Consumers beware: oil and gas prices may double our even triple this winter, according to Matthew Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency (a recent Dreamland show) agrees.
A cold winter has been predicted. Like most energy experts, he thinks gas prices are actually cheap, despite the fact that commuters are still reeling from price hikes at the gas pump. But oil is a precious and limited commodity and should be price accordingly so that it is no squandered. In a speech in Ottawa, Simmons said that gas prices “need to go a lot higher.”
Simmons says that 50% of our oil supply comes from only 120 giant oil fields, 95% of which are over 25 years old. 65% of the world’s natural gas supply is in decline, and that most official estimations of how much oil is available are actually guesses.
What can we do? It’s time to face the inevitable and support government research on alternate fuels. Scrap your SUV while you still can and get a hybrid. Make sure your house is well insulated?replace your windows if you can afford to do so. Plan on wearing warm clothes inside the house this winter, the way people in Scandinavian countries do. We can no longer afford to heat our homes so high that we can dress indoors in the winter the same way we do in the summer. Wear socks to be and put your infant to bed with a hat on (simple hats for infants can be purchased at most baby stores). He’ll be much less fussy if his head is warm. Encourage your local planning boards to create cities in which we can drive small, electric cars or take public transportation or, better yet, walk. Suburban sprawl is the result of builders seeking cheaper land, but it has destroyed the quality of life in a large portion of the US.
Simmons says that there is no price ceiling?something consumers will discover shortly. So far, high prices have not reduced consumption, because people are locked into an automobile-dependent lifestyle. Heating oil supplies are adequate?so far?but a really cold winter, like the one that is predicted for this year, could change that.
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