Thursday, April 20, 2006

Welcome To The Long Emergency

This morning I read an article in my local paper about shortages at area gas stations. Shortly thereafter I received a forwarded email that detailed a master plan for consumers to lower the price of gas. The plan made sense -- instead of everyone boycotting gas stations on a particular day, which doesn't do much good since Exxon knows you'll eventually have to give in, this email recommended that everyone boycott a specific company (Exxon-Mobil) entirely until it's forced to lower its prices to attract business. This, in turn, will force the other gasoline companies to lower their prices in order to compete with Exxon-Mobil, and we will have successfully lowered the price of gasoline. Great.

Except the real problem is not that gas is nearly $3 a gallon, but that we are running out of oil. Given that even the best estimates place us (and I mean the global "us") at the peak of Hubbert's peak, wouldn't now be a pretty good time to start thinking seriously, I mean really seriously, about alternative sources of energy? Answer: no, several decades ago would have been a good time to start thinking about that. Now would be what we call imperative. Unless, of course, you kind of enjoyed the Great Depression.


Melissa said...

One reason I love living in NYC - rarely I am at all responsible for consumption of oil. (Meaning, I take the train everywhere, except for when I am really drunk and it's 3 am - then I take a taxi.)

Steve said...

I salute you for use of public transportation. What we also must digest as a society is that the business end of Hubbert's peak has ramifications beyond motoring to 7-11 for a slurpee. The food we eat is grown and transported with masssive petro inputs; our economy, as Kunstler makes clear in his many books, is largely based on the creation and support of suburban sprawl, and when that party ends due to the worldwide lack of oil, our economy is going to have a conniption fit that will touch every person in ways we are only beginning to appreciate. City dwellers and those who have seen a way of life beyond what our current Vice President called "non-negotiable", and I count myself as one, are responsible for the consumption of oil in ways that we immediately don't think of (those plastic bags at the store that we know we should not use but do anyway because we have to put the kitty litter box lumps in something other than our hands will become very scarce as the Long Emergency manifests itself). We are all the problem and we are all the solution. Or we are all just really up a creek without a paddle.

Megan said...

Okay, Steve, but we city dwellers are certainly not consuming as much oil as the suburban H2 drivers, who probably ask for extra plastic bags at the grocery check-out.

One can fairly easily choose to use public transportation, or to live in the city rather than the suburbs, but what's a gal to do about the petro-chemicals involved in the production of her salad?