May 282011

Perhaps my concern about the price and availability of future fuel results from my experience in 1973-74 when I made the daily commute from Everett to the University District. This was a thirty mile trip and, ahead of my time, I was a car pooler trading rides with two mates who worked in the same department. When OPEC and her friends got pissed  that the USA was resupplying the Israelis they turned the spigot and our national supply of gasoline dried up. The result was long, long lines. You could only buy gas every other day using an odd/even system based on your license plate number. Even though our carpool had three shots at getting gas it was very stressful. We were each beginning our careers and we worked for a company that essentially did not accept excuses. Our days were long to start with because of the thirty mile commute. Hunting for gas made them even longer.

Our entire society is based on being able to get in our private passenger automobile and go where  ever we want, whenever we want. It is not specious to ask if we will be able to do this forever. Our ability to continue our “way of life” will be based on three things: 1) availability of money, 2) availability of fuel and 3) having someplace we want to go.

These are all connected. If the economy goes totally in the dumpster there will be lots of fuel short term because of low demand. But, you might not have money to buy gas anyway because you don’t have a job, or your pension plan turned out to be an empty bucket or things are so chaotic that all you want to do is stay home and out of the way.

I’ve been touting Nicole Foss who will appear at the Grange on June 2 at 7:30pm. If you would like a preview of some of things Nicole (Stoneleigh) will talk about read this list of “40 Ways To Lose Your Future.” It’s quite chilling. Take a look at number 10, or number 18, or (good grief) number 35! She paints a grim picture of the future. If she’s only half right or even just ten percent right we have some planning to do.  “40 Ways To Lose Your Future” make the 1973 Oil Crisis look like a blip and I’m still suffering from PTSD from that short experience. (I never come back to the island without having topped off my tank. My Coast Guard approved cans runneth over).

These four paragraphs lead up to my real point and that is: going to Gooseberry Point doesn’t make sense for the long term. Short term—no problem. Long term—big problem. There’s no place to wait in line for gas and it’s a long way from anywhere we really want to go. Right now, even I prefer it because you go right by the dump and it’s close to North Bellingham Golf Course. These are reasons that won’t make much sense to me in the future.


  10 Responses to “The 1973 Oil Crisis”

  1. The photo looks like the line of Canadians waiting to buy gas at the Bellingham Costco…..

  2. I am sure we are using up all our energy reserves. I just want to know the exact date I can buy my last gallon. In 1914, the Bureau of Mines said that U.S. oil reserves would be exhausted by 1924. In 1939, the Interior Department said that the world had 13 years’ worth of petroleum reserves. Then a global war was fought, and the postwar boom was fueled. In 1951 Interior reported that the world had . . . 13 years of reserves. In 1970, the world’s proven oil reserves were an estimated 612 billion barrels. By 2006, more than 767 billion barrels had been pumped, and proven reserves were 1.2 trillion barrels. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter predicted that mankind “could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.” Since then the world has consumed three times more oil than was then in the world’s proven reserves. It’s that chicken little thingy that I don’t want to get into.

  3. Although I enjoy collapsitarian thoughts, and apocolyptic films are my favorite genre, and I am off the grid and have back up plans just in case, I would bet big money that our society will continue as is and in fact will rebound to have faster growth then we did in the 90’s by 2020. I think collapsitarians fail to figure in human intitiative to find a way around problems like the 40 in the list. That being said, I think there are a few other things that have an outside chance to do us in, and for these things I make the back up plan. Namely, the big 9.0+ earthquake and tsunami (15-30% chance in our lifetime, and this is a local threat only), runaway hyper global warming such that is not yet predicted (10% chance), or other things like a deadly human virus, broad species mass extenction, etc (5% chance).

    I have been wondering if our island were to loose the electricity line from the mainland (say from the earthquake) and if there were enough people with grid tie-ins from solar and wind, could we power our own mini grid with minimal power. Or maybe the phone system could be localy powered by someones solar or wind power. I know it would take a high AC voltage to make it very far, but if it were ever needed, it might be possible.

  4. How fast is the blink of an eye? About 4/10th of a second, or about 150 times a minute.
    It took about 60,000,000 years to create whats down there, and in comparison we will have consumed most or all of it in just a blink or two of an eye, time-wise.
    I have no idea when the last of the oil and gas gets so scarce that rich men will fight each other for it, but it will be gone in the blink of an eye.
    The only question is, what will replace it? Chaos or SuperFuel.

  5. We need coal-powered cars! Then we can all just line up at Cherry Point, or scavenge the fallen coal off the railroad tracks like in Dickens’ England. But seriously, what we really need is another oil war, like with Iran.

  6. Klayton, I’m hoping you are right and I am wrong. But, as a bettor I’m going with Kunstler, Martenson, Schiff, and other negative thinkers of that ilk.

  7. I am hoping that the last gas station closes, and I get shot by a jealous husband, on April 1, 2045. My 100th birthday.

  8. Ed: Optimistic on both counts: that you’ll still be driving at 100 and…the other.

  9. Hey, 2045 is my 100th birthday too. Let’s get drunk, chase girls, and steal a car.
    I’ll save a gallon of gas for the getaway.

  10. durring the last gas shortage I lived on an Island .Every one hitchiked and gave a few cents or whatever to chip in for the driver, like our snow days or drydock.
    Soon I may be commuting once or twice a week to Seattle for a 3 month training. I am impressed that it will be possible on the bus and the light rail system, for approx. $10 per round trip with a discount
    [ $20 RT without] avoiding horrible freeway driving with time to read and needle felt !!!!
    I would like to see this extended to our ferry in the form of midday passenger ferry [subsidized 45%] with car trips lessened to 3 or 4 in the morning and evenings with an Island bus like at dry dock and a baggage cart . Less car gas, less ferry gas, more co-operation interdependance and,shared experience. Check out the Viability with Water Taxi service Outer Expeditions in Blaine, brochures available in the Islander. also check out the home Bio diesel gas pump @ claiming to produce 57 gallons of gas a day for 75 cents a gallon. We could share the ferry with the delivery truck if it was full of french fry and donut oil.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>