$100 a barrel. Wow - Is it okay to freak out yet? $112 a barrel - How about now? $122 a barrel - Um...am I the only one getting a little nervous?
For years I've been riding a bike and doing everything I can to encourage others to do the same. Still, I've always been conscious of how the bicycle is no panacea for the ills of industrial society and the limitations of individual action in the face of a dominant culture that simply will not voluntarily change.
And although I've come to the conclusion that the fate of industrial societies ultimately rests not in the hands of humanity but in a power much greater (Earth), for what its worth, I'd like to offer a few general "public policy" suggestions for the years ahead...
Land reform: Gas prices will eventually make transporting produce and meat hundreds of miles via trucking to far-flung cities no longer a viable option. We must immediately begin rezoning urban areas for farming purposes. In other words, the parking lots and single-use business spaces gotta go. Considering it's going to take a while (some folks say at least a decade) before the soil underneath the pavement heals, we really ought to start tearing up the asphalt now.
Waste reform: Our world of cheap disposable goods in coming to an end. Reducing consumption, reusing and repairing what we already have should be emphasized over recycling (that's been the slogan for years but for some reason, no one gets it). Composting organic materials at home should be commonplace; the permit process for composting toilets should be streamlined - Water is too precious to be flushed down the toilet.
Labor reform: Reduce the work week substantially. If big box supermarkets aren't going to be able to supply affordable food because transportation costs have gotten too high, people must be allowed to spend more time at home, growing and cooking their own food. Furthermore, limiting the hours of offices and stores will save energy and allow the economy to slow down in a more graceful way as opposed to the crash and burn scenario that is unfolding now. In other words, we need a 6 hour work day, and a 4 day work week, more people doing less work - as opposed to the corporate down sizing logic of less people doing more work.
Well there you go - Consider the aforementioned suggestions just brain seeds for anyone reading this to think about as oil climbs to $200 a barrel.