Blueskin Low Oil Commuting group (BLOC)


Purpose / Philosophy:Oil is the most energy dense, easily accessible fuel source in the world, which is why its use underpins our transport, food, and manufacturing industries. However, we have to face the fact that oil, and other hydrocarbons (natural gas, coal) are finite resources. They originate from anaerobic decomposition of buried organic material, most of which accumulated during distinct periods in Earth history when life flourished due to the climate – mostly hundreds of millions of years ago. That organic material had to be buried to high pressures and ‘cooked’ under pretty specific conditions over thousands of years, and then trapped in special, relatively uncommon geological structures, to be preserved to the present day as the hydrocarbons we presently extract, inefficiently, from the Earth. The proportion of buried organic material that is preserved as hydrocarbons is very low, and we have to be aware that more hydrocarbons aren’t going to form in human lifetimes.

I find people I talk to about the problem of the world's hunger for fossil fuels are divided into two groups:
1)    Those who think we should just go for broke because the world won’t stop burning fossil fuels until they are all gone
2)    Those who think that one way to reduce consumption is to reduce demand

The Blueskin Low Oil Commuting group (BLOC) plans to promote and enact the second philosophy. Our purpose is to reduce hydrocarbon demand and consumption through our own every-day activities.

: We hope to establish a user-driven network of people who regularly travel between the Blueskin area and Dunedin for work, and who are interested in doing this in a more ‘hydrocarbon-conscious’ way. The most obvious method for this is to travel via bike – however, 2 hours of daily cycle commuting isn’t compatible with all of our schedules. We hope the BLOC will provide the opportunity for more people to participate in occasional cycle commuting, and promote other ‘hydrocarbon-conscious’ commuting options, by linking those who cycle and those who can drive bikes around if the need arises!

Initially, we will start an email-based mailing list to provide a link between people who travel by bike, so they can plan to cycle together (increasing motivation) or share other transport (increasing opportunity to ride / decreasing excuse not to ride!). We can also network about bike fixit and repair issues. We also hope to disseminate information about other transport methods that don't use fossil fuels - such as biodiesl. Other ideas on how to further BLOC's purpose are also welcome and will be gratefully received.

We don’t plan to replace existing schemes or groups – for example the Waitati WWW ride-share scheme, the ‘Get the Train’ initiative, or those folks from Port Chalmers who are interested in making the public transport network work better. We also aren’t trying to become a cycling club – those already exist in Dunedin (e.g. Cycling Otago Inc., the Harbour Cycle Network, or Spokes Dunedin). This isn’t about finding something to do on your day off, its about your normal weekday! However, we do hope to favourably interact with those groups.


Launch: BLOC will be launched during the Blueskin 10:10:10 Day of Action on Climate Change, 10 Oct 2010. Speak to Virginia Toy on this day, or drop her an email to sign up for the mailing list. To post to the mailing list, similarly email (replace _at_ with @).

Examples of the kind of posts I expect to the list:
“Hey everyone – I am planning to cycle in to work tomorrow, departing Waitati School at 6:30am – join me if you’re keen”
“Hi all – I want to ride home from work tomorrow but need to be in town by 8am for a lecture and haven’t got any bike lights so can’t leave early enough to ride in as well – can anyone give me and my bike a lift in, in the morning?”
“Hi guys – does anyone actually know how to adjust gear shifters? I could use some advice”