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The Problem

The threat to our climate is becoming graver with each passing year. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the decade from 2000-2009 was the warmest on record. And 2010 was the warmest single year on record. Well-known climatologist James Hansen says, “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimatic evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 [in the atmosphere] will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm [parts per million] to at most 350 ppm.”

CO2 per CapitaThis means that in order to have an equitable world decline in consumption, Americans will need to cut their CO2 emissions (and thus fossil fuel energy use) by 90% by the year 2050, or about 3-4% per person per year. As the graph at right shows, we in the U.S. need to go from generating approximately 19 metric tons of CO2 per person per year, to 1-2 metric tons. As the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, we should not only make the largest cuts, we should lead the way.

A worldwide peak in oil production (Peak Oil) was first predicted in the 1950s. Peak Oil theory states that the world has a fixed amount of oil and at some point production will begin to decline, regardless of how much exploration and drilling is done. The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its 2010 Annual Report acknowledged that Peak Oil for “conventional oil” has already occurred. The IEA estimates Peak Oil for all liquids could occur by 2020. (Read a Q&A on Peak Oil here.)
Peak Oil and Gas

Companies that have the most investments in oil, and the financiers who invest in oil exploration, are giving off clear signals that they know Peak Oil is coming. While companies like Shell, Exxon Mobil and BP have posted record profits in the last few years, these same companies are spending less and less on finding new oil, as the cost of exploration begins to exceed the revenue from the oil discovered. “The great merger mania is nothing more than a scaling down of a dying industry,” said Goldman Sachs in a 2004 report, “in recognition of the fact that 90% of global conventional oil has already been found.”

Wealth by Nations

During the fossil fuel era, inequity increased significantly. Fossil fuels brought economic growth, but not to everyone. The theme of economic growth was “a rising tide lifts all boats.” But the advantages of fossil fuel prosperity were not distributed equally. Peak Oil and Climate Change imply a future contracting of the economy, leaving us uncertain about how to deal with the record level of inequity that has developed in the past fifty years.

Given that our insatiable demand for energy is generating climate-threatening levels of CO2, and at the same time we’re also running low on the fossil fuels that are burned to create that energy, what can we do? This is the question we are trying to answer with Plan C Solutions, a concept of Curtailment and Community.

We believe the most effective way to deal with energy shortages and alleviate global warming is to consume less energy by reducing the goods and services we use – to curtail many of our energy dependent activities. This is in contrast to “conservation” or “efficiency” which normally means reducing energy consumption by becoming more efficient in producing goods and services, hoping we can maintain our current life style. “Community” provides a context of cooperation – a way of working together so that curtailing energy use is more easily accomplished.

Read about all our Plan C solutions.


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