In response to Cringley's article about keeping the economy platform of cheap fuel but replacing the current oil with another bio fuel not unlike ethanol. And also in response to the comments of people who said, basically, "yeah, that or this other fuel I hear is going to solve our problems."
Everyone (here, governments, the public, media) is making a huge assumption that there is a fuel replacement for oil. The assumption isn't based on energy research, it based on fear. Oil is a huge part of our life and losing oil (or an identically functioning equivalent) would literally crash both our economy and way of life. And it's the fear of that happening that prevents humans from realizing the obvious: we're screwed.
Platform is right. But the platform is cheap fuel. The platform is American wealth. It's being able to eat whatever whenever because we can ship it across the country or across continents. It's being able to fly or drive to see your family every thanksgiving. It's cheap products. It's houses with more rooms than people. It's being able to use your individualized car instead of public transport with strangers. It's getting to commute even a half hour which let's you have the job you want while living where you want. It's always living in a building between 60 and 80 degrees. It's be able to buy twice much food as we need, and of considerably higher quality, and throwing a third away because we don't feel like eating leftovers or eating on a schedule to avoid spoilage. Rider mowers and weed wackers instead of push mowers and rakes. All these things we take for granted. Compare this to the world or to history and you'll realize the platform of the 20th century was wealth fueled by oil.
The few people, mostly environmentalists, who were able to see past this knew this oil problem was coming. Call it Peak Oil or just the common sense that every non-renewable resource must run out. Yet all our expert economicists are acting as if huge oil cost rises are surprising. This is were it's better to be open-minded than to be an expert.
Every couple years there's a new so-called replacement for oil. They all sound too good to be true, so forgive me for not believing them. Take ethanol. Just a couple years ago everything was yahooing about how it would solve our problems (much of the public still thinks this) yet it was obvious from the start this was impossible. Yet those platform defenders needed a rescue idea and ethanol was the best they had. Now the rescue-fuel is SwiftFuel but it's super obvious that even at 5 or 6 times higher efficiency than ethanol, it's not nearly enough. We'd need something near 100 times greater efficency.
We're not actually cutting back on oil usage, we're cutting back on usage growth. We've been growing so constantly in the past 6 decades it's hard to see the difference. Even if we get to neutral growth, oil prices will rocket and we're screwed.
So to burst bubbles, but there's only one way this can end. Our platform will die. Americans will do what we hate most: sacrifice. It's not even needing to choose to change our lifestyle, we'll be forced to change, kicking screaming all the way out the door, no doubt. But few will believe this - so blinded by the platform are we. Those who couldn't see the demise of oil until it was too late won't see the demise of the "American way" as Bush articulated in response to energy cutbacks. The best anyone can do know is prepare themselves for the fall.