Thursday, October 25, 2007

That "R" word again, disguised as a "P."

Another industry analyst dares to suggest that government might have to "prioritize" gasoline/diesel in the near future. From the Energy Bulletin:

Published on 25 Oct 2007 by Falls Church News-Press. Archived on 24 Oct 2007.
The peak oil crisis: A message from Houston
by Tom Whipple

...What we in America have not yet begun to grasp is that numbers like this imply the near total demise of the private internal combustion powered automobile. Your local gasoline station is at the end of the distribution pipeline and is the most likely to be cut off. If gasoline available for distribution in the U.S. were to fall from 9 million barrels a day to the order of 5 million through a combination of declining production and declining exports, it is not hard to figure out what would happen when the government gets around to prioritizing uses.

Food production and distribution would come first, then public health (clean water, sewage, sanitation, medical services), then public safety including the armed forces, and finally some level of economic activity that uses petroleum products.

Thirty seconds of pondering this situation should leave you with the idea that there will be very little gasoline available for your gas station to sell to you. For sure, there will be a lot fewer gas stations around ten years from now and you are not going to like the prices...

The time to reposition yourself is now, class. If you don't live near a mass transit line, then you are going to have to move - because as soon as the uninformed masses realize the problem, it will be too late for you to position yourself in a more convenient location. Everyone else will be thinking the same thing and the prices of transit-accessible real estate will shoot through the roof - whereas your house, cut off out there in the burbs, will be practically impossible to unload.

Where are your kids going to go to school when you can no longer drive them anywhere? Will you settle for the nearest public school? The nearest private school, which may not be your sect? Homeschool? These things you need to start thinking about now.

And what about your job? Can you telecommute? Job share? Do you need another phone line? A quiet home office space? A good printer/scanner/copy machine? A more up-to-date computer? Now's the time to start planning and budgeting and acquiring what you need. Have you broached the subject with your boss?

What about your extended family? Do you have elderly parents that need care? Younger siblings? Grandkids? How will they get to you, or you to them? Do they need to move closer to you, or vice versa? Or worse, move in with you? Now is the time to be thinking about this, class.

Groceries - is there a store within a reasonable walking distance? Do you have a European-style shopping basket with wheels, or two or three? A big cooler and a little red wagon? Backpacks? Industrial type "tricycle" with a large basket area? A regular bike with front and back baskets? Which of these will you need?

Are you willing to help organize swap-clubs and borrowing associations? Collect books for a lending library? There won't be any big central warehouses for these activities anymore - they're going to have to be garage operations in your own neighborhoods. Are you ready? Have you considered what services your community might need that you can provide?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, class. Think ahead a bit - this is chess, not bowling. Hitting the problem at high speed when the need is immediate is not the best strategy, to say the least. Slow and steady wins this game - as long as you start playing when there's enough time to finish before it ends.


Kiashu said...

"Food production and distribution would come first, then public health (clean water, sewage, sanitation, medical services), then public safety including the armed forces, and finally some level of economic activity that uses petroleum products."

You think? I think it's more likely,
1. "public safety"
2. "food production and distubution"
3. "economic activity"
4. "public health"

We have the example of Hurricane Katrina to tell us how the US government decides priorities. Part of this post describes how I see things happening.

So if you want dinner, better start gardening ;)

[saw your post on Archruid and followed!]

Ahavah B. said...

Those are the words of the author of the article linked, of course, not mine in particular.

The vast majority of urban dwellers live in apartments, condos, zero-lot line townhouses and postage-stamp size lots that will not support gardening on any serious scale.

Government will have to address this issue first and foremost - they are already concerned about food riots and are putting plans in place to deal with shortages.

On the other hand, many columnists such as John Michael Greer believe "public safety" will be practically abandoned in many areas - the authorities already have little in the way of control in gang-controlled territory and that situation will not improve in a crisis short of a military declaration of martial law.

I think it depends a lot on where you live, basically. There may not be a "set" order of operations - regional commanders will probably have to prioritize in accordance with the local conditions.