Saturday, August 27, 2005

Put ten bucks in to just keep the tank topped up ...

Did my usual Saturday routine again, brunch at Nautical Nellie's and the Signal Hill hike ... and then ran up to the grocery to grab some odds and ends, and on the way home thought "hmm, gas is getting low ... better fill the tank." But as I pulled into an Esso, I nearly drove into the station wall when I caught sight of the gas prices.

We're up to $1.15 a litre. Not sure where the prices are at in the rest of the country -- I discovered on the way out here that Quebec and the Maritimes averaged about ten cents more than Ontario -- but this was a pretty insane hike, considering that the last time I filled the tank it was $1.03/litre.

And while the car owner in me groans, the rest of me is actually kind of happy; a lot of the reading I've done this summer has dealt with environmental concerns, especially in terms of various civilizations' different successes and failures with their resources and their concomitant success or failure as civilizations.

Quick aside: Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse; Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead. Required reading. Margaret Wente wrote a scoffing column a month or two back in which she mocked the premises of these books -- namely, that we need to have an eye to our present excesses in consumption and environmental rapine, or we're likely to go the route of previous collapsed civilizations -- as just so much doom and gloom, easily contradicted by the obvious prosperity and accessible amenities of Western society. Which, in typical Wente fashion, entirely missed an observation made in all three books: that civilizations on the verge of catastrophe are often oblivious to their peril because of their carefully crafted comforts and decadent culture. Just ask a wealthy Roman about those pesky Visigoths banging on the door.

ANYWAY, when I look at high gas prices it fills me with a certain satisfaction (provided I have a full tank). Oil is what drives the modern world, but oil is a finite resource -- and the fact that this is not an issue front and center in national debate as opposed to something shouted from the periphery baffles me. Even with the skyrocketing costs of oil, the "Mess o' potamia" as Jon Stewart calls it, and the increasing evidence that we do in fact have the technology to explore alternative energy, our oil consumption continues to grow. And that's just the West -- the Asian appetite for oil is only going to grow exponentially in the years to come. With our current rate of consumption, not factoring in Asian growth, optimistic -- optimistic -- forecasts say current oil reserves with be effectively gone in 40-50 years.

Pessimistic forecasts say 5-10. But even with the rosier outlook, we're still looking at an energy catastrophe of almost apocalyptic proportions in a half century ... are we really so short-sighted and selfish to think that isn't our problem?

Apparently so, considering that Hummer production has only increased of late.

So I go, I go, I go to the gas pump with a smile. And reminding myself that it's still cheaper than what they pay in Europe.

1 comment:

syl said...

Gas prices in London right now are about 97.4. I don't really see it going anywhere else but up. Coming from New Liskeard where it is 106.9 consistently, I guess that's still not that bad. Ack!