U.S. Goes, “Glug, Glug!”; Pedal Power Reserves Remain Strong


Despite the oil-price-increase dances I do every morning (involving leaping as high as I can while using my arms to form the letters “O,” “I,” and “L,” YMCA-style), the price of oil just keeps dropping! President Obama isn’t helping, with his 30-million-barrel release from the salt caverns. However: In a way, his tapping the reserves is a good sign, since it indicates desperation in the face of Mideast instability. Also, it can’t be anything but a stop-gap measure, since 30 million barrels is enough to keep our nation glug-glugging for a mere two days.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, quoted in today’s The Wall Street Journal, criticized the reserves release as being only a short-term solution – a long-term solution, in her opinion, sounds something like, “drill, baby, drill.”

That’s kind of funny, since extracting more and more of a substance that’s getting harder and harder to access doesn’t seem like a recipe for long-term success.

Pardon me for getting all peak-oil & post-carbon on you. Life’s supposed to be fun, right?

Flowers + pedal power outside Williamsburg's Red Rose & Lavender. How's that for fun?

Flowers + pedal power outside Williamsburg's Red Rose & Lavender. How's that for fun?

Let me introduce you to the Transition movement. Its main premise, as I see it, is that we might as well start adjusting to life after oil as soon as possible, because – in addition to being necessary – kicking our oil addiction makes life a lot more enjoyable.

Here’s an excerpt from Automania: Man and the Motor Car (by Julian Pettifer & Nigel Turner), reprinted in The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience (by Rob Hopkins), addressing the vibrance sacrificed, on city streets, to make way for motor weap- I mean vehicles:

In the cities, apart from frightening the horses, motor vehicles competed savagely with many other road users. At the end of the last century, city streets were not just transportation arteries; they served all kinds of neighbourhood and family uses. As Clay McShane has pointed out, “push-cart vendors brought their wares to urban housewives…surviving lithographs and photos show great herds of children playing in the streets, generally the only open spaces.”

City streets were often flanked with stalls selling all manner of produce. Musicians, conjurors, and other street entertainers provided the poor with cheap diversion. On to this seething and varied social scene, enter the motor car and exit many other performers! When the car first appeared on cinema screens in the 1890s it was often shown in the role of the bully, tipping over costers’ barrows and fruit stalls; it may have been funny on the screen but it was not nearly so much fun on the streets.

Motor cars as bullies…has anything changed?

Seriously, though – it’s a gas to imagine what a street could be, without cars. If it were up to me, there’d be a line of raised beds, overflowing with fruits and flowers and vegetables, running down the center of each roadway – or better yet, there’d be two lines of them, one replacing each streak of disappeared parking spots.

Roadway + raised bed = Lincoln Tunnel Farm

Roadway + raised bed = Lincoln Tunnel Farm

After this 30 million barrels, the U.S. only has another 700 million socked away. How long might that last us – a month and a half? I say, let’s pull it all out, use it all up – throw one last blowout, everybody drive to Disneyland – and then get down to the work, and fun, of creating a truly sustainable energy solution, powered in part by the 600 million legs we’ll never run out of.