Sunday, October 30, 2005

Peak Oil in Microcosm: The Planet Starves

Chaos considers Hurricane Katrina a distant early warning to the greedy inhabitants of the planet, a mild but insistent omen of future shortages and lifestyle changes wrought by the slow end of fossil fuels. Peak oil is becoming increasingly hard for the unconscious American public to ignore: articles that attempt to present the issue, albeit in the shallowest and most superficial way, have become common. The larger truth has peeked out, however, in today's paper of record, in an article largely concerned with why food prices haven't increased as a result of rising oil prices. Not yet, anyway, as it's clear that the supply side of the food chain can only be squeezed so much. Expect inevitable increases in prices for sustenance to hit about the same time as winter heating bills. Note well how ubiquitous oil and gas are to the food supply: tractors, fishing boats, fertilizers, plastics, refrigeration, transport.

At the bottom of the article, however, (that's where the truth tends to leak out, have you noticed?) one finds the key as well as a harbinger of the future: a restaurant owner in Cleveland, who relies solely upon small local growers, hasn't gotten a price increase of any kind in the last year. Chaos does not prognosticate often or well, but believes that small and local farming will be the only viable methods in the post-peak era. Brush up on gardening skills.

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