Thursday, 29 March 2007
Petrol prices are starting to creep up again after their temporary fall back after a quiet hurricane season in the US. Most UK garages are now selling at or over the 90p/litre mark. UK drivers face a lot of challenges over the next few years with congestion charging, national road pricing, no new road building (now surely a thing of the past?) and an inexorable rise in petrol prices followed by rationing within 5 to 10 years.
This is a good time for all of us to see if we really need a car. Driving's no longer a pleasure. The roads are beginning to fall apart as investment is switched from roads to public transport. The future Conservative government are likely to be even more anti-car than the current one (although that would not be difficult!) but only the BNP seem to take the threat of Peak Oil seriously. That is likely to change over the next few years as Peak Oil knocks Climate Change off the top of the agenda, at least in the energy-poor UK.
Sunday, 25 March 2007
It's hardly contrarian to forecast that rail will become the primary transport mode over the next 50 years. Cars and planes will grind to a halt when the oil runs out, not everyone will be happy to live a totally sedentary life post-oil and hopefully there will still be work, shopping, tourism etc. People will still need to get around at some sort of speed!
So rail will come into its own, the development that stopped once cheap oil was available will start again and new railways will open worldwide. Trams and light rail will take up the slack in cities, towns and even villages. Thousands of miles of new lines will open in the UK alone. This is a superb investment opportunity for those of us sharp enough to look to the future rather than the past. Running lines may not be that profitable (though some will be!) but the actual supply of infrastructure, the construction companies, rail freight companies (successors to dinosaur raod transport firms), signalling and information technology suppliers and fitters, companies manufacturing trains and LRVS etc, all will be good investments if well run.
Many 'heritage' lines currently operating or being built will morph into proper transport links, this is already happening on some lines such as Swanage, West Somerset etc. Even some of the start-up lines that aren't even running trains have big plans to rebuild genuine transport routes. The embryonic Somerset and Dorset Railway down in Midsomer Norton plans to build back to Bath on a superb commuter/shopper/freight route as well as (as the name suggests) getting back down to Dorset and eventually the second honeypot in Bournemouth.
Saturday, 24 March 2007
The latest fad for kids is the home bouncy castle, slide etc. These things show up everything that's wrong with our economy as we reach resource and energy depletion thresholds. They're non-recyclable, they turn what has been a social experience into a private experience, they demand space, they are basically pointless and, most importantly, they use a constant supply of energy as they can only stay inflated if being constantly pumped up with air. When we should be cutting back on scarce energy use the idiots (in China no doubt) come up with something else that we don't need.
But, to eat a bit of humble pie, or hypocrite's pie, I had hoped to illustrate this with a photo taken of an individual bouncy castle outside Woolies in Hartcliffe (which gave me the idea for the post) but my camera lens cover fell off as I did so. Rather than try to repair it, after a cursory look for the part, I popped into Argos and simply bought a new camera, cash.
Economics is shifting. What I was taught of as 'externalities' - resources, climate change, pollution etc - are now becoming the cornerstones of continued economic activity. Economic activity will change beyond recognition as the two biggest threats to our civilization bite harder and harder - Climate Change and Peak Oil. This site's about recognizing what will happen in the future and how we can survive, and even flourish, as it happens.