May 29 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy Year: General Rating: 8 Hot
With crude oil hovering at an all-time high of $130/gallon people all over the globe are feeling the pain and starting to react in different ways.
Some are finally choosing to drive less frequently. CNN reports that “compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less—that’s 11 billion fewer miles, the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration said Monday, calling it ‘the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history.’”
Others are increasingly making the switch to higher-mileage and hybrid vehicles.
In Europe, where environmental taxes roughly double the cost of gas, groups of French and British workers are demanding public assistance by staging protests .
A few particularly pinched and pro-active folks in rural regions are shifting around their work week and travel schedule. According to the Wall Street Journal “a handful of small towns and community colleges are switching to four-day workweeks in an effort to help employees cope with the rising gasoline prices, and could soon be joined by some larger local governments.”
And of course there are the enterprising individuals who’ve decided that enough is enough and that it’s time to take drilling for oil into their own hands.
This is just the beginning. (cont.)
As we approach Peak Oil and the prospect of $200/barrel crude (and more) becomes a serious possibility for the near future, we can be certain that the disruption to our economy and way of life will be directly correlated.
While there are many positives to higher fuel costs, such as lower CO2 emissions, increased rewards for innovations in alternative-fuels and electric vehicles, an added incentive for national WiFi, etc, the potential negatives (drastically higher food and plastics costs, higher transportation and heating bills, even widespread economic decline or collapse) are truly scary and will become a reality if prices rise too quickly.
This all makes for quite the dramatic U.S. election season as Obama and/or Hillary face off against McCain in a tight race that should at last feature serious debates about our future energy policy. The greater the rise in oil prices, the greater the electoral fireworks and the greater the stakes for the near-term economic well-being of the entire interconnected world.
Here’s crossing my fingers that oil prices will rise slowly so that people can adjust and accelerating change can bail us out of a truly crappy near-term future full of increasing protests, rising product and service costs, and decreased global security.