The Gathering Hurricane...
(updated: Jul 17, 2007)
"As we go from this happy hydrocarbon bubble we have reached now to a renewable energy resource economy, which we do this century, will the 'civil' part of civilization survive? As we both know there is NO WAY that alternative energy sources can supply the amount of per capita energy we enjoy now much less for the 9 billion expected by year 2050. And energy is what keeps this whole game going. We are currently involved in a Faustian bargain – selling our economic souls for the luxurious life of the moment, but sooner or later the price has to be paid in some way."
- Walter Youngquist (Letter, 3/22/06)
If you don't like what I'm about to say, then please go someplace else. I'm not here just to show videos and photos of all the great places I've ridden. I'm here to promote cycling as well. And promoting cycling means getting people to think about bikes as transportation rather than just as recreational toys. Getting people to wake up and start to deal with the reality of the coming energy crisis and that their happy motoring world is about to end. Getting them out of denial and blaming high gas prices on oil companies and government conspiracies.
The media doesn't talk about it, and so now the oil & gas industry is warning us. We should be alarmed. We should be losing sleep at night, but yet the Dow rocks to new highs despite these warnings.
And we're so unprepared. It'll be like New Orleans but on a national scale. New Orleans was just a small warning.
Today in the WSJ there's an article about a report from the US Petroleum industry warning us that world oil and gas supplies from conventional sources are unlikely to keep up with rising global demand over the next 25 years. If the industry is warning us, we should take heed. After all, they are the ones that profit from increased consumption and higher oil and gas prices.
Potential Energy Crunch May Bring Other Fuels to Fore
It is a wake up call. We should have been working on this problem years ago. Instead, a greedy and corrupt administration seized power and diverted resources into an immoral war for their personal gain.
Instead of spending $16 billion friggen' dollars every g-dam day on a war in Iraq and Afganistan, just imagine if we spent this money on renewable energy technology. We'd be way ahead of the game by now.
But now we're screwed. Thanks to Bush & Co. We continue to disrespect the land and build isolated subdivisions, design roads only for cars, and drive gas guzzling vehicles. In fact, in last Friday's WSJ there was an ad for a new development on top of a mountain in Western NC - in heart of the Appalachians. They ripped everything off the top of the mountain and put a private airport and golf course. Homesites and condos start in the $550's.
Especially in our own neck of the woods we are heading straight for the eye of the storm. Building on barrier islands should never be allowed. Then there's piling dirt onto low-lying wetlands and then draining everything into the ocean via storm drains. Time to build an ark.
Uh oh, when Cameron Diaz starts talking about saving the earth in 60 sec, now I know we're completely f'ed.
As I go through the process of making Blue Clay a bike park with sustainable trails, I have learned that the wetland classification is just that, a classification. It means you have to jump through more hoops in order to alter the land, but that's all. It's not protected. It's not held in any higher echelon versus other land. It's just a name, that's all. So it takes a little more time and costs developers more money but in the end the result is the same - more development, less wetlands.
My disgust of building in ecologically sensitive areas like the tops of mountains and shoreline aside, we continue to be locked into our dependence on cars. One recent example is the planned 167,000 sq ft commercial development behind Porter's Neck Road. They're going to build a Lowe's Home Improvement among other things behind the Food Lion and by the new bypass. I've poked around back there and it's all wetlands. There used to be a creek running through there until they filled it in.
Now, on the one hand, having a Lowe's there may mean less driving because if you live in Porter's Neck you don't have to drive down to College or up past Hampstead to get to the other Lowe's. But I think there will be a net increase in the amount of gasoline use because there's still services that people will want to get to down College Rd., and now the delivery trucks have a new place to deliver crap to. The other thing is that there's only one way in or out planned and none of it accomodates bicycles. This goes in hand with my other complaint about the housing developments going in behind the bike-rack-free Harass Teeter that you cannot get to but by car alone.
So I am watching the New Hanover County agenda online to see when the next public meeting is about the new development, so I can go down there and politely explain to them that what they are doing is extremely shortsighted given the changes taking place in the world. They should be looking out for Wilmington's future, but instead they are making the problem worse - more pollution from cars and run-off, more dependence on oil, more unsightly development, an unhealthier society, and less interaction among people except in cases of accidents and road rage. It's not a community they're building - it's an isolated car-addicted society. 40% of all trips by car are two miles or less. These trips could be easily be done by bike. It won't cost that much, and even if 10% were supplanted by bike the benefits would be dramatic.
I will also point out the negative impact that this development will have on the two small hardware stores nearby that will most likely be put out of business. These are Porter's Neck Hardware and Scott's Hill Hardware. I love Porter's Neck Hardware. The people there are very helpful and friendly, they have just about everything I need (and more choices than Home Despot or Lowe's). Their prices aren't really higher either. You can just buy one instead of a whole bag which they force you to buy at the big stores. I wouldn't be at all surprised to walk into Home Despot to buy a hammer and find that they only come in bags of five.
I know a lot of people are in denial. They just don't want to think about what's going to happen if we continue to go down this path. They just want to live and not worry. They have their own problems to deal with, job and money to worry about, mortgage to pay, etc. Well, then if you have kids think about them. Think about what kind of world you are leaving them. Think about how they will suffer because of other's ignorance or state of denial or unwillingness to do anything about it.
I hate to think he will be worse off than me.
So as I warn people of the coming energy crisis, I also might as well take advantage of it and I have been happily profiting off of this delusional market rally in the face of a coming crisis. When someone says Macs are more expensive than PCs I tell them my new Mac Pro was free. It's true. Because I own shares of Apple and as it has risen off the charts I sold some shares and, walla, new computer. Courtesy of Apple stock. I just love Macs. Try that with Microsoft. Yeah, I didn't think so.
If you want to profit you can buy energy stocks, oil and gas stocks, mining companies, and alternative energy companies. Mining companies that mine uranium are good. Uranium prices are going up fast. The market knows that this is going to be important in the future and has started pricing it in. But there is still room to grow.
And by the way, I hate environmentalists, so please don't refer to me as one. I am not. Environmentalists are the ones that created this whole mess in the first place. By banning nuclear power from the US, they forced us to use more oil and gas, increasing our dependence on oil, causing more pollution (and global warming gases), and killed tens of thousands of people from pollution. Now they are at it again buying hybrid vehicles filled with highly toxic batteries that don't get any better gas mileage. So which is less costly to the environment, the Toyota Prius, or the Hummer H2? That's a subject for later.
1. Sir Lamm-Hammer said...
i cant wait to see your write up that compares the pros and cons of the Hummer H2 vs. the Toyota Prius. this is gunna be good. and nuclear power is not all bad but if we convert over to it, what are we gunna do with all those spent nuclear rods. storing those things is not going to be an easy task either. thats just an idea for you to chew on.
as for the rest, i agree. we need to be more aware and alot less lazy. i live right off Market st. near walmart and i ride my bike jst about everywhere in a 3 mile radius. outside of that i ride my bike about 50%. i think it is stupid when i see people driving to the corner store to pick up a gallon of milk. i mean get a cruiser with a basket. not only will not not have to worry about spending so much money on Jenny Criag diet foods, but you might actually be able to peel you children from the TV and have a bonding enjoyable ride with them. Teaching childern that you dont always have to drive everywhere is only going to make the problem that much easier to fix later. i remember just about 10 years ago when i wanted to go somewhere in my neighborhood, i had to get off my but and ride my bike there. i had lots of friends spread out through the collection of ajoining sub-divissions, i we had not other way of getting together other than bikes. now as i ride threw all the new nieghborhoods for work, i see kids on gas and battery powered scooters, dirt bikes and four wheelers. i see less and less bicycles, and less and less kids. this mean they are either closed up in a room playing video or computer games or just not getting the excersize they should be. it is nice that parents can now give to their children like never before, but think of what are you really giving them.
Jul 16, 2007 @ 6:40 PM
2. Sean said...
This is one of the better posts you've written. Maybe not better, maybe just timely. Coming from western, NY I don't know how I'd deal with all the development down here if I was a native. I don't think most people mind. Then again, most people are addicted to their cars and having a perfect lawn thanks to trugreen. The nuclear issue is a tough one just because of the disposal. In the end mining is mining, and whether it's aquifer poisoning coal or uranium, it's never a good thing. I think people need to learn to live more simply. That would solve a lot of the energy crisis right there. I just got back from a weekend out at Pisgah for some hiking, and coming back was no sweet end to the trip. In the end I think it's a problem with consumerism which feeds these issues of development, pollution and just outright greedy materialism. We can only try out best to do our part and spread the message, even if no one's listening.
Jul 16, 2007 @ 9:20 PM
3. Sir Bikes said...
You got to have a green lawn around here or they sick CAMS on you ;) Actually, I have plans to turn my side lawn into a big vegetable garden. I am going to submit it to the HOA just so they can reject it. Then I'll post it here.
Uranium mining can be done by only a few companies. Some companies only detect the uranium. But you only need a little bit of Plutonium to power the entire country. The spent rods can be recycled. They keep them in water where they continue to provide heat and power for years.
The level of greed never ceases to amaze me. These people would pave over the country if they could. First it was real estate speculation and now it's private equity buyouts where they take all the profit from the sale and leave the company saddled with debt.
Jul 16, 2007 @ 11:54 PM
4. Jonathon said...
WHAT! This site is propganduous? (I have submitted a request to have this word added to webster)
CRAP, here I thought all along it was going to be pretty pictures and video of you flying your lear jet to Moab for another Porcupine Rim video.
I would type more but I have to go drive my car 140 miles so that I can ride 4.
Jul 17, 2007 @ 12:02 PM
5. Sean said...
Edward Abbey was way ahead of his time. Basically speaking about all these issues decades ago. Anyway read him if you get around to it. Although back to the car subject I did see 3 wrecks on my way home from work today. It sucks for the people involved, but when you have traffic like Wilmington, it's bound to happen.
Jul 17, 2007 @ 2:39 PM
6. lori said...
I can't wait to see the Prius vs. the Hummer banter. Do you own a Prius? I guess not. I do own a Prius and routinely get 45 to 50 miles per gallon with my bike rack on top of the car. You make some good points in your article, but come on, the conservation has got to start somewhere! My husband rides his bike to work everyday and I ride my as much as possible. Please don't fall down the slippery slope!
Jul 26, 2007 @ 5:22 PM
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