Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Creeping Economics

Congratulations, Americans! The best bit of news today was the notice that Americans drove 1.4 billion miles less in April 2008 than in April 2007. See the CNN Article.

The sad news is that we actually drove HOW MANY MILES!? Let me do the hidden math for you...the news article says this is a one-point-eight percent (1.8%) drop. Going back to Algebra 1, this means that - oh, forget algebra, just say 2% = approx. 1.5 billion, so 100%= 75 billion miles. At a generous 30mpg, that comes out to ... 2.5 billion gallons of gas, at 30 days, that's 2.5 billion miles per day. Roughly 382 round-trips to the Sun (where it all came from) per month, just from little ol' us. (Take that, NASA!)

Back to the subject of Creeping Economics ...

I went back over a lot of my science fiction library recently, and I noticed that the one real bit of fiction that seems to hold throughout is the concept of limitless energy. Spaceships that move light-years in minutes or days, floating cities, flying cars, instant food-o-matics, whatever. Even the sword-and-goblet fantasies tend to ignore energy, calling upon vast supernatural sources that tear mountains asunder. Kung-fu masters who fly and dance in the very bamboo. The "hard" science fiction community needs to shed itself of one more fiction if they are going to give us all a realistic glimpse of the future. What is kind of interesting about the increased cost of energy is the fact that you don't really have to look 'forward' in order to get some idea of where the renewable-energy thing is going. You only have to look backward, and only about 100 years, when only the very rich had motor cars, most farming was done with horses, and all breweries served the eight square miles around them. More than less, that is what the future holds. Are you ready? At 2.5 billion gallons a month, it will happen in your lifetime. My, we do live in interesting times...

It's going to take a few months-to-years for it to percolate through the entire economy (national and global), but now is as good as any time for starting to count calories. And by that, I mean the calories of energy required to create products, and to move them to market. Let this guide your investment, too.

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