Sunday, June 10, 2007

From "A Quiet Revolution"

I wrote a short response to a thought provoking piece on Spinopsys.

Recently I read a prediction of gasoline reaching $20/gallon (USD) within 10 years. That may occur because oil production cannot increase, yet demand surely will. While it would be painful, it would force the development of new technologies. The convergence of peak oil, emerging environmental awareness, and sustainable growth may be the 'perfect storm' that sweeps away our reliance on private motor vehicles.

Such high fuel prices would be the death-knell for the airline business, of course, and I'd likely be out of a job. It could be a race between increasing fuel prices and an earlier-than-anticipated retirement. I'm eligible for full retirement in less than 5 years. Technically, that makes me an old fart, but despite that, I'm still willing to try to out-sprint any of you young kids!

(One patented characteristic of us out-of-touch old farts is the triumph of ego over common sense. While I'm perfectly willing to try a maximum effort sprint on a moment's notice, I'm fully aware that it will likely hurt very badly. That wouldn't stop me. I never claimed to be smart.)

Fuel prices ripple through the economy, and cyclists are not immune. It costs more money to deliver groceries to the local store. It costs more for bus service or any other service that relies on a fleet of vehicles. Some police departments are switching to electric patrol cars now in an effort to save funds. The trend will continue.

If oil prices increase drastically, expect other forms of fuel to increase as well. Pressure from upwardly spiraling oil costs will cause similar increases in natural gas. Honestly, I don't see methanol as a viable alternative, unless we re-plant the entire Midwest in corn, and even then there's a huge problem getting it to markets because ethanol is corrosive and can't be piped. Solar and wind power are limited too.

That leaves nuclear (or nuke-u-lar) as the swaggering Texan puts it) and I'd rather not think about that.

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Blogger Macher said...

Well, nuclear power has come a long way. I think we'd be smart to generate more power that way.


12:18 PM  
Blogger Fritz said...

Airlines won't be the only industry that's hard hit. Fuel drives our entire economy, including the high-tech world that I live in. Economic growth -- the increase in the resources available to consumers -- only occurs when more energy is consumed. If the energy is not available to consume, economic growth cannot happen.

James Lovelock believes nuclear is the only possible salvation for mankind.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...


8:53 AM  

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