Friday, October 21, 2005

Reader Comments

One of the problems with hopers, Auntigrav, is that it might be easy to see a way out (e.g. less discretionary use) but getting to that way out is nigh impossible. Although a drastic reduction in discretionary use is possible, almost no one will do so without coercion and coercion will not happen. When such reduction does come, it will be through price. This is a double whammy. Not only does a price high, enough to make a significant dent in use, add to costs for almost all products, the reduced use causes a reduction in economic activity. This probably spells recession. But, with the mathematics of oil (and growth), it won't stop there. There will be everlasting recession (probably with some periods of modest recovery) until society moves to a new model. This isn't going to be easy at all.

- Tony

While I agree that price is the only current limit on discretionary use -- we're already seeing it in the aftermath of Katrina/Rita -- coercion will happen sooner or later. When fuel prices and inflation get high enough, and stay there, people will demand that government "do something," and it's likely that will bring rationing and price controls. If current trends continue, I expect it will be a major issue in the next presidential elections. The GOP will argue for letting the market determine usage patterns, while the Dems will demand wage and price controls and energy rationing, perhaps along the lines of what was proposed in Britain recently.


I'm getting less 'peak'-ish these days, when I look at the amount of discretionary oil use that goes on around me. (Half?) of the oil we use is for transportation, supply/demand differences of less than 1% cause 50-100% change in gas prices. When production falls a little short, EVERYONE thinks about the high prices, and either puts up or stays home a little more. If only half the people use 2% less fuel (air in their tires), it compensates for that 1% supply shortage(ANWR). I do NOT have faith in the 'invisible' hand, but I can see the visible one of more people riding the bus to work. As someone with a large basic skills set, and a certain misanthropy, I'm disappointed, but hopeful that we can also move toward Community Supported Agriculture and Community Supported Manufacturing without as much chaos as a total collapse would cause. I may be ignoring the economic collapse that might come from Nongrowth Perception Realization, though.



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