Just heard yesterday that we have now set a record in the United States for the price of gas for the month of March…and we’re only in the second week. People are moaning all across the country about paying $3.50 a gallon for gasoline.
Of course Europe has been surviving quite nicely for years now at twice that amount. Little do most of us realize what a precious and powerful resource petroleum truly is and how quickly we have gone through half of the estimated total reserves of the entire world.
You may be wondering why I am writing about gas prices in a blog that deals with the optimal diet for humans. That’s because an aggressive move in the direction of a plant-based diet could lower our consumption of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) by as much as 30% in the United States. Read on….
Sometimes I think that we often forget that our fossil fuels are finite resources. We’re particularly vulnerable when it comes to oil because that’s the fuel that drives our economy, flies our airplanes and powers our cars, trucks and ships around the world. It is also the one that is most unstable…because of political turmoil, wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, and potential terrorist attacks. And, without a steady supply of oil, our global economy is in very big trouble.
Big Picture. While researching for our book, I wanted to describe the “big picture” about our dependence on oil and what we could do about it. Here’s the big picture as I see it — my top ten list of things you need to know about our use of this finite resource.
- We have already used about 1 trillion barrels of crude oil…over half of that in the past fifty years.
- Estimates vary, but many experts project that the trillion barrels already consumed represents about one half of all that we will be able to consume — ever.
- All the experts agree that we have gone after the easiest and the cheapest trillion first; and that the second trillion is going to be a problem.
- Our global oil discoveries have been in decline for the past 40 years.
- Most oil producing countries reached their peak production long ago; the U. S. peaked out in 1971…forty years ago and has declined steadily ever since.
- Although demand in the developed western world has leveled off; it is growing at a hot pace in China and India. How hot?
- China overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest consumer of energy in 2009, and is projected to DOUBLE its demand by 2035…just 24 years from now. (I.E.A.)
- China’s growth is like adding another entire United States to the energy demand mix.
- With global demand growing rapidly and production trying desperately to keep up, we are drawing ever near the day that the global peak production will have been reached…long before the demand begins to decline.
- Then what? That’s when the old supply & demand formula comes into play and starts driving prices upward.
Bottom Line. We talk about renewable fuels but we’re nowhere close to developing a fuel source that can replace petroleum. We’re going to need more time and the only way we can have more time is to reduce demand. Since those of us in the west simply have no control over the government subsidies taking place in the developing and oil-exporting countries, one of our only options for significantly reducing demand anytime soon is by doing our best to re-invent our food model as quickly as possible.
You see, our model for feeding people in the west is incredibly inefficient. According to an Ohio State study, the least efficient plant calorie is about ten times more efficient than the most efficient animal based calorie of food. The good news is that a shift to a diet of whole plants could lower our fossil fuel consumption in the U.S. by 30%; it can also lower our health care costs by up to 80%. And, for those of eating it, we can testify that it is a totally enjoyable way to go.
So what’s the problem? Why are so few people (less than 5% of the population in the U.S.) eating that way? Short answer — Lack of information. With enough information, a great many responsible citizens will start making better decisions about what they are eating — for their health, for the health of their families and for the future quality of life for all of those who follow us on planet Earth.
As for those gasoline prices — make no mistake — they’re headed much higher in the future. My advice is to start seriously reducing your own energy needs NOW. Unload that home in the boonies and find yourself an energy efficient home in a densely populated area where people live in compact quarters and can walk to services, schools, churches and public transportation.
Ending this blog on a good note, there is a silver lining in this picture. Many of those jobs that went overseas will be coming back home along with higher fuel prices. And as for quality of life, where would you rather spend your vacation, in “cheap gas” Houston or in “expensive gas” Paris? Click here for a blog post that addresses this entire “peak oil” phenomenon. Includes three videos.
If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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