I was reading this article. What's interesting about the article is that:
1. Creeping gasoline prices are (finally!) making the news again;
2. The article references peak oil production. We hardly ever hear the words "peak" and "oil" in the same sentence in mainstream media, and it's almost surreal every time I do.
As a kind of off the cuff post, I made some 2010 predictions. Most of my predictions were specific to what I believed would happen in my own household over the year, but I did state by the time tourist season comes around ... we'll be wondering when the price per gallon got to $3.
Three months ago, I was watching as the price had been slowly increasing, and no one seemed to be paying attention. After the "astronomically high" prices the previous year, $2.50 per gallon seemed cheap.
How short our memories are!
When Deus Ex Machina and I moved to Maine several years ago, the price per gallon for gasoline and heating oil were both under a dollar. It's triple today what it was back then, and the price per barrel for crude is almost $85, which is a $4 increase over what I've seen in the past few months (it's been bouncing from $79/barrel to $81/barrel for a while), and in some places the price per gallon for gasoline is already over $3.
A couple of days ago, I debated the Fast Crash vs. Slow Descent, stating that I thought a fast crash would be preferrable, because it would just get things over with already so that we could adjust and move on.
The problem is that time has a way of putting things into perspective. We are crashing, and from our perspective, here on the ground, in the moment, it seems to be happening in slow motion. Thirty years from now, when we're looking back, it will seem to have happened all in the blink of an eye.
During the Cold War, I never believed that an all-out nuclear war would happen, despite the plethora of literature (movies, books, magazine articles) on the subject. Likewise, I don't believe there will be any sort of thing like an EMP attack (although I do believe a good, old fashioned invasion is possible). I don't believe there will be one catastrophic event that sends us over the edge and tumbling head over heels into the abyss.
I think what we will, ultimately, experience is what we are experiencing now - a slow impoverishment of most of our population. We'll just all get much poorer, and those things we take for granted now - new clothes whenever the whim strikes us, color televisions and $100 per month cable subscription, cellphones, iPods, Ugg boots, chocolate-dipped strawberries for Valentine's Day (in Maine) - will become the luxuries they are for the rest of the world. Paying for food and shelter will consume most of our incomes ... just as they do in the rest of the world.
It will continue to happen gradually, over the next few months and years. We won't wake up tomorrow and find that we've lost it all - well, most of us won't ;).
Which is actually the good news, because it means that we still have time to put our wealth to good use and purchase quality things that will last, and that will serve us well when we can't just run to the store for another one.
We still have time.