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Warehouse D
The Wrong Path
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That Unflinching Love For Cars And Oil Is Destroying America

 

By James Donahue

 

As gasoline prices creep closer and closer to the dreaded $4 a gallon mark, and some say it may even go higher, there is a mass move by American fuel producers to find alternative sources of manufacturing bio-diesel fuels from corn, soybeans and other crops. According to the propaganda, the oil companies are working hard to maintain the nation’s necessary supply of fuel to run our trucks, cars, trains, aircraft and war machine.

 

Don’t kid yourself. Gas at $4 a gallon is going to wreck the American economy, which has been built on the concept of cheap oil. And oil is no longer cheap. That means truckers, railroads, airlines, farmers and everyone involved in the production and distribution of food, clothing and all of the low-priced goods and services long enjoyed by Americans were going to need more money to cover their costs of doing business.

 

With our good paying jobs moving overseas as manufacturing companies search for low priced labor, most available jobs are now paying at minimum wage. Folks are going to be hard pressed to just buy the gas they need to drive to and from work. Putting food on the table may be harder and harder to accomplish.

 

When we compare the way we live in the United States with the way Europeans live, we notice an important difference. Roads in most European cities are designed in such a confusing maze that it is difficult for people to get from place to place in a car. And if you do manage to find your destination, there are few places for you to park once you arrive.

 

The European transportation system is designed, instead, to encourage people to use trains, buses and other public means of getting around rather than try to do it in a private car. And unlike American cities, public transportation in European cities is readily available. You can go anywhere by just jumping on a bus, trolley or train. The cars on the road are all small and highly fuel-efficient because the cost of petrol there is even higher than it is in the U.S.

 

While Europeans were busy preparing for a future borne of necessity, and already living with high priced fuel, Americans were still loving the private car, thanks to a continued provision of inexpensive gasoline and slick promotional gimmicks that kept them buying more and move cars, trucks, motorcycles, snowmobiles, power boats, cross-country recreational vehicles and even private aircraft.

 

Instead of supporting the family farm, the U.S. agriculture industry was moving into industrial farming, with more and more food products being produced by fewer and fewer and larger and larger production facilities. It is common to find thousands of head of cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys being raised at one location for meat, eggs, and milk. Huge produce farms are growing most of the nation’s fruit and vegetables, and a lot of our food is now being bought from other countries, mostly in Central and South America.. This program is dependant on moving the food by truck to the towns where we live.

 

Nearly everything we buy, including our cars, our televisions, our computers, sewing machines and clothes, is now being manufactured overseas. It comes to us on ships and in trucks and trains. This requires a lot of fuel.

 

What makes us think that the oil companies can successfully substitute bio-diesel fuels for fuel from crude oil and maintain a low production cost? What makes us think that we can successfully do this without giving up hundreds of thousands of badly needed prime farmland needed for food production at a time when the world population is climbing toward the seven billion mark?

 

Sure, they have found ways to make these new fuels from such things as switch grass and wood chips, but the manufacturing cost of turning this stuff into fuel is high, there is a great amount of heat required, and this in turn is somewhat self-defeating. It takes fuel to make this fuel. And once we have the finished product, the burning of bio-diesel is still producing destructive carbon emissions that continue to heat our dying planet and choke our lungs.

 

So what have we gained?

 

We suggest that we turn to the European cities as models for the future, instead of thinking of them as an “old world” of the past. There is great wisdom in the planning that went on there, and the descendants of our ancestors may have important things to teach us about how to cope with the changing going on around us.