Peak oil. We’ve all heard about it. The late great Captain Crude got kicked off The Oil Drum for writing about it, albeit in a soggy way reminiscent of Joe Hazelwood’s piloting style. Gulf-of-Mexico hurricanes sometimes shut down or mess up the oil importing / refining / distribution infrastructure here in the United States, resulting in a fleeting, evanescent awareness here that perhaps the continued flow of oil isn’t as guaranteed as we’d like to think it is. A month or two after the troubles go away, American yeasties resume their habits of living large on the sugar that keeps flowing into their petri dish, secure in the knowledge that “other people” are taking care of any potential problems.
Here in America we use energy quite liberally – or “librully” if you prefer the pronunciation favored by the militant-moron sect. It matters little whether we belong to the party of Tweedle Dum or the party of Tweedle Dee, or which end we break the egg on, or whether we call ourselves Christian or Muslim. Those of us living here in America are continuing the same rapacious consumption rates thought of as moral rewards by our ancestors who flocked here. There’s been a foolish attempt to export this sort of lifestyle to other places, with the inevitable result of more yeasties in more places using more sugar than before.
Few energy usage sectors are as disastrously ill-conceived as the present system of asphalt roads and individually-owned motor vehicles as exemplified here in the United States. This arrangement wasn’t accidental; if anything, it’s enormously profitable to fuel companies, tire companies, car companies, asphalt companies, and companies that sell and service the machines necessary for maintaining all that asphalt. Here in the land that perfected the “no billionaire left behind” policy, big business faced no natural impediments when it decided to buy up and scrap light passenger rail systems across the nation, all in the name of improving those quarterly profit statements. The profits are privatized, and the losses (health, environmental problems, the costs of maintaining all that road space) are socialized. Here in the United States, the transportation sector is more than 95% dependent on liquid fossil fuels – the same stuff that’s going to be more expensive and slower-flowing when PO hits.
Luckily, there are things that you can do about this! Since we haven’t yet devolved to the level of corporatism (or fascism, if you prefer) by which governmental policies strongly encourage people to use cars while strongly discouraging them from seeking transportation alternatives, you are still free to exercise some individual choices when it comes to transit modes.
(This is not to say, of course, that by the time Stimulus IV rolls around, and GM is given another $100Bn in free government money, and no one will buy their junk even at zero-down 0% loans, etc, that Xe won’t get a no-bid contract to force people at gunpoint to buy GM products, all under the sick, twisted, failed delusion that what’s good for big business is what’s good for the country. Stay tuned. Both major parties are fully-staffed with total whack jobs blinded by the notion that they can “manage things” “back to normalcy”. Uhh, no, they can’t, but they don’t know this yet.)
Even better, you can look good (and get fantastic exercise) while going carbon-lite or -neutral on transportation modes.