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Category: Peak Oil’s Impact

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Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

For a few years, I attempted to play golf. I attempted well; played poorly. Golf is not something one does on occasion and expect to be anything other than terrible. I’m Exhibit A.

Still, there are worse ways to spend a pleasant spring or summer day than to walk alongside well-manicured and relatively pristine woodland areas.

Until I did just a bit of research, I was not aware that both golf balls [urethane] and golf bags use petroleum as an “ingredient” in their manufacturing processes. Certainly transportation and delivery of those products, along with countless others, make use of fossil fuels in some manner and at some point in the distribution chain.

A ten second internet search suggests that a box of a dozen quality golf balls can cost upwards of $40.00. One site reported that more than 1.3 million balls are lost each day. That’s a lot of money and a lot of production and a lot of energy inputs for items that are lost.

I could, and probably will, write more than just a few paragraphs about golfing and the many aspects of the game which depend at least in some part on fossil fuels for their existence.

But in the interests of keeping these Impact posts short and to the point, I’ll offer this to the millions of avid and not-so-avid golfers:

When the more widespread effects of the peak in oil production is clear to all, meaning less of a readily-available supply and higher prices for what is left, where on the all-important priority scale will the manufacture of golf balls land? My own guess: quite low. Supply and demand then kicks in. Less of a supply; higher prices.

What will that do not just to your golf outings (given that more expensive golf balls will be far from the only impact Peak Oil imposes on the sport) but to golf itself? There will be greater tragedies and sacrifices to be sure, but the enjoyment golf contributes to one’s well-being will be diminished. The cascade of similar impacts in other aspects of daily living won’t help.

Not earth-shattering in and of itself, but worth pondering. Golfers won’t be alone in their misery. Might be nice to consider some alternatives before we have no choice….

~ My Photo: The Ocean Course at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, CA – 09.15.04

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

 

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Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

With baseball season upon us, I thought it might make sense to dust off and borrow portions of the very first Impact post I wrote nearly three years ago. Edited for clarity, updated just a bit, and restricted to portions relevant to baseball, here it is:

It’s easy enough to mention the fact that balls, and helmets, and cleats are all made with crude oil as an essential component—either in the product itself or used to create/deliver/transport some materials before and after manufacturing is completed. It’s also safe to assume that once we begin dealing with curtailed availability of fossil fuels, some needs will have lower priority than others. Ambulances will probably have access to fossil fuel-based crude oil (gasoline) before manufacturers get the supplies and equipment they need. Obviously there will be ripple effects across the industry when this happens, and the end users (from the junior leaguers and the neighborhood kids all the way up to the professionals) will also have some problems to contend with: either the products will become less available, or they will become prohibitively expensive for many along the chain of users. What happens?

What happens when high school sports programs with limited funds as it is have to replace cleats and helmets and other accessories and their prices have doubled, or tripled, or the helmets and cleats are simply not being manufactured any longer on a scale sufficient enough to meet demand? What happens then?

Let’s also take a broader view. How do teams (high school, college, the pros) deal with travel issues and schedules when gas is much too expensive to enable teams to transport their players even short distances, or when air travel is severely curtailed and wildly expensive because not enough jet fuel is being processed to meet demand (and airports are shuttered because air travel has diminished markedly*), or when the fans cannot afford to put the gasoline in their vehicles that in the past allowed them to attend the games without a second thought?

What happens when half, or a third, or one-tenth the number of fans can afford to attend games because budgeting all that money to drive to an in- or out-of-state stadium no longer makes financial sense? Pure supply and demand: when demand continues and supply is reduced, prices go up. Decisions are then made about where to allocate funds. Does a trip across the state to attend a Red Sox game make more sense than paying for your children’s basic needs for the next few months?

Where will the revenue to pay players come from when the majority of fans are no longer traveling to see the games either because limited gas supplies are now being allocated or it’s simply become too expensive for “frivolous” trips? How do owners continue to fund their vast operations (office staff, marketing, scouting staffs, minor leagues, utility services for the stadiums and training facilities, and on and on it goes)? What happens to the vendors and other suppliers when the majority of fans just stop attending … permanently?

For all their current revenue, what happens to the Red Sox or Yankees when they are scheduled to travel to Tampa Bay, or Texas, or to the West Coast, and it costs a small fortune in fuel costs alone for charter planes? What rail services currently exist that offer a practical alternative? Exactly how far out does the ripple effect extend?

No organization, no group of individuals no matter what their financial status, and no industry that currently utilizes fossil fuels to any extent will escape the effects of Peak Oil. For all the magic and excitement and joy of athletic events, sports will suffer the impact of Peak Oil every bit as much (if not more) than many or most other industries.

What happens then?

~ My Photo: taken at Fenway Park, Boston – 05.05.06

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

 

 

 

 

 

Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

Bringing winter to a merciful close!

Recently, Theo Spence offered a post from his blog on Switchboard (from the National Resources Defense Council – NRDC), about climate change’s effects on the winter sports industry (skiing, snowboarding, and the snowmobiling) and its impact on its 23 million+ participants. The NRDC has teamed up with Protect Our Winters and issued a report on the subject. The link can be found in that NRDC post.

Theo summarized some key statistics about the industry worth pondering by more than just the enthusiasts:

The report finds that a bad snow season hits the economies of ¾ (38) of U.S. states–clearly showing that lower snow years result in fewer skier visits compared to higher snow years. That translates into money, and people’s livelihoods, jobs, and lifestyles.
Snow is ‘currency’ in these 38 U.S. states: more specifically, $12.2 billion in 2009/2010. If that ‘currency’ continues to be undermined by climate change, the industry –  manufacturers, resorts, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, and bars – is in serious trouble. An estimated 211,900 jobs are either directly or indirectly supported by the industry, our study shows, and  snow-related economic activity resulted in $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue and $1.7 billion at the federal level….
Our report finds that if we have a season like last year, winter tourism employment is expected to drop by 6% to 13% (13,000 to 27,000 jobs) compared to a higher snowfall seasons. That will cost the US economy between $800 million and $1.9 billion.
A recent survey cited in our analysis found that 50 percent of responding ski areas in 2011 opened late and 48 percent closed early, with every region in the country experiencing a decrease in overall days of operation.  The snowmobiling industry — one entirely reliant upon natural snow — has had relatively flat registrations since 2000.

Yikes!

But what if you are, say … a former insurance company executive and now a United States Senator—meaning that this vast professional expertise of course endows you with similar levels of expertise on climate science—and you think climate change is a hoax. Might there be a chance that declining supplies of fossil fuels would produce similar, unpleasant financial impacts on this winter sports industry?

You don’t need fossil fuels to power your skis or snowboards, of course. Snowmobiles are different. However, chances are the overwhelming majority of skiers and snowboarders don’t have facilities in their back yards. That means they have to go from home to ski/snowboarding resorts of some kind to enjoy their recreational activities, and that almost always means they need gas in their vehicles to get from A to B.

It’s a good bet that the manufacturers of the skis and snowboards and snowmobiles need more than a bit of fossil fuel energy to obtain the raw materials needed to build all that equipment and then transport it to end users. Safe to say that the suppliers of all the raw materials and the transportation outlets used need some of that same energy supply to fulfill their obligations in this chain. That also means a lot of personnel employed up and down the line also depend—directly and indirectly—on a continuing supply of affordable, availability, same-quality fossil fuels to keep themselves employed.

So when the supply of depleting conventional crude oil continues to decline, and reliance turns to the inadequate supply of inferior quality, more expensive, harder to come by unconventional sources such as the tight shale formations in the U.S. and the Canadian tar sands cheered on by certain factions of the energy and media industries, what gets prioritized in such a way that the winter sports products/services are still available at current levels? What gets sacrificed as a result?

Who benefits? How many more up and down the line will suffer as a result? Fair to say that the adverse impact of climate change (humor me, Senator Hoax Expert) will be more than matched by the adverse impacts of insufficient energy supply?

Plans? Opportunities?

~ My (wife’s) Photo: above Vancouver, BC – 02.10.07

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

 

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Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

My daughter awoke one morning with the very same nasty winter cold I suffered through in early January, and the one my wife labored to overcome as I wrote this (several weeks ago), seven days after the first unpleasant signs made their appearance.

Along with the usual assortment of juices and tea, my daughter was also making liberal use of over-the-counter cold remedies and nasal decongestants—the same ones my wife and I relied on. Nothing fancy, just the typical array of suggested aids to ease her through those next few days.

Fertilizers are of course a staple in growing crops. Harvested oranges and good old American OJ don’t get from field to my refrigerator without some fossil fuels along the way. Tea does not grow in individual tea bags and on trees in my back yard.

The machinery and production processes which get those food items from there to here don’t run on pixie dust, either. A lot of people are involved in the entire production chain, and a lot of others are involved in creating and delivering the equipment which makes it possible for you and me to reach into a cabinet or a refrigerated shelf to get us those beverages. None of those endeavors happen with fossil fuels; none of those jobs are free from at least some measure of dependency on fossil fuels.

So too are most over-the-counter medications produced with at least some fossil fuel as an ingredient, odd/disgusting as that may seem. (Ever look at a container of Vaseline or VapoRub?  Hint: petroleum jelly….)

If some petroleum derivative is needed in producing these handy medications to expedite the recovery process or at the very least alleviate some of the discomfort as these afflictions run their course, what happens as the price of ingredients needed for these products rise? When those prices rise and supplies tighten as Peak Oil dictates they will, what priority will we assign to these medications and their innumerable competitors?

A tragedy if we have to let a common cold bother us for a few days without some or maybe even all of the remedies we rely upon without a thought? Probably not, but being more miserable than we’re accustomed to being as we battle colds and flu’s isn’t something any of us eagerly await. A small inconvenience in the big picture.

But when prices rise, inferior qualities attempt to substitute for these types of everyday products, and there’s less of those substitutes to begin with, so small inconveniences will start piling up. On a long list of adaptations, cold remedy shortages may not seem like such a big deal. But if we’re not giving any thought to these matters now, there will be a long, long line of people more than a bit annoyed that “leaders” didn’t do anything to prepare us.

A strategy, yes. A good one? You decide.

~ My Photo: Atlantis, the Bahamas – 02.08.08

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

 

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Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

For those of us in northern climes, winter’s cold and its effects must be addressed in a variety of ways. It’s not always just us and family members who require adaptation when the temperatures plummet. Ignoring basic auto maintenance can prove to be costly—and a serious inconvenience.

Science lesson: water freezes when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. You’re welcome. Internal combustion engines (i.e., your cars) require water in the cooling system to keep the engine from … bursting into flames and other annoying behaviors. (Antifreeze of course also allows for water to reach temperatures above the normal point of boiling.) But if we recall our science lesson, in winter water freezes. And that’s why we have antifreeze, and why we need to purchase a container or two and have it on hand during the winter. Antifreeze + water = no freezing of said water.

Also worth noting is that antifreeze’s usefulness is not limited to automobile engines.

According to the EPA: “Ethylene glycol is the most widely used automotive cooling-system antifreeze, although methanol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and propylene glycol* are also used. In automotive windshield-washer fluids, an alcohol (e.g., methanol) is usually added to keep the mixture from freezing; it also acts as a solvent to help clean the glass. The brine used in some commercial refrigeration systems is an antifreeze mixture.”

* Antifreeze is also quite toxic, and disposal is typically regulated by state laws. The good news, as Wikipedia adds, is that propylene glycol, much less toxic than ethylene glycol, is gradually replacing the ethylene. “As confirmation of its relative non-toxicity, the FDA allows propylene glycol to be added to a large number of processed foods, including ice cream, frozen custard, and baked goods.” Yum!

As the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry helpfully informs us: “Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. Propylene glycol is also used to make polyester compounds, and as a base for deicing solutions. Propylene glycol is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries as an antifreeze when leakage might lead to contact with food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. It is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products. It is a solvent for food colors and flavors, and in the paint and plastics industries. Propylene glycol is also used to create artificial smoke or fog used in fire-fighting training and in theatrical productions. Other names for propylene glycol are 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propanediol, methyl glycol, and trimethyl glycol. Propylene glycol is clear, colorless, slightly syrupy liquid at room temperature. It may exist in air in the vapor form, although propylene glycol must be heated or briskly shaken to produce a vapor. Propylene glycol is practically odorless and tasteless.”

If you follow Wikipedia’s links, it’s only a few clicks away from learning that the propylene glycol is derived from Propylene oxide which in turn is derived from Propene. “Propene is produced from fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and, to a much lesser extent, coal. Propene is a byproduct of oil refining and natural gas processing. During oil refining, ethylene, propene, and other compounds are produced as a result of cracking larger hydrocarbon molecules to produce hydrocarbons more in demand.”

And so once again I ask the very same question I’ve asked before: When the supply of depleting conventional crude oil continues to decline, and reliance turns to the inadequate supply of inferior quality, more expensive, harder to come by unconventional sources such as the tight shale formations in the U.S. and the Canadian tar sands cheered on by certain factions of the energy and media industries, what gets prioritized in such a way that every cog of these multiple supply chains are still supplied at current levels and relative costs?

If that does happen, what gets sacrificed as a result?

How much more difficult is it going to be in the years to come to sort all of this out and develop alternative means of providing these goods and services if we’re not having the conversations now with real-life facts to guide us—before we’re having serious problems? Waiting is a strategy, but it’s usually not a very good one.

 ~ My Photo: A 1952 Packard which the owner won on a $2.00 raffle ticket

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

 

 

 

 

 

Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

Let’s start with a very, very minor consideration, now that the holiday season is mercifully at an end once again: greeting cards.

According to the Greeting Card Association, we purchase about 7 billion greeting cards every year (birthday cards account for about one-third of that total). The Association reports that (worldwide) an estimated 500 million electronic greeting cards are sent each year. In 2011, more than 2 billion Christmas cards were sold in this country (boxed and individual cards).

Safe to say that you and I have just learned more about greeting cards than we ever have!

How many people should we guess are employed by the publishers? How much fuel/energy is required to obtain the raw materials, process them, transport them, manufacture them, convert them into greeting card “stuff”, and then distribute them to the more than 100,000 retailers across the country?

I don’t have specific answers, but that’s not the point. When the price of oil remains high—higher, eventually—and when the availability of that all-important energy source is curtailed because supply diminishes as our resource pool is drawn down every minute of every day by a level of demand impossible to have envisioned just a few decades ago, how many people along that supply and production chain are going to be impacted because every company in that same chain is going to be curtailing its industrial/commercial activities?

What kind of ripple effect rolls out across the economy?

“Giving a greeting card creates a lasting impression and emotional bond between sender and receiver. In a national survey for the Greeting Card Association, nearly one-third of respondents said they keep the special cards they receive ‘forever.’”

You or may not lose much sleep if greeting cards aren’t available much, or at all, in the years to come. We’ll find new or expand the existing emotional bonds encouraged by this industry. The who-knows-how-many employees up and down the supply and production and distribution and retail chain, however, may have a different take. When cutbacks take place, how might other businesses suffer as a result? Who replaces those customers? How?

Who among us non-greeting card industry citizens every thought such a seemingly inconsequential industry had the potential to create so much havoc? Think that will be the only one affected by a declining/too-expensive energy source?

Opportunity, anyone? Plans? How about a simple public discussion?

~ My Photo: Monterey, CA – 09.15.04

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

 

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Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

Two years ago, in the midst of an absolutely hellacious winter, I posted a piece about snow storms shortly after one of too-many strong ones walloped us hearty New Englanders over the course of several long months. One surprise (major) Halloween storm the following winter, and two or three more “storms” which each dropped an inch or two of snow, were our rewards for having survived the prior year’s onslaught.

Prior to Friday’s blizzard which dumped two feet of snow in the Boston area (while my wife and I were 1500 miles away at a conference), we had a larger-than-forecast storm just after Christmas which dropped almost ten inches of snow in my town, and since then I used a broom more often than a shovel. By the first few days of February 2011, nearly 71 inches of snow had fallen in the Boston area that winter (average total was 24.4 inches). Same time last year, less than 8 inches had fallen, and official Logan Airport totals for this winter were just under 10 inches before this weekend’s major howler.

I thought it might be worthwhile to re-post some segments of that article as a refresher. Not much has changed, and the concerns remain.

~ ~ ~

[January 20, 2011]: Last week, my comfy little Massachusetts town was one of many to endure the brunt of a major nor’easter. Somewhere between 12” – 18” of snow fell in not much more than half a day. The big and little plows of our town worked pretty much nonstop through the pre-dawn hours and on through most of that day to try and keep pace with the impressive storm.

Later that day, the steady cacophony of snow blowers was everywhere. (2 of our 3 children helped me shovel – we don’t own a snow blower, although that would have been a good day to have one!) It’s amazing how high, thick, and heavy snow from the street can be when a plow passes by and dumps it all at the end of one’s driveway … several times…!

I found myself wondering what happens in years to come, as these massive storms intensify as a likely consequence of climate change….

Snow blowers might very well be relics 5, 10, 20 years down the road. Hard to imagine that fossil-fueled machines like that will have a place in most garages. Wind-powered snow blowers? Not so likely.

But that’s a small matter. Of course, plastic shovels may be a lot more expensive, given that we won’t have as much fossil fuel available to help manufacture and/or distribute those plastic items—given that petroleum is an important element in the manufacture and use of plastics. Metal shovels aren’t likely to be any less expensive, either … transportation costs and all will increase, and that means those costs get passed on to those of us buying the shovels … when we can find them. Not likely to be as many of them around….The cost of,  and to run, the needed machinery; higher utility bills and similar costs at those industrial facilities, and all those other little extras that we tend not to think about when we swipe our credit cars at the local hardware store will all be that much more pronounced in the years to come as we find ourselves with less and less oil available to not just fuel transportation, but to serve as an irreplaceable component to manufacturing and distribution.

There are no signs as yet that the magic of technology will be able to seamlessly step in and allow industry to continue on as is with nary a glitch. What then?

Back to those plows. When diesel fuel production is similarly curtailed of necessity, how will the remaining smaller portions be allocated?

There are no doubt tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of similarly-fueled vehicles in dozens of northern states (now, even some southern ones), and their hundreds upon hundreds of cities and towns. Each and every one of those municipalities depends on fossil fuels to power the sanders and salters and plows which enable all of us hardy souls in colder climates to get around in the winter.

What criteria are states going to use to ensure that each community has a remotely-sufficient supply of fuel for its municipal plows (to say nothing of all of its other municipal vehicles)?

We live at the top of one of our town’s steepest roads. When it snows in any measurable amount, getting up and down our street becomes a bit of an adventure, to put it mildly….

So what does happen when municipalities are confronted with the difficult and painful realization that they simply will not have enough fuel to power their snow-removal vehicles? Which locations or neighborhoods within each community will be serviced first, and how are those assessments going to be made in such a way that the remaining eighty percent or so of residents and business owners aren’t immediately raising a ruckus?

Aside from the obvious fire, police, hospital locations, what’s next? (Is that in fact obvious?) Are only primary streets going to be plowed? How is that designation going to be made? Do people whose homes were built on the hilly streets get next priority, or do they have to get at the back of the line? Are only some of the steep streets eligible for priority plowing…?

Are lotteries conducted at the first snow fall, with “winners” being assured that their streets are plowed first? How well is that likely to sit with those holding all the non-winning “tickets”? Are some areas simply going to have to wait for melting temperatures if snowfall totals are by some criteria determined to not merit plowing at all?

Less plows needed, less plows manufactured. Less available plows means less plowing jobs, and we all know by now what that means. The dominoes tumble quickly.

What happens to all the individuals who depend on private contractors/other residents with plows? If gas is no longer as readily available for ordinary passenger and commercial vehicles, on what basis will the owner of a pickup truck and plow be deemed to have priority in acquiring gas over, say, a nurse at the local hospital, or the owner of the town’s primary grocery store, or … or … ? Why will the owners of some private parking lots be deemed to have plowing priorities over equally-deserving others? Mall parking lots or school parking lots? Plow today, or plow perhaps in a day or two? If multiple storms are forecast in a relatively short period of time (not uncommon here in the Northeast), does everyone have to wait for plowing until after the second storm has passed so as to conserve fuel and fuel costs…?

Is anyone thinking about this right now?

It is surely not a problem in isolation. Very few challenges brought about by declining oil production will lend themselves to facile, straight-out-of-the-box solutions. One problem begets another which begets more still.

No one wants to have to deal with any of this, of course. One can simply hope that the problems either go away, don’t materialize to begin with, won’t be as severe, or won’t happen for many, many decades into the future (with the hope that by then we’ll have just figured it all out by accident), but are those strategies ones that thousands and thousands of communities and their millions of citizens ought to be relying on?

Now is when we need to turn the immense skill and capability and potential of our citizens and industries and leaders to work to not just prepare for Peak Oil, but to transcend it. Are we up to the challenge?

~ My Photo: after the referenced winter storm – January 2011

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

New Year’s resolutions all in place? A little work to do now to shed those two, or perhaps three extra pounds from six weeks of holiday splurging at restaurants and family gatherings? Did Santa (or your significant other) leave a gift certificate to the local gym in your holiday stocking as a not-so-subtle hint?

In the fall of 2011, an article in the Huffington Post suggested that more than 50 million Americans had gym memberships. My state of Massachusetts was reported to have the highest percentage of consumers nationwide at 25.1%. Another article from earlier in the year suggested a smaller number of nationwide consumers (15%) have memberships, and more than 90% who do stop using the clubs within 90 days of joining.

So even if we cut down the 50 million figure by twenty per cent or so, that’s still a lot of people exercising at all kinds of facilities, and lot of companies employing a lot of people and purchasing a lot of equipment manufactured by a lot of companies who’ve hired a lot of employees to manufacture that equipment whose raw materials and distribution required a lot of other employed people … and so on and so on.

And the same questions posed in other articles in this Impact series carry just as much weight here [pun intended]: When the price of oil remains high—higher, eventually—and when the availability of that all-important energy source is curtailed because supply diminishes as our resource pool is drawn down every minute of every day by a level of demand impossible to have envisioned just a few decades ago, how many people along that supply and production chain are going to be impacted because every company in that same chain is going to be curtailing its industrial/commercial activities?

What kind of ripple effect rolls out across the economy?

How much worse will it be if we haven’t started engaging citizens, industry, and government at all levels in the planning process for a future on the downslope of readily available, affordable, and high-quality energy supplies? How much longer should we rely on the cherry-picked facts about our “vast” abundance etc., etc. when the facts, evidence, reality all suggest something a bit less rosy? Optimism is wonderful, but if it comes at the expense of telling us all the truth and the full range of facts, its usefulness diminishes—at our long-term expense.

How about this instead: What kind of wonderful, new opportunities are available to citizens, industry, and government who first deal with the realities of fossil fuel production, and then plan and implement new strategies accordingly? The field is pretty much wide open….

~ My Photo: Jackson Square, New Orleans – March 2010

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

 

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Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

Last year, shortly after my beloved Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Team Which I’ll Never Speak Of, [a problem I don’t have to deal with this year, sad to say], I offered a post which began with the same question I’m asking again:

What if there was no Super Bowl game?

As I mentioned in that 2012 post, I’m lucky enough to have attended the Super Bowl a few years ago and can personally attest to the fact that it is indeed quite the event. I also noted this: “I am not nearly versed enough in the intricacies of planning such an event, but it stands to reason that a lot of time, effort, equipment, personnel, machinery, and transportation is needed to turn an American city into the center of the pro football universe.” [See this for a breakdown of what New Orleans has planned.]

Indeed, as noted here [ links are in both of the original articles quoted from below], a fair amount of similar undertakings were involved in prepping New Orleans for this year’s game:

Super Bowl 2013 organizers gave a final briefing on the massive event for New Orleans media Wednesday, covering highlights such as the $13.5 million the local hosting group raised to accommodate the production, the free riverfront festival that will include 49 bands, food from 17 restaurants and 12 parades and the array of public and private improvements and renovations timed to the extravaganza that total an estimated $1.2 billion.…
Host Committee officials outlined money the group raised to pay the rent at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and other facilities that are key sites in the spectacle, cover staffing at the Dome, reserve hotel rooms for the two teams that will vie for the championship, block out parking spaces for event officials, workers and vendors, coordinate the deployment of 6,000 volunteers, host a party for national and international media, produce business outreach programs and philanthropic efforts and run the Woldenberg Park festival, called the Super Bowl Boulevard….
[The above-referenced riverfront festival] will include dozens of Louisiana musical acts, dozens of dishes from local restaurants, a massive video gaming installation, the opportunity for fans to watch live television broadcasts from a set on the festival grounds and a feature that has grown popular in recent years at Super Bowls, the display of a towering Roman numeral monument for the game’s number, this time XLVII, with video images projected onto it and music playing.
Davis said NFL officials added a twist to the 101-foot-wide numeral display. They will display the numerals on a barge in the river and their arrival will be heralded with fireworks. [1]

Consider the financial implications and expectations of New Orleans’ city officials:

When it was bidding for the NFL’s championship game, the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee commissioned the University of New Orleans to devise projections of how much spending will take place with businesses in the city because of the Super Bowl. The result was a prediction that visitors will spend $211 million, which in turn will drive $223 million in spending by businesses stocking up on goods, and employees spending money they make from the extra hours and bigger crowds.
The total, $434 million, has risen from the estimates of $249 million for the 1997 New Orleans Super Bowl and $299 [sic] for the 2002 New Orleans Super Bowl. In 2013, the spending could generate $26 million in tax revenue for local and state agencies.
The number of expected visitors, 120,000 to 150,000, is far less than the masses drawn to the city’s signature annual events of Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. About 70,000 can attend the championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Feb. 3. The rest of the visitors work in support roles to the corporate leaders attending the game or participate in the array of other Super Bowl festivities unfolding around the city.
But Jay Cicero, executive director of the Host Committee, said the number of visitors is less pivotal than the high-spending caliber of the visitors. He called it the biggest corporate spending event in the country. [2]

To emphasize the point, the latter article added:

Even more important than how much spending happens the week of the game, said Cicero and other local organizers, is the incalculable value of extended international media exposure, giving the city a chance to herald the progress of a new, post-Hurricane Katrina era. About 5,000 news media members are expected in town.
‘There’s not a value assigned to that, but it’s got to exceed the economic impact,’ Cicero said.
The Super Bowl could plant the idea of visiting New Orleans in the minds of tourists who will arrive over several years, he said. And it’s a huge score in selling the city’s convention and event offerings.

[Worth noting are two articles (here and here) by Travis Waldron offering a different perspective on financial expectations v. the realities of cities hosting events like the Super Bowl.]

All in all, there are incalculable and innumerable benefits and considerations and opportunities tied in to the successful presentation of an event such as this one. There is a ripple effect extending well beyond local governments, major attractions, and large corporations. Street vendors, start-ups, and countless other service providers and companies of all sizes carry their own set of hopes.

As would be expected, among the primary beneficiaries are hotels and restaurants, many of which will dance along the fine line of charging premium prices without toppling into charges of gouging, while making sure that the normal services they provide are not so tied in with an event years down the road that they suffer in the interim between site selection and the game itself.

The mega-event that is the Super Bowl is expected to result in a near sellout of the 50,000 hotel rooms in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the North Shore and ripple out as far as the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Lake Charles….
Room availability took an immediate hit three years ago when the National Football League announced that Super Bowl XLVII would be held in New Orleans on Feb.3, 2013. The league then blocked off 90 percent of all the hotel rooms in Orleans and Jefferson parishes for team owners, corporate executives, sponsors and major advertisers at a set rate negotiated with hoteliers. [3]

An interesting observation in this last article cited is that hotels more than three hundred miles away are booking guests planning to attend the game and/or related events!

While it is arguably the grandest entertainment and media spectacle in America, those factors are made no less important. On smaller scales, conventions and major sporting events share similar characteristics and bear similar expectations, as do the local businesses in those venues.

The concluding comments I offered in my 2012 post on the Super Bowl are no less valid today, and so I’ll end this posting with those same considerations:

How do teams (high school, college, the pros) deal with travel issues and schedules when gas is much too expensive to enable teams to transport their players even short distances, or when air travel is severely curtailed and wildly expensive because not enough jet fuel is being processed to meet demand (and airports are shuttered because air travel has diminished markedly), or when the fans cannot afford to put the gasoline in their vehicles that in the past allowed them to attend the games without a second thought?
What happens when half, or a third, or one-tenth the number of fans can afford to attend games because budgeting all that money to drive to an in- or out-of-state stadium no longer makes financial sense? Pure supply and demand: when demand continues and supply is reduced, prices go up.
Where will the revenue to pay players come from when the majority of fans are no longer traveling to see the games either because limited gas supplies are now being allocated or it’s simply become too expensive for ‘frivolous’ trips?
How do owners continue to fund their vast operations (office staff, marketing, scouting staffs, minor leagues, utility services for the stadiums and training facilities, and on and on it goes)? What happens to the vendors and other suppliers when the majority of fans just stop attending … permanently?
What happens when the mind-boggling efforts in planning, preparing, transporting, supplying, delivering, etc., etc. needed to stage this incredible event by countless thousands of individuals and merchants and organizations and government officials are simply no longer feasible because every single entity up and down the supply and service chain is faced with the reality of insufficient availability of ‘affordable’, quality, energy supply to make this extravaganza happen?
How many economic dominoes tumble as a result? How many businesses lose out? How many employees?

I’m not anticipating that the NFL will cease production of the Super Bowl anytime in the near future, but the reality of Peak Oil will affect this event and this organization just as it will every other commercial enterprise. It will take an incredible amount of planning and thought to figure out an appropriate Plan B just for this one event … how much more planning and thought will be needed for everything else?

~ My Photo: Patriots-Jets playoff game – 01.07.07

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/

Sources:

[1] http://www.nola.com/superbowl/index.ssf/2013/01/super_bowl_2013_hosts_laud_cit.html; Super Bowl 2013 hosts laud city’s readiness for massive event by Mark Waller – 01.16.13
[2] http://www.nola.com/superbowl/index.ssf/2013/01/super_bowl_2013_reverberating.html; Super Bowl 2013 reverberating through the New Orleans economy by Mark Waller – 01.18.13
[3] http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2013/01/hotel_rooms_scarce_for_super_b.html; Hotel rooms scarce for Super Bowl, prices increasing by Richard A. Webster – 01.14.13

 

 

 

 

Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

Here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

My wife is in sales … the real estate/financial services industry, and she’s quite good. Quite successful, too. Top ten nationally, as a matter of fact, for a company whose name is instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever done any banking or purchased real estate.

One of her holiday-season rituals, when her daily responsibilities decrease ever so slightly as the holidays near and thus allow her more time outside the office than is usual, is to become Santa’s cookie elf. Dozens upon dozens of favorite treats from a friend’s bakery—unfailingly a hit in every office she visits—are her calling card as she makes the rounds to the real estate and law professionals in the area with whom she does business. The contact with peers she much-too-infrequently meets with in person is a welcome assignment.

Re-establishing the personal friendships is the biggest bonus for professionals like these whose normal working hours afford them almost no time to nurture those important relationships. So too do the relaxed, friendly gatherings afford them all the opportunity to solidify their business relationships. The benefits are reaped every time a referral call is made over the course of the next twelve months.

The cookies my wife purchases are always an important door-opener, and they always work. They are far from her only marketing effort of course, but the personal touch and thoughtfulness go a very long way in having made her one of her company’s leading professionals for more than a decade.

The owner of the bakery likewise appreciates the large sum of money my wife spends out of her own pocket each year. Although the holiday season is the time when my wife makes her largest purchases there, she also makes use of those treats on other occasions during the year.

Customers like my wife are invaluable assets for the owner. The staff she maintains are no less dependent on that business. Her suppliers, the drivers who make deliveries to her store, the various service technicians who keep her kitchen equipment functioning or replaced as need be likewise draw indirect benefits from the bakery store clientele.

The ovens, miscellaneous kitchen supplies, paper goods, wrapping, cookie containers, and all the other items on what is no doubt a long list of supplies do not magically appear inside the bakery. Companies hire suppliers to build/manufacture/maintain/replace the items on that list, and they too depend on transportation up and down their own supply chains. Every employee up and down that line is also a beneficiary of the bakery owner’s success, as are the countless other small and large businesses in that industry who supply us all with treats as well as nutritional necessities.

As evidenced by the good will my wife maintains with her fellow professionals, there are vital intangible benefits to the process as well. Having an SUV makes it much easier for my wife to cart around her deliveries. That isn’t powered or maintained on good will, needless to say.

And so I’ll ask the very same question I’ve asked before: When the supply of depleting conventional crude oil continues to decline, and reliance turns to the inadequate supply of inferior quality, more expensive, harder to come by unconventional sources such as the tight oil formations in the U.S. and the Canadian tar sands cheered on by certain factions of the energy and media industries, what gets prioritized in such a way that every cog of these multiple supply chains are still supplied at current levels and relative costs?

If that does happen, what gets sacrificed as a result?

How much more difficult is it going to be in the years to come to sort all of this out and develop alternative means of providing these goods and services if we’re not having the conversations now with real-life facts to guide us—before we’re having serious problems? Waiting is a strategy, but it’s usually not a very good one.

~ My Photo: A quarry at Halibut Point, on the MA north shore – 09.10.05

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:

http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/15/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-iv/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/07/looking-ahead-to-peak-oil-transition-part-i/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/12/13/thoughts-on-peak-oil-planning/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2011/02/14/peak-oil-a-new-direction-pt-5/
http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/02/25/peak-oil-infrastructure-more-to-discuss-part-ii/