We have become accustomed to having the world at our fingertips. A couple of keystrokes on the computer and Amazon will deliver virtually any product from anywhere to our doorstep. Another couple of keystrokes and we are off to Europe or cruising the Caribbean. At Trader Joe’s and even the Community Food Store there is produce from around the world flown in at great cost. The question, of course, is how long can this continue? If you think that oil shale, natural gas and wind/solar will keep the game going you can stop reading now. If one is a believer in Peak Oil the answer would be: not too much longer.
(If you are behind on your reading about Peak Oil, The Oil Drum has a summary of articles on the subject from all of their contributors for the period 2004-2011 here)
In the short term, our penchant for bombing countries that produce oil will likely cause price increases. Cheap fuel costs are an important political issue. Americans seem to consider cheap gas as an entitlement and taxing it to pay for long term problems or to build public transportation networks as in Europe has never been considered. To make matters worse, Americans typically own more than one vehicle. Three, four and even five vehicles in one family is not unusual.
Consider the impact on our lives if gas goes to $5, $6, $7 per gallon or higher. We have been a one car family for twenty years now. (One car, one riding lawn mower, two chain saws, one brush cutter). Last week I filled the car and a five gallon can and added $74 to my credit card balance. I cringe at the thought of multiplying this by two or three vehicles or computing the gallons times $5, $6 or $7.
Increase fuel costs will dramatically impact us. It will force us to be more local. Living on an island gives us somewhat of a head start. Even though we have a virtual bridge to the mainland, Hale’s Passage makes us plan just a bit more than someone not living on an island. A trip to town normally has a plan with multiple stops made in some sort of logical sequence to minimize the number of miles driven.
It seems imperative that at fuel costs rise we must try and live even more locally which will increase our self-sufficiency as a community. There are many things we can do to localize. It starts with sourcing our food. Buying food from local producers benefits and strengthens the local economy and keeps money at home to help create jobs. Being a locavore has a learning curve attached to it.
This Saturday, March 24, at 10am, Nancy will teach us how to be locavores as part of the Grange Country Living Series. Hope you can find the time to join us.