Peak Oil And Generic Economic Doom
Having grown up in the 70s, I have vague memories of hearing words like “inflation” and “energy crisis” whenever my parents watched boring grown-up shows like The News. That’s why I refuse to gripe about gas prices: because I don’t want to turn into my mother.
I will, however, gripe about peak oil, since they never said anything about it.
I have suffered something of a failure of imagination. Now that I think about, a truly catastrophic increase in the price of oil is the only reasonable scenario to consider when one is trying to imagine a worst case scenario. I personally don’t regard that as the likely scenario, but it is a reasonable scenario, and certainly one that policy makers should consider. During the chat, when I offered what I felt was a fairly bad scenario, Jennifer saw it as a “best case scenario”:
(07/16 08:14 PM) Jennifer: My main concern regarding peak oil involves personal transportation. The majority of Americans live in situations where daily life is impossible without a form of cheap, fast individual transport enabling folks to travel dozens or even hundreds of miles in a day. And where personal transport is concerned, there’s no viable replacement on the horizon for the internal combustion ngine. Mass transit only works if a large number of people live and work in the same general area.
(07/16 08:15 PM)
: Jennifer, suppose for a moment gas goes up to something like $6 a gallon and stays there for 10 years. What changes do you think people will make? jackson
(07/16 08:18 PM) Jennifer: If gas goes up to $6 a gallon there’d be a shift to more fuel-efficient cars (as we’re seeing already), and far-distant suburbs would become less desirable places to live (ditto), but frankly I think “gas reaching $6 and staying there” is a scenario so best-case as to be implausible. I suspect gas will continue getting more and more expensive. And government will continue making things worse; despite everything, there’s still plenty of snob-zoning laws forbidding high-density housing and so forth.
Supply declines aren’t the only way oil can hurt
If you stand on a street corner and ask everyone who passes “Do you think it’s a good idea to have our currency’s stability dependent on a substance whose supply is largely controlled by religious fanatics who tend to hate our guts?” every last one of them will say “no.” Unless they work for the government.