So far all the ferry discussion, debate and analysis has avoided the subject of sustainability. The question I would like to see discussed is: how happy will we be with car ferry service to Gooseberry Point if gasoline prices increase towards $10 a gallon? What if, coincident with price increases there are also fuel shortages?
Warnings about Peak Oil are no longer the plaintive cries of Chicken Little. The Peak Oil discussion has gone mainstream. Back in April I wrote a post about how the US Army has acknowledged that we can expect fuel shortages. This week the International Energy Agency (IEA) “…has gone from denying that conventional oil production will peak in our lifetime to saying it happened four years ago.”
It seems to me that all of our thinking about the ferry and Gooseberry Point is predicated on $3 a gallon gasoline and a readily available supply. But what if you had to wait in line for two to three hours to fuel up and then had to pay $10 a gallon? Where would you like to be waiting for a ferry? Would you want to be waiting in a car?
I recall the gas crisis of the mid-seventies. I had a thirty mile commute one way. The seed was planted. I no longer wanted to be a commuter. I wanted to live close enough to work to be able to walk. It took me several years but I did accomplish that goal.
The consensus of people who think about these things is that Peak Oil will affect suburbs more than cities for obvious reasons. People who live in suburbs are too far from work and from services. Residents of self-sufficient rural communities will probably be in better shape than cities but suburbs will be obsolete. Some argue that in the future we will return to a city/country pattern of living.
Right now Lummi Island isn’t rural community; it’s a suburb of Bellingham. All the arguments for “protecting our way of life” are geared toward protecting the island as a suburb. That is, protecting one’s ability to make daily trips, or even multiple trips to town and back. That’s a good plan as long as gas is $3 and available. It’s a good interim (1-5 year) plan. Long term it’s not sustainable.