We have to get beyond this obsession with running the cars by other means. The future is not just about motoring. We have to make other arrangements comprehensively for all the major activities of daily life in this nation.
We’ll have to grow our food differently. The ADM/Monsanto/Cargill model of industrial-scale agribusiness will not survive … pouring oil-and-gas-based fertilizers and herbicides on the ground to grow all the cheez doodles and hamburgers. As oil and gas deplete, we will be left with sterile soils and farming organized at an unworkable scale. Many lives will depend on our ability to fix this.
We will find out the hard way that we can’t afford to dedicate our crop lands to growing grains and soybeans for ethanol and biodiesel. A Pennsylvania farmer put it this way to me last month: “It looks like we’re going to take the last six inches of Midwest topsoil and burn it in our gas tanks.” The disruptions to world grain supplies by the ethanol mania are just beginning to thunder through the system. Last months there were riots in Mexico City because so much Mexican corn is now being already being diverted to American ethanol production that poor people living on the economic margins cannot afford to pay for their food staples.
You can see, by the way, how this is a tragic extension of our obsession with running all the cars.