That’ll sort ’em out

I was helping on a PTUA stall back in January, at the Sustainable Living Festival. It was interesting to talk to the different people coming by.

One guy expressed disappointment about car pollution. He said some people would never want to part with their cars.

This is not an opinion I entirely agree with. People make travel decisions based on what’s quickest, cheapest, safest, and if you give them options that are as good, if not better, than driving, then they’ll take them. Some people also think about what’s cleanest, but that’s not often the first priority.

He didn’t seem to agree. Rev-heads will never give up their cars, he said. He sounded quite depressed about it. They don’t think about air pollution and global warming, he said. They just want to drive everywhere in their big grunty wasteful cars.

Personally I think the bigger problem is the government holding back on giving people alternatives. But I said something that cheered him up immensely.

“Don’t worry about it. Peak oil will sort ’em out.”

He thought about this and smiled. “Yeah.”

Petrol last week reached $1.629 per litre in Melbourne, a new record, and there are predictions of $1.70 per litre soon. Around the same time, crude oil also reached a new record, US$135 per barrel, with OPEC saying they could do nothing to prevent higher prices because they are pumping at capacity.

I know people who have no choice but to drive are taking a financial hit from all this, but amongst all the doom and gloom, I can’t help but smile when I see the silver lining in the cloud.

Because surely sustained rises in petrol prices, if nothing else, must force governments to stop blowing billions on freeways and start giving people real transport choices. (Like, actual quality PT services, rather than spending up big on ticketing systems… or spending up big on tiny petrol tax cuts.)

Before half the city goes broke.

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12 Replies to “That’ll sort ’em out”

  1. A once in a lifetime opportunity has arrived! Ride Australia’s widest Bike Path, Sunday 15 June!

    Peak oil? Bring it on. We can use the freeways as bike paths.

    I peddled down to the start of Eastlink yesterday with a friend. We dared to ride onto the new asphalt off Springvale Road. It was spooky riding on such a perfect, huge road with no cars around. Strangly, another cyclist was there, repairing a puncture. He told us to expect a visit from the security folks and be booted off the road ‘for our own safety’.

    Sure enough, a ute arrived and we were politely asked to leave – but told that we could come back and ride the road during an event on Sunday 15 June. Bicycle Victoria has the details here: http://www.bv.com.au/great-rides/41340/

    Riding back along the path, we passed one of those huge signs advertising a ‘Hummer’ driving through a leafy forest. The tag line said “Seriously get lost.”. I couldn’t help but think a more sustainable line should have been: “Seriously. Get lost.”

    I rode in a Hummer (H3, the ‘small’ versions sold for ‘regular use’. I kid you not, it was one of the smallest ‘big’ cars I’ve been in. I’m a tad under 6′ tall and sitting in the back seat, I had to duck my head to stop it rubbing on the roof. Passengers in the back also have to duck down to see thru those teeny tiny windows. The boot area barely handled three medium sized suitcases. It struggled to transport 5 adults in reasonable comfort. I challenge anyone to try and justify the purchase of an H3 on the basis of it ‘having more space’.

  2. I agree as well Daniel, I try not to say it publicly because many people are hurting but deep down I am really excited to say what will happen.

    $3 a litre, bring it on :)

    Yes I will end up paying more for just about everything but it will be good to tighten the belt, as should nearly everyone else as well.

  3. The idiot State and Fed Govts have been warned about Peak Oil for donkey’s years but have been busy impersonating ostriches with their heads in the sand while counting the coins filling their coffers from the various petrol and road taxes.
    Yes, fingers and toes crossed they will now actually do something proactive like extending the rail network, repair the rural freight rail lines they’ve shamefully let fall into disrepair and reopen the many closed rural rail lines around Victoria.
    Doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that rising fuel costs increase the cost of basic produce from the farms (which has been warned about for months now in The Weekly Times)whereas the rail freight lines would help keep the costs down.
    But I’ll expect another cop out from Kosky and Brumby (like the non-reopening of the Leongatha rail line that was promised at the last election), with piddly band-aid solutions that cost more in the long run and, of course, hits the commuters and consumers hip pocket the worst, because this mob refuse to look beyond their own term of office.
    And don’t forget the electric car Howard’s Govt refused to have registered or properly tested for Aussie roads, despite the fact the very same vehicle is used on roads in UK, USA, Japan and other European countries.Haven’t heard Rudd mention re-thinking that poor decision!

  4. Although I have friends and family who still drive, I can’t help but giggle slightly each time I hear people complain about the price of petrol. Does that make me a bad person. Probably.

    Day 443 of not having a car here :)

  5. I see the silver lining too, but the only problem is that we will have to wait many, many years for PT to get to where it should be – what are we supposed to do in the meantime?

  6. I own a car and I just love it – but I consider it to be a luxury.
    When I take it in for its annual service, the mechanics just laugh at me because I only do about 2,500 km a year. I fill it up about once every six weeks.
    The sooner people start seeing driving as a luxury, the better off the planet will be.
    Unfortunately, our society runs on a short-term political basis which causes expendient, rather than visionary, solutions. The whole issue of petrol supply and cost has been around since the 1970s and yet people are now throwing their hands in the air as though they never saw it coming.
    If only we could change the electorate’s mindset, we might stand a chance of getting better public transport, and even sustainable alternative fuel solutions.
    But then, there are a lot of people who agree with Andrew Bolt on a variety of subjects, so what hope have we got?
    Suddenly, I’m depressed.

  7. IPA/Liberals: “We know how to manage economy”

    Yes incredulously….no mention of peak oil in their policy statements.

    Fair point Liz, but we should have planned this two decades ago.

    Caroline springs will suffer…as will places like Wantirna.

    RACV will continue to spread bullshit as per usual.

  8. The “… what are we supposed to do in the meantime?” question is the most pertinent. After all, PT needs energy too – a lot of it diesel (discounting, to a certain extent, Adelaide’s sole solar bus).

    Now I admit to being a dinosaur and being able to think more easily in terms of kms/litre rather than litres/100 kms, but when it comes to real fuel efficiency I still relate better to ton-miles/gallon. And while PT has a better weight-distance/volume figure than virtually any car, it still (at the moment) *needs* volume.

    I’m fairly certain that most governments will continue to pour money into roads until virtually all the fuel (volume) is used up and will then spend a long period in sackcloth and ashes wondering how to develop decent PT.

    Trouble is, I used to think I wouldn’t live long enough to see that day.

    Now I’m not so sure.

  9. Hopefully the implementation of the Large Hadron Colider will enable the development of teleportation and solve the problem.
    Pigs might not fly, but I believe some cars do.

  10. I wonder if people panicking about the rising cost of petrol consider just how cheap it really is?
    When I had a salary of $350.00 a week petrol was 60c a litre, now I earn $1200.00 a week and petrol is $1.60 a litre. It’s never been cheaper!
    I drive a V8 because it was a cheap car to buy with all the fear about rising fuel costs, a 4 or 6 cylender would have cost $5000 more so the extra cost in fuel (which is only evident in city driving) is offset.

    I like to catch trains as it gives me a chance to feel a part of my community, many people are fearful of the outside world and their cars are an extention of their lounge rooms, they may feel more comfortable keeping a distance from society in their cars?

    What really bugs me are 4WDs and SUVs that are never driven off road, what motivates these people?

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