The transport policy referred to in the previous post, where everyone is expected to undertake all journeys in their own big car, has become so entrenched in many countries over the last fifty years that it seems impossible to change or modify. Some older people, faced with modern high petrol prices, can actually suggest that as time goes on, people might have to have only one car, have a smaller one, drive less, use other means of getting around. But the young people coming to maturity today take it for granted that they will grow a powerful set of wheels as soon as they turn seventeen. No alternative scenario has even occurred to them.
As petrol prices soar, everyone in authority is saying we must produce more oil, lower its price, discover more, drill in previously protected places. Or they are saying there must be new technology and technological breakthroughs; or more fuel obtained from crops and trees, regardless of the effect on food prices and forests. No-one is suggesting consuming less oil.
Instead of assuming that the private car transport system as we know it is a basic necessity that must be maintained at whatever cost, it might be better to regard it as a temporary artefact of the availability of cheap abundant oil for most of the twentieth century.
So, instead of thinking, this is what we’ve been able to do with the cheap abundant oil, we have to do the same thing with other fuel sources, we should think, what can we do with other fuel and energy sources, let’s confine ourselves to that.
This is easy to say and might have been more achievable forty years ago when I first suggested it. But the system we have is entrenched and the oil and automotive industries have great power and control over the media and governments. Modern cities such as my own, Perth, Western Australia, have been designed around the idea of limitless individual transport. This problem is not going to be solved smoothly – there will be inconvenience and disruption.
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Posts in this Series
- Review of 1988 edition of Economics for a Round Earth
- Ends and Means
- Evolution Not Revolution
- Notes on Evolution Not Revolution
- Concepts and Terms – What is ‘wealth’?
- The Throughput Chain
- The Derivatives of Wealth
- Global Inequalities in Wealth
- Economic Growth Redefined
- Misconceptions in Practice
- Borrowing to Invest to Get Rich
- Environment versus Economic Progress
- Digression: Pollution Red Herrings
- Digression: Depletion and Inflation
- Value Inflation – the Trigger, not the Bullet
- Living Standard and Quality of Life
- Digression: Resource Consumption, Jobs, and Hands Off
- When the Boom comes
- The Effect of People’s Expectations
- Hard Work – Virtue or Vice?
- Who needs the Snail Darter?
- More Dollars for Conservation?
- Non-renewable Resources – Leave Them in the Ground?
- Digression: Fast Breeder Nuclear Fission Reactors
- Minerals in National Parks – Leave Them in the Ground?
- Population and Wealth
- Left, Right and The Environment
- Digression: “So Long As We Profit, Costs Elsewhere Aren’t Our Problem”?
- Limits to Growth?
- Solar Energy – a Special Case
- The Solar-Powered Car
- Money Supply, Throughput and Inflation
- Real and Money Wages: Living Standards
- Digression: Caution about “Increases” and “Decreases”
- The Idea of Proportionate Flows Applied to Wages: the Great Depression
- Deficit Financing
- The Optimum Proportionate Flow Condition
- Digression: Thrift versus Spendthrift
- Digression: the Private Motor Car – a Basic Necessity?
- The Idea of Proportionate Flows Applied to Wages – the Stagflation of the 1970’s and 80’s
- Excessive Wages Can Cost Jobs
- Fight Unemployment or Inflation First?
- Digression: Work and Jobs
- Other “Job Creation” Schemes
- Visual and Noise Pollution
- Digression: Renewal and Recycling of Resources; Wages and Jobs
- Ratio Distortion and Consumption
- Aggregate Demand – Components and Internal Ratio
- The Slave Economy
- Employment and the Steady State
- Consumer-Led Recovery
- Interest Rates and Ratio Distortion
- Demographic Trends and Living Standards
- Digression: Bad Economics Good for Conservation?
- Coping with Aging Populations
- Stabilising the Human Population
- Costs – What Really Costs Us and What Doesn’t?
- Digression: Other Comments on Statements in UN Report
- Discussion of Costs Resumed
- Budget Balancing Methods – Cost or Gain?
- Digression: Government Expenditure – Government Employees
- Expenditure on Weapons