Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A glimpse of our post-oil future


The San Francisco Chronicle
has an excellent description of what we might expect as we enter peak oil:
Acres of chard and lettuce in Golden Gate Park? The Marina Green with community gardens? Wind turbines on top of the Bank of America Building?

Welcome to the post-oil future.

Depending on which expert you believe, we have already reached or will reach in the next few years the point when worldwide oil demand starts to exceed supply -- and gas prices really go through the roof. If cities like San Francisco are to survive as viable places to live, they will have to redesign themselves in ways barely imaginable now.

It's hard to overstate the impact the looming oil squeeze is going to have. A lot of people are going to be left stranded in the suburbs, and a lot of grocery store shelves are going to go empty as supply lines collapse due to rising fuel costs. Many folks are going to lose their jobs as our oil-dependent economy withers. But there will be a greater need for farmworkers, as petroleum-fueled factory farms give way to smaller, labor-intensive operations. In general, human energy will replace machine energy, and there will be an increased demand for craftspeople with time-honored skills: shoemakers, soapmakers, glassblowers, seamstresses.

It will be a wrenching transition as we go from a passive consumer society to one in which each of us will need to play an active role in providing our basic needs. It's easy to see why there are already predictions of economic chaos, widespread violence and looting, and the imposition of martial law if we fail to begin planning now for a post-oil future.

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