Thursday, May 22, 2008

$12-$15/Gallon Gasoline "Inevitable;" Wisconsin Not Reacting

So says a credible expert.

As crude oil breaks the $135/barrel price.

Let's say he's wrong, on either side of the prediction, by 50%.

How well does the economy nationally, statewide, and in southeastern Wisconsin function with gasoline costing $6/gallon?

Or at $22.50?

Either way, as I pointed out in this posting, Wisconsin should be investing right now in transit and other city-friendly policies that mitigate sprawl, and not in ridiculous highway expansions and water diversion to subdivisions and strip malls that have no future, and will more quickly than you can imagine become unwanted, and blighted, as the price of gasoline keeps climbing.

There are mechanisms and individuals in place that could be focused on these issues - - if they had the political will to do it - - but that require boldness and vision, perhaps equivalent to a new Progressive Party of sorts, or the energy and devotion of a budding Gaylord Nelson or a crusading media figure like Bill Evjue.

Or a grand coalition that transcended partisanship, geography, vested interests and the other limitations of business-as-usual.

There are less earth-shaking opportunities and avenues to begin and to attain change, too.

For example, the Governor has a task force on global warming. It could re-direct some of its work right now, reorienting the effort it has put in already to the emerging realities and tensions and needs within the market, the environment and the state's budgeting.

All the state's regional planning commissions could do the same, and pressure to do so could be brought by any number of elected officials and grassroots organizations to shake out the commissions' cobwebs and get busy with the people's business.

But without a change in attitude and thinking, and a commitment to action - - to leadership from above and below - - we will be left with little more than inertia and the anxieties that take root in shared powerless, actual and real.

Let's call today, May 22, 2008, "Day One of The Post-Petroleum Paradigm" because we are all aware that a tipping point has been passed - - though warnings about peak oil and related issues have been discussed and ignored for years - - and I'm also going to call 5/22/2008 "Day One of Wisconsin's Deafeningly Silent Response."

I'll be relieved when leaders step forward to change the dynamic, and we can move from paralysis, to analysis, to action.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Rowen
You are missing a developing megatrend. "Electric City Cars" powered with inexpensive off peak power. GM will be rolling out the Chevy Volt in 2010. Other car makers will quickly follow. France powers their nation with nukes. Their nukes are so efficient France is selling off peak power to other nations are very low costs.
Americans want convenient affordable personel transportation. Even if it's a small two passenger vehicle. When bus riders here in Milwaukee County can afford a car they buy it.
If France can produce low cost electricity with nukes safely so can we. As for the electric car, it's just around the corner.

James Rowen said...

Electric cars still have to be plugged in, and I suspect that's going to be expensive. The juice will come from a power plant, and nuclear plants are not going to be built in the US for a long time, if ever again.

Incomes are not rising, so most bus users without cars are not going to be buying them soon and paying for $4 gasoline.

Anonymous said...

Off topic a bit, but Jim what do you have to say about the over 31,000 scientists that have disagreed with Al Gore and the global warming crowd. I thought there was concensus, what ever that means.

James Rowen said...

I know there is disagreement with the belief that global warming is caused or induced by human beings.

I have no idea if the number 31,000 is a real number, or if everyone signing such statements is a scientist.

I know that the overwhelming number of scientists who study the issues, not merely reading about them, believe that human beings are causing or contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, and that is causing a warmer climate.