For Immediate Release
contact: Jan Lundberg - tel. 215-243-3144

Oil analyst issues warning on petroleum supply
Gasoline Prices and Food: in Context

Jan Lundberg formerly published the “bible of the oil industry,” the Lundberg Letter. After a career-change toward conservation of energy, he now works to prevent the spread of pavement which covers up farmland and generates more motor-vehicle pollution.  One reason for his agitation is geologists’ recent estimates of oil’s shortened supply-future.

Instead of giving the nation’s gasoline reporters market analysis and the latest price changes, Lundberg analyzes the big picture in the Auto-Free Times magazine which he publishes. The BBC calls the publication “witty,” which helps spread his message.  As to recent occurrences of $2 a gallon gas, he says humorlessly: “Gasoline prices are dangerously low.  Raising them is politically tough, so our road-fighting movement seeks to change land-use and thus reprioritize funding toward alternatives to cars.”

The latest Auto-Free Times contains an assessment of consumers’ dependence on not just oil for transportation, but petroleum for agriculture as well.  “Petroleum-food is one way to describe the modern diet,” he says. [See enclosure.]  Petrochemicals and motor-fuels float our huge population, prompting him and some colleagues to question the continuity of trucks hauling in the food forever to supermarkets.  The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization recently announced, “transportation is the weakest link in our food supply”.

Lundberg has some answers to the coming crisis, but some are so low-tech they are fun: depaving and bicycling.  However, he warns that “The implications for today’s vast petroleum dependence is that the mushrooming human population growth can terminate suddenly.  This will be mainly due to lack of both local food supply and sustainable transport.  While the U.S. loses three million acres of land per year to sprawl and short-sighted agricultural practices, sacrificing topsoil for short-term profit, the U.S. is gaining three million people a year (over two thirds of this from immigration).    Americans are wasteful due in part to the lack of responsible leadership from growth-oriented U.S. government officials.  For example, every two minutes our cars burn as much gasoline as the oil spilled and firebombed in the New Carissa freighter disaster off Oregon in February.  “Therefore,” says Lundberg, “conserving energy such as by rejecting the car as preferred transportation is critical, if we are to smoothly transcend today’s global-warming vehicle mess.  Traffic gridlock, sprawl, smog, poison runoff, and carnage are all traced to an inefficient system that wastes air, land and water, and treats renewable energy and train travel as poor stepchildren.”  Statistics that may assist in understanding today’s system:

- The average speed of the American motorist is amazingly low when adjusted for all the hours involved in car-use, earning money for buying the car, the gas, the insurance, the repairs, etc. When that number is divided into the number of miles traveled, the real speed is about 5 mph.  This is walking speed, but without much benefit.

- More teenagers are killed by oil-consuming cars across the U.S. every afternoon than the 14 high schoolers gunned down in Littleton.  The violence of U.S. transportation benefits mainly corporate jobs and profits.

- When the real costs of oil including “externalities” are factored into a gallon of gasoline, the price can exceed $15 per gallon.  Subsidies for oil and driving mask the fact that cheap, abundant oil is ending soon geologically.

- More than 12 million Americans begin their commute to work before dawn, as time in the car increases.

Since launching the Auto-Free Times in 1993 (renamed Culture Change in 2001), Lundberg has experimented in ways of gaining attention for the growing movement to stop new road construction.  He and his volunteers started Pedal Power Produce, which brings organic veggies to farmers’ markets via bike carts. He recorded an album of his eco-rock acoustic music with his forest-activist daughter Spring last year.  They depaved their driveway to grow food, and they are proud to own no car, TV or refrigerator, “because these consumer items cause pollution and we save money by not possessing unnecessary stuff,” she says.

[written and released 1999.]  For more background:  See online report at which contains the Auto-Free Times article, “Petroleum-Food and Gasoline Prices”.  Also see Fact Sheets 1-3 by the Alliance for a Paving Moratorium, on above website.  Reporters are welcome to request back issues and photos.

Jan Lundberg formerly published the Lundberg Letter on oil trends.  He now directs the Sustainable Energy Institute, P.O. Box 3387, Santa Cruz, CA 95063. Tel.1-215-243-3144. On the web at