Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a bipartisan defense think tank located in Washington, D.C., published a report in 2010 titled Fueling the Future Force: Preparing the Department of Defense for a Post-Petroleum Era.

The report contains an astonishing conclusion: Oil is going to run out within 50 years, but prices will become so atrociously high within 30 years that the U.S. armed forces will be unable to purchase it. Demand for oil from the global economy, shrinking reserves, fewer new discoveries, competition for existing oil sources, and the inability to wring enough oil from old fields to meet rapidly rising worldwide demand mean that by 2040 the U.S. military will simply be unable to afford petroleum for its tanks, jeeps, aircraft, and ships. Moreover, because oil reserves, pipelines, and refineries will be in places which are highly susceptible to terrorist attack, the U.S. military will be unable to rely on what reserves do exist to fuel its needs.

That alone is a shocking and sobering conclusion.

But look what it means for consumers: Within 30 years, no American consumer will be able to drive a personal automobile except under the most extreme emergency circumstances.

I was driving over a huge bridge in a Northeast state a while ago in a honking huge SUV with some friends. We were talking about how the government wants to replace this bridge with a massive new bridge designed to carry twice as many personal automobiles, as well as separate decks for buses and light rail. I said, "It's silly to replace this bridge. Within 30 or 40 years, we'll be out of oil and no one will be driving on this bridge. To spend $25 billion like that would be a huge waste of money. Just add the extra bus and rail decks." I was not believed (especially by the driver of the SUV).

Consider this: By the time my nephew is in his mid-30s, he will be unable to drive a car except for the most essential of tasks. That means groceries or the hospital, but not a daily commute. By the time he is 45, he will not be driving a car unless someone has a health emergency. He will have had to move into the city (not stay out in the country 30 miles off, where he lives now). He will be taking electric buses everywhere. Travel will be almost impossible, unless it is by rail or long-distance bus -- and both will be amazingly overcrowded and expensive.

It's coming. Do you hear it?

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