Tag Archives: energy

An epic lack of foresight

Because our country didn’t seriously pursue alternative energy sooner:

We are facing global warming and poor air quality.

We are dangerously entangled with the Middle East.

The Pentagon needs a bigger budget. For example, a Stealth Bomber gets 0.7 miles per gallon.

Fuel prices for airlines are also out of control, and they are taking a number of measures to compensate. They’ve started charging for every little extra: the snacks onboard, checking your luggage, headphones for the movie. My ticket for going from Seattle to St. Louis at Christmas this year cost 20% more than last year’s and I bought it months in advance. American Airlines is cutting many of it regional flights on the American Eagle network. American is also asking flight attendants to go on voluntary unpaid leaves to avoid having to make layoffs.

Home health care workers aren’t getting reimbursed for their driving expenses at a high enough rate, so many are reconsidering their careers to go to work in hospitals and other facilities closer to their homes. As a result it will be harder for the sick and elderly to stay in their own homes.

Food prices are rising because fuel is required for planting, harvesting, and distributing food. Other consumer products will probably follow.

NPR talked to a homeowner in the Northeast who will probably give up her home because she can’t afford her mortgage payments plus the cost of heating oil this winter.

The sudden, intense demand for biofuels is reducing the price difference between organic and conventionally-grown crops. Since raising organics doesn’t produce such a premium for farmers anymore they are switching back to the conventional methods of growing to have a bigger yield and sell to biofuel refiners. This is shortening the supply of organic food choices, which I believe is healthier for our bodies and the environment.

Lots of businesses, not just the ones I mentioned above, are suffering by uncontrollable fuel costs, so they’re cutting what they can cut: labor costs. And anytime that workers are being paid less, they spend less, which is no good in America where consumer spending makes up 1/3 of the entire economy.

I’ve lost my faith in the forces of the market. It’s true that now that gas is four and a half dollars a gallon people are driving less and getting more fuel efficient cars, but it’s pretty much too late for Detroit’s Big 3. I heard yesterday that of the three, Chrysler is likely to fail. There’s a lag in research and development. Truck and SUV plants are closing down, because they’re not ready to turn them into factories for plug-in hybrids just yet. Only a few months ago, I heard an industry representative insist that powerful cars like the Ford truck series and the Dodge Magnum are “what Americans want.” Gas prices are proving that there’s a difference between what Americans want and what they can afford to have. Why didn’t Detroit see it coming?

On the bright side:

Rising fuel costs are finally forcing conservation and innovation. And hopefully rising food prices could help out our obese population. Too bad the cheapest foods are the most processed…

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