Latest View from The Nation: Sobering

Recently, I have found myself driving in stop/go/crawl traffic at least 4 days a week. Of course, this now-frequent activity coincides with the current 40 cent hike in gas prices we are suffering thru right now. My 8-year old ride drinks heavily in this style of driving and I don't like spending so much of my dwindling hours on this planet in such an unproductive yet necessary activity.

This whole feeling has been compounded by the latest Michael Klare article on energy in The Nation. Seems the author has put two and two together: The Dept of Energy has quietly shifted from "petroleum" to "liquids" as a word to describe the fuel we use for transportation. "Liquids" refers to other hydrocarbon fuels (propane, natural gas, etc.) as well as biofuels that we are slowly beginning to depend on just like petroleum. Changing this definition will mask the fact that petroleum production is just about peaked and older producing fields need to be replaced by new production before total production can reach the levels needed to meet increased world demand. This is not a good "scenario" for those that think the new Malibu will be the trendsetter for the US auto industry.

If the peak oil predictions are true in the short range - 5 years - then we need to drive a lot, lot, less and learn how to melt down a lot of SUVs and crossovers and replace them with vehicles that weigh about half as much and burn about half the energy currently used. That is essentially making the US national fleet about as energy comsumptive per person as the European fleet. Are we capable of such a transformation? Are we willing?

There is a kind of silver lining to this. Thanks to the weak dollar and our energy habits, more and more of the US is owned by the OPEC nations. Remember, we give them our dollars for petroleum. We burn the petrol up but they still have the dollars. They are so invested in us, they can't squeeze us till we hurt as it would also hurt them.

When I am stuck in traffic, I can't help feeling like the frog that Al Gore described in his movie - the one who can't sense slow change in his environment fast enough to get out and find safety. Is it getting warm in here?

[Source: The Nation]

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