in the U.S., Jimmy Carter had solar panels put on the White House roof. Ronald Reagan ordered they be taken down when he got in… Murphy also noted only 18% of the world lives in First World comfort, while much of the rest lives in staggering Third World poverty. He said we have become a country of ravenous “consumers” (energy, food, material goods…); while billions in the Third World live with less than the bare essentials in food, energy, shelter, and so on. He said years from now, our American society will be looked at as an abberation in regard to how we should really be living within the context of the global community. And Mr. Murphy added it is essential we become a society of “conservers,” rather than “consumers ” — as soon as possible as well… Berkley, California’s Jan Lundberg said: “The eco-system is on the ropes and the industrial world is in denial.” Describing himself as a “cultural change activist,” Lundgren said our society is going to have to “relocalize and contract.” That is, in the next era there will be a lot more local production for local consumption with food and goods, because peoples’ mobility will be curtailed significantly. [It was pointed out at the conference that an average food item in America now is trucked about 1,500 miles before getting to the table.]… Conference speaker Michael Shuman, from Maine, reiterated we must begin shifting to smaller, sustainable communities in which there is more interdependency. The author of the book: “Buy Local,” and an economist, Shuman proposes more incubators and mentorship programs to help small local businesses get started. He also recommends local citizens buy shares in local businesses to increase, even more, the local ties, etc.