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The Coming Energy Crisis - Steps to Save Money

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    The Coming Energy Crisis - Steps to Save Money

    By Steven Raker

    "America faces a major energy supply crisis over the next two decades. The failure to meet this challenge will threaten our nation's economic prosperity, compromise our national security and literally alter the way we lead our lives." US. Secretary of Energy, March 19, 2001

    As the energy crisis begins alternative energy sources like coal and coal liquefaction, solar power, wind power, biomass energy, hydroelectric power, nuclear power and natural gas will fall short of compensating for the shortages of oil and its power/mass ratio, driving the price of energy up. The price of just about everything else will rise with it. There won't be enough time to convert to the next major energy source or sources (Coal will have to be a major contributor) before the effects of global peak oil arrives. Gas from coal, electricity and biomass are probably the only alternative fuels for transportation. The high price of oil will eventually seriously impact the ability of society to shift to different types of energy. Natural Gas will be a part of the short-term solution but keep in mind Peak Natural Gas is coming after Global Peak Oil. This could be a 20 year tribulation.

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    As the energy crisis deepens and gas prices increase people will make less trips, plan trips better, drive less and carpool. They will live closer to where they work. High mileage cars such as the Prius and smaller cars such as the Mini Cooper, will be in demand as will electric cars and hybrid cars. The SUV market will die and you will have a hard time selling a used SUV. People will vacation closer to home or at home changing the travel industry. The cities of this nation will finally synchronize their traffic lights. America will standardize its gasoline. Washington will mandate higher mileage vehicles. There will be gas, diesel and solar panel theft rings. Expect wild gas price oscillations based on Mid East and international events and weather (remember, about 33% of our energy production and supply lines are in Hurricane Alley). Energy Trader will be a derogatory term.

    No new refineries built in 29 years.

    No new nuclear power plants built in 32 years.

    There will be more use of mass transit by low income people, students and the elderly as many give up their cars. Energy and health conscious Americans will give up their cars and use mass transit, pedal, electric and solar bicycles and tricycles. City buses, car and van pooling, Inter-city trains and buses and corporate worker transport will all be much more important. Systems will have to be upgraded and they may become overcrowded before that happens. At a time when more Americans will need assistance charities will see a decrease in donations as more of the household dollar goes to rising overall costs due to rising gas prices. Eventually energy efficiency measures unthinkable today will become the law of the land.

    More people will rent out rooms to help cover energy expenses and there will be more people to rent them. More people will live without air conditioning. In poor areas there will be more deaths from heat in the summer and more deaths from cold in the winter due to energy costs. Poor people will throw rocks at Hummers and other gas guzzlers that wander into the wrong neighborhoods. The neighborhoods where there aren't any cars anymore. Radical political/environmental groups in the United States may use the riots in France as a blueprint for future action targeting automobiles, car dealerships and mass transit vehicles to make their points. Eco-terrorists such as some members of the ELF (Earth Liberation Front) will increase their activity.

    The energy crisis will increase illegal immigration particularly from Mexico where there has been a dramatic decline in domestic agriculture, increasing degradation of the environment and increasing unemployment. In the first quarter of 2005 capital flight out of Mexico amounted to over US$10 billion. In Mexico, 40% of the people live in poverty now and the situation will most likely deteriorate as the effects of global peak oil arrive. This will add to social tensions, illegal immigration to the United States where there may be cultural hegemony struggles between Hispanics and Anglos (who will be a minority in many places) in the Southwest. (The Hispanic Challenge by Samuel P. Huntington)

    Demagogues on the left will call for a forced "green America" and on the right some will call for military control of all Mid-East Oil for the good of the world. They may attract a sizable audience with cries for simple solutions to complex problems. Eventually there could be an upsurge in domestic political violence and environmental guerilla war as radicals in the political/environmental left wage a struggle against the consumer society on behalf of the earth or against the 6% of the earths population that consumes 25% of the resources on behalf of everybody else. There will be demonstrations and riots in many capitols and large cities around the world by the dispossessed and various radical groups representing them.

    There will be electric/other vehicle lanes on highways and eventually the Interstates for vehicles with alternate energy sources, electric, hydrogen, biomass perhaps even solar powered some day. With less and slower driving due to high gas prices the number of accidents will go down. Highway construction budgets may decrease as people shift to mass transit, pedal power and Light Electric Vehicles (LEV's). Three generation households, already the fastest growing type of household in the 19990's will increase as families cope with the effects of Global Peak Oil. One third of single parents now live with relatives or friends. Rural areas near cities will be connected by mass transit. Park and Ride will become more prevalent in the suburbs. Second-hand stores will do a booming business. Service industry businesses will suffer as more people begin doing things for themselves to save money. Regional markets will be more important.

    Recycling will become a priority as oil and gas prices drive up the cost of extracting and transporting raw materials. Taxes may go up. Government will encourage energy savings with tax breaks. Airlines will go through consolidation as business models are tested by rising jet fuel prices and shifting consumer patterns. Pensions/Healthcare coverage will be reduced or discontinued by many companies pulling the rug out from under retirees and causing hardship for an aging/disabled population.

    Greed must be factored into the gas prices/economy scenario. Remember a few years ago when the utility wholesalers price-raped their customers and the consumer and created rolling power blackouts out west? More of the same. (Why did gas prices go up in California, Oregon and Washington after hurricane Katrina hit the gulf ports when these states don't get any gas from the gulf?) Politics will continue as usual and will add to the problem in many instances.

    Chronic heating oil shortages may cause a greater migration to the Sun Belt. Higher fuel prices will effect government services with fleets of vehicles costing more to run each year. Prisons may have to cut heating and cooling adding to control problems. Many of the 85,000 ships on the waterways and seas worldwide may eventually use modern sails as an auxiliary source of power to cut fuel costs. Automated highway lanes may come into being with the cars being guided by computers that take over on certain highways with magnets in the road bed for guidance in order to save fuel.

    The middle class may shrink with more people sinking into poverty as the ripples of Global Peak Oil and later Global Peak Gas flow through the economy. The rich will be a little less rich and the poor, as the price of power, food and manufactured goods rises, will be severely stressed. There will be more homelessness. There could be rolling blackouts and gasoline shortages. There will be more fuel riots. There could be a 5% or greater reduction in voltage to homes and businesses. Eventually cities along rail lines may experience growth as more people switch to mass transit.

    Later, in the next decade, as we go down the back side of the slope, government rationing may be imposed. Rising gas prices and fertilizer prices in third world countries could bring on periodic starvation. Some third world countries could default on their debt and become destabilized as their poor get even poorer. If there isn't a timely response to the energy crisis there could be a decline in International trade, tariff wars, a worldwide recession or even a depression. Energy prices will force change and it could be some time before we find the right combination of energy sources and behavioral changes to smooth things out and keep our civilization wobbling along. Technological breakthroughs could change the energy picture but it takes time and money for new energy technology to spread. There will be some pain even with the best of scenarios.

    It is way past time for us to move on this both individually and as a nation. There may be considerable pain as we pass over the peak and start the journey down the slope. Begin planning now with Global Peak Oil in mind. Planning can make all the difference in your world and your future.

    We are going to pay more to power our civilization.

    Become energy conscious now.

    If you are going to build a home it is the most important thing you can do. Energy saved in basic construction design will save you dollars each and every month as long as you live in the house and will be a fantastic selling point when the cost of heating and cooling a house has doubled. Which it will.

    Think about what you will be driving when gas is $5.00 a gallon. Buy it now. You will see that price in just a few years. Get ready now !!

    Steven Raker runs the website <a href=""></a>