Peak Oil or Oil Shock? Energy security and pathways to a sustainable future

Jointly presented by: Adelaide Peak Oil and The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, UniSA

Monday 28 August 2006

Why do we have sustained high petrol prices? Is this a brief blip on our economic horizon or have we hit 'Peak Oil', the halfway point in the availability of oil? What are the alternatives to fossil fuel and how can we adapt our cities and the way we live to cope?


Presentations from Richard and David may be found on David's web site at

Richard Heinberg’s presentation along with others made at ASPO V conference in Italy this year

David Holmgren article: Retrofitting the suburbs for sustainability *

Adelaide welcomes prominent authors and speakers Richard Heinberg and David Holmgren to answer these questions and consider the consequences of an energy constrained world. Crude Oil prices over $70 per barrel have prompted Australian Treasurer Peter Costello to describe this as merely another "Oil Shock" with potential for consequences similar to those of the 1970's but Peak Oil has been gaining credence in scientific circles and gaining media attention.

Peak Oil is the point at which the world can no longer continue to increase the supply of crude oil. It can also be considered a "tipping-point" in our delicate relationship with the planet. It is now recognised as a serious threat to our consumption-driven, globalised 'economy on wheels'. While the jury is out on the actual date of the world peak, even oil companies agree it will occur in the foreseeable future.

International speakers David Holmgren and Richard Heinberg will provide us with a thorough briefing on the world situation, and flesh out some sustainable alternatives to potential wars that we are told will "not end in our lifetimes" as the world's physical and economic infrastructure breaks down. Pessimists see a world depression, skyrocketing oil prices, stock-market panic, high unemployment ... and worse, yet there are optimists who believe that we will enjoy "the invisible hand of the market", guiding us unerringly into a renewable hi-technology future.

Our speakers believe that Peak Oil provides an important opportunity to implement a wide range of positive, environmentally-benign, economic and social alternatives that will help us bridge the energy gap. We can take advantage of the opportunities that Peak Oil represents to rebuild our personal and household self-reliance. We can relocalise our communities and economies. And we can succeed in navigating the rapids of our looming "energy descent".

Using technology that is available today, and 25 years of permaculture-inspired "bottom-up" solutions to problem-solving, we can overcome the avalanche of confusing disinformation coming from vested interests, and assist people to adapt to and excel in the challenges and opportunities to come.

Join Adelaide Peak Oil and the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, with sponsors SAFF Fuels, at this crucial Public Lecture evening.



Richard HeinbergMr Richard Heinberg
Richard Heinberg is the author of six books including The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies (New Society, 2003, 2005), and Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World (New Society, 2004). He is a journalist, educator, editor, lecturer, and a core faculty member of New College of California, where he teaches a program on Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community, and is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost Peak Oil educators.

Richard's monthly MuseLetter was nominated in 1994 for an Alternative Press Award and has been included in Utne Magazine's annual list of Best Alternative Newsletters. His essays and articles have appeared in many journals including The Ecologist, Z Magazine, The Futurist, European Business Review, Earth Island Journal, Yes!, Wild Matters, The Proceedings of the Canadian Association of the Club of Rome, Alternative Press Review and The Sun; and on many web sites including, Al, and Richard is a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute and a member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.  Richard's latest book The Oil Depletion Protocol will be available by August.

David HolmgrenMr David Holmgren
David Holmgren BA (Env.Des.) ( is an environmental design consultant, author and teacher with a broad range and depth of practical and professional knowledge of sustainable land use. He is best known as co-author with Bill Mollison of Permaculture One (1978), a milestone in the application of environmental design to productive land use (published in six languages).

For over 25 years David has given courses, seminars, radio and television interviews dealing with the application of permaculture principles to gardening, agriculture, forestry, conservation, land-use planning and architecture. Apart from his pioneering articulation of the permaculture concept in the 1970s, he has written several more books, developed properties and eco-villages using permaculture principles, conducted workshops and courses in Australia, New Zealand, Europe & Japan.  Within the growing and international permaculture movement, David is respected for his commitment to presenting permaculture ideas through practical projects and teaching by personal example. He believes that a sustainable lifestyle is a realistic, attractive and powerful alternative to the oil-dependent consumerism that has led to our current energy demise.  David's latest book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability is a definitive work to guide us through the energy descent period.

SAFF logo Adelaide Peak Oil logo
Permaculture logo  

While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy – valuing our cultural diversity – and building our future