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A life without oil: Local group looks at options

March 27, 2009
By MIRIAM MOELLER Journal Staff Writer

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MARQUETTE - If the world runs out of oil, how would we produce food? What would we do with our cars?

These were a few questions discussed by some of the 90 people who came to see "End of Suburbia - Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream" - a film part of a series called "Preparing Marquette for a Future Without Oil" at the Peter White Public Library Wednesday evening.

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The film series shows that the world's fossil fuel supplies are dwindling and that a life dependent on petroleum-based products may not be possible in the near future.

Stephen DeGoosh, Northern Michigan University geography professor, showed the 2004 film that includes comments from experts such as author and geologist Colin Campbell and Matthew Simmons, CEO of the world's largest energy investment bank, Simmons & Co. International.

The film shows the history of how suburbs formed in America, influenced by the automotive boom in the 1920s and housing boom in the late 1940s.

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Urban designer Peter Calthorpe said originally, suburbs were designed so that buses and trains could reach them, but then the auto industry influenced development so suburbia would be dependent on automobiles.

New urbanist and author James Howard Kunstler said American life will have to change before the oil runs out.

"We're going to have to downsize in everything we do," he said. "We're going to have to grow food closer to home. We're going to have to learn retail again on a local level."

After the film, in a small discussion group, Judy Eisenberg of Marquette said this community is a great place to start a life independent of oil.

"It's a very walkable community," she said, adding that the current bus system should be enhanced.

Chip Truscon of Marquette said: "If the auto companies really want to do something, they should retrofit every car with a supplemental hydrogen system." He added that it could bridge the gap until better alternatives have been found.



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