Monday, June 16, 2008

Fuel and the Price of Beans

As of this morning, the cheapest petrol price I saw on the way to work was £1.18 a litre (that’s $8.80 per Gallon US, although bear in mind that our basic grade is 95 octane). Spanish lorry drivers are going on strike, Spanish fishing boats area already on strike.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a good thing? Fewer boats at sea in the long run ought to help overfishing, and about time too; and while some haulage firms might go out of business, companies still need stuff moved and will have to pay what it costs. Yes, we’ll pay more for everything, and that means we’ll have to buy less stuff, which again isn’t such a bad thing. I’d like to see the EU increasing fuel duty. Let’s face it: oil is running out, we’re already fighting wars about it, and in the long run I can’t see it ever getting much cheaper. Let’s not complain about it; let’s learn to live with it.

I’m far more worried about global food prices. We can buy less stuff and drive / fly less, but we still need to eat; and as everyone knows, high food prices hit the poorest people hardest. I guess more can be done to increase the amount of food in the world. Giving land to people who are likely to farm it effectively, for example (I could point to Zimbabwe here, but instead I’ll point to my nice suburban garden); not using edible crops to make biofuel; finding ways of producing more food per acre (which have to be viable long-term, not just short-term). But like the oil thing, there are limits.

In the long run the problem is that there are just too many of us on the planet, and still more every day. Sadly I’m contributing to this problem too, since I have two children. Easy for me to say this now, I suppose, but we need to move away from a mindset that worries about falling birth rates and who’s going to support the aging population, and try to reinvent our economy in a way which copes with falling and aging populations. Maybe allowing more immigration would help.


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