America's New Year's resolution: Break our addiction to oil

[image-1]Most of the oil in the world that's untapped is really expensive to get to - meaning large upfront costs to even begin drilling require huge loans by the oil companies. Coupled with a exponentially growing demand for oil by India and China, we will see a narrow window of cheap energy begin to shrivel up over the years as energy ultimately becomes far more expensive.

In China, Oil imports surged nearly 19% this last month of November. Increased demand coupled with decreasing supply only creates more expensive energy exponentially growing over time. Our modern existence is reliant on abundant cheap energy, we must readjust our lifestyle to match reality. Currently, Americans spend $400,000 a minute importing oil. Peak oil is only being amplified by this credit crises as shown in this recent Max Keisler video:

Beginning in the 1980s, a "just in time" corporate philosophy emerged in manufacturing. While cutting down on costs, this style of inventory left most retail stores in America with just a few days worth of stock of all materials. Computers automatically adjust depending on the time of year, weather patterns, and disaster scenarios, when and how much retail products come to stores. For instance, if it is forecast edto be sunny, more sunscreen or sunglasses will be dispersed. Holiday fluff goes out at certain times of the year always filling up at the strategic right times. If a hurricane is coming, certain computers analyze and bring more stocks of water to that certain area. Its a fantastic and highly evolved system.

Its one big flaw is its reliance on a vast trucking fleet spanning all across America, even into Canada and Mexico. This trucking fleet is seeing major transformations as credit is closing for trucking services. Just recently the #1 largest trucking service in America, YRC Worldwide, Inc., began swapping debt in a bid to fight off bankruptcy. Arrow trucking recently went bankrupt as well trapping hundreds of truckers all over America without a paycheck and unemployed.

The American Trucking Association released a recent paper where they showcased the vital importance of America's trucking fleets. Included was a timeline scenario of a possible future without trucking:

Within 24 hours

-Delivery of medical supplies to the area affected by a disaster will cease.

-Service stations will begin to run out of fuel.

-U.S. mail and other package delivery will cease.

Within one day

-Food shortages will begin to develop.

-Without manufacturing components and trucks for product delivery, assembly lines will shut down, putting thousands out of work.

Within two to three days

-Food shortages will escalate, especially in the face of hoarding and consumer panic.

-ATMs will run out of cash, and banks will be unable to process transactions.

-Garbage will start piling up in urban and suburban areas.

Within a week

-Automobile travel will cease due to lack of fuel. Without autos and buses, many people will not be able to get to work, shop for groceries, or access medical care.

-Hospitals will begin to exhaust oxygen supplies.

We must recognize as a community that the issues we face are of a monumental scope. Our entire way of life is unsustainable - meaning at one point it will cease to exist. We must accept this and then move on to begin to envision a world without such dependence on such monumental systems. The peak oil view point is not a doom and gloom scenario - its a realistic showing of the waste of our society. It's estimated that the system we utilize wastes close to 2 billion barrels of oil a year.  We can build a better, more locally-minded society. One less dependent on a globalized economy that wastes resources and builds no resilience for future energy and credit crunches.

Perhaps we could use the visions of a community such as Las Gaviotas. In this community located in Colombia, a resourceful group of citizens created a non-profit group which they utilized to reforest an area with pine. They then began to collect the resin from the pine to create industrial products. They defined their concept as biological capitalism. They implemented a community factory to produce solar hot water heaters en masse. They installed millions of gallons of rain water collection barrels connected to hand pumps that would store the water in cisterns above the roofs to allow pressure in the indoor plumbing. These were all low-tech ways of providing cheap sustainable lifestyles.

Community enterprises + Community capital + Appropriate technologies = Sustainable biological capitalism.

We can end our dependence on fossil fuels by beginning to reconstruct how we live. Reimagine a sustainable lifestyle with meaningful work for many people to do, such as gardening and farming, as well as retrofitting our communities to be more efficient. Grant Rimbey wrote a fantastic article about 10 ways Tampa Bay could become more greener in the next decade.

On January 9th, my organization Code Green Community will be showing a movie entitled The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, a story of how Cuba survived after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Feel free to come and share your thoughts about meet me as we will be hosting a open space event where we will allow everyone to interact and design a sustainable community.

Check out for more information.

Very soon we will begin to hear of how well Christmas shopping season was for the retail stores. These numbers will be utilized in accounting mechanism to determine whether or not some retail chains will remain in business this year. As the commercial real estate market in America becomes swamped with upcoming bond renewals causing banks to worry, a new tidal wave of home foreclosures looms in the distance as well.

Alt-A mortgages and Option ARM loans will begin resetting from 2010 all the way through 2012, causing millions of homes to go into foreclosure. We are at a paradigm shift in America. A new relationship will have to emerge as America loses its middle class and possibly its automobile lifestyle.

Let me connect the dots a bit more for you. With this credit crisis it is becoming more difficult to acquire capital to begin construction of new drilling operations for oil, as well as acquire credit to maintain a business such as trucking .

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