- "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children."
- When I grew up in the mid-Sixties, a gallon of gasoline
cost between 25 to 30 cents a gallon. Oftentimes gas stations waged a competitive
"gas war," and prices dropped another nickel a gallon. Indeed
motorists could often buy gasoline for fifteen or twenty cents a gallon
during a frequent gas war, when rival stations vied for customers. Imagine:
for that price an attendant would pump gas, top the oil, wash the windshield
and check the tire pressure - no one charged for air then - all while you
waited comfortably behind the wheel of your car. Most gas stations offered
green stamps and free roadmaps, cups and cutlery, anything at all to induce
customer loyalty. In the Golden Age of Motoring, those were the good old
- "Fillíer up?" was the frequent, cheery
greeting whenever you coasted into the station, your lumbering, Detroit-manufactured
vehicle setting off an exuberant ding-ding as the car rolled across a signal
hose. The attendant would hasten to your window with squeegee and spray
bottle in hand. A merry little chime on the gas pump rang whenever another
gallon gurgled down the throat of your tank, and the uniformed attendant
smiled at kids like us, rollicking around in the backseat, years before
seatbelts became standard equipment.
- Yes, those were the good old days. For almost two decades
after the war, America enjoyed worldwide manufacturing supremacy in an
age of cheap, abundant gas. http://moknowsphotos.com/USA/
- You saw the USA in your Chevrolet , Buick or Chrysler,
while Ford had a better idea called the Mustang, and a veritable land yacht
called Cadillac was the ultimate success symbol.
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road?
- When historians finally write the saga of America, for
the years 1920-2020, an entire section should be devoted to gasoline alone.
For almost a century, America reinvented the wheel and reinvented the idea
of itself, from rugged pioneer to intrepid individualist behind the wheel
of a shiny automobile. When the idea of a mobile America was best symbolized
by a Flying Red Horse, whitewall tires and sweeping tailfins, the open
road called and ignition keys turned in unison.
- The Interstate System of the Fifties fueled an Icarian
fantasy of escape, whether to the far western shores of America or to the
suburbs just outside of town - and rarely did anyone give a second thought
to gas. You flew close to the sun, top down, hair streaming, in your T-bird
or "Vette or economical Ford Falcon on fossil fuel wings. Certainly
the migratory history of this nation, for nearly a century now, has been
propelled by the internal combustion engine and gas, lots and lots of cheap
- By late May, 1927, the fifteenth million
Model T produced by Henry Ford rolled off the assembly line in Detroit,
Michigan. Route 66 was paved only a year earlier, in 1926, from Chicago
to Santa Monica, California. Oil fields, with their ubiquitous oscillating
pumps, sprouted from Erie, Pennsylvania to East Texas to West Los Angles,
California. Following the oil boom of the Twenties, the architectural advent
of the http://www.agilitynut.com/gas.html
gas station began soon after, spawning the roadhouse, diner and motor hotel,
or mo-tel. Touring became the new fad; campgrounds began to cater to cars.
- The open road offered redemption, release or a tantalizingly
rebellious idea of romance. The Dustbowl era of the Dirty Thirties forced
thousands of Okies onto the road during the Great Depression. The Joads
of John Steinbeckís novel, The Grapes of Wrath," sought redemption
in a utopian vision of California that didnít exist, at the end
of Route 66. During the war years, gas, oil and tires were rationed, but
following World War II optimism eventually returned and so did consumer
goods. Beginning in the Fifties, Jack Kerouac lured two generations of
misfits - a sizable portion of humans at any one time--back http://www.rwc.uc.edu/koehle
r/rt66icons.html onto the beckoning highways with his Beat classic
of rebellion, "On The Road."
- Elegy for The Lost Horizon
- Unfortunately for those of us with a gypsy spirit and
a penchant to pull into the nearest gas station with a road map on our
lap, the days of unlimited cheap gas are almost over. According to a trio
of noteworthy books, and one recent development in the Persian Gulf (Iraq),
the last gasp of affordable gas is either a few years away or a few decades.
Goodbye yellow brick road, hello to the long and winding road.
- A few developments of note before we go farther, call
them sub-chapters within that section on gasoline. During the mid-Seventies,
America and Great Britain brought two enormous oil pools into production:
The North Slope of Alaska and the North Sea between Norway and England.
Thirty years later, those two huge pools are now nearly depleted. Not surprisingly,
both England and the US are the major players in Iraq.
- The book that started the ripple effect was called "Hubbert's
peak." Written by an oil company insider, the book discusses the bell
curve effect of production. According to this theory, apparently substantiated
by the fact there have been very few large oil discoveries in the last
20-30 years, the peak of oil production has been reached and perhaps even
passed. Now begins the long painful slide to increasing demand and thus
scarcity, at least according to this scary yet debatable theory.
- The second book to appear, and certainly most controversial,
was the recent, http://www.newsociety.com/bookid/38
75 "Crossing the Rubicon." A hefty volume that, among other
things, accuses Vice-President Dick Cheney of masterminding the terrorist
attack on the September 11, 2001 in order to effect the present military
occupation of oil-rich Iraq, the book is thick with evidence and reads
like an overwhelming indictment for the prosecution.
- More importantly, the book warns readers that the End
Times are coming for cheap and plentiful oil, hence the entire reason for
9-11 and the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Written by a former LA
police detective, Mike Ruppert, "Crossing The Rubicon" created
an enormous buzz on the Internet upon publication but, understandably,
not a murmur of debate occurred in the mainstream media, where any controversial
topic stronger than Michael Jackson is verbotten.
- Adios to The Open Road?
- The third book, and most recent, may be the most sobering.
Entitled, "The Long Emergency" by James Howard Kunstler, a segment
of the book appeared in Rolling Stone magazine subtitled, "What's
Going to Happen as We Start Running Out of Cheap Gas to Guzzle?"
- "A few weeks ago," wrote Kunstler,
"The price of oil ratcheted above fifty-five dollars a barrel ($58
presently), which is about twenty dollars a barrel more than a year ago.
The next day, the oil story was buried on page six of the New York Times
business section. Apparently the price of oil is not considered significant
news, even when it goes up five dollars a barrel in the span of ten daysÖNote
to clueless nation: Call planet Earth."
- Recently Congress voted to permit drilling in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), but few believe this to be more than a
stopgap solution. We use more than 20 million barrels of oil per day. At
best, according to the Department of Energy, ANWR might provide four or
five per cent of our total oil needs in 2025, an estimated 30 million barrels
a day. Not long ago, reports indicated that EPA estimates of fuel economy
in cars they tested was deliberately skewed to give more positive readings.
Before the 2004 elections, both Kerry and Bush pledged to enact bold new
energy plans - doubling the CAFE standards would have been a logical step--but
aside from the continuing occupation of oil-rich Iraq, no bold new energy
plan has been forthcoming.
- "The widely touted "hydrogen economyí
is a particularly cruel hoax," Kunstler stated. "We are not going
to replace the US automobile and truck fleet with vehicles run on fuel
cells. For one thing, the current generation of fuel cells is largely designed
to run on hydrogen obtained from natural gas." Presently the US contains
3% of the known reerves of natural gas and most of that lies in distant
- "The two hundred and ninety million people who live
in the Untied States make up just five per cent of the worldís population,
but they consume a quarter of the worldís oil supply," wrote
John Cassidy in "Pump Dreams: Is Energy Independence an Impossible
- http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?041011fa_fact printed recently in The New Yorker. "For much of the twentieth
century, the United States was the worldís largest oil producer,
and its profligacy wasnít a pressing problemÖIn terms of proven
reserves - oil deposits that are known to exist and are believed to be
accessible at reasonable cost--we have slipped to tenth place in the international
rankings, as reservoirs in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma have started
to dry up."
- What does this mean to the average American motorist?
"The automobile will be a diminished presence in our lives, to say
the least," Kunstler noted. The price of gasoline will rise at the
rate of all products in the marketplace, increasing in direct relation
to expense of production or scarcity.
- Farewell to The Last of Gas?
- "It has been very hard for Americans - lost in the
raptures of nonstop infotainment, recreational shopping and compulsive
motoring - to make sense of the gathering forces that will fundamentally
alter the terms of everyday life in our technological society," Kunstler
- Oil is the lubricant that allows our entire economic
machine to run smoothly. Hardly any aspect is untouched by the influence
of oil. Walk through any Walmart, Safeway or K-Mart superstore and try
to find one item that is not directly or indirectly affected by the slippery
stuff. Difficult or impossible to do; every product we make and use - food,
shelter, clothing, transportation, information, entertainment and especially
gasoline--bears the imprint of oil.
- Even if the Neocons succeed in their agenda to secure
Iraq into some sort of willing, semi-permanent subjugation, as our gasoline
vassal state for the next fifty years, America will need a sweeping austerity
program and considerable men of vision, neither of which seems likely.
But miracles do occur; never underestimate the power of American ingenuity.
In ten years time hybrid cars may be as common as cell phones and 50 MPG
will be the norm.
- "If there is any positive side to the stark changes
coming our way, it may be in the benefits of close communal relations,
of having to really work intimately (and physically) with our neighbors,
to be part of an enterprise that really matters and to be fully engaged
in meaningful social enactments instead of being merely entertained to
avoid boredom," Kunstler added.
- Some silver linings may also be the outright extinction
of that 8,000 lb dinosaur known as the land yacht. Likewise the reversal
of the trend of Americans to obesity. Bicycles will become a wonderful
method of short distance transportation, the most practical machine ever
invented for personal transportation, a mode the rest of the world knows
very well. Heart disease will decline and sleep disorders diminish. Global
warming may even slow appreciably, as this vibrant young planet begins
to breathe again, after a hundred year hangover from the fossil fuel binge.
- An avid bicyclist, Douglas Herman completed a 10,000-mile
journey around North America twenty years ago and continues to use his
mountain bike for short errands and small commutes. A resident of Pompano
Beach, he writes regularly for the website, http://www.rense.com
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