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Keynote Lecture - April 9, 2005

Dr. David Porreca of University of Waterloo presented Resource Depletion and Surviving the End of Empires


In this talk, I shall explore the issues we all face with respect to humanity's use of one of the key resources for the maintenance of modern civilization: oil. I shall first provide a broad outline of the extent to which we are dependant on oil for every aspect of our modern lifestyle, most crucially in terms of our food supply. Then, the current status of oil production capacity and reserves will be examined, in addition to what options we have to substitute or replace the role of oil in our modern economy. Based on the material presented so far, it will become clear that the production of petroleum worldwide cannot grow indefinitely, and that the era of cheap oil extraction will not outlast our current decade. This will in turn lead to a discussion of the likely consequences of the impending peak in worldwide production of oil. Drawing parallels from other epochs which have been though the decline of a crucial resource, I propose that the activities sponsored by this conference are likely to morph from being hobbies practiced in people's spare time to become crucial in the economic well-being of those who possess real know-how in low-tech skills.

David Porreca
PhD, University of London

Assistant Professor
Department of Classical Studies
University of Waterloo
David Porreca joins the classical studies department after completing a PhD(2001) at the Warburg Institute, University of London, UK, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Wilfrid Laurier University, where he was appointed an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Religion and Culture. Porreca began his academic career at UW, earning a BA in Medieval Studies; he received an MA from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. His research interests include the heritage of the classical tradition; influence of writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus on the Middle Ages; ancient and medieval esoterica: medieval philosophy and theology. He is teaching Latin language courses and courses on Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Porreca received a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship and Postdoctoral Fellowship, and is currently co-investigator for a UW LT3 Learning Initiatives Fund project on Digital Teaching and Learning for Classical Studies. Outside of work, he spends time "raising my dear daughter, Maya; studying issues of worldwide resource depletion in order to establish a basis for local sustainable living with a minimal ecological footprint; board/card games.