The threat to our energy supplies should be the leading issue on everyone’s mind. With the price of oil past $90 per barrel at this writing devastating the countries whose economies are not developing and playing a fundamental role in America’s worsening credit and home foreclosure crises, it remains poorly understood and is seldom articulated in any knowledgeable way by public or political leaders.

I want to scream this – “the critical risk is how much time we have for mitigating and preparing for $200+ oil and the hard coming by either world production rates or the marginal price for the idea underlying “peak oil.” In short, either by price or availability there will be scarcity – no doubt, never again oil abundance as we knew it only 7 years ago, that will bring staggering economy wide, chronic and chaotic changes that could lead to social breakdown or a cultural collapse. One way or another, we will use less oil-sourced energy as determined by participants who can afford the prices and by pandering to the winners in the never ending and ruthless pursuit of particular political interests. The highest risk is to those who profligately use oil products because they trade their greed for everyone’s time to adjust.

What is becoming at risk is affordability of these things that need fueled and are directly dependent on oil. Housing, which everyone needs, relies on natural gas for home heating and peak electrical generating demand and fuel oil as a primary electrical demand supply to warm and energize the things we use in our homes. Transportation, which brings us nearly everything and takes nearly everything we produce to someone else, is nearly exclusively dependent on oil products, with small exceptions for electrified rail and a bit of offset from ethanol and biofuels added to diesel. Employment for everyone consumes oil products to a greater or lesser degree agonizingly vulnerable for environments to work in, fuels for production and communications and more transport bringing and taking our supplies and products to and from markets and customers. Nutrition or food, and the quality of it is hugely a result of petrochemical factors in production, land management and transport. Poorer foods or lower quality foods are just obvious results of an ever-increasing cost for energy and fuels. For many children and young adults energy is a key for getting educated, for transport to distant educational facilities, the environmental needs of facilities and transporting the supplies to facilities. Health care, be it a doctors office, hospital or pharmacy also depend deeply on oil products to function and provide us the life saving and life prolonging products and services we simply must have.

Meanwhile, the blame by the mass media continues to be thrown at the “big oil” companies. The indefatigable ignorance of this has gone on since the first Arab oil embargo in the 1970s which is when the “big oil” companies and everyone else lost the free market pricing mechanism to the new cartel, OPEC. Lately, a new group that remains unofficial but active and somewhat organized has joined OPEC that the “big oil” companies named the “Axis of Oil.” This group understands what the world’s consumer won’t, oil is a finite resource, and its finite each day as only so much will come out of the wells (or go on the market as agreed to by the OPEC members). More important is these groups know that the market pricing mechanism can be manipulated by nearly any nefarious idea they can use to make threatening news.

But cartels and nefarious groups drive investors crazy as neither are known for consistent, rational or sensible, peaceful practices. It might seem that $90 oil is good for “big oil,” but the facts are quite the opposite. $90 is way past the economic value that a barrel of oil represents even under considerable stress. This price jump might be sustainable or might not, as the world’s economy adjusts and the adjustments will come. When the conservation adjustments get going the price will likely collapse to some level, but what level? $40, $60, or something higher? This is the problem for “big oil”, alternative energy and fuel producers and for your home budget and working prospects.

Right now there is a certain euphoria about high oil prices for those who are justifying their research, development and product’s sales for investments and prices. But the smart money knows the issues noted above, too.

That makes the answer to the headline’s question – you. It has fallen to each person who spends money for energy and fuels to make daily choices about what they will invest in and buy. It reaches further than you might think. Who you vote for or against has an effect, the fact that the almost everyone can not buy into venture capital programs due to investor qualification limits imposed by the government cancels the (personal investment) votes that matter most. As insightful and well organized as the leading alternative energy and fuel people are, they are yet to come to the masses with the choices. The ideas, research, and development is still hidden behind the needs imposed by the government’s grant funding apparatus, so called peer review assessments or the personal views and proprietary requirements of venture capitalists. This makes taking responsibility by each citizen very hard, indeed.

As much as I’m an enthusiast of new energy sources and fuel products it pains me to realize that those who are informed, get it, or otherwise simply seek to protect themselves, their children and community are so limited. I realize I can invest in products that would offset my energy use with renewable sources, I can conserve with compact florescent light bulbs, insulate, buy a smarter more responsible car.

But I want IN! I want to slap my $10, $50, $100 on any idea that strikes me as worthwhile and see where it goes.

Where’s my political support in the face of all the obstacles to doing that?

That makes my personal answer to “Where’s The Money For The Alternatives” right here, burning a hole in my pocket. Man, I want a piece of some of these ideas!


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