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Culture Change print magazine issues: 20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  index

Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


Oil As Yesterday's Price/Supply Worry?

As the Auto-Free Times goes to press in late January, crude oil prices have approached $30 per barrel. In corporate media reports, the spectre of an oil supply crisis is deemed to be no big deal. Ha! If this price level persists or the trend continues, three things happen: Supplies of crude and then gasoline, diesel and other refined products keep tightening, causing stockpiling by other industries and consumers. Interest in alternative energy revives, although too little and too late for macro-economic change. Inflation kicks in as businesses recoup higher energy costs.

Agriculture is an oil and natural-gas intensive industry all the way. Therefore, food price hikes and an historic food shortage are inevitable in an overpopulated world that is losing precious farmland to paving and erosion.

Jan Lundberg predicted in 1988 in National Petroleum News that oil prices will remain under the cost of alternative energy one way or another, in order to assure continuation of the huge market size; except for brief spikes, oil prices will not return to major highs relative to the 1970s until a final severe shortage. This will hit early in the 21st century, and then the scramble for alternatives will be too late to avoid major havoc for the world economy. The view of the American Petroleum Institute, in response to the end of abundant oil according to the gospel of the Hubbert production curve, was unofficially given as: there's plenty of time to first enjoy all that cheaply produced Arab oil.

The fact remains that whether oil is at 1998's low near $10 per barrel, or today's "$30/barrel oil," consumption of oil is at record levels. We are using up the stuff as if there's no tomorrow. Some crude sources in the ground are running dry, but generally not so in the Persian Gulf (OPEC) region. A massive oil shortage signaling the end of abundant oil has been expected early this new century due to accelerated consumption, especially for transport use. Coincidentally, transport accounts largely for the increase in CO2 levels in the 1990s that is warming the globe.

Amazingly, the Associated Press and the corporate/industrial establishment have put out a new, comforting message on oil crises: In a January 22 business story, AP concluded: "But America has built up a much better resistance to energy shocks. The oil price explosions (of the 1970s) helped spawn a new energy consciousness and the giant steps taken by technology steered the economy away from manufacturing toward services and the Internet." However, the economy is not geared toward energy alternatives to petroleum! (See graph on page 25)

This "consciousness" and "technology" hogwash can easily be refuted by recalling that all the computers and other consumer "goods" going to "energy conscious" households and businesses are shipped by oil-on trucks, with ships and rail used as well. The dominant mode, trucks, uses eight times the energy that trains do, and, besides, tires, asphalt and plastics are all petroleum. Plus, oil and other forms of petroleum are heavily used in "service" industry, and in the manufacturing of computers both as to energy and plastic components.

This economy, banking on growth while guzzling oil and frying the planet, has produced such energy savings thanks to "technology" that motor-vehicle fuel efficiency has gone steadily down in the U.S. since the 1980s. What we at Fossil Fuels Policy Action and the Auto-Free Times envision is that the gasoline-glutton SUV-hauling perhaps some new software diskette out to some suburb on a recently widened, traffic-clogged road-will run smack into oil shortage. A similar scenario is in store even for non oil-burning "clean" cars.

This is because there is no energy policy, there is no national leadership, and the "new energy consciousness" never began. For that to happen, we'll need to see a halt to new roads and parking lots-as well as airport runways-plus investment in renewable-energy powered rail and low-tech solutions such as bicycling, bike carts, and radical modes such as walking and sailing! If the halt in more paving projects comes about due to economic crash, there will be no investments toward alternatives-just hungry people wishing they had depaved and planted crops.

The fall of the Lundberg Letter as the nation's most respected oil information source is felt at a time like this, when idiotic analyses get widespread credence and energy policy is not an election campaign issue. On that note, try sending letters to your local newspapers, to magazines, and to Congress, and also try calling in to radio talk shows. Tell them perhaps that you're not buying a new car ever again, no matter what technological feats purport to do to relieve worries about oil.