Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Few Thoughts From the Road

After nearly three days on the road as I drove between Washington, DC and Dallas, one observation sticks out. There are a LOT of eighteen-wheelers on the road.

An economics professor once told me that if you wanted to get a true sense of how the American economy is doing at any given time, you have to go count the semis rumbling down the interstates. If this is at all an accurate measurement, then our economy is doing quite well. I saw thousands of the big trucks in my journey. They easily outnumbered the cars.

This in turn led me to another thought: all these trucks run on gasoline. Our entire lifestyle runs on gasoline. Without the ability to affordably move products and raw materials all over the country, we wouldn't have the life we do. Not even close.

We can talk about how our thirst for oil ties us too closely with the Middle East. We can talk about how all these vehicles on the interstates pollute our environment. But really, what's at stake is our way of life. If oil reserves dwindle or if gasoline prices continue to rise, all these products we count on will become more and more expensive--prohibitively expensive in many cases. And while I have faith that the ingenuity of Americans will eventually overcome this problem, I wonder if that can happen before we feel the hurt.

I saw a lot on the road this weekend, but what I realized is our dependence on oil is an a vast dependence. But I also realized there is a better way to talk about energy concerns other than focusing on the Middle East or the environment. Those are important, but not as salient as the greatest reason why we need to find ways to ensure our energy needs continue to be met and continue to be affordable: our lifestyle hinges on it.

4 Comments:

At 3:48 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

Oil up- 65.80 a barrel today…
Yet the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P were all way up today too.
This can not last......
AubreyJ.........

 
At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider not just the oil used by the vehicles transporting the goods in those trucks, but also consider the goods in the trucks as part of the oil economy of our country. It's not just the energy (read, mostly oil) used in the manufacture, it's also the oil used in the cultivation and production of food as well.

Behind those trucks are tractors, herbicdes, and more trucks. Beyond the semis are the processing plants that turn grain into flour, cereal , etc. In short, the amount of energy expended in growing, transporting and processing our food far exceeds that which we derive from its consumption.


The oil economy permeates our food, so the inevitable point at which demand surpasses supply will hit us not only in our wallets, but in our stomachs as well.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger cakreiz said...

Our lifestyles do hinge on it. Yet there's a disconnect between ideology and practicality here. Very few of us see any connection between global energy issues and a 6 hour road trip to Worlds of Fun. The US has a cheap oil addiction. It talks a good game of alternatives but at the end of the day, it requires cheap oil. As anon notes, it goes beyond trasnportation- it's also a food issue. Meanwhile, we're all looking for a single bullet to solve the problem... and I don't see a single solution out there. We need to move toward several alternatives- nuclear, green, conservation, etc. But that will require ideologues on both sides to compromise- not likely.

 
At 10:16 AM, Blogger cakreiz said...

On the "several fronts" comment, I should've included new drilling... an unintentional omission.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home