What If Gas Cost $100 a Gallon?

I am very fond of thought experiments. I like to ask "What If?" This can help me wrap my head around a problem. For instance, if I wonder how much land it would take for solar panels to produce enough electricity to supply the U.S., that's a thought experiment. It isn't that I think we are going to build a solar grid that is 50 by 50 miles of nothing but solar panels, nor that I am oblivious to energy storage issues. Rather, it can help frame for me whether the idea is daft from conception, or whether there is a nugget of potential embedded within.

Lately I have been thinking of another thought experiment. What would I, personally, do if gasoline was $100 a gallon? Now that may seem silly. Nobody thinks we are going to have to deal with gasoline at $100 a gallon. But that misses the point of the thought experiment. When I ask people at what price point gasoline is going to have a major impact on their lifestyle, that seems to be a moving target. When gas was $2, they said $4. Now that gas is $4, many have realized they won't make big changes at $10. Oh, they might buy a smaller car, but they aren't going to start walking 3 miles to the store. A friend who drives a Suburban recently told me that he doesn't care about gas prices; that he is going to keep driving at the same rate regardless. I bet he would have a change of heart if gasoline was $100 a gallon.

So the point is to jump so far out there - $100/gal - that there is no question that 99% of us would have to make some serious changes. The thought experiment is mainly designed to flesh out how people might cope as gasoline becomes more expensive and as we go down the depletion curve. This is already reality for some, as your $100/gal dilemma is someone else's dilemma at $4/gal.

What I would like is to hear how you would cope with $100 a gallon gasoline. Let's presume that gasoline prices increase to $100 at a steady rate over the next 5 years. Because many of our energy sources are interchangeable, let's assume that other fossil fuel sources (coal, gas, etc.) follow suit. Alternative (non-fossil fuel) energy sources, such as solar and nuclear, would also follow this trend, but not at the same rate since they are less dependent on fossil fuel inputs. So the idea is really, with respect to fossil fuels, "How low can you realistically go?" I don't want to make any assumptions on what would be happening in the economy as a whole, because in reality the economy would have collapsed under those prices. So my assumption is to simply determine what is within my power to change as fuel prices climb - and I am forced to make difficult choices.

Here is how I think it would affect me. Looking at my own situation, I just bought a house 23.5 miles from my office. However, I did this with my eyes wide open. The fact is, I don't spend much time in the office. Since I started with my new company on March 1st, I have spent just 4 days in the office. So, a long daily commute is not something I have to deal with. In fact, I have never actually made the commute, as the 4 days I spent in the office preceded the purchase of my house. (Presently I am on site at our factory in the Netherlands, and I ride a bike to work).

But, even when I do have to travel to the office, at $100 a gallon, that 47 mile round trip will add up. Even the most fuel efficient cars in the U.S. are going to cost me around $100 for the trip. If I have to make that trip twice a month - and so far I am averaging less than that - it's going to cost me $2400 a year - and that's presuming I have a car that can get 47 miles a gallon.

Clearly, something like an SUV is out of the question. This could cost me $400 every time I had to go to the office. So SUVs, even now in their initial death throes, will be transportation only for the truly rich. What I really want - unless the cost is prohibitive - is the most fuel efficient car I can find. Today, I think that's a Toyota Prius, but I am really hoping that an electric car rides to the rescue. (I would definitely choose the public transportation option if available, but right now it isn't available from my home location to my office).

Even then, $100 to drive in to the office is pretty steep. I want to find a way around that. I am going to lobby my employer for permission to telecommute. At those prices, he is going to get a lot of those requests. When I think about what I do during a typical day, almost everything could be done via telephone, teleconference, webconference, or webcam. And when I do have to go to work, I am going to search for a car pool. At those fuel prices, a lot of people are going to be willing to share rides. I would imagine that new, creative ways of organizing car pools will pop up.

I would completely stop using an auto for short trips, and likely buy a small motorcycle for quick trips within 5 miles. If time is not a factor, I will ride a bike for those short trips. We would have to do a much better job of planning out our groceries, as it won't be economical to run to the store to pick up a few items. Entertainment options like Netflix will start to look a lot more attractive.

In my home, I would also need to make changes. My wife and I currently fight over the thermostat. When I am alone, I will set the thermostat as high as 85 in the summer. With the family at home, I will drop it to 78. The wife and kids like it at 75. (It's just the opposite in winter, with me wearing a jacket around the house). With gas at $100 a gallon and electricity sharply higher, we are going to have to get used to being less comfortable. 82 degrees inside is a lot better than 105 degrees outside. But even so, I would probably face $1,500 a month electric bills.

I am going to install as many solar panels as I can afford, because at these prices the payback period should be very short. Ditto for a solar hot water heater, which keeps beckoning to me, but remains just out of reach. (I have a brand new hot water heater in my new house, and I can't justify replacing it already). Ground source heat pumps are going to look much more attractive. I will need to identify and track the transient electricity drains in the house by installing something like the Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitors.

My business travel would not be sustainable at those rates. For the next 12 months, I am probably looking at 12 trips just to the Netherlands, and additional trips to China. If those trips are 20 times as expensive, I am going to have to get webcams for everyone on the team, and our "face to face" meetings will happen that way. To me, being on site right now is important, because I get to know people, and they get to know me. I can understand who does what. But after that, I can conduct business remotely. Ultra-expensive fossil fuel prices will force me to see just how effective I can be at doing that.

Other things would obviously be impacted, such as where we decide to vacation, or where to invest any money that might be left over (which lately has been in Brazil). But I think that covers the major items. What have I overlooked?

I am greatly interested in your thoughts. It helps me understand just how we are likely to respond as the going gets tough.

Air travel is going to be the first thing to go. Prices will probably double before year end, and then keep on going up as more and more airlines "consolidate", an euphemism for buying up bankrupt carriers assets. AA is already scrapping planes. I have doubts about Robert ever actually making all those trips. My guess is that air travel will be down by more than 50% in two years with most regional airports closing shop. Goodbye tourist industry. Goodbye my home town which exists on tourism and is already loosing its air routes.

es. I have doubts about Robert ever actually making all those trips. My guess is that air travel will be down by more than 50% in two years with most regional airports closing shop.

could you show your work, as my teachers used to say?

Stating "my guess" eliminates the need for proof. Clearly his guess is his guess. Personally I won't be surprised either way.

Stating "my guess" eliminates the need for proof. Clearly his guess is his guess. Personally I won't be surprised either way.

my guess is that air travel will double in the next 2 years.

If you are guessing it will double in *price* in the next two years I would say you are half way there.

If you are *guessing* otherwise you have showed the value of your opinions.

If you are guessing it will double in *price* in the next two years I would say you are half way there.

If you are *guessing* otherwise you have showed the value of your opinions.

Stating "my guess" eliminates the need for proof.

hey I"m just guessing!

“my guess is that air travel will double in the next 2 years.” Posted by John 15

Just reading the MSM these last few weeks, do you really believe this is even remotely possible? If you do, please let me know who your Acid dealer is. He’s got to be selling some baaaaaaad stuff; he has to be, considering the quality of this hallucination.

Antoinetta III

Unfortunately your guesses don't have much credibility here!

I would go along with those estimates of around a 50% fall in air travel in two years.
The rationale does as follows:
The airline industry is not set up to cope with oil at $125/barrel.
Present prices for fares are relatively low because many bought oil on the futures market, but this position is unwinding.
They are hoping that oil prices drop, but if they don't then they will be caught by the dual price structure of air fares, with the bulk of travel at cheap tourist rates.
So those will rise substantially, and people hard hit by the recession which those prices if maintained would create would mean that the tourist trade would die.
It is my expectation that oil prices will continue to rise, so the effects would be even greater.
It might be a good time to invest in tourist resorts close to major population centres!

Present prices for fares are relatively low because many bought oil on the futures market, but this position is unwinding.
They are hoping that oil prices drop, but if they don't then they will be caught by the dual price structure of air fares, with the bulk of travel at cheap tourist rates.

my understanding was that the airlines were caught unhedged, except for Southwest, this because they thought oil prices would fall.

airlines are raising prices right now and airlines are going out of business so the industry should be a bit healthier for a little while because they have less competition.

If you check out the financial papers that is not what the industry is saying.
Even the strongest are in trouble, and that is at current oil prices.
The business model just does not work at anything like current prices, let alone any increase.

My brother-in-law says the same thing. He works for American. They are not expecting fuel prices to drop and people will have to adjust to ever-increasing airline fares. And, he said just what you said...the old business model for the airline industry will have to change. He believes that hybrid fuel planes are the answer...biofuels, fuel cells, etc. He is not receptive to conservation.

Some around here regard me as a cornucopian, but powering aircraft is a really very difficult problem indeed with oil shortages.
This is the exception which proves the rule, and if you haven't got fossil fuels then producing hydrogen or artificial liquid fuels would seem to be the only way.
Doing that will be very expensive and take a lot of time, and it should not be held in any reasonable contemplation that for many years the mass travel industry will cease as we know it today.
Very expensive flights across the Atlantic and Pacific with some turbo-props or propfans for shorter journeys but mainly trains and boats is the size of it.
Good-bye Hawaii.

Good-bye Hawaii.

Aloha also means goodbye.

Gotta go start carving a giant stone head now...

Coal-To-Liquids is how we'll make Jet fuel in the future...
The air force is already pumping money into it and no they don't care about the extra greenhouse gas emissions.


I'm sure they do care - they just have higher and more urgent priorities. Whether they will make enough CTL Jet Fuel to sustain cheap consumer flights to Disney World and Hawaii remains to be seen.

Good to know they'll be able to keep their $240 million fighter-bombers going in a time of economic depression, maybe they will save Washington the embarassment of the world doing something productive and blow up a few wind turbines :)

"Very expensive flights across the Atlantic and Pacific with some turbo-props or propfans for shorter journeys but mainly trains and boats is the size of it."

Zepplins anyone?

Funny you should say so - I posted on a demonstrator air-ship the other day!
I think technological solutions are possible - but the present industry will disappear/remodel long before they come along.

We shared comments on that airship yesterday. Intriguing idea. What do you suppose a transatlantic fare would have to cost? Seems like it might be pretty high-- that thing will take a while to cross the ocean, and people will need to sleep, so they won't be able to carry many passengers. It will be sort of like an arial Amtrak

What makes y'all think that airships are more energy efficient? They are bulky, thus have major drag, needing a lot of energy to move through the air. And that's at slow speeds, meaning that any headwind is a major additional loss of efficiency.

The relevant efficiency is per mile, not per minute. It is a common misconception that the engines of an airplane keep it in the air, thus the bouyancy of a ligher-than-air airship seems attractive. But in truth the wings keep an airplane aloft, while the engines are there to overcome drag.

Moreover, the helium to fill airships is depleting (and way too precious to waste on such - it is not "used up" on purpose but it does always leak). Hydrogen is renewable (in principle), but flammable...

The most efficient way to fly long distances is with long wings at relatively slow speeds. Sailplanes fly for hours with no engine at all, extracting roughly 5 horsepower (for a single-place aircraft) from rising air movements. I.e., with a 5HP engine such a sailplane could travel in a straight line at about 70 mph in still air.

I would think a decent application for airships would be similar to sailing ships, but different. What happens if you don't try to go where you WANT to go, but instead just drop the airship into the jetstream and use power only for maneuvering? I know it's a one way street, but it's one way at 90+ kph energy free. On such a large structure, hot air should work pretty efficiently.

That's a very good point.
To the extent that they are adopted I would see them following the trade winds, rather than powering through.
The large surface area also means that part of the power can be generated by PV.
I don't see them as anything remotely approaching the current airliner fleet though - perhaps some might be used as heavy lift vehicles instead of road transport.

The business model will have to change. They will need to begin with the assumption that flying will be very expensive, and thus only the upper crust of business and leisure travelers will be able to afford it. Those who can afford it will only fly when there is a substantial time savings to be achieved over ground transport, because for them, time is money.

This means that the small planes flying feeder routes will be gone. This also means that the megaplanes designed to fly the masses inexpensively will be gone. Yes, they are efficient on a per-passenger basis, but they also need to accumulate a lot of passengers in order to fly a full plane. The upper crust passengers would rather not have to wait hours for one megaplane and have to rub shoulders with we commoners, they would rather have the option of more frequent schedules on smaller aircraft.

Scheduling might change completely. regularly scheduled routes might become a thing of the past. Instead, airlines might be run entirely on a charter basis, accumulating passengers and flying only when they actually have a full aircraft.

I don't know if any of the existing airlines can transition to this new model. They might all need to go bankrupt, and then one or more new model successor airlines might need to pick up the pieces at bargain prices in order to make it work.

The capital cost of owning or leasing say even one new A380 will have an effect of killing off what you have described as the charter model. An airline would find it very hard to have an A380 or even a 747 sitting on the ground waiting for enough passengers to accumulate into a full flight. The interest payment on a $600M aircraft is going to be a lot of money (and no I don't thave the time to dig into the operational costs of airlines) so they need to keep them full and flying to make it viable just to own them.

Rationalisation of airlines will have to occur to concentrate the ever dwindling market onto fewer scheduled flights.

It would not surprise me to see the re-introduction of trans ocean passenger shipping again for inter continental travel, but the number of trips that individuals make via this means may be limited to no more than one in a lifetime.

Then again, the jets will all be sitting on the ground anyhow. It may not be profitable for the planes' owners, but there will be charters flying for awhile since it'll be less unprofitable. Skimping on maintenance will case more crashes, but that's part of the adventure.

They would make decent recycled homes I bet. Given the high quality aluminum structure and their capability of withstanding subzero temperatures.

Has anyone considered the impact of these planes refuelling in the fewer and fewer NET exporting countries?

For example I would expect that London>KSA>Bangkok might remain feasable if the plane refuelled using aviation fuel refined in KSA from local oil...

In addition Ammonia powered airplanes might be possible (Ammonia as an easier to manage Hydrogen carrier) -Ammonia is an widespread Industrial commodity.

Regards, Nick.

Your comments illustrate exactly why I think the huge passenger jets will be as extinct as dinosaurs. Smaller, older jets can be gotten very inexpensively, and it doesn't take so many people to fill them up, especially if you expand the first class section. It won't be a mass transportation market any more, it will be a luxury market, and that is a totally different ball game.

I doubt that we'll see a return to the grand old passenger ships, much as I'd like to see it. Given polulation pressures and the likely imposition of severe immigration controls everywhere, you won't have a bunch of poor people to fill up the lower decks. The well-to-do won't have the time for a leisurely ocean crossing; they would rather pay the premium necessary to get there quickly by air.

"It would not surprise me to see the re-introduction of trans ocean passenger shipping again for inter continental travel, but the number of trips that individuals make via this means may be limited to no more than one in a lifetime."

I would really like to see this. Yeah, forget airships. What inefficiency! But ships ? You can pack lots of people on a ship. I'd like to see an 'economy' passage ... which would not include meals, but where there would be non-fancy food offered as desired. This could be very viable I think. If I were in the ocean liner business I'd start developing a plan for such crossings. I think people would flock to it.

The business model will have to change. They will need to begin with the assumption that flying will be very expensive, and thus only the upper crust of business and leisure travelers will be able to afford it. Those who can afford it will only fly when there is a substantial time savings to be achieved over ground transport, because for them, time is money.

I agree that the business model will have to change (akin to the difference between a low cost carrier like EasyJet and a "regular" carrier like British Airways). However, with the recent collapses of Eon and MaxJet, and the imminent collapse of SilverJet, all business-class only airlines (and hence specifically designed for the "time is money" brigade), the survivors will probably be a different model again. Perhaps it will be more along the lines of spot-hire business jet travel with 10-15 seat aircraft, rather than anything with 100+ seat airliners.


Looking at the past... I currently live in an old resort city near Atlanta called Pine Lake which is “only” 12.7 miles from Atlanta's zero mile marker. It was built in 1937 back when 12.7 miles was enough to really “get away from it all.” Now, there are more economic centers, mass transit and housing everywhere. I just keep wondering if one day 12.7 miles will be in the boondocks again?

mathematics and linear thinking won't get you there.

mathematics and linear thinking won't get you there.

OT. I don't know about linear thinking but mathematics did allow us (Humans) to take this picture.
Maybe, just maybe we have a little tiny bit better than a snowball's chance in hell to pull out of our death spiral of addiction to power and do more things like this. Couldn't agree more with the comments on this site. Congratulations to the scientists and engineers at NASA!


Mathematics and linear thinking won't get you there.

at $100 a gallon i recon a fair few of us wouldn't have to worry about commuting since we wont have jobs.

Ignoring that i currently commute 10miles to work so a 20mile round trip on a 125kwaker motorcycle that does 60mpg and could do better if my maintenance and riding was a bit better. I some times cycle instead but i guess id have to cycle more regularly. I may upgrade to a susuki bandit 600 thatl do around 50mpg but that wouldnt be possible at peak oil prices or hypothetical prices. A better option for me would be to get a royal enfield bullet that tops out at only 70mph but does 87mpg. But id then convert it to run on ethanol and use a home made still to generate ethanol. In theory my commuting costs would then be very low but if i dont have a job because of the huge recession this is all very hypothetical.

What I don't hear mentioned is the fact of inflation. If gas costs $100 a gallon it might not be out of line with an economy that is overheated with inflation.

Will the economy be gutted by hyper-inflation?

Since kids are expensive in the industrialized world, "my guess" is that alot of people will have decided not to have (or have any more) children before we reach $100/gal.

I've wondered at times what the world would be like if land ownership was contingent on responsible breeding. What if guys were required to have had a vasectomy before they could own land?

What if guys were required to have had a vasectomy before they could own land?

I could live with that on a personal level (I have no desire to have children, even though I'd probably be a better parent than average), but this wouldn't affect the deadsh**s who will only ever rent and father six kids to five women (each woman also having several kids to several fathers).

Compulsory sterilisation at birth (with a 1-in-30 chance decided by a random number generator of avoiding sterilisation) may be the way to go. ;)

Off you go, then, get the chop.

When you've done it, you can come back and recommend it to the world.

I said I could live with it, I didn't say that I wanted one. :) Besides, I already own land, so I get 'grandfather' rights. ;)

If it was a condition of purchase in the future, sure, why not. It'd save my girlfriend having to remember to take The Pill.

People who don't have a pension have more kids.
It's their pension plan.

At that level of energy prices running a suburban home will be something only the truely rich can afford. How many kilowatts per squaremeter per year do you use ?. The energy costs of your home will force you into a flat. Never mind your travel expenses, or those of your visitors. Just imagine your plumber turning you down, because you can´t afford the travel expense.

Here's where energy in the U.S comes from.

The situation is different for the rest of the world which relies much more heavily on oil:


You're correct that we don't use oil for electricity, but we can presume that all energy sources will track each other. ie, with gasoline at $100/gal, everyone that can will have switched to electric transport, and the equivalent amount of Kwh would rise to cost roughly the same as oil.

As for solar cells, I'm rushing to get completely converted, because my assumption is that the cost of solar cells will soar, along with the energy cost of producing and shipping them.

I'm really happy with my new Honda Metropolitan motor scooter. It gets 105 mpg, has a quiet, indestructible Honda 4 stroke engine, with 49 cc's of pure screaming power ;-) It's treated like a moped by the law, so I don't need a motorcycle license, and it goes 38 mph. If you get fairing (windscreen), you can ride it in relatively inclement weather. And with the underseat storage, and a "trunk" bolted onto the back, it can handle a fair amount of groceries.

Which would cost $1/mile at $100/gal, which is steep, but for high value/high priority travel might be acceptable.

But really, at $100/gal I would get a good trailer for my mountain bike and ditch all fossil fuels. Or walk.

Everyone would be walking or biking, and we'd hear stereophonic bitching and moaning from all sides.

I agree with many of the comments so far.

But one thing that I think about a lot is mentioned hered by Jim
He mentioned buying all the solar panels you can now.

But part of me worries that I will feel like the folks who spent $10,000 on a plasma TV only for economies of scale and competition to kick in. Now those same TVs - even in a world of rising energy prices cost a fraction of that and perform better.

So when is the optimum time to jump in?

Wait too late and like Jim says you might miss the boat.

But we know what happens to the typical "early adopter". They bear the costs for the rest of the consumers that follow.

You might consider starting to 'shop out' a system, and when you know what kind of panels you want, to get a few for starters. They're completely proportional, as your little solar desk calculator shows, so even having a couple accumulated at today's prices shouldn't produce too much 'buyers regret' if the cost actually does drop.. but even with the German announcement today about cheaper production potentials, don't forget Demand.. and hence Supply, and therewith, PRICE.

I just do not see how the prices can go down from here. It might, but it's a serious hedge, I'd say.


Bob, do you know of any web sites or books with practical information on PV installations and planning? I have done some research and would like to at least be able to generate/store enough energy to run my well pump. Getting water from a deep well (110 feet in my case) seems pretty critical. My estimate is that I would need about 2KwH per day. That's with a power converter running a 220Volt submerged pump. I just don't know how reasonable this is.

Thanks, Jon.

I don't know how much water you use, but ran a pump primarily for stock water off four 65 watt PV panels wired to run a 24 volt pump with a pressure switch which provided water for two cows, two horses and one calf, at the time, and didn't run all of the time. Well depth of 180 feet, IIRC, and no problems for the year and a half from when equipped until my recent divorce. We did not equip with any battery system, just used a small tank with a back pressure valve and water available to the house, but also had rural water on a separate system. The well only ran when the sun was shining, though. The system was pretty inexpensive, just bought it from a dealer in Tulsa, pretty much off the shelf except for the rack for the panels which a welder made for me locally. Also, had to fence the solar panels out so the cows couldn's get to them.

The pump looked kind of dinky, but worked just fine.

Thanks, that sounds like the most economical system. Currently I have a 240 volt submerged pump, which is pretty standard, so I would have to replace that with a 24 volt pump and pressure switch on the tank.

Thanks, Jon.

Alternative: Grundfos 115VAC (not 230V) low-starting-surge pump models. And a fairly small pump (e.g. 1/2 HP). That way you can use a reasonably small inverter. Otherwise you'll spend more on the inverter (and batteries) than the PV panels.

Thanks, that's what I was afraid of. I basically want to insure a water supply in case of a hurricane or some other long term power loss. I've got a wood store, gas stove, flint and tinder, etc, so I could get by for a while without too much inconvenience, but not without water.


Indyphil, I don't know if you already have some kind of PV system, so some of the information may be redundant. But, perhaps some will be useful, so here it is:

Solar panels actually went up slightly in cost over the last several years. One of the major components is high grade silicon - the price of which skyrocketed in the past several years as the global demand for solar panels went up quicker than the supply of silicon. Now, about 80% of the high grade silicon is used in solar panels, most of the rest in various semiconductor applications. There are new plants that produce the requisite grade of silicon coming online, but because the demand will probably still out pace the supply the price may not be dropping radically anytime soon. Unless you believe that the thin film solar stuff will take off. Even then, most of the corporations involved in thin film solar seem to be selling to municipalities or industry, not to the little guy...

And, for off-grid systems a LOT of the cost is the other components - batteries, inverters, charge controllers, etc. On-grid is cheaper but doesn't work at all when the grid is down (at least in California, that's by code!) You'd need a grid tied, battery backup system if you wanted to be on grid most of the time yet have some backup when the grid went down.

It's complex and expensive, and unlikely to drop radically in price, but people do it. Look at the off grid systems (and lifestyle!) if you want to see what a future without a reliable grid would be like.

Buying solar panels prior to collapse is not like buying a fancy TV. It's a bit more akin to buying an artificial heart. Assymetric consequences for missing the boat.

What I did was buy my first 150 watts at the best prices now available; the difference between NO electricity and 150 watts or so is large. There is a diminishing return on the benefit as you scale it up. So if solar panels get ridiculously cheap despite demand rising faster than production, I can buy another couple kilowatts then to run my big tv. But until then, I'll be able to keep a solid-state mini-fridge going for drug storage, charge batteries for medical equipment, walkie-talkies, radios, computers, etc.

Again, even if they figure out how to make 'em at half today's price, they won't be selling them at half today's price since all of a sudden everybody's going to want them. Frankly, it probably makes more sense buying monocrystalline solar panels than gold coins now. By a lot.

That is electricity production, not total energy for the States, and it looks like the reverse for the world as a whole.

Apples to oranges.

The first graph is US electricity production.

The second is World energy production.

Electricity is just over a third of world energy production, with transportation and space heating making up the bulk of the rest.

Agree. It is not about oil. It is about the cost of oil in dollars. As the cost of oil rises, the cost of everything else rises. It's called inflation. Get used to it. So, when you do your budget based upon the cost of gas being $100 per gallon, don't forget to also estimate the effect on:
Electricity, food, medicine and medical care, police and the military (read taxes), water purification, even garbage collection, postal delivery and every other delivery service, any manufactured product - shoes, clothing, electronics, toys, housewares, network and cable services, and yes, even the plumber - if you can get one to come out to your house. They say one of the big growth industries is going to be with the DIY folks like Home Depot and Lowes....that and the folks running the "share an apartment" service. You may even have to learn how to cut your own hair.


Go there and see what your old nieghbor is doing in his garage at night, fixing an older model car with the oil left over from the "out of Work Taco Bells" next door.

On the line from your Plumber, I just drove over to my cousin's house to set up a new TV for them, They are a couple living the developemently disabled life in the real world of House but no car. My Aunt who does most of their driving and shopping for them, asked us if we needed money for the Gas to come help them.

That is where the gas prices have really come up to bite some of us. Years ago, my aunt would not have said a thing about "money for gas" she would have just thanked us for help them.

100 dollar gas will kill some people.

No $100 gasoline -- rather, Happy Rationing!

In 2017, John made two trips to the Shell / BP / Chevron / Husky / Exxon station this morning, confident he would be able to fill the nearly empty tanks on his Ford 350 pickup and trailered lawn mower, and his classic 12-cylinder Ferrari.

Gasoline is available to meet his needs. During past months, this was not true, because the ancient, heavy-handed World War II gasoline rationing system (X number of gallons per citizen per period, depending on bureaucrat-assigned priorities A, B, C, etc.) that had been the default solution for over four years, had been so corrupted that gasoline availability at major outlets was chaotic nationwide. (However, ration stamps, already printed and stored by the millions in Ft. Knox, were dug out and put into service when the seemingly simple “money-rationing” system began to generate deadly violence at gasoline pumps, in dark back yards, motels and mall parking lots.

The new rationing system, implemented with the BTU Card (copyright), allows people to buy any thing on the basis of both its market-established monetary value, and its defined Net Energy content, and people are once again able to determine their own priorities when choosing to purchase either "necessities" or "luxuries." The Btu Card allows each citizen to continue his/her Pursuit of Happiness whether it be a Sunday drive, a warmer living room, or a new roof for the house.

Even imported goods, airline travel, auto racing, heating and air conditioning, that were stringently controlled luxuries from nearly the beginning of 21st century energy rationing, now can be purchased by committing all, or any portion, of one’s "energy ration" and monetary wealth.

Everyone receives a monthly “Energy Ration” on his or her BTU Card electronic account with the Department of Energy, along with whatever old-fashioned “money ration” their employers pay them, using the ancient method of checks, $20 bills or a small sack of tiny gold “b-b’s”. Note: Anyone’s “surplus” energy ration(s), for a limited period, can be sold on a public market, or accumulated for major energy purchases, such as a set of tires, or a new car.

A periodic Energy Ration is determined by incredibly-detailed, time-consuming, horribly-boring studies made by talented number-addicts such as engineers, scientists, accountants and other such government- and energy-industry geeks who research and then define a “net-energy content value” for everything traded in the marketplace -- worldwide. Of course, these values are constantly in contention, changing by evolution of production technology, knowledge, and government/industry strategies to best assure energy conservation and deliverability of reliable energy supplies of liquid, gaseous and solid fuels and electricity. Everyone’s periodic Energy Ration is defined (currently) three to six months in advance, on the basis of studies and projections created by essentially the same type of physicists, mathematicians and "risk analysts" responsible for early 21st-century infamous “creative” debt financing -- aided by petroleum geophysicists, geologists and engineers.

When John completed filling his tanks at Exxon, he used his single credit-debit / Btu Card to charge his “money account” in the currency of his choice, and his DOE “energy account” where the total new energy purchases were instantly subtracted from his residual allotment. John received a receipt for each type of purchase, to help assure he would not “buy” too much air conditioning, hot water, nor manufactured metal or polymer items in the near term, during his current allotment period. He is saving some of his energy allotment in a special sub-account that, hopefully, will enable him to purchase a new electric / hydrogen econo-pickup a few years from now.

(He must not go over his periodic allotment, because it will be temporarily charged to his allowable overdraft account, and if his legal limit is exceeded, he automatically is categorized as a “sub-prime energy borrower", and could not pay for his wintertime natural gas needs, nor the energy needed to buy a parka to wear around his home. Ultimately, he could be interred in Energy Debtors’ Prison where all of his survival energy needs during his sentence must be generated, “hamster style”, in his cell, on his assigned Wheel, with his output dumped on the area’s electric grid.)

Hopefully, more on John's other energy adventures, later.

At $100.00 it's pre-Mad Max world with near zero public services and infrastructure upkeep. It'll be more survival rather than framing the thought exercise around making prudent choices.

Speaking of Mad Max (and the degrading of society)....

(Note: There is no 'roll over' damage on the side of the vehicle. A very large tree could have landed on it, but I don't seen 'tree damage' signs. There was likely 10' - 15' of packed snow up there this winter. It could have caved in... I don't know).

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Summer 2008

I went camping this weekend in the Cascade mt. range, about 40 miles into the mountains from my home, a bit past the snow line. Basically, I drove as far as my vehicle could take me. I had to move rocks and cut through downed trees at the end. I know I was the first person up that high this year.

I came across an abondoned Dodge van that probably got stuck there last fall in the snow and didn't make it out. After checking for the remains of the driver / passangers (I hope they made it out... every year a half dozen or so do not), my next thought was "my, that thing has a large fuel tank...." - followed by - "how do I get the fuel into my vehicle...?". There was a lot of empty food trash around the vehicle, some clothes, etc.

Of course I came to my senses (that would be theft), but looking back I was surprised the thought even passed through my mind.

When I got back home, I reported the vehicle, it's license and it's location to the county sherrif.

Its clear that at $100, the use of fossil fuel will be a novelty, something we might do on a remembrance day holiday. All the other days we would simply be living like our great grandparents did - on functional farms, going to bed early and waking early to keep the fires going. Its true theres not enough farms to go around, but without tractors we'll need a lot of friends. May be a good time to develop a needed skill and become friendly.

Its clear that at $100, the use of fossil fuel will be a novelty, something we might do on a remembrance day holiday. All the other days we would simply be living like our great grandparents did - on functional farms, going to bed early and waking early to keep the fires going. Its true theres not enough farms to go around, but without tractors we'll need a lot of friends. May be a good time to develop a needed skill and become friendly.

There are even more potential impacts on the commercial and industrial sectors. At $100/gallon, shipping goods to most suburban retail locations becomes uneconomical. The commercial establishments that are close to rail terminals and freight docks will be able to manage their costs to receive shipments, while others will move or go out of business quickly. Cities that are lucky enough to have transit systems, especially streetcars, may be able to convert some of their rolling stock for delivery. Same will have to go for solid waste transport, or we'll be seeing a lot more neighborhood trash dumps.

Essential services like police, fire, ambulance, utility maintenance, road maintenance, mail delivery, trash pickup and school buses will be prohibitively expensive to provide to low density areas. There undoubtedly would be rationing to support many of those, but many localities are already strapped for cash and would not be able to afford even a basic level in low density areas. It's simply a matter of travel distances adding up on a daily basis.

Extractive industries like wood and mining may have to swap out their support vehicles for alternative fuel vehicles in order to stay in business. The agricultural sector would have similar pressures. Shipping of raw and manufactured goods would become uneconomical in many instances. Like retail, we would see manufacturing operations attempt to relocate at rail heads and near freight docks.

The price of oil-based feedstocks that go into certain goods would skyrocket. Many chemicals, some industrial gases, fertilizers and pesticides, synthetic fabrics, tires, asphalt, packaging, some medicines and medical supplies, and indeed most consumer items fall in that category.

In terms of physical infrastructure, our greatest needs to meet the coming challenges are 1) a renovated and expanded national electrical grid, 2) new or improved transit systems in all sizable urban areas, and 3) new or improved intercity rail and water transport routes.

There is a tacit assumption here that the structure (or, probably more accurately, lack of structure) of low density areas will continue to be what it has been in the era of ultra-cheap oil.

However, that is an assumption that does not stand scrutiny.

After all, we had people living in large numbers in what would be considered "low density" areas for thousands of years before the ultra-cheap energy interlude started.

What will happen instead is the community equivalent of trip sharing. A low density area that cannot support and maintain a fixed transport corridor to each household and business will be able to support and maintain a stop on a regional fixed transport corridor ... and then transport will be organized in terms of getting to and from that stop.

The area immediately around that stop will, of course, be more valuable than the average hectarage of the hinterland that it serves, so that, obviously, in the walkable vicinity of that stop there will be substantial infill development ... at least, in the US, because that is what developers will want, and in the US, developers by and large get what they want.

And then local transport will focus on getting to that stop. Designing a regional transport grid that places stops 7 miles apart, to put everyone along a 7mi. wide transport corridor within 5miles of a stop is a substantially easier order than designing a regional transport grid that places stops within walking distance of everyone.

A lot of business and shops also re-locate.
Here in Bristol getting across town is difficult, so a lot of relocation has taken place.
I am not sure about localised agriculture, as for many products transport especially by water is cheap, but shops and industry can move.
In Europe in densely populated parts villages were around 4 miles apart, comfortable walking distance. Suburbs would seem likely to move towards that.

The minimum density for commuter rail is around 1,600 persons/sq mi gross, which is around 1 dwelling per acre.

Exurban retrofits along transport corridors might be a good strategy in some regions. But before that happens, there will be a great demand for new or improved transit routes in denser parts of cities where most of the people live.

The whole problem with all such speculation is that we are attempting to judge what 300 million people are going to do, at some point in the future under predetermined conditions. Not possible. We should also bear in mind that all human activities are interconnected and interdependent. No human mind is capable of grasping all this, yet alone processing it. Let's not get carried away with fear-driven speculation.

What we can do, and what is useful, is to attempt to draw a broad outline of what is generally likely to happen. We shouldn't discount the ability of people to adapt to changing circumstances, and this is the reason why predictions are impossible. Its like the stock market. Only those who have something to sell insist they KNOW the future. All the others are mere gamblers.

Scenario planning is done millions of times every day. Some scenarios are just about inevitable, and some scenarios can be modeled with high probability. People bet their business, their livelihood and their country on scenario planning. Sometimes they even make correct guesses.

But more important than being correct is the exercise of considering possibilities. That's what this is. See the first sentence of Robert's post: "thought experiments."

The trouble is, that all takes time. If a metro area doesn't already have mass transit, or at least have one under construction (well past "talking about it"), then in just five years time mass transit will not be an option for people in that metro area. I suspect that the hard reality is that by that time, it never will become an option, because it is already too late and they are out of time. Nothing left at that point but economic depression, depopulation, and decline.

The area immediately around that stop will, of course, be more valuable than the average hectarage of the hinterland that it serves, so that, obviously, in the walkable vicinity of that stop there will be substantial infill development ... at least, in the US, because that is what developers will want, and in the US, developers by and large get what they want.

at $100/gallon people would be living in my garage.

What makes you think that you'll be the one still owning a garage?

It is worth noting that today's low-density is often equivalent to large towns of the past - that is, many suburbs have as many people in them as small cities or large towns of the pre-oil era.


I think you are absolutely right Bruce. Transport Stops or Interchanges as I call them will start to pop up all over the place but they don't need to be designed by central planning everywhere. Lcoal communities will organise there own circuits which get people to and from the major interchanges which are characterised by change of mode.

The biggest impediment to this sort of self organising transport system, at least in my jurisdiction is the legal one. Bus routes are highly regulated and any vehicle used for public transport must meet stringent safety requirements. I expect as the petrol price bites, these laws will be ignored and many impromptu semi regular neighbourhood systems will spring up. Naturally the real estate close to stops and interchanges will become more desirable as it builds up.

5 miles IS walking distance when you have $100/gallon gas. People will be accustomed to walking. They will walk longer distances.

Most people will not own cars. They will not even own motorcycles. Or engined boats. Almost everyone will be walking and/or biking. The rich will have biofuel or solar powered cars. Horses will make a comeback. Farmers will have tractors but they will also rely more on humans to do work.

You will not go to a supermarket. The supermarkets, malls, shopping centers will all die out because only a small local population will use them. Instead you will have many small local shops and other services.

Food production will be highly localized because of prohibitive transport costs. Bye bye bananas for nothern Europe. (I'm in Finland)
We will probably still get coffee. No matter the cost. We got it in the 1800's with no oil.

Energy production will also be highly localized and diverse. Methane collection from cows and pigs. Solar. Biofuel. Wind. Tide. Salt. Hydro.

I think it will look a lot like the 1800's with $100/gallon gas. My worry is that population will be as small as it was back then. What will happen in between now and then is not pretty. Global famine. Mass migrations. We are already seeing the first glimpses of it in Africa and other poor areas. And there will be no Live Aid this time. Because it will simply not be enough.

I think that the $100/gallon gas is inevitable now. Or at least it will rise so high that it will cease to be a practical energy source.

What I think would be a good investment right about now is research into localization of production of most modern necessity consumer goods. I have no money to invest so someone else will have to do it.

I am now walking to work, 1.7 miles/45 minutes each way. That is feasible, enjoyable even, and good for my health (the #1 reason for doing it). Five miles would be 2.5 hours each way - that's a lot. If I had to go five miles to work, I would definitely have to get an electric bike or an NEV, and would probably have already gotten one or be seriously saving up to buy one very soon. Of course, a lot of people will not have that much forsight. Some enterprising people might come up with some solutions, though. Suppose that of that 5 miles, maybe the first mile or so is through a residential area. Most of the rest of the way is (or could be) along a major street or highway. I could imagine people with pickup trucks or SUVs running their own jitney service, or maybe the municipality will still be able to run some sort of shuttle bus service. To keep the ride affordable, they are going to have to cram people in to spread the cost among lots of people. We are talking maybe twelve people or more riding in the back of a pickup, for example. Eventually, some enterprising people will modify old bicycles into pedicabs, and those will also be affordable options.

Difficult to think of any justified activity at $100/gal gasoline. The closet would be fuel for a chain saw to collect fuel for other activities. Those damn things are incredibly efficient and effective, if you compare them to a cross cut saw or axe.

And in Germany, bio chain oils are made from raps/canola - and a chain saw modified to run off something like alcohol is easily imaginable. Why bother with gas at all?

Anywhere that has enough wood to cut is likely to be able to grow enough of something to distill - apples are pretty easily imagined in a wide range of climates, or grapes, or various grains. The chain oil is a bit more sophisticated, but required in much lower amounts.

And notice that we didn't have to build or create anything new at all, apart from some smallish machined parts/gaskets/lines. And some people who know how to distill alcohol. Not exactly an esoteric technology, it should be noted.

Now, transporting that wood is work, even with horses. Which is why a small diesel tractor running off of any plant oil hanging around (though not quite in the dead cold winter) is equally imaginable - especially in any area which has a good number of small diesel motors available. As for the trailers? Imagine any cut up SUV/pick-up you wish - go top end, no reason to skimp with scrap. Probably be a lot of tires with some useful life in them hanging around, too.

Notice that all truly required for this is people to be living differently - no fantasies involved, neither of doom nor of technology riding to the rescue, so we could at least cut wood for heat and cooking easily, compared to a century ago. Using the tools that we have right now.

As a matter of fact, I'm reasonably sure that a number of people can remember living like this in the 1930s. A time when gasoline was not so central in our lives.

I use a solar charged EV and electric chain saw


jmygann, that is brilliant.
How long will the chainsaw run for, before running the battery down?
(cutting wood, not idling)

With everyone hitting the chainsaws, we'd lose all our trees PDQ and so we'd run out of future fuel and wildlife food sources and shady spots.

I hope you all have considered non-fuel cooking/ solar ovens, solar and PV water heaters, passive solar windows with dark heat absorbent interior walls /uphostery or indoor pup tents placed by the windows. Wood fires would be a luxury not to be wasted. Not to mention the loss of fire stations to respond to house fires.

I have one of those little Ryobi cordless electric chain saws. They don't run very long on a battery - maybe 10-20 minutes sustained, at most. They really are only good for branches, etc., up to maybe 4-6 inches at most. You are not going to be able to fell a full-sized tree with them (clearing scrub might be more feasible), and you are not going to be able to cut up a downed tree into firewood with one either, unless you just work on it a little bit each day.

If you can't have a chain saw, I really think that the old large crosscut saws are actually a better bet for the big pieces.


It seems to me that excluding the economy as a whole seriously detracts from realistic answers but here goes anyway...

I'm in a somewhat unique position since I live in a rural area and only one of my four neighbors works full time so getting to work isn't really an issue.

Between us we have 1-70kW, 1-40kW and 2-20kW diesel generators and 1-8kW, 2-5kW and 1-1kW gas generators. I also have a 3.6kW PV system. What we would do is convert one or more of the generators to wood gas. If we had the funds we would ask a friend who is big on steam engines (he has his own steam locomotive at his house) to weld up a steam boiler for one of the generator heads.

I also have an old, very small PV system (77watts) that I'd install on our rental. This would let them run the refrigerator and a light or two at night.

Cooking and Hot Water
We have a wood cook stove but we can also run it to a degree on our PV system. The others use propane.

We have an electric HWH (tied into a solar hot water system and a heat exchanger in our wood heater) that we currently run off the PV system. The others have propane.

We'd convert all the propane stuff to wood gas.

Getting Necessities
We'd pool our trips to the store and buy in bulk - although most of us buy and store large quantities of food now. We'd probably go once a month. We'd also greatly expand our gardens and add meat animals such as chickens and, maybe, ask to run a cow or two on a neighbor's rangeland.

We'd switch our mail from our PO boxes in town to a rural delivery route currently available.

We all heat with wood now and would just have to pay the price for chainsaw gas.

Transportation Options
We have a variety of vehicle options to convert to wood gas. The question is whether this would be legal for highway use in CA. We'd still probably do it for our large pick-up trucks for home use. My old 1990 one ton 4x4 pickup is a gas hog and would be a good candidate.

None of us eats out or goes to movies anyway so that's no big deal. Only two even get broadcast TV. As a group we have hundreds of tapes and DVD's that we could share. Same with music.

So, that's about it so far.


It seems to me that excluding the economy as a whole seriously detracts from realistic answers but here goes anyway...

Todd, it's because I am interested in what you can personally do - and are prepared to do. And you have a good list of things there to think about.

RR, also tell me what the price of gold is in your thought experiment and then I could make sense of it. $100 per gallon in isolation does not define a problem.

"I also have an old, very small PV system (77watts) that I'd install on our rental. This would let them run the refrigerator and a light or two at night."

Todd, I have my doubts that you could power anything but a very efficient and very tiny fridge with a 77 watt PV system. From http://www.oksolar.com/technical/consumption.html: A typical 16 cubic-foot refrigerator would consume about 1450 kwh/year. About 4 kwh/day. Assuming 8 hours of nominal electricity production a day, you'd need 500 watts of PV just for the fridge.

These kinds of numbers explain why so many off-grid folk use propane powered refrigerators.

Modify an efficient chest freezer to function as a fridge. Like this full size fridge that uses 0.1 kwh/day.

There was a gotcha with the chest-freezer as fridge system. I can't dredge it up, but I remember it turning me off the idea. If I recall correctly, the author was overstating his numbers. Still, its worth shouting about even if one can get their refrigeration costs to below 0.5 kwh/day. Such a load would likely be within Todd's PV array's capability.

And there are relatively efficient consumer-level options for refrigeration. If you are going to do your refrigeration with PV, they are well worth it.

A few years ago, a Nigerian chap invented an electricity-free fridge. Take two clay pots, place one inside the other and fill the gap between them with wet sand. Put food inside the pot, cover with a wet cloth. As the water from the wet sand evaporates, the air inside the pot is cooled down. For details see:

The moral of the story is that not all modern inventions require oil. The bicycle would be another great example, it provides amazingly energy-efficient transport.

(first-time poster, long-time lurker)

Hi drew,

I'm glad you decided to join in the conversation, even though I differ a little on:

re: "Put food inside the pot, cover with a wet cloth."

As I understand it, this works best in dry climates, and also, it's more of a cooler, not exactly a frig. But I don't know the numbers (don't know if anyone has done temperature readings, etc.)

This is a nice, local and useful item. Though I'd it's not a refrigerator, exactly.

I cool my beer in a Mexican olla (pronounced "oya"), plus we have another one for cool drinking water. It's a low fired, clay pot you fill with water, and the clay weeps and evaporates, and you get evaporative cooling. Works well here in the west, except during the monsoon. Probably doesn't work that well in the east.

The fridge thing is great but it still only gives you a relative difference of temperature from ambient conditions. It may not get down to the temperatures necessary to really keep food for long term storage of more than few days, and it certainly won't ever freeze things. There are solar powered fridges which rely on a vaccuum pump and dessicant to lower the boiling point of water which can create very cold conditions down to freezing but they are relatively hi-tech and expensive. I think fridges will be with us for a long time yet as they draw relatively little power compared to soem other loads and they are not oil dependent. The food that goes in them however is another story :)

It continually amazes me that people forget how things were just a short time ago. I live in a house that was built before gas, before cheap flights, electricity, cars, electric trams even most friggin bicycles. Yet somehow we all survived, all 30 million of us ( admittedly not all in my house ).
Even discounting the alternative energy and conservation scenarios, no electric fridge ? How do you think people managed ? There was a huge ice industry shipping the stuff in straw lined boats to your door and not using a drop of oil in the entire process.
SUV axles, old airliners and chip fat powered chainsaws ... anything else to go on the whacky survivalist nutcase shelf this week ? Squirrel treadmills ? Commuting by elastic band ( return trip free ) ?
Utter fantasy, entertaining, but fantasy. In the meantime history and the current 3rd world tells you EXACTLY how people deal with high energy costs. Wonder around a Joburg township and see the scrapping together of solutions. Communally charged batteries for frudge and TV, solar hot water using black rubber sacks, 30 people to a minibus.

Even admitting the utility of a refrigerator, your post does raise the question: Why do we really need refrigerators larger than the old iceboxes? In many (most?) European homes, their refrigerators are considerably smaller than what we have here in the US. The reason they are able to get by with less is that they get home delivery of dairy products, and people tend to go to the market several times per week, or even every day, to buy their food.

A SunFrost R10 would be a good example of an icebox-sized refrigerator, and one that would not require very much power to operate.

Yeah, a 77 watt panel doesn't get you much in terms of useful refrigeration however it is not completely out of the question.

Disclaimer: I am not in anyway affiliated with this company I only give the following cite for the purposes of giving an example.

SunDanzer DC refrigerators and freezers. These highly efficient units with exceptionally low energy consumption require a smaller, less epensive power systems and low operating expense .
Unit will run on a single 75 watt solar panel in most climates!

BTW I have been experimenting with ultra minimalism myself and have been running a minuscule 12 Volt DC refrigerator freezer purchased off the shelf from a local auto parts store here in South Florida where I happen to live. I'm running it off of a 45 watt PV panel purchased from a new alternative energy store within walking distance of my home and a deep cycle marine battery purchsed at the local Wallmart it manages to keep a six pack of beer well chilled. And yes I do still have a 120 volt AC refrigerator in the kitchen but you never know ;-)

Ride a Bike or Take a Hike!

I've recently hooked up a standard chest freezer (120VAC, 9 cubic feet, "energy star" model from Sears, <$300) to an "external" thermostat (with sensor inside the freezer, $20 on ebay) to run it as a low-energy refrigerator. I only have one day of measurement thus far but it's well below 0.5 KWH. It's in a cool basement which helps. Others have done the same. This will run on about 100W of PV peak capacity. As a freezer it needs about 3 times more energy.


This was our first PV system that I installed about 25 years ago. It has a giant :-) 800watt modified sine wave inverter (my current system has dual 5.5k inverters). We used it when the power went out for our fridge and freezer. Did it work like the grid? Of course not. But, it did keep stuff from getting overly warm and the stuff in the freezer from thawing - barely. FWIW, we're the last people on the power line - one of the families is totally off the grid since it would cost too much to extend the line. They rely on a diesel generator.

Reality is why I included so much information on generators since, for practical purposes, people would have "unlimited" power using wood gas. Wood gas, of course, would also be used to replace propane (among us there are two propane refrigerators, two stoves and one gas light system). Wood is one of our major resources.

Finally, I have to say that I would really like to have a generator powered using a donkey engine. It's so much more elegant than an ICE. My thought would be to back-feed into the power line if the grid went down (naturally being sure it wouldn't energize the whole area).



We use our PV system (250 watts pv, 2 deep cycle batteries) for CF lights and a laptop (internet, and movies).

We phased out the propane stove and went to solar ovens and twig stoves (Sierra Zip stove, a small steel can wood fire, with a fan beneath powered by a AA battery; use it backpacking, works great) then switched to a "rocket stove" (metal bucket filled with vermiculite, with a steel elbow for a tiny fire, don't need a fan because it create's it's own draw. Put an old stove burner thingee on top, and we heat our morning tea and coffee on it, as well as cooking when its too overcast for the solar ovens.) We also have an old summer cook stove in the greenhouse, which we rarely need.

We're going to upgrade to a 3 or 4 PV panel system, with 6 or 8 L-16 batteries so we can power our new Staber washer (150 watt hours per load) and a sundanzer 6 cu foot freezer (400-600 watt hours/day). We'll store our harvest in there, and freeze blue ice for the Rubbermaid cooler, where we keep goats milk and a few condiments. I keep the beer in an Olla, (pronounced oya) which is an earthenware low fire pot that the Indians and Mexicans fill with water, and as it "weeps" it cools the remaining water by evaporative cooling. We also use one for cold drinking water. Eventually I'll build a stone spring house, which should keep things plenty cold without refrigeration. And then maybe I'll have enough time to brew my own beer.

As for space heating and cooling, we designed and hand built a paper adobe house with passive solar (big windows on the south side), thick walls, and a tiny wood stove. No cooling, a few sticks for heating. Total space, 250 square feet. The detached bedroom incorporates things I learned from my previous mistakes and requires no heating or cooling. (it gets up to 100 here in the high desert, and down to 7 F.)

We use no fossil fuels are our homestead. Only for transport. I made all our buildings with hand tools, except the PV charged hand drill for screwing things together.

I think that with proper planning, one can live quite well without all that fossil fuel powered crap around the house.

We just installed a PV powered Lorentz pumping system for our well (600' deep) and get about 700 gallons/day. When it's all set up we'll experiment with turning off the city water that cuts through our land to get to the "big city" (6,000 souls) next door.

Great thought experiment Robert. Get's people thinking.

-- jim


That's great! I obviously go back to the "early" days of PV when everything was 12 volt until Trace came out with their "huge" 1kW sine wave inverter. Wow, was it expensive...at the time. My current inverters cost $4K each ten years ago.

But, for those who don't know how well Jim is doing, I have 32 L-16 batteries in our battery bank. My first system, mentioned above, had two CAT/truck batteries in parallel. I don't remember the style number but they are like an L-16 laid on its side only 12 volt (L-16's are 6volt and vertical).

You're doing it buddy!


Just an aside - the 77watt system includes 4-10watt amorphous silicone panels and one 37watt crystalline panel...which cost a shit load of money even on sale at the Real Goods warehouse overstock sale all those years ago.

Huh? 1450 kwh for a fridge? maybe in 1980. The typical 18 cubic foot new fridge uses about 450 kwh/yr. There are plenty that use less than 400 kwh.

Build a solar-powered fridge/freezer.

I don't have the link handy, but it goes like this: Get a tube of metal, fill it with salt, but don't pack it in. Weld a valve onto one end, and close the other end up. From the valve, weld on a coil of tubing which goes into a bucket of water, then into a semi-sealed container (an old, broken fridge or similar). The end of the pipe is open into a collector of some sort.
Get a canister of Anhydrous Ammonia and let it evaporate into the tubing to be absorbed by the salt. Close the valve afterwards.
Position the tube (now filled with the salt/Ammonia solution) at the focal point of a Solar Trough, and open the valve.

During the day, the sun will heat the salt/ammonia solution, the ammonia will turn to gas and leave the tube. It will flow through the coils in water, precipitate out, and end up in the collector in the semi-sealed container. At night, it will move back into the tubing and salt, drawing heat with it, and turning any wayet in the container into ice.

In the morning, you collect the ice, replace with liquid water, and use the ice in your fridge/freezer. If necessary, you could utilise several solar fridges, slightly offset, so you had a constant supply of ice.

That's assuming you still have a job and any money to do these things. Don't forget the potential for a severe contraction of the economy which could throw millions out of work. And with an already bankrupt government, there won't be much help coming from that direction.

The really huge problem we face is a depression a la the 1930's. We forget how incredibly fragile this oil-based society is. The big question in my mind is will we have a soft landing or hard landing resulting from declining oil production. But, should international chaos and hoarding occur, there is a very real possibility of worldwide calamity. Think about a sudden panic that leads to hoarding that leads to war and yet more chaos and finally some destruction of supply, with nations world wide suddenly without fuel.

Think this one over and see if it isn't a very real possibility.

We'd convert all the propane stuff to wood gas.

Feasible? What's involved? Where to find more info?

We have a variety of vehicle options to convert to wood gas.

Thanks for mentioning that, I keep forgetting that it is an option. I need to download some plans for that so I have them on hand if I need them.

At those prices, not only will people be living differently, but the central importance of gasoline in so many discussions involving living arrangements as currently understood in the industrial world will no longer be seen as relevant.

In part, because such a thought experiment has an unspoken basis - the underlying assumption that gasoline is central to our life.

At $100 a gallon, it won't be.

An exercise in misdirection, actually. What would be more productive is to ask what people what they will be doing as the price rises in a way clearly demonstrating the finite amount of crude in the world.

After all, that change has most certainly not yet occurred - and even if the point of the experiment is to provoke some thought on the other side of that barrier, it still places gasoline at the center of life. Which it won't be.

Think of this experiment - in 1850, if you had asked what would happen if the upkeep of horses would cost the equivalent amount that it does today, while the horse population had been reduced from tens of millions to hundreds of thousands, the reactions you gathered would be fascinating, in part because of how thoroughly those reactions would be based on the centrality of horses at that time for agriculture and transport.

Silly proposition, really. Society would collapse long before $100. It would be a Mad Max situation. I think we'll see rationing even before $10/gal.

I love this assumption of society collapsing - because Japan, to cite one example, was not an organized society before fossil fuels became widely used, right?

Or the assumption that some movie is a decent way to view the future, while ignoring most of human history.

This confirms my basic observation - a mad max scenario is predicated on gasoline being more precious than human life.

Most of the people living on this planet simply aren't stupid enough to believe it.

But America? Fracture, pure and simple. Because even imagining life as it was lived by many of those alive in the 1930s seems to be no longer comprehensible to those that feel a lack of gas mean that the ayatollah of rock and rolla will be going on tour.

As for rationing - I pay around 9 dollars a gallon. Think that rationing is right around the corner? Nobody I know here does - they just take the train or ride a bicycle more than they did a few years ago. Or simply drive less. Which really isn't the end of civilization as most people know it - some Germans even think driving less is a return to a more civilized time, hard as that may be for some people to grasp.

If history proves one thing it is that it is no guide to the future. Thinking that things can simply roll back to pre-fossil fuel days is dangerously wrong. First off, world societies lack the skills for preindustrial living. Second off, the world population is far beyond that which can be sustained without mechanized farming and chemical fertilizers. Third off, basically no nation is self-sufficient for even the most basic of needs, the US does fine for food independence but clearly ratty for energy independence, same for the EU. Even France imports effectively all of the uranium that operates their power grid. Third off... Well, the transition from non-fossil to fossil took over 100 years and the transition back appears to be required to happen in 20. That's also neglecting the fact that the entire service industry is history under those conditions and those newly unemployed aren't going to do well finding jobs, a waiters skills do not qualify one to tend nonexistent horses. Lastly, lacking mechanized farming and before manual farming can be implemented, many many nations that currently depend totally on imported food.... Well, they die.

One of the biggest things that europeans miss is that while their individual oil consumption may be lower and more voluntary, they are far more dependent than americans of oil for freight haulage and industrial transport. By paying such higher prices for gasoline they have trimmed out the fat, but that means that any further cutting down is meat and vital organs.

Lastly, the region of the world that is likely to break first under high energy costs is clearly north america, the region that imports the most from the rest of the world. What does sweden do without volvo exports? What does china do without everything exports (for that matter what does sweden and the rest of the krone alliance do when their oil exports stop?)? The answer is simple, their economies contract grossly. When economies contract grossly, the existing order breaks down, theft and economic crime increases, criminal outfits gain power. When criminal outfits gain power, they break things. When they break things that can't be fixed, things go down the toilet... fast. Soon, the ayatollah of rock and rolla shows up. and there's no organization capable of stopping him because there's nothing to fuel the tanks and planes that could do the job and no money to pay the soldiers to prevent the problem.

The one part that mad max missed is that the ayatollah of rock and rolla would be either walking or on horseback.

For a more accurate representation of the path from here to there, look not at the industrial revolution in reverse, look instead at the collapse of the soviet union, except without a benevolent world order to cushion the fall.

Probably 80% at least of European oil consumption by private individuals is not vital.
That could if needed release large amounts for industry and lorry driving.
The reason why road transport has been used very heavily to transport goods is deeply influenced by costs, and although switching would not be easy much could be achieved fairly soon if it had to be, bearing in mind that we would likely be in a deep depression so much of the traffic would not exist anyway.

I know little about agriculture but many who do here assure us that much could be done even with a lack of modern inputs.

Wastage is currently huge and eating a lot of meat takes a lot of production.

Maybe, although I doubt that the bulk of european consumption is anything like as unnecessary as you seem to think. But accepting that some of european individual consumption is voluntary, how much of total european oil consumption IS individual consumption? In the US individual consumption represents 35% (give or take) of total oil consumption. 20% is freight haulage and the rest is other than transportation. It must therefore be remembered that a 10% reduction in personal consumption is only an overall reduction of 3.5%. How do those numbers look in europe?

Your points are certainly reasonable, except for 'look instead at the collapse of the soviet union, except without a benevolent world order to cushion the fall.'

The Russians are going to be surprised to hear that a benevolent world order cushioned their fall, as they remain pretty much convinced that their fall was not cushioned, but helped along, not only by their own commissars, but those in other countries. Or to put it a bit more concretely - which benevolent nation is building anti-missile defenses as close to Russia as possible? And why?

And I don't think we will roll back to pre-industrial merely because the amount of oil available in the world amounts to 20 million barrels a day production. As a matter of fact, I don't think functioning railroad systems are going to disappear for generations, at a minimum. (Notice the lack of prediction how they will run, though.) The same is true of steel hulled shipping, both on oceans and on river canals.

I still think the question is more sleight of hand than anything else - it assumes that gasoline has a central importance which is easily disputed, as several other people with experience in Europe precede to show. This is not to argue with the value of simply considering the question, but to point out that it relies on a view of life which can be easily disputed.

America is not the world, a fact which will also contribute to America fracturing - even with a 'benevolent' world order offering high speed rail on good terms, with high quality building plans for energy efficient housing using mainly natural and recyclable materials, and a robust alternative energy export industry in other countries. To take advantage of that world order, the only thing required is that Americans live differently.


$100 per gallon gasoline is roughly $4000 per barrel crude oil. It's also about $2800 per ton coal.

No, America is not the world but at those sorts of general energy prices, the rest of the world will be harshly impacted. And yes, I lived in Europe for a number of years so I understand the culture somewhat.

"ayatollah of rock and rolla" : a really cute phrase. What does it mean?

Watch the movie "The road warrior" It's a post-apocalyptic movie staring mel gibson. It's worth the watch. Anytime you hear people talking about "mad max" they're talking about the road warrior. And the "ayatollah"

When I lived in Germany, I did not drive at all, arguably some of the best years of my life. That fact also helped me get into shape despite all the beer I drank.

EXPAT: I agree with you on rationing. We had IT in 1974 and we'll have it again, probably along with more disastrous "price controls". There is no limit to how bad gov't can screw this up.

I would like to suggest people check out "The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization" by Bryan Ward-Perkins, Oxford don and joint editor of "Cambridge Ancient History, vol XIV"

It's short (183 pages) concise and highly readable. Since he grew up on digs in Rome, he has a very good feel for archaeology, and points to, of all things, the record left by pottery.

Turns out that after Rome fell, people forgot how to throw pots on a wheel. During the empire, all pottery came from a small number of huge factories (and peasants in remote villages had excellent tableware), and when the factories went down, people didn't know what to do. By the 7th century Britain, kings were using pottery that previous peasants wouldn't have been caught dead using.

And pottery is one of the most essential items for cooking and serving food and keeping the family fed.

Britain -- which had a reasonably advanced culture before the Romans arrived -- seems to have gone back to a level of technology associated with the stone age. It took centuries to regain such things as thrown pots and coinage.

The sobering thing about this is that I can throw pots on a wheel, but I have no idea how to make 97% of the things I seem to need in order to live. So if anything we are far, far more vulnerable than the 5th Century Brits.

The same point is made rather well by the famous essay I, Pencil.


For some reason, this essay is beloved of fans of Ayn Rand - please don't lump me together with them!

I thought I, Pencil was advocating anchro-capitalism, not that we're forgetting how to produce everyday necessities.

You don't pay $9 a gallon, for certain. Nobody does.

You pay roughly $3.40 per gallon, like the rest of the planet, and you pay the tax on that or get subsidized, like the rest of the planet.

When the market price of gas reaches $10 a gallon, you'll be paying somewhere between $16 and $30 a gallon at the pump. And then, oh yes, you'll see things fall apart faster than you thought possible as the flow of energy is greatly reduced.

The energy flowing through the system of society is going to be reduced, in much the same way the flow of blood can be reduced by bleeding, or the flow of calories can be reduced by starving.

I'm sorry, but that is just silly. Of course I pay the equivalent of $9 a gallon. And someone living in Saudi Arabia pays something less than $1 dollar a gallon.

In both cases, that is the 'market' price, not your American based price of $3.40. That is, all the above are the price that allows me to buy a gallon of gas in the marketplace.

This bizarre American belief that the marketplace is someplace which does not actually take into account the price of actually buying and selling something is fascinating in its power to distort a debate.

You can talk about taxes all you wish - it doesn't change how much I pay for something at the cash register.

Edit - In addition, even the idea that the market will provide is another one of those strangely enduring American myths of the last several decades. People are not motivated merely by economics - as the Russians demonstrated by reorienting planned natural gas projects from the U.S. to Western Europe, roughly at the time when the Polish and Czech anti-missile facilities were being planned for implementation. And let's face it, those anti-missile bases aren't about economics either - unless your idea of an economic system is the military-industrial complex.

Thanks for this insight... it's valuable to hear these things first hand, and not as a passing figure.

Aren't there more Horses in the USA today, than in 1850????


I didn't check any horse census, but honestly - I seriously doubt it, if viewed in terms of population percentages, and not absolutes. That is, essentially every farmer in the U.S. used horses, and essentially all land transport involved horses at some phase or another.

But in fairness, my first date was 1890, where am I quite sure that the number of horses was much higher than today - horses were pretty much how all goods where transported in cities, and were also still found on basically every farm. But by 1890, the future of rail was already clear enough that many people could have predicted the future in 50 years - a nation with a well developed rail network equally capable of moving people and freight cheaply across town or across a continent.

What the people of 1890 couldn't have imagined is how twice that far in the future, their orchards and farmlands and pastures would be ripped up for houses with more bedrooms than people living in that house, people who will spend a couple of hours a day alone in a steel box while deeply in debt for the privilege to be stuck in that steel box while living in that house, the one which replaced the well tended land of those who lived on it in 1890. And they wouldn't understand it, since there would be no historical guide to any group of people willingly choosing to live that way.

I know that this is beside your point, but I had the impression that the current population of horses was as high as ever. It turns out that was wrong.

I can't find an 1890 figure, but in 1867 the US horse population was about 8 million. The horse population peaked in 1915, just before the WWI, at 21 million. The American Horse Council pinned the 2005 US horse population at 9.2 million. The horse population has continued to rise to present, but probably has a long way to go to beat 21 million.

Per-capita, there's no question, but the absolute population may be higher today than it was up until the late 1900s.

These horses are fed hay and oats that competes with food for humans and vehicles (ethanol). And at least around here, people haul the hay to their horses using their F-250 pick up trucks.

Something will have to give.

Around my town, most of the hay for most of the horses is grown in fields immediately adjacent to the horse pastures. Transport for the hay is relatively minimal.

Here is some calculation about carrying capacity of land for horses (and is same for cows, donkeys etc):

Horses are fed on hay, oats.

Hay is dried grass, 85% dry-matter and 15% moisture. Fresh grass is 15% dry matter and 85% moisture. Moisture (water) contains no energy, dry matter contains energy. Each gram of dry matter on average contains 2.0 calories. Assuming hay is 80% dry matter for easy calculation, it is 1.6 calories per gram. Hay production is 1600 kg per acre per year in a single summer crop per year.

Oats contains 3.6 calories per gram. With every one gram of oats also grow 1 gram of straw and 0.5 gram green matter of plant that is the leaves, stem etc. Straw contains as much energy as hay that is 1.6 calories per gram. Crop residue with 20% dry matter contains 0.4 calories per gram. Altogether with each gram of oats we get 3.6 + 1.6 + 0.2 = 5.4 calories. Some straw or its energy content get wasted in storage and all of the crop residue also get wasted, it is because we plan to grow it in summer and store it to be fed to horses in winter when there is little grass. We assume that 25% of straw and 100% of crop residue get wasted. Therefore we end up with 3.6 + 1.2 = 4.8 calories per gram. Oats production in absence of artificial fertilizers and pesticides is 800 kg per acre per year in a single summer crop per year. Since oats grow half as much as hay but provide 3 times the energy, an acre of oats can sustain 1.5 times as much horses as an acre of hay.

When we humans keep horses we can't fully rely on pasture because in winter grass production is very little so we have to have a store of oats for winter and also as a backup in case anything go bad. Oats and its straw can be stored for long periods of times with little losses whereas the green matter deteriorate quickly in matter of days.

We should not feed horses entirely on grains because their bodies is not designed for that. In wild they live off entirely on grass. They have the leisure of occupying large areas of land per animal in wild and moving to greener fields when food get scarce. Ofcourse in our own designed system we have to have more animals per unit of land than wild and keep backups. Therefore the best way is to feed them grass in summer and grains, straws in winter.

So, if you grow oats on half acre and grass on other half you get equivalent of 2000 kg hay per acre per year, actually 800 kg hay and 400 kg oats (equal to 900 kg hay) and 400 kg straw (equal to 300 kg hay).

Each kg of all body mass of all humans and animals have one thing in common that it needs 40 Calories per day provided its not growing, not lactating and its not doing extra ordinary hard work. If its doing these things then it need on average 60 Calories/kg/day and if its in comma that is sleeping all day doing no work it needs 20 Calories/kg/day. So a 1 kg body mass horse needs 40 calories per day or 16,000 calories per year or 10 kg hay per year. Since we are growing 2000 kg hay equivalent per year per acre we can keep 200 kg horses-mass per acre. Since an average horse mass is 500 kg its 2.5 acres per horse just to feed the horse.

Horses need to grow up that is gain mass which requires more energy than calculated above, actually 7.5 Calories/gm-mass-gain but then this can be got in form of meat for human consumption at the end. Same is the case with lactating, during which some of the extra energy supplied can be get in form of milk for human consumption. That is why these things are not factored in when calculating energy requirements of a work horse.

Lets talk about horses vs car. An internal combustion engine typically convert 30% of input energy into output energy whereas the legs of all animals and humans are capable of only 10% efficiency. Therefore internal combustion engines have an upper hand of 3 times efficiency. Once again we are only talking about work efficiency, not the energy and material used in production of the car or work horse itself.

With 10% efficiency a work horse consuming 2000 kg hay per acre is giving output of 200 kg hay per acre. At 1.6 Calorie per gm hay and 4200 joules per Calorie it is 1.344 billion joules of output work. At 41.87 MJ/kg in crude oil and 160 liters per barrel and internal combustion engine's 30% efficiency it is equivalent of 0.6 barrels of crude oil. Therefore in order to replace the work done by ICE using 31 billion barrels of crude oil per year by horses using hay and oats we need 51.66 billion acres of arable land. In reality the world's total land area is 37.5 billion acres and arable land is 15 billion acres out of which 6 billion acres are used for human food (not biofuels) and the rest for food production for other 4 million species, out of which humans are just one specie. Also crude oil contributes to 40% energy usage by humans, the others is by natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydro etc.

If we want to replace all economic work done by machines by horses we have to have 129 billion acres of arable land that is about nine times the amount of arable land available on planet. If we produce bio fuels and make machines (ice etc) to do this work, not animals, then we gain an efficiency of three times (30% by machines instead of 10% by horses) and need 3 times arable land than available on planet. If we use highly efficient plants such as sugarcane etc we can get may be another three times boost and would be needing as much arable land as is available on planet. In all these scheme we are assuming no place for any specie other than humans and no place to grow food even for humans.

I can tell you with a fairly high degree of confidence that in my town of ~7K population, there must be about 40-50 horses or so. That is a little less than one horse for every 100 people. We are probably better off than a lot of towns, too, when it comes to our stock of horses.

As a historical note - a lot of horses, as in multiple millions, died in both WWI and WWII, and America exported a lot of horses to Europe during the WWI period. Just as Ford was starting to ramp up production of the Model T, which had a lot more use around a farm than a horse. Not to mention the growing American production of tractors.

A quote -
'Such was the use of horses on the Western Front that over 8 million died on all sides fighting in the war. Two and a half million horses were treated in veterinary hospitals with about two million being sufficiently cured that they could return to duty.'


I think you're starting to weave some of the more important pieces together like DEBT maybe? Figure how 53 trillion of accumulated and unpayable debt will figure into our post peak future.

Not too rosy is it?

such a thought experiment has an unspoken basis - the underlying assumption that gasoline is central to our life.

At $100 a gallon, it won't be.

Don't you see, that's exactly the point. Just how far could you remove it from you life if you really had to. Those are the answers I am interested in hearing. How you would remove, not if you would.

Well, I would live like a lot of people around me who don't have driver's licenses - that is, walk to the store, take the train to work, bicycle to any of the local lakes in the summer time. For vacation, I would take high speed rail to places like Paris - where I would also walk, and use the metro. Or to Amsterdam - where I walk, and use the tram. Or to Hossegor - where I would likely take a bus, before walking on the beach. For the sake of discussion, it is safe to assume that neither rail nor hotel rooms nor food will have increased 25 times in the American terms being used here, especially in France, which will not be severely impacted in terms of its nuclear energy grid.

And my children would likely save a couple of thousand euros by not getting a driver's license, especially since they are already accustomed to using the streetcar system to get around - which is how we went to the movies this Sunday, by the way, enjoying a döner (or gyro - without getting into any regional questions of cuisine). The movie was digital, by the way - no need for film to be physically transported any longer.

My neighbors would probably increase their current solar hot water and PV installation pace, along with improving their insulation, at least those that haven't yet.

Since I personally don't use a chainsaw for cutting wood, no real change there, though I would need to use a neighbor's tractor and its trailer - assuming salad oil cost 10 dollars a liter (only for sake of discussion), a couple of liters should cover it.

And as for not visiting America? I was paid to visit the last time, so if someone is willing to pay me, well, the ticket's price won't matter much to me.

I still think this is a fairly American centric exercise, placing gasoline at the center of life. It isn't, for any number of people not living in the U.S., whether rich or poor.

Obviously, the scenarios most likely to result in $100 gas are ugly ones, but that is not the point of the exercise.

Unfortunately, at any energy price level, it may still be cheaper to ship tat from China in 'warehouses of the sea' than to produce and distribute goods locally.

Personally, I have enough bicycle spares and tools including frames and wheels to last until my retirement - even if I need to commute to a job. This makes me marketable post peak. Even people who do have bikes will find modern designs are unreliable and expensive to maintain.

If heating an old solid wall house becomes impossible, I will set up cosy 'bedouin' tents in rooms to cut convection until winter passes.
I can generate some electricity, but not sufficient for space heating

A friend who drives a Suburban recently told me that he doesn't care about gas prices...

I dunno how to handle this... I take this energy thing so seriously that I am no longer able to relate to friends who drive trucks and SUVs for recreational and commuting purposes (and say such foolish things). It's a problem, I know... but I tend to avoid them now. It's like they're in another social group. And it's one that I do not feel good about.

...it seems we are all living in different worlds, now...and barely relate...

I still come back to the axiom that every gallon you save locally will just get burned up by someone in Chindia or elsewhere. I drive fuel efficient vehicles because it saves ME money. Let the fools continue to drive their SUV and Trucks everywhere. It just eats into their disposable income and puts the rest of us in a better position to weather the transition.

At the same time we need to remain cognizant of where our friends will be in 10 years. They'll probably need our help (and vice versa). Compassion will be in short supply.

When gas gets high enough, anyone driving a big SUV runs the risk of getting dragged from their vehicle and beaten or shot.

Hi RR,

This is a mind-game I've gone through quite a few times. For me it was diesel at 20€ per litre.

However I never thought about it in terms of absence of systemic consequences. A quick word about those : in such conditions our electric grid will either cost much more or will be down (think maintenance costs, transport of nuclear, coal or other substitutes of oil, infrastructure ...). Same for rail transport and so on.

But if things could hold together, some of my actual plans could still hold. I own a farm on 10 Ha. Since things hold together there will still be patients for my office or I could get a job as a neurologist in my local hospital. I live 5km from a train station. I could commute by train and go to the station by bicycle or by horse since there is a horse owner near the station who can care for my horse during my working hours. Don't laugh, we own 6 horses and are currently planning to train 2 of them for horse drawn carriage. There is no lack of horse-cars in our region, in a near-by village 2 men are acquiring the skill of making wheels and horse shoes with old skills since a lot of ancient infrastructure has been kept alive here . Most people around us own horses so there is a lot of community help with this. I would use my bicycle or my horses for shopping as well (for what still will be shoppable).

My garden will expand proportionnaly with the price of brent at first, I already use only home-made fertilizer. The real problem is mold for vegetables in our regions but a lot of organic farmers are trying methods for lessining or suppressing use of industrial solutions, like nettle-infusions and such. I learn a lot of tips from them currently.

I have a 8-meter deep water-well but I will have to experiment a bit before I get some drinking water. Heating of our home can be done only with wood chopped already in advance. I would really prefer to use gasoline for my tools rather than for my car.

I will probably implement some solar electricity for hand-held lamps and perhaps a few domestic devices but I see PV as very expensive, and I am still not comfortable with storage. I know for sure that batteries, whatever technology they are made of, do die, rather sooner than later to be comfortable.

But since problems will be more general than personal some ideas as well :

I hate to talk about it, but spreading poverty is a real problem especially as gasoline will be as expensive for the police as well. How to deal with these issues depends a lot on the communities involved as well as how everbody else will respond to the stresses created by anterior policies.

As for clothing, no problem, my wife can get dressed for the next 200 years, I will have to anticipate a bit more. Another real problem will be medicines. Most pharmacists in our region have lost the skills of herboristery. However a lot of things can be done without medicines and doctors will have to learn a lot of skills to overcome any shortage of medicines. I guess I will have to learn how to make acetylsalicylic acid from willows (and perhaps you have a clue ?).

Since neurolgy as the rest of specialities (perhaps except psychiatry) will disapear, I will work as a general practicioner in my surroudings. Probably one of my main tasks will be to help people cope with the situation and try to prevent aggressivity as much as possible. I don't think I will talk about PO that much when things have gone so far ...

We could go on for very long, thanks however for opening this thread. I am looking for everybodies else's input.


May I suggest trying making colloidal silver as a remedy. I've used it in our orchard with success. I usually make up a spray tank of 12 gallons. It's not a big deal...

I put a couple of 100% silver electrodes (~6gage wire) in the spray tank, attach it to a lab DC power supply for half a day - about 15volts DC- and spray.



Should work perfectly on a sunny day with a small solar pannel I have for the recharge of some batteries for our electric fence.

Could the same process be used with copper electrodes ?

Hi Neuroil, I assume you are in France, which region?

I live in the region of "Rhone-alpes" between "Bourg en Bresse" and "Mâcon". I work in Bourg en Bresse but do live in the country hence my long commutes. And you ?

I live in the West of Bourgogne. Not quite as chilly as the Rhone-alpes :)

I have a small farm of about 12 acres which I'm currently setting up as a micro-farm.

Nice to see someone posting things with a more European/French view. Keep up the posting :)

For me at least, I would have to bicycle everywhere, and quit driving totally. Living in the middle of Houston, everything is within 5 miles and I probably should start now (already bicycle to work), except my son is still small enough to need a car to move around. Not sure about whether the places I go to would survive. Trips to see family in San Antonio, Austin and the UK would also stop.
As for AC in Houston, I am addicted!

Random thoughts

As gas price hits the pain point, ride sharing and trip consolidation will likely cut traffic jams during commute time to near nothing and thus increase fuel mileage by not stop and go bumper to bumper for 15 miles in.

Solar water heating much more efficient than solar electric converted to heat the water.

Even with your new hot water heater, pre heat of the input water to 100 via solar will be a lot more efficient than dumping say 66 degree city water into the tank as you shower.

105 is hot but even large pvc (8 inch) buried in the soil and pushing air through it to recycle into the house is better than open windows. I have an old style house in Fl and it has an attic whole house fan with a grating you open in the ceiling and you just open the sash windows a bit at the bottom and the air pulls through the house making it comfortable but not as much as straight AC.

In the winter I use mini fans to push hot air from the attic down through dedicated louver vents to stretch the heating dwell time. The fans don't even kick on till the attic gets to 90 and then they are variable speed under control of my house computer to provide adjusted flow so they don't actually push temperatures above the heat pump kick off temp. On a sunny day in the winter, the attic still gets to 110. In summer my house is raised about 3 feet off the ground on pillars and between the pillars I have 2 inch thick Styrofoam. Think coffee cup. Under the house stays 72 year round.

Pull air up from there in the summer with the attic whole house fan and it really makes for better living. Even bare wood floor areas are comfortable to walk on barefoot, which in winter would have been like an ice cube before.

Add a temporary pvc frame and cover with plastic hardware cloth up against the house and open a couple windows into it when it warms up and use a floor fan to push the air to other sections of the house. My mother heated the entire house like that in the winter for years. Even used it as a temporary greenhouse to save some plants till next spring and an herb garden in the winter by adding a door to it.

She had a pot belly wood stove for night heat.

When using the heat pump I have small tubing that runs to a half dozen mist heads so fine you can barely see the spray that kick in on a two minute time delay after the compressor kicks in to cool the coils. Drops the temp real quick and makes the unit much more efficient on those 95 degree days just pulling air through the coils.

If it's in the direct sun shade the thing with a tarp or something. I have seen units idle you could almost fry and egg on in direct sunlight.

Mini blinds on all the windows tilted down just to a crack let you see out and get light in and you can adjust them to where your view really isn't obstructed that much but the solar heating or cooling in the winter is greatly reduced to the interior.

I am thinking of trying an experiment and building a Styrofoam enclosure around the compressor about three times its volume and pulling air from under the house and exhausting it via the compressor fan to outside air. Running 72 degree air over the cooling coils should help a lot in heat transfer.

Regarding the long expected arrival of the plug-in hybrids, I don't know what the expected mileage is, and a lot depends on the total miles driven, and of course this requires an energy input from an electrical source, hopefully wind and solar. But in any case, let's assume 6,000 miles per year at a 250 miles per gallon and $100 per gallon. Note that we are excluding the electrical input. The vehicles also require a lot of energy to build, and it takes a long time to replace the fleet.

6,000/250 = 24 gallons per year @$100/gallon = $2,400, or $200 per month fuel cost.

I personally don't think that this is necessarily a good thing. I think that Alan Drake has a better idea, but I expect that people will go to enormous lengths to try to maintain their auto centric way of life.

WT: Exactly-because of the math you just laid out, all the talk about the death of the car culture is just wishful thinking. The car culture will be strong long after trucking, air travel, suburban sprawl, and present day home heating and cooling have drastically declined.

At 6,000 miles per year, the vehicle averages 16.4 miles per day. The Chevy Volt (for example) is supposed to be able to go 40 miles on a charge, so if it racked up its mileage on daily local trips, the monthly gasoline cost would be zero.

Lightweight private vehicles themselves might continue to be viable. The greater challenge would be freight transport and movement of heavy vehicles. Not to mention roadway maintenance, emergency services, and all the other accouterments of the motor vehicle system.

With people switching to electric, presumably electric costs will climb to equal the cost of oil.

I was at a museum (I used to be a curator, and on trips got to see the good stuff) and got a good look at an old buggy. It must have weighed 80 pounds. It was incredibly small and lightweight.

When energy costs for transport are high, excess weight is jettisoned. Why have two horses, when one will do if you go light?

Things like the cost of heating your home would still be a lot lower if you bought an air source heat pump, as that would multiply the efficiency by a factor of around 2.5 for older house, and around 4 for new ones.
EV's are also very efficient.

I drive a hated SUV but by moving to a more suitable location, I've reduced my driving 95%. Current average weekly is about 24 miles, less than 2 miles per day. Used to drive 12,000 annual, now about 1500. Annual gas bill should be around $400 this year as opposed to the previous $2,000 but now would be $3,400. So, I've done my share by reducing gas consumption from 750 to 94 gallons annually.

However, I had to give up my old line of work for a new one to obtain this and my income has dropped considerably more than the savings.

Why can't you walk or bike the 2 miles a day instead of driving? I'm 55 and it takes me about 30 minutes to walk 2 miles, I just came home from a leisurely 15 mile bike ride which took me and my 53 year old girlfriend about an hour and twenty minutes to complete.
Ride a Bike or Take a Hike!

$100 a gallon? That's the return of draft animals. Horses, mules, donkeys, & oxen.
Advantage:you still could go where & when you please.
I would expect that road network would still have some designated lanes for buses at $100 per gal, but...
PHEVs, hybrids, rich people who can still afford to drive will have to share many roads with wagons, teams. Increased use of livestock will mean larger herds, herds will have to be moved, pastures rotated, so livestock on roads will be common sight.
$100 per gal is a different world, different occupations, different skills needed, it will lead to us becoming different people, the world would look very different, it would not take long.

For just getting around for local errands or even a longer than you would like short commute a possible solution would be electric bicycles which either power or pedal assist for hills and such.


I have a large property and just to get around instead of a golf cart which I also have a lot of the time I just use a home brew converted battery operated moped. Still has the pedal option if I run out of juice away from the house.

My conditions are relatively similar to todd's, I would start brewing ethanol for motor use. My motorcycle gets 90 MPG and I have 40 acres. so that'd fuel the chainsaw and the bike.

Never before in the history of the world had such a mass of human beings moved and suffered together.
This was no disciplined march, it was a stampede.
Without order and without a goal.
6 million people, unarmed and unprovisioned, driving headlong.
It was the beginning of the Rout of Civilisation,
of the Massacre of Mankind


( 6m 20s in ).

You're in the Netherlands, so you can take the train. Put your bike at the railway station and cycle the rest. After a while you get fed up so you relocate.

Our beloved gov't takes 6% sales tax when you sell your house, so that probably will have to go.

I wouldn't do much different @ 100 US$ (*) than today. We have a car that does 55 mpg (not a hybrid, just a small car). I would probably visit my parents by train, and my wife would either quit working or skype. I would just continue go to work by bike. I don't take fly-drive holidays, so that doesn't change.

I probably buy one of these, just for fun.

You can go 20 mph on one of these, if you really try.

(*) Also depends a bit one the euro-dollar exchange rate.

Some locations will be able to fare better than others. For instance cities like Miami, Houston and New Orleans could easily be traveled by electric bicycles like this Open Source bike conversion described by Eric Peltzer on his web site ( http://www.peltzer.net/ebike/ ) . However, another flat city like Chicago is a different matter altogether. During the summer months, no problem. I biked from my apartment near Wrigley field to South Chicago one summer, but when the famous Chicago winter set in the bicycling ended. Fortunately Chicago also has the famous Elevated trains.
I have retired to an isolated and mountainous location where the winters are long, cold, and heaps of snow. Bicycle, motorized bike, scooter and motorcycle are out of the questions for several months of the year and the population is too sparse to develop any sort of public transport system. In a situation like mine its not necessarily my being able to travel that concerns me as much as having the snow plows, emergency vehicles, fire trucks and electric company trucks able to maintain the grid.

I ran across this page a while ago: http://www.recumbents.com/WISIL/shumaker/default.htm

I started researching high power equipment that
could push my 190 pound rump around town. The choice of components was easy once I looked in the RC industry! I chose a large AXI brushless outrunner motor. This motor is 93% efficient at 2000 watts and still over 80% efficient at 4000 watts! So, that was my motor of choice. Also, the AXI is only the size of a shortie pop can, much smaller than a typical E-bike motor, far lighter, and MUCH high power!

I found out later where he suggested if someone else wanted to develop their own to try this: http://www.unitedhobbies.com/UNITEDHOBBIES/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProdu...

Maximum Power: 7000W
Price: $149.95

That's roughly 9HP - wee! Drop one in a Kabinscooter and I think you'd have a deal.


If you want to buy an electric bike, you can get them at the shop.

But to be honest: what is the advantage of an electric bike? Why not just cycle?

"Why not just cycle?"

A great rhetorical question in an ideal world, where we do not age.

We do not live in an ideal world, we live in a real one.

In my former life, I was an avid touring cyclist, doing up to 500 miles in a week. In my present life, after two heart surgeries, I have barely enough energy to go 10 miles with mild hills. I need an electric bike if I want to use it as my main means of getting around.

This does not even count those who are less lucky than me and cannot bicycle at all.

I converted this bike because it is so comfortable and extends my range and speed


Hilly area. Hot summers. An electric-assist bike irons out the hills.
I would never bike-commute to work if I had to do it all myself.

Plus it's so much fun passing you spandex folks on the hills...

I stopped driving when we invaded Iraq and have been using electric bikes for all my transportation needs. I have SBMA, a progressive neuro-muscular disease, that is now making it difficult to walk more than a block. But with home built electrically assisted bicycles I travel throughout the Chicagoland area swift and comfortably. I've set up several bikes for a variety of purposes. My fastest has a top speed of 40 mph and cruises reliably at 35. I've have another that pulls a very large homebuilt trailer with the cargo capacity of a small pickup truck at 20 mph. On another bike, an aerodynamic recumbent, the farthest I have traveled on a single charge is to Milwaukee and back, ~180 miles at 25 mph. I use the same batteries interchangeably on all my bikes.

Using off the shelf li-ion cells one can now build a 20 AH by 24 volt battery that weighs 6 lbs for roughly $250. With a moderately efficient motor/drive train, ~75%, one pack will supply as much energy as a reasonably fit man can produce in a couple hours of high exertion. And it's fairly straightforward to mount as many as 6 of these packs on a typical bicycle. Bikes/trikes modified or designed for additional cargo capacity can carry far more.

And I never thought I'd say this, but we are getting damn close to where solar pv makes sense for an electric bike/trike set up. Sanyo makes a 215 watt panel that weighs just over 30 lbs that is 3 feet wide by 4 feet long that sells for about $1000.00. Mount this as a roof over a recumbent trike with say 1 kwh of batteries and you'd have a reasonably useful self powering electric vehicle for areas with lots of sunshine. Pull a trailer and you could mount another panel or two. I expect that power to weight & size ratios of panels will continue to improve by a few percent a year for a little longer although where the price will go is anybody's guess.

Right now spending the money on batteries still makes more sense from a practicality aspect. At typical current prices for electricity of roughly $0.10 per kwh the value of the energy produced by the solar panels is irrelevant to the consideration between solar pv or more batteries. But when one considers that current li-ion cells when treated well have a typical service life of 3 to 5 years while the solar panel is good for 20+ years the solar panel starts looking competitive from a cost aspect.

In a future scenario where grid power becomes far more expensive or far less reliable or suffers in availability one can easily envision solar pv gaining acceptance for some personal mobility applications.

Btw, Warren Beauchamp, the fellow who put together the WISIL site referenced above has a homebuilt enclosed aerodynamic recumbent streamliner that is reasonably practical/streetable that he cruises at 35+ mph on pedal power alone and has hit 60 mph on a sprint on flat ground without any tail wind. Not bad for a guy in his 40s. Although his bike weighs almost 70 lbs he has beaten local CAT 2's on moderately hilly courses in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. A similar body design on a recumbent trike equipped with an electric assist system could yield a very practical and fairly low cost electric vehicle capable of meeting the current commuting needs of most people. It would likely mean sacrificing traveling at 75 mph in a 2500+ lb vehicle and instead traveling at say 45 mph in a 250 lb vehicle that is much narrower and lower. Mass produced such a vehicle could likely be built for $5000 to $10000 depending on the range and top speed required.

And this vehicle could easily do 45 mph on 1000 watts of power, ie, about 10 times better then the cars of today and still practical in an environment where energy costs the equivalent of $100 for a gallon of gas.

I don't believe tightening energy supplies are an inherently intractable issue. My guess is our corrupt political systems, shaky financial system and tendency towards war are all far more pressing problems in the short term. In the long term it appears environmental degradation, esp. global warming, is our greatest threat although mainly because our corrupt political system is interfering with our ability to recognize and correct our harmful practices.

I believe the main action the government needs to take is to change our system of taxation to one that puts a price on the consumption of resources commensurate with their scarcity and the external costs of their consumption, ie emissions of green house gases and other pollutants, etc. With more accurate costs/pricing folks will muddle their way to better ways of getting done what we need to get done.

Todd Allen

Todd, could you email me? Click my user name for the address, I have a question. Thanks.

If you lived in the type of mountainous terrain that I do, you would immediately know the answer to that question.

I'm happy to see more discussion of ebikes here recently. I believe these will be an important component in the overall solution when liquid fueled transport becomes too expensive.

It is interesting and important to note that an electric bicycle is just as much a hybrid as a Prius. Just twisting the throttle is appealing, but a much more efficient overall vehicle can be built if human power is actually utilized, especially during initial acceleration and during heavy climbing. There have been several iterations of ebikes that work by assisting pedaling rather than just powering the wheel directly. One was called the Charger ebike. It was developed and produced during that fortunate/unfortunate period of low gas prices that has ended recently, and thus is no longer produced because sales were too low. A friend of mine bought one at a garage sale a few years ago, and it is a very fine piece of transportation technology. A company called electroportal bought the remaining stock and is selling them, and it sounds like they have or are trying to acquire the rights to resume production of a similar design.

Another design is that of the Optibike, which has a similar concept but with more custom bicycle aura and price tag. Optibikes are the Tesla of ebikes - high performance, high dollar. Designed and built by bicycle enthusiasts, and it shows, if you are a bicycle enthusiast. Very cool.

There is a much easier way to convert a standard bike to an ebike than the garage methods being referenced. Not that the garage methods are bad - I think these people are doing good work, although Eric Peltzer's backward front fork scares me, as it should him. There are easily available kits using internal hub motors on the front or rear wheel. These can be adapted to virtually any bicycle. German company Heinzmann was the forerunner in this market, and their hub motors are great, and very expensive. They were used by the ebike company 'ebike' which went under a few years ago, just like Charger. A Chinese hubmotor kit has risen on the power of the Chinese ebike market, which sells in the tens of millions per year. The Crystalyte kit is available from various sources and is said to be a very good clone of Heinzmann. There are some people hitting 50mph with these things, Check youtube for videos. BTW, if you decide to do something like this, use a decent bike to start with, not a Huffy from WalMart!

Various large manufacturers have/are in the ebike market now, notably Giant and Schwinn.

My business travel would not be sustainable at those rates. For the next 12 months, I am probably looking at 12 trips just to the Netherlands...

Your business travel is not only not sustainable, it's almost certainly impossible. Houston to Copenhagen is 5,200 miles; assuming the same price ratios as today, jet fuel would be $120/gal in your scenario; airlines with today's fleet average about 50 passenger miles per gallon [Wikipedia, "Fuel efficiency in transportation"]; the fuel costs, per passenger, to fly from Houston to Copenhagen would be about $12,480 (one way). A flight from LA to NYC works out to about $5,900 (one way). At those prices, the air travel industry will have collapsed.

I would argue that this whole thought experiment is badly flawed. The airline industry is not the only one that will have collapsed at those prices for petroleum products. It is not enlightening to ask "How would you respond to $100/gal gasoline in 2013?" without first making some assumptions about how that price changes other things. How many businesses and banks will have failed? What will the unemployment rate be? Which industries will have completely disappeared? Absent a much more complete scenario, my answers about my personal responses are probably pretty useless.

As an extreme example, Texas and Louisiana produce enough oil and natural gas to satisfy their internal demand at prices well below $100/gal. At some point, with a price well below $100/gal, those states will have blown up the pipelines and stopped exporting on any kind of scale. When I lived in Texas in the 1970s, the governor publicly threatened to blow up the natural gas pipelines and "let the damn yankees freeze in the dark". I live in another region that exports energy; I quite literally believe that before gas hits $100/gal, I'll be involved in a civil war.

The airline industry is already in huge trouble.

Fuel suppliers demand airlines pay cash in advance

Right now, at $130 per BARREL (not gallon), the fuel suppliers are demanding cash, and not extending credit, because the airlines are close to insolvency as it is. At $100 per gallon? They would be history.

While I still think the civil war scenario is more likely, I'll attempt a list of changes that I personally would make, assuming a "business as usual" scenario but going w/o gasoline within five years. Electricity in Colorado is about 70% coal, 20% natural gas, and 10% hydro. Coal is all mined within a couple hundred miles, and rail transport for it is adequate; natural gas is locally produced; hydro is also close by. Wind and solar resources are good enough for commercial application. I think it is reasonable to assume that electricity rates won't be going up enormously in this scenario.

  • I'm on the permanent staff for the Colorado state legislature, which historically has been opposed to telecommuting. At $100/gal that opposition would disappear, since the legislature itself would be forced to do many more things in a virtual online fashion. I anticipate that outside of the 120-day annual session, I would work almost exclusively out of my home.
  • During the session (early January to early May), face-to-face time and occassional very late hours are requirements. Bus service to downtown, and by 2016, electrified rail that is already planned. Late hours frequently go well past scheduled mass transit. I expect that the state will figure out it needs to provide dormitory style space for people to use as needed.
  • As much vegetable garden as space will allow. The growing season in Colorado is short, so a lot of things would probably have to be started in a greenhouse. I don't have enough space to be self-sufficient, but food is going to be a lot more expensive in this scenario, so every bit helps.
  • At $100/gal by 2013, for the majority of the population there will be no routine purpose which justifies using gasoline for local transport in anything that doesn't get at least 100 mpg. I anticipate that roads will be largely empty, that the remaining vehicles will be small and slow, and that the authorities will have a lot less interest in enforcing the federal and state standards on what can be driven. I would plan on having some sort of DIY electric utility vehicle: 30-mile range (hopefully), 30 mph top speed, closed 2-seat cabin and open cargo bed that can carry a few hundred pound payload if needed.

It still seems impossible, though, to consider "business as usual" for the state government. Putting a state patrol officer on the road suddenly costs in excess of $1,000 per day for fuel. Asphalt is too expensive to do road repairs. Transportation services for the elderly are way too expensive to provide unless it can be done with electric vehicles (expensive in terms of initial capital) so those folks go into nursing homes instead of staying in their own homes for a few more years.

"Asphalt is too expensive to do road repairs."

All the cascading failures on the way to $100 gas make this a difficult, open-ended thought experiment, but road conditions are relevant to transport and makes sense to include it. I wouldn't count on skinny tired bicycles or a Metropolitan scooter with 10 inch wheels lasting long on those roads. A mountain bike or small displacement off-road motorcycle will do fine. It'll be less efficient on well paved roads, but at least it'll survive rough and unpaved roads. It's also worth it to stockpile spare parts like tires and tubes, but be careful about rubber rotting out from sitting in storage. Ozone makes it worse.

It's an interesting thought experiment, if for nothing other than the embedded non-sequiturs (or perhaps comments like the Netflix one were meant as jokes?).

Anyway, I think bicycle transit will become all the more my preference (I do this about 70% anyway, but this'd push me to the 100% for sure). In fact, a couple of new bike designs allow for carrying rather large loads (see Kona "Ute", Yuba "Mundo", or Surly "Big Dummy"). Of course, I live much closer than 23.5 miles from everything I need. However, I suspect I'll be paying a lot more for food trucked in at that gas price.

I live in BC, where our electricity is 90% hydroelectric, so I don't expect the grids to go down here for another 100 years or more. However, $100 a gallon gas will mean quite a bit of inflation across the board, so I suspect my utility bills will rise proportionally (if for nothing else, because BC Hydro will find it more profitable to sell electicity at exhorbitant rates to wealthy US buyers). I live in the city, where it's unlikely that I can set up a windmill (although at $100 a gallon, I suspect many city bylaws preventing such to be ammended). However, solar (to the extent that I can afford it) would at least be my first foray into electricity savings. My preference would be to have a few acres and a wood-burning stove, but I'm certain we can't all have that.

Which brings me to the resultant social inequalities: I saw a post the other day on Yahoo! Questions where someone had asked a more general "what are you doing about peak oil" question. One respondent stated, "I'm stockpiling weapons". Perhaps this too was a joke, but I suspect for many this isn't that far from a serious consideration. Extreme social inequalities in the past have tended to ignite armed conflicts. Why shouldn't we expect the same result from bottlenecked demand for a commodity that we've made into the lifeblood of our industrial culture?

It's an interesting thought experiment, if for nothing other than the embedded non-sequiturs (or perhaps comments like the Netflix one were meant as jokes?).

You have to understand that my brain doesn't work in a straight line. One second I am thinking about lunch, then 5 seconds later I am wondering about life forms in the Mariana Trench.

It's good to know you're normal Robert.

Wish you'd write more. I'm missing your work on crude refining, but I see that your vocational interests have changed.

PS Cheers on wearing a coat inside:)

Great question! We gave it some real thought, and posted our answer on our web site:

Gas at $100/gal.

Thanks for asking this question Robert, and my gratitude for your clear understanding of the fossil fuel problem.

This is THE question for or future.

My original plan to continue sailing around the world would be modified. I am totally solar and produce excess energy for all needs, including radios, refer and watermaker. The diesel and dinghy would present a tougher problem. Certainly a sail dink is going to be on deck, but a small amount of diesel will be needed for emergency escape maneuvers. I had planned on refilling at always reliable Brunei, but the cost and danger will have made that impossible.
Cruising overseas will become extremely dangerous [ already difficult ] I will fall back on the Puget sound area which will allow me to sail to Canada for fuel supplies and will work both sides of the border for needed supplies.
THE problem in the future will be mobility. My boat will be able to transport two tons of cargo to trade for fuel or food from remote areas. When events turn perilous, I'll haul anchor and move to other more favorable areas where it's possible to survive and earn a modest living to feed the boat and diesel.
But i a lot of fun is going to disappear with the loss of a high speed inflatable. 20 knots takes approximately 3/4 gallon on gas per hour.

Dave on Meander

I love the boat idea. I have a scooter that gets 100 mpg. It sits in the garage until it's safe (all suv's and most cars off the road). But I had not thought of a sail boat before. The wind is free, but what about upkeep. I always think of a boat as a hole in the water that you keep pumping money into! Do you need much fossil-fuel derived maintenance materials?

to your question...
Scooter, telecommute (doing some already)
Solar PV (going in this summer)
Clothes line
Buy food locally. (A local farm sells weekly output if you sign up for at least a box a week. This is my first year.)
Much greater inside climate variation!
Have people move in with us to share costs/work, etc.
Restaurants are dead, so all meals at home or at a neighbor's (I like to cook)
Eat deer, because my friends hunt.
Eat much more veggies and less meat (starting that one too, lost 12 pounds, feel better.)
Consider gun. Not sure I like that idea, but it may happen anyway.
Entertainment means card games and dinner with friends as opposed to restaurants and movies out.

Other things to give up.
Air travel
Driving from PA to Atlanta to visit family.
Heck, driving 100 miles within PA to visit family.
Plant fruit trees, (hopefully this fall)

You say $100/gal gas, but also mention other ramifications (thermostat, etc.) I'll just address the former.

I work about 8 miles from my house, and I suppose my car gets around 25mpg in the city, so that's US$4/mile, or $64 per day commuting. My first thought would be to telecommute as many days per week as my employer would allow, which at that price would probably be two, I'm guessing.

My second thought would be to buy a high-mpg scooter or motorcycle (I still have a license from my college days), or bicycle. I don't ride one currently because I consider it too unsafe to ride with the local careless/clueless drivers. $100/gal gasoline would do a good job of ridding the roads of stupidity, so riding a motorcycle or bicycle would become reasonably pleasant. I would enjoy this.

Third (note!) option would be to rideshare. Like all good Americans, I abhor this idea, but at the right price I might start. $100/gal is probably not high enough if either of my above options pans out, but at $500/gal, it would probably be completely unavoidable.

Flying is not an issue for me, as my employer pays. If they don't want me to travel, it's okay with me (maybe even a plus).

As for personal travel, I think we'd start planning our trips to the store, etc. Our nearest grocer is about a mile away, and there are sidewalks, so we might well walk that.

So, summarizing, $100/gal wouldn't cause me much grief, and in a lot of ways I think it'd be an improvement. In the words of our adored leader, "Bring it on!"... :-)

Get an apartment across the street from your office. Or, hey, move.

Trips: Take longer ones less often.

Telecommuting isn't always an option. It is less efficient for many interactions. I do a lot of teleconferencing and it takes longer to come to mutual understandings that way.

I do not understand why you think electric power prices would go up so high.

The most important maintenance activity in transmission is guys in trucks with chainsaws sawing down trees. The trees tend to get into the power lines and short them out. Maintenance for the lines in general requires a lot of guys in trucks replacing spacers that have worn out, replacing insulators that have been shot by vandals, and checking the lines when they have faulted, and generally mucking about in gas powered vehicles.

Coal is taken from the mine in big diesel-powered dump trucks. It often travels to the power plant in diesel powered trains.

Wind turbines are often in remote areas, with their own maintenance needs.

Generally, you need a lot of fossil fuels to keep the power flowing. Not sure if we could switch it all over to electric power. Electricity will have to become a lot more local, especially in rural areas. Local power is going to be expensive and intermittent.

My thoughts

Guys sawing down trees are bringing down the wood mass they will need to power their wood-powered steam trucks.

Trains that haul coal will of course need to get upgraded to coal burning engines.

Also, those tree sawing folks could plug into local plugs to run their electric saws.

I do not see insurmountable obstacles in what you described. It all seems pretty solvable.

Guys sawing down trees are bringing down the wood mass they will need to power their wood-powered steam trucks.

Excellent point!

Trains that haul coal will of course need to get upgraded to coal burning engines.

Burning coal is not an upgrade! :o
Burn Ammonia instead.

Ok, let's ignore for the moment that the only way this could ever come to pass (considering the alternative energy sources that would become economical *long* before then) would be *massive* inflation, and that I'd probably be making >$1million/year and would jump for joy at the chance to pay off my mortgage with a couple month's paychecks...

I'd do what everyone else would be doing in that situation. Switch to a career developing alternative energy sources. Neo-luddites like to rail at technologists for thinking they have the answer to all of the world's problems. But in this case they surely do. There's a vast plentiful excess of energy out there for us. Oil's just the cheapest to get at right now. It'll suck to run out of it, but that's probably for the best anyway... the stuff's bad for the planet.

But let's say terrorists blew up all the oil fields and it was going to be a year before the world had any significant oil again (i.e. a *temporary* price spike to $100/gallon). And fine, let's ignore that we'd have a world-wide depression and massive die-offs in human population due to the outrageous price food would soar to if we didn't have petro-fertilizers. And let's ignore all the investment opportunities (like buying a parking lot and stocking it with all the (reasonably economic) cars that are utterly worthless right now but will be back to their original prices when oil comes back down).

Well, duh. I'd ride my bike to work and set up teleconferences to meet with my friends on the weekends instead of driving 40 miles up to see them in person.

I already combine trips to the grocery store, Home Depot and the pharmacy but would out of necessity probably increase this. The grocery store is 1 mile away and CostCo is 1/2 mile the other way.

Since I am disabled I have been struggling with mobility anyway. I cannot ride my upright bicycle any longer, or run, or even walk any more but I am able to pedal a recumbent trike due to the laid back seat. See Catrike. I do plan on adding an electric assist to help me get into and out of the neighborhood as I live in a canyon. Once I get out I am on level ground so the entry / exit is the issue. I am also working on designing an insulated trailer so I can make the run to the store for groceries without worrying about the heat of summer spoiling my milk. Also I would like to make the Home Depot runs with it as well, unless I need a sheet of plywood. A tandem may be in our future as the wife needs the exercise. :)

The electric assist is actually upgradeable to power the trike by itself in lieu of pedaling. I'm looking forward to that. It only does 20 MPH or so depending upon which unit I buy but as my spine deteriorates It may be necessary. An electric trike that plugs in and costs pennies per day to operate is a good alternative. 10 to 60 miles range depending upon the power demand.

At home I do not have a A/C unit as the only time it would be necessary would be during August when it gets really humid. During the winter I use a central gas / electric heater but only for a few weeks. It rarely gets cold enough for long enough to suffer much. I do use a small ceramic heater for my bedroom instead of the central unit but I could do without it if necessary.

Time to lie down. I cannot sit up any longer.

Get the bike ASAP, I have muscular dystrophy and it changed my life. I can now join the wife on long country walks with the dogs as well as saving cash by using it for short journeys.
I got a folding model so it fits in the back of the car ... and a step through frame for ease of mount/dismount.

This thought experiment can be rephrased as:

"What would you do with 1 gallon/week?"
Since about $400/month is how much an average household can spend on gas.

So you would choose between

a) 1 visit to a grocery store (must be with 15 miles) in a week in a 30mpg car
b) commuting a short distance to work (under 10 miles) on a 100mpg scooter.
c) using it in some kerosene stove to cook food - probably enough for a hot dinner 7 days a week.
d) not buy OR sell your fuel allotment to a rich neighbor.

I think it's realistically a choice between C or D, since at that price fuel is too valuable to burn for individual transportation.

Other repercussions of $100/gallon gas:

- If you do decide to fill up the car with it, you won't be able to leave on the street or on an open parking lot, since the gas will be immediately stolen from the car.
- no new mass-produced gasoline cars, since there won't be enough demand for them, or infrastructure to produce.
- you will be buying a plastic bottle or a plastic bag at $5 a piece and keep it till it wears out.
- using public transit will be rare and expensive.

Think India train

That's an interesting way to rephrase the question. I would have one remaining gas or diesel powered vehicle, kept full at all times, and only started and moved about the neighborhood about once every 30 days. All fuel not allocated to that task would be resold to the highest bidder. I would bike to work (5 miles each way), assuming I was still employed. But I doubt I would be employed or that there would be much of an economy left at $100 per gallon gasoline. That implies roughly $4000 per barrel oil, which implies $2800 per ton coal (in the US, higher elsewhere). All of which implies to me a Great Depression type scenario, except rather than 28% unemployment it would be far higher, encompassing almost all industries not directly related to national defense/security.

Most new cars have locked filler-caps to prevent fuel theft.

Plastic bags will certainly be expensive. There are many alternatives though - I already take a reusable hessian (jute) bag to the supermarket. In Europe the popular "granny trolley" costs about $40-$50 and can be reused ad infinitum. They are particularly popular in Paris.

If fuel gets short don't lock the cap - they will cut your fuel lines and drain the car that way.

Food: We purchased 13 acres of black dirt and are growing a variety of vegetables for a 50-member CSA. It is 4 miles from my house and I would have a bike to go back and forth daily if gas were $100 a gallon. It's a pretty flat terrain and with not many vehicles on the road will be pretty safe.(Obviously, I wouldn't be doing a CSA at this point but using the food for us and for bartering). We use a small John Deere which is very good on diesel, a little Honda tiller, also good on gas, and thereafter, hand tools and hand weeding on knees. I've gotten pretty fast at weeding and can weed a 200-foot row in 20 minutes.

Barn: We have a barn next to our house which has it's own kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms and a large living room. A family could live there and help us work the farm. We live on three acres, have a large garden and could expand the garden greatly and add quite a few animals -- goats, a cow, chickens and even a few pigs.

Basement Apartment: We have a walk-out basement in whice we could put in a kitchen (already has a bathroom) and partition for a bedroom. Thus we could have another family live with us to share the cost of utilities and help with all vegetable production and animals.

Pellet Stoves: We already have installed a wood-burning stove (it also burns pellets)insert in our house and are surrounded by woods. We could also plant part of our acreage with reed canary grass and use the county's peletizer to make pellets for a stove that could be installed in the basement and in the barn.

Small Cabin: We also have a tiny cabin (10x12 prefab building) located on our 13 acres which has no electricity or septic, but one person could live there and use a compost toilet, the wood-burning stove. There is a well on the property and we are researching a windmill (it's in a Zone 4 for wind) to pump the well. A shower could be rigged up there. Right now we have a little honda pump that uses very little gas to pump the water.

Alternative Energy: We have a truck that can run on ethanol, a 1999 Ford Ranger. We also own a Toyota Camry and a Chevrolet pickup. My husband owns real estate about 36 miles away but only has to travel there two or three times a week and could condense it to just once a week if necessary and leave the truck there and use a small vehicle or motorcyle for commuting.
We have also researched solar panels, solar hot water and geothermal, all of which are possibilities but not yet economically feasible. But $100 per gallon would make it so.

Homeschool: We have been homeschooling our kids for the past 8 years (the oldest graduated high school at 16 and has been attending NYU as a part-time student). We own a condo in Hoboken which is within walking distance to mass tranportation to NYC. He lives most of the time and is able to take the train or bus home. Once a week, we make a trip to town (6 miles away) for music lessons, recycling, grocery store, library, and pharmacy. We are a family that is not into any organized sports; just skiing which will probably be short-lived.

Shopping: Once a month I make a trip to BJ's (25 miles away) for purchase of bulk items and could do that just once every three months. We have tons of room for storage and have built a root cellar in our basement. We also have two freezers which I use to freeze the summer vegetables: tomatoes, pesto, herbs, corn, green beans, squash, pumpkins, etc. I also can a year's worth of jam, relish, pickles, green beans, brushetta, etc. I also dry peppers, herbs, tomatoes, blueberries, zucchini, etc. and grow enough dried beans (pinto, black, kidney and adzuki) to last through the winter.

Debt: We have always been conservative, but since
learning about peak oil three years ago and ramped our effort to pay off all debt. We only owe a very little on the farm that we purchased last September and hope that have that balance reduced in half after this season's harvest. We pay cash for everything we can, pay off our credit card monthly, pay our for our son's classes as he goes along. This allows him the flexibility to choose a wide variety of courses available in New York City. He is not pursuing a "degree" per se which will probably be useless anyway, but already at 18 has a Certificate in Directing from NYU. (I think the field of entertainment will probably continue to do well in difficult times if the past depression is any indication).

Health Care: Since we pay for our coverage out-of-pocket, we only carry catastrophic insurance and must pay the first $10K out of pocket before any coverage kicks in. Thus, we have learned to become very healthy through diet, exercise and the use of alternative medicine. We do pay monthly for supplements which we feel are beneficial. We rarely go to the doctor. And if we do, we just pay the fee at the time of the visit. Once my son fell out of a tree and broke both arms. The cost was $5K which we paid with a check. And I take the kids to the dentist every four months for a checkup and cleaning which will hopefully cut down on dental bills in the long run.

And even $100 per gallon is still pretty cheap when you consider it is the same amount of energy as working 500 hours in a field. It's 20 cents per hour. How much would you be willing to pay someone for 500 hours of hard work? That's what a gallon is really worth.

We are already getting by on less than 10 gallons of gas a month, but I would get an electric plug in hybrid vehicle ASAP!

We are fortunate here in the Pacific Northwest to have a massive hydroelectric dam system that is quickly being supplemented with wind farms. When the wind blows they cut back water flow through the dams storing water- in effect a battery storage of the wind power. Then, when the wind stops they have extra water to meet base and peak load grid power. Studies have shown capacity exists for a massive use of plug-in hybrid cars and light trucks to be recharged at night. These dams also provide electricity for pumping water to irrigation projects for growing our food. We just joined a CSA = "Community Supported Agriculturre" group where a local farmer is growing fresh vegetables and we now get a box of fresh produce each week for us city dwellers.

The deserts of Eastern Washington and Oregon have massive potential to add solar electricity. Instead of the current plans to build more coal fired base load plants, I support adding more nuclear power to the one existing nuclear plant safely operating on the 600 square mile Hanford nuclear reservation ( A WW II Manhattan project site), as an interim measure so we can continue to export electricity to California while meeting expanding needs here.

The city council of Portland Oregon has already committed to a 50 percent reduction in oil and natural gas use over 25 years with a detailed plans available at:


I don't see $100 a gallon gas as doomsday, but rather forcing us to return to our roots of the "can do" people who came by the wagon trains on the Oregon Trail and settled the Northwest. Combining their hard work ethic, with a new application of modern technology, I see a different new world beginning right now around us. Rising gas prices are the wakeup call that is needed to convince people this is for real!

According to the CIA fact book the global GDP at official rates is about $US 145 billion per day.

If we are consuming 87 million barrels oil per day that would put a maximum price in inflation adjusted dollars of less than $1660 per barrel (the point at which the price of oil purchased = global GDP)

In reality, I can't see how spending more than say 25% of total global GDP on oil could be sustained for any significant length of time (obviously just a wild ass guess, feel free to suggest a better number) i.e. what would the global flow of goods and services within such an economy look like?, so that would bring us to about $400 per barrel oil.

This would imply, other things being equal, a maximum inflation adjusted US gasoline price of something like $US 12 - 14 a gallon (i.e. a little more than 3 X the current price) unless I'm missing something. In fact now that biofuel has linked food and fuel prices, and food production, the food price increase this suggests probably leads to global social failure from famine at a significantly lower fuel price than this, but maybe that's making the thought experiment too realistic .

Robert: What I take from this is that the "oil system" will fail quite some time before the absolute price of fuel will be insurmountable for folks in your class, and that its hard to have a meaningful discussion about $100 per gallon.

its hard to have a meaningful discussion about $100 per gallon.

The number itself is not that important. I could have chosen $20 or $1,000. I just tried to put it out there far enough that you have to dig deep and make tough choices.

Some people will have to dig deep and make tough choices and others won't. It depends on if they are prepared.

Historically corn has sold for about 1 to 3 times the price of a gallon of gas. Even now a bushel of corn at the local price of $5.50 buys just more than 1 gallon of gas and a little more of ethanol.

$100 gas should mean $125 or more per bushel corn. I will sell a bushel of my corn and buy a gallon of gas/ethanol just as I do now.

Robert: I'll work this in US measure, though I am in Canada, since these are the units the problem is stated in.

I drive a 250cc Scooter (Honda Big Ruckus) that gets a combined city/highway as I drive it of about 68 miles per gallon, and I travel about 10K miles per year, so my fuel consumption is about 150 gallons or $600 per year now.

If you agree with my position from my last post that oil prices somewhere around $400 per bbl in 2008 dollars are as high as the price can go before the global economy disintegrates, then the worst I have to worry about in terms of vehicle fuel prices is finding another $1900 per year. Manageable. (I don't own a car and have not boarded an aircraft in the last 3 years).

I'm going into this because I think your thought experiment has a nasty inaccurate message built into it (not intentional I'm sure) which is that folks will be cued by skyrocketing fuel prices (i.e. $100 per gallon) that the "problem days" have arrived, in fact it seems to me that the crisis will be not the price per gallon but the total amount spent, and the system will fail while fuel is still "affordable" to many of us,because we are some combination of rich, or modest in our use of it.

That's an interesting thought exercise, but I'd say this is a case where "all other things being equal" doesn't hold. In particular, consumption would fall dramatically, so I don't think you can really use 87 Mb/d as the figure.

In the US at least, we're just barely reaching the point where people are starting to take EPA mpg estimates into account when purchasing a car. I would imagine that we could cut consumption by a factor of two or three with little real pain (albeit with lots of whining).

Yes 12-14 USD/ gallon seems more reasonable, which would make perhaps 18 USD here in Europe with our taxes. That would not change my consumption or life much at all. And i have a small car and a small floatplane, and i will not quit flying.

Edit: And i have already been preparing for this with the small car and E-bikes etc. I count on theese high prices.

As has already been noted, the current worldwide industrial society would utterly collapse long, long before any scenario featuring $100/gallon for gas. Indeed, that valuation would never be reached because no currently recognizable system of assigning commodity costs would remain. And, most assuredly, such costs would not be measured by the dollar, which would have long since bit the dust.

It would be a Mad Max situation with the unlucky survivors, in severely reduced numbers, fighting to the death over food and water resources. After a period of epidemic violence, when the unfit would gradually be culled, mankind would settle into groups of heavily fortified, extremely xenophobic village communities.

Forget the rosy dreams of electronic vehicles and high-tech bicycles. The transitory and ultimately resulting society would be far too unorganized and chaotic to create such things.

I'ts refreshing to see a post from someone else who is under no illusion of what our future could be like.

Wind turbines and Lion batts, OTEC, tar, ethanol, SPV, PHEV, nuclear etc ad nauseum. It too late for any of that to alter the course of the Titanic. Re-arranging the deck chairs?, no. Its more like 'it doesn't matter if the ship sinks, our corpses will float'.

Fuel price inelasticity is often used to explain rising prices, ok I can see that. The thing with elastic is that at some point it'll just suddenly - snap.

There was an older post here ( with a nice graph, which I frustratingly cannot find ) which conjectured that instead of civilisation gradually declining along with oil depletion, there could be a backlash event which drives society almost immediately in to the olduvai gorge.


to put it simply, pre-industrial life style for the poor. the rich might be able to maintain a life style similar to a average middle class at the low end, and a plantation owner but with modern equipment on the high end.

the united states as we know it now will cease, though what it will look like is anyone's guess. it could of fractured by this point or it could of gone into a hard fascism state rather then the soft one we have now.

Your hypothetical scenario is a good exercise. Considering the extremes of a subject matter provides a window into the wide range of possibilities that could arise. More importantly it illustrates a point I've been trying in vein to make for quite some time. That there must be a threshold of price for energy, past which our collective economy is no longer viable.

I'm sure that threshold is lower than 100 dollars a gallon, but exactly what that number is we cam only speculate. Yet it makes for interesting conjecture.

I've noticed a lot of people tend to figure what they personally could afford and then that somehow becomes the threshold they speculate is the limit. And if that person is super wealthy the threshold of course is quite high. However, we need to be cognizant of the fact that the economy is a collective experience. All of its parts must work hand in hand, so most people are occupied in a manner that meets their needs, and we all get the goods and services we need. As soon as the economy drops too far for 10-20% of the population, then the whole system becomes endangered by higher crime, increasing federal and state expenses, and at some threshold the system breaks down.

Hi Robert, that should be Kill-A-Watt, not Kill-O-Watt. The Amazon.com page has it wrong. I have the device sitting here right in front of me. (Well, actually, it's somewhere buried behind my refrigerator doing what it does best. :-)

I saw it first as Kill-A-Watt, but when I pulled up the link I assumed it was just a competing product. I will change it. Thanks.

Kill-a-watt: 3,420,000 Google hits
Kill-o-watt: 43,900 Google hits.

The great Google has spoken! :-)


The quick answer on the electricity for the US is for CSP (concentrating solar thermal) 800 gigawatts of baseload power will cost between 6 and 10 trillion dollars. This is based on figures published by European Solar energy agencies. But as this would be installed over a 50 year period, and in that time new solar capacity would be replacing conventional coal and nuclear installations that had reached their replacement dates the overall increase in investment would be minimal. On the petrol at $100 a gallon, there are so many other options far cheaper that would become viable as the price rose that petrol would be phased out well before it got to that.

i live in the north east. about 35 miles north west of NYC.
back in october of 07 i installed a 3kwh PV grid tied system.
what a mistake! i should have spend the $25k on high priced hookers like the ex gov-ner of new york did.
for the month april 19th to may 19th i produced 60 bucks worth of electricity. i can run a 1200 watt clothes dryer and a washing machine and heat (on demand only)water for free. that's it, clean clothes for one person per month. oh...in january and february it cost me $450 each month to heat the house. while wearing a jacket mind you. and taping plastic sheets over windows. very cold spring '08, march & april. what saved me 50% of electric was installing a wood burning stove in my fireplace.
recommend, dont get grid tied. get largest wattage panels and batteries you can afford.
right now i am studying a switch over from grid tied to stand alone.
the state of new jersey has given utilities a 15% rate increase, which effectively eats up all my PV generation. this is just the beginning.
$100/gal gasoline would multiply your electric bill 25 times. imagine paying $11,250 a month in the winter. if course my panels would produce $1500. I AM RICH! HOO-HOO!
i agree with others that $100/gal gas means mad max. although i live by a few state parks, i expect them to be denuded from wood burning
in less than a decade.can you say peak wood?

Buy a few goats for the lawn, get some chickens for eggs and white meat, learn to play Bridge, and get a crank-powered radio to keep up on what's going on. The lawn is already fenced for the goats (the garden will have to be blocked off), the van would make a great chicken coop, and playing Bridge would help me get to know the neighbors. The radio's is optional; in the event, ignorance might just be bliss.

You want sheep for the lawn. Goats will rip up the roots if you give them the chance.

"I don't want to make any assumptions on what would be happening in the economy as a whole"

In other words, assume everything else is business-as-usual but my energy costs went up by 25x. Obviously, sell the car and just take a taxi. They cost less than $5/mile around here (I think). Another option is that--with limitations--bicycles can be taken on the local commuter train and on some of the buses.

On another note, when does the price of energy go so high that a person would just give up even trying to use it. If I had an efficient gasoline motor strapped to a bicycle and could get 200 MPG at the normal pedaling speed of 15 MPH it would cost me $7.50 per hour of effortless transportation. If I were still making my current salary, that would be an affordable option. If I were only making a few dollars an hour, even the most efficient motorized bicycle wouldn't be worth it.

As an abstract exercise, obviously the question as phrased assumes everything else remains as is while the gasoline variable goes to $100/gal (or whatever outrageously high price). An obviously absurd scenario.

So, given the strictest parameters, I would just switch to diesel :-)
But, all these things are connected. Assuming one would have a job to 'go to' in this scenario is very dubious. Assuming gasoline (or diesel) would be available at all is dubious.

Altogether, IMO, not an exercise I would spend much time on, given that the variables we are actually dealing with are changing daily and routinely confounding the most prescient among us.

Well, we are retired and the house and car are paid for, so, as long as the gov't pays Social Security, we could probably make one run per month to town (2 gallon round trip) for food and other necessaries. Now we make one trip a week, but it could be done.

We heat with wood and would still be able to operate the chainsaw. We have a garden and chickens to help with food, but not enough to feed us without the store.

If the electricity fails we have a solar oven for sunny days, wood stove for cold days.

If society breaks down entirely, I don't imagine we would survive, but we are in our seventies and have lived in the most prosperous era this country has or will ever have, so that's OK. I worry about the young, but perhaps they are better able to cope.

I enjoy all your posts, Robert, and the mind behind them, so take the following meander in that vein on a morning after too-little sleep...

$100 gas couldn't evolve gradually with all else remaining the same any more than a 747 fuselage could be expected to fly next year with no wings attached. In the real complex evolving world, things are crucially dependent on other things. However, as you say, this is just a thought experiment.

The only non-evolving way for gas in the USA to get to $100 I can think of would be (a) a relatively fast $95/gal gas tax (I'm for it), or (b) simple relatively abrupt scarcity from XYZ calamities causing fuel to be sold like moonshine outside what we think of as 'normal' distribution channels, on a black market. In the case of (a) it'd be interesting watching the secession wars and there's no way I'd be seen using gas even if I had any.

In the case of (b), use of gasoline for anything but urgent necessities would be very conspicuous; running a generator or a chain saw when there is silence otherwise is a rather clarion call for attention. That attention would be from many people who CAN'T afford $100 gas. The models for "use of hideously expensive gas on the black market" can be seen in Iraq and elsewhere: you use it only in "safe" places where people can't "get" you or take it from you, unless you're protected by the warlord. But there's no warlord in this thought experiment... though there likely soon would be. Indeed, that's who'd be selling the gas.

If gas were $100/gal, most people couldn't afford any. The average savings in the USA is vastly negative last time I looked, and with property values going inexorably down, most will be in debt. These debtors will also have a feeling of entitlement - why would they lose it? - we haven't posited universal love and understanding for this thought experiment. Thus, I think one would either need to travel by car fairly well-armed (ie, the person riding shotgun actually HAVING a shotgun) OR be prepared to offer free rides to everyone you pass. The 'free rides' deal would not be "until all 5 seats are full", it'd be everyone you pass. I think a "trick or treat" social dynamic would rapily evolve whereby those walking would heave stones or shoot bullets at anyone driving, unless (a) you stop to pick them up or (b) there are already enough riders that if you throw a stone the 15 people already on the car would shoot back or get off and beat you up. Sort of the mad max version of a HOV lane.

I would also expect impromptu "tollgates" to be laid across most roads as you see emergent in most places with scarce resources, such as Somalia, etc. Local militias, warlords, and anyone who can get away with it (including corrupt government officials with a veneer of authority) will put chokepoints across roads and demand something to get by them. They will have good positions to shoot from and your being armed will not even that out. If they hope to be sustainable (ha) maybe they'll just take half of whatever you have in each direction.

This dynamic being what it is, one would presumably not wish to drive a lot, because a lot of people will be pissed that you can even if they don't need to GO anywhere. ( I once read that one of the major expenses of the goodyear blimp each year is patching all the bullet holes from flying over the US. Large numbers of people shoot it NOW, presumably after running some sort of shoot/no shoot/consequences heuristic in their inbred minds.)

On a related note, other than Mormons, few USA residents store food, fuel, or anything useful, but something like half have guns and ammo. Thus, starting up your chainsaw will cause a number of pissed-off people with guns to spontaneously ask themselves "some creep has a chainsaw! do I want a chainsaw?" and "wonder what else the chainsaw creep has I might want?" and "ooo... he paid $100/gallon for that gas. He's rich and undeserving. Lock and load."

So I'm thinking that gasoline use in that case would be for armed emergency medical runs - most people will continue to honor a siren, and it would also be a signal that the occupants are on a life and death trip and are more likely to shoot you if you impede their progress - or for well-armed trips to get supplies, where well-armed means automatic rifles visible. Other than that, I wouldn't use any.

Solar panels and storage batteries will be useful, but if you aren't in a walled compound you'd need to exercise some stealth to keep anyone from knowing you have them. And again, it's highly unlikely that solar panels would get CHEAPER in such a world due to receding horizons effects. All else remaining the same, the increased demand would make them commensurately more expensive. They may now be as cheap as they ever will be, even if new designs are developed, since the demand will presumably far outpace supply.

At $100/gallon, I think molotov cocktails would be one of the primary uses, so YMMV when firing up the SUV.

So I'd probably sit at home, wait for the secession/succession wars and warlord skirmishes to pass, and keep a very low profile. Because when gas is $100 in the USA, using it will in most cases be a bad idea.

Yeah coz this sort of thing happened in depression USA, modern Delhi/Joburg etc. IF the goverment falls then maybe but until then there will be trained men with grenades and full auto assault rifles confiscating your pop pistol and hauling you off to a jail compound for breaking the curfew.
Short of an all-out Dawn Of The Dead zombie attack this isn't happening, survival fantasists.
As someone else said - pre-industrial crap for the poor and modern middle class for the rich and no middle class at all. Don't have $100m+ in balanced assets ? Welcome to your $100 future.

My guess is that life would be like living in a country 25x less wealthy than our own.

That's exactly what I am wondering.

Can we assume that US can "safely" rollback to per-capita fuel consumption of India or China?
Where the purchasing power of average salary is a few gallons each month.

Where you get things like 4 people riding on one 100cc bike to work.

Collectivo taxis throughout South America ... a dozen strangers sitting in an SUV or more likely a beat up older car driven by some enterprising soul, on a posted route. Chickens etc on your lap. It works, more reliably than public transportation. No-one goes until full, enough $ for some gas.

Well first of all Robert this is a silly exercise because gas will never go over 8$ of gallon in the US, why, because we have corn.

I don't think you guys at the oil drum but check out these new industry numbers, the efficiency's are amazing...

Ridiculous Ethanol Mill Efficiency's

This is going to make things A LOT easier on all of us.

If ya need to I'll go over the numbers..

take a 1 reindeer hoof 18,000 btu's
take 4 lbs pixy dust 32,000 btu's
get a nose hair from Cher 7,800 btu's

now the average US corn harvest is approximately 755 bushels per square foot, and you can get a yield of 6 barrels per bushel of high quality super ethanol. (energy density is 4 times that of weapons grade uranium)

So you add all your inputs 18,000 + 32,000 + 7,800 and do a Eroi calculation

I'm going to estimate since rounding is real hard,

anyway that's around 9000:1 EROI input, the USDA studies are flawed and oil companies are big a mean and scary and are out to get ya

lol, ummm actually, On a more serious note

I wouldn't work anywhere where I couldn't bike or walk to work. I might actually invest in a sailboat instead of a house, and work on the coast, the wind is cheaper than gas I'm assuming. Also I would try to buy a lot of coastal land to grow some food near my boat, maybe coastal land prices will go down considerable with sea level rises and an economic severe recession. I wouldn't need to much else I guess, I would try to completely eliminate energy cost from my life, although that's easier for me since I'm a young single guy.. If I still lived in Oklahoma, I'd try to get a cheaper flat close to work and get a motorcycle or a bike for transportation, I might get another part time job that is related to food just for the connections and maybe discounts. I would definitely cut back on hardly any heating in the winter, just wear more clothes inside, and I would try to keep the air conditioner on as little as I could stand, I honestly don't like heat so much, so maybe a move northward is in order. I would pursue less energy intensive entertainment, for instance I would go fishing, rock climbing or urban climbing over going to the movies. I actually learned a bit from a guy who supposedly lived in Argentina during the Argentine hyper-inflationary crash back in 1999. A lot of things are useful from this and a few things are counter-intuitive. I would get some good LED head lamps, rechargeable batteries and a crank charger for power outages, also I would make sure I had my computer and dvd player and lots of movies ect. Many people in Argentina relied on video games and movies for entertainment because crime rates had climbed exponentially, police were corrupt and often searching for bribes, and it wasn't to safe to be going out places. I'm not sure if it's legit or not, It seems like it, but you should read it , it's really eye-opening and includes so many things you wouldn't think about. The whole goal for my later life, I wouldn't have any children unless I was happy with the state of the world, but maybe a wife and a dog, would be getting a decent plot of good land where I could garden and raise horses and do metal-working (plenty of excess metal's floating around I bet). I encourage you to read it Robert, when you have some time.


...where can I get some of these nose hairs? (And don't tell me nosehairs.com, because I've already tried.)

At $100 a gallon the drop off in automobile/truck use will be so great and our highways and streets so little used that we can justify mining those millions of miles of roadway for their oil. Asphalt has gotta have better payback than oil sands and shale and has the benefit of returning millions of square mileage to agriculture use and wild spaces. I don't know if I'm serious or not.

Hot water seems pretty optional. I can see living without it. A lot of people might turn off their hot water heaters. The biggest problem that poses is with body cleaning. How about boiling some water to use with a sponge bath?

Also, use clothes lines rather than clothes dryers.

Getting to know people on-site: Sure, you can do that now. But what happens with people who take jobs after the huge price increase? A lot of the banked up face-to-face time is like a depleting asset. People leave jobs. New people come in. How to get to know them?

I see this a lot in big corps with their musical chairs of moving managers around every few years. How can the new guy visit the regional offices and research facilities?

Last weekend we consumed the first car fuel this year, 35 litres of Diesel in a rented car. I will probably rent a car again, one or two times this year. I ride 5,000 - 6,000 km a year on my bicycle, and so does my wife. We don't own a car.

But that doesn't mean much; we (a family of 2 adults, 4 kids) are an exception in Germany. If gas was selling for $100 we would have had to pay 600 Euros only for gas the last weekend - no way.
My parents in law simply would have had to celebrate without us - or choose a less remote place.

I wouldn't care much about gas at $100. Life would be a little more uncomfortable, yes. Put that way - we are living a life today that may be the life of many in the future. (Not a bad life, though. But, of course everything would become way more expensive at $100/gallon. So everyone would be affected, whether he drives or not.)

I love thought games! They are really useful. Thanks for posting this, RR.

Starting point:

- $100 a gallon gasoline (prices increase to $100 over next 5 years)
- other fossil fuel sources (coal, gas, etc.) follow suit
- alternative (non-fossil fuel) energy sources would follow this trend

Assuming no collapse and a semi-functioning society...

1. I'd drive nowhere, not even via mass transit (incl. rail). I just couldn't afford any of those, unless they were extremely heavily subsidized. I'd walk/bike where I could and just not go to other places.

2. Obviously, no flying for me.

3. I'd buy local 2nd hand, because I couldn't afford the imported stuff at those logistics prices, unless boats went back to sails (which would still raise the prices substantially)

4. I'd use about 1/5th or less of the electricity I use now, because due to primary fuel price/shortages and surging compensative electricity use, the price of electricity would be too high. Sure, I've tried hedging against electricity price hikes by buying alternative electricity bill with a guaranteed fixed price, but each such contract is only good for two years after which I could not get a decent price anymore.

5. I'd buy seasonal local produce, eat even less, and be near 100% vegetarian in my diet with some added local fish thrown in occasionally. Absolutely no beef/pork. Couldn't afford it at those price levels (remember, all primary fuels have increased remarkably).

6. All in all, I'd share a lot, re-use and recycle everything, throw away very little, barter with whatever I didn't need and would probably be still employed in the energy sector thinking furiously of opportunities and any new added risks.

Other than that, it's really hard to imagine.

I'm sure that if things ever turn out near $100 USD gasoline, my above thinking would probably turn out to be completely wrong :D

"What If Gas Cost $100 a Gallon?"

So oil would be $3,000+/bbl in today's dollars?

In that case it would stay in the ground.

It would most certainly not stay in the ground at those prices. $3000/barrel would (probably) mean huge profit for whom ever could find oil. Assuming that the price is not controlled to be $100/gallon then that means someone is willing to buy the oil at that price (military/government maybe?). Think "Invisible Hand".


In 2005 I became aware that peak oil was for all intents and purposes imminent. So I began to move to higher energy efficiency. I chose to go for efficiency gains in descending order of magnitude in order to be as best prepared as possible should events move faster than I anticipated.

First was to give up my 13mpg off road pickup and buy a hybrid. I bought the Insight as soon as I found out Honda was discontinuing them.

Your thought experiment is similar to one I was doing just yesterday. I compared the cost of fuel/commuting for my old truck to the cost of the Insight and realized that gas would have to be $10 per gallon in order for me to be paying the same as I would be with the truck. Frankly I could still commute to work in the Insight at $100 per gallon (I burn .2 gallons each way). But I doubt that I would drive anyway..I would probably ride my bicycle, it's only 13 miles anyway.

Shopping I can already accomplish with my bicycle cargo trailer. I use it already on weekends for the 1 mile trip to the supermarket, and sometimes to the hardware store too.

I have already installed the solar water heater. I suggest you go for it. What I did was installed one that stores the water in the heating tubes (40 gallons). The solar heater is in series with my gas water heater (also 40 gallons). On sunny days the gas water heater does not fire up. I always have the gas back-up in case of large demand or cloudy weather.

I have installed solar forced air heating as a boost to my gas space heating. Two panels on my roof contain a solar powered fans that come on when the sun shines. I live in Los Angeles, so a great deal of heat is not really needed. The two panels keep my small (thoroughly insulated, double pane windowed) house warm enough to cut my gas heating in half.

This summer I get my grid-tie PV system (3kw). Contracts signed, just awaiting plan check.

Finally, I have a solar oven. It's a sunny day in Los Angeles so I'm using it right now to cook a small chicken with rice, onions and mushrooms (sage and cilantro seasoning...yum!).


Hm. The greatest worry would be food prices. I live in a rented apartment and I would not be able to produce but a minuscule proportion of what I consume. Arable land prices near densely populated areas would skyrocket, so renting a patch of land wouldn't be a cheap solution either. I would probably have to move into a smaller apartment or sublet a room, since heating costs would translate into a huge rise in rent. (We have district heating, but the heat is mostly fossil fuel generated.)

I would have gotten rid of my car way before fuel prices got to those levels (I'm considering letting go of it already). I live within a walking distance from my workplace (and I am pretty sure I could keep my work even at those extreme conditions). I own a summer cabin by the sea and a small motorboat; I would probably mothball the outboard motor and row the boat. Hm, I might be able to produce some food in the land surrounding my summer house; irrigation would be the greatest issue.

I would be way more active in gathering mushrooms and other wild-growing foodstuffs, but then, I think, so would everyone else. (In Finland we have a curious legal concept of "everyman's rights" which includes the right to gather wild berries and mushrooms everywhere outside populated areas, regardless of who owns the land.) The fishery situation is alarming already at the moment, but some less highly appreciated, but still edible fishes, such as roach, are still numerous, and probably will be.

Relatively, I think I would be rather well off. I live in a small city surrounded by farmland, my risk of losing my employment is very close to zero, I am in good health, and I am fairly resourceful, although not to the extent some of the TOD readers are.

People seem to forget how wind rich this country is. In western NC we've estimated we could supply up to 30% of local electricity needs with a couple of dozen turbines on mountain tops. If you expand to large coastal and and mountain top construction of wind farms, and assuming a continued development of the technology, wind could meet as much of 30% of the NC's energy needs.

Now if we were to go full industrial scale we could almost become a net exporter of energy.

Every coastal, mountain, or plains state has similar resources to one degree or another. And the desert states have massive solar potential. Not to mention half a dozen other alternative energy sources including tidal and nuclear which have massive potential.

Why would $100 a gallon gas be a problem, provided it didn't arrive overnight?

We may see $100 a gallon gas in the next 20 years, but if we have time to adapt and can see it coming then there is no reason for a mad max scenario. Gas would simply become a hyper expensive commodity for the wealthy to play with in their antique cars. Everything would go electric in one fashion or another. Towns would consolidate, trains would come back into vogue, and the suburbs would disappear.

But, providing if a development of fast charging electric vehicles and reliable and efficient renewable power generation and distribution takes place we may see very little overall shift.

Thanks gerbal, for reminding us of our energy riches. Long before $100/gal, people would get serious about wind and solar. There is far more solar in the southwest USA than we would ever need, and we know how to get it

solar thermal-hvdc- pumped hydro storage= all we need, forever.

AND not to forget- most of the things we do now and spend our children's planet on are not only not needed at all but are atually destructive to our health and happiness. Think of the gigaabucks devoted to ADVERTIZING! Gawd! If somebody needs to advertize it, does that not in itself say it ain't needed?

Makes me sick.

Back to that solar stirling- huge amount of pure fun.

PS. don't waste time charging batteries, change 'em out at the instant battery replace station. In you go, robot grabs depleted battery, chunks in a fully charged one, and off you go. 20 seconds and 10 bucks. 'Smatter with you people?

The trouble is time. If we have twenty years, then all that you say is possible. At five years, it will be a "come as you are" party.

WNC could be the Saudi Arabia of wind energy for the whole SE USA. The problem, of course, is that nobody wants to see the views spoiled. How desperate do things need to get before attitudes start to change?

No doubt I would have to fall upon the ceteris paribus assumption of the $100 a gallon, because if not everything would be barking mad and suicidal. Well, O.K. Maybe not, but still, that assumption keeps things nice and clean. I think that was RR's aim, anyways.

I am a student in Dallas and currently live on-campus. I own a vehicle (40mpg japanese) and drive it maybe twice a week to get groceries and work my financial errands (all in a probably 5 mile radius). As far as my driving habits, I would easily bike mostly anywhere (given the adaptations for hauling around more stuffs in the bike). The university has a bus route that connects to the DART system, but given the high price I don't know how affordable that would be. Supposing the DART isn't too expensive in itself, one can bike/rail all the way downtown without great difficulty. Alas, the problem starts where the DART ends. Another problem would be rent, though. Maintenance and A/C costs would be exuberantly expensive, forcing me to room with perhaps, say another 7 blokes in a nearby apartment to cope with rising costs. Other than that and extreme camaraderie, I wouldn't foresee that many changes in my lifestyle. Then again, low/no income students aren't very greedy energy consumers.

Upon reflection:

Move to an apartment across the street from my employer.

But first choose a job in a port city or a river city near a rail line.

Those first two steps are aimed at reducing my need for transportation fuel to move myself and also to move goods to where I can buy them. That's got to be the first priority. Live somewhere that requires minimal energy to power my life.

Another thought: Live somewhere that has less extreme weather in order to reduce heating and cooling costs.

I've followed this site for about 2 years now, but this is my first post.

Anyway, it's impossible to hold $100/gal gas in isolation. At that price diesel is, by your rules, probably around $110, meaning its around $15 a pound. I've done this sort of thought experiment before, and came up with the rule that plant oils (soybean, palm, canola, whatever) must also be at least $15 a pound, since besides being easily converted to a fuel it can be used as food, cosmetics (though this demand will likely fall), and many other things. Its some law of economics that if a commodity has multiple uses, it'll be valued higher than if it has a single use. Think of it another way, at $110 per gallon of diesel, if you can convert soybean oil to diesel profitably, you'll go all out till you push up the price to parity (cost of producing biodiesel = cost of diesel), and people at this point would probably value food over oil. At $15 a lb of plant oil, a bushel of soybeans has a value of no less than $300, minus crushing costs.

Likewise, ethanol on an energy content basis would be around $60, meaning a bushel of corn is at least worth around $180 minus refining costs (which will be significant, but historically farmers look for the price of corn to be about 2/5 that of soybeans), compared to $5-6 now. A single pound of beef would need $42 (or $28 at 2/5 the price of the above soybean figure) in corn alone to be grown to market size.

At $180 a bushel of corn, or $300 a bushel of soybeans, do you think that the acreage, and therefore supply, of wheat, rice, or other staple crops that don't convert as easily into fuel will be maintained? Bottom line, food prices skyrocket.

Anyway, that's Eric's Theory of Peak Oil-Induced Starvation, that rising oil prices will increase food costs and reduce supply due to conversion, regardless of subsidy schemes. (I've seen this issue danced around a lot, but never explicitly laid out, and often saying the food price problem would be fixed with removal of subsidies, so I took the liberty of naming it.) We won't need Western subsidies of biofuels to starve the world. Peak oil will eventually provide plenty of economic incentives on its own.

I'm interested in thoughts, critiques, and comments on this too.

I think this in a nutshell says why oil will be rationed long b4 prices get to these levels. In order to allocate resouces to the food production segment.

I wonder to what extent that would include the current distribution mechanism of malls/etc...

I could see more use of online shopping and electric truck delivery to the home.


Very interesting analysis. I suppose that most people would definitely be including some field corn and oilseeds (probably sunflowers, easiest oilseed to grow, harvest & process by hand) in their home gardening if they could possibly spare the room for it.

Let's first compare how gas was used when it was $0.90/gallon in US and as it now is $9.0/gallon in Europe.

US $0.90/gallon: huge trucks are being used by most of the people to commute over long distances, one car per family member.

Europe $9.0/gallon: most of the people use public transportation and those who don't, they drive short distances to work on efficient cars and plan their driving carefully. Families live very close to places where most family members work or go to school.

Portion of income a family uses for gas is still fairly small in both cases. And there was some inflation happening between those price points. So what I think will happen when it hits $100/gallon:

$100/gallon: accounting for inflation, this would be closer to $70/gallon in 2008 money. Totally just a guess. If that future family would allow gas to take 15% of income instead of 5%, it means they can still afford almost 1/3 of their gas usage. That is very little, as we started from current European gas (or more generically, energy) usage. But maybe that is within the limits of our imagination.

I just visited US. What a shock it was to see all those cars flowing on freeways. I did not remember it was that bad. There is definitely a lot to improve there.

It is inaccurate to say that "huge trucks are being used by most of the people to commute over long distances" SUVs make up maybe 10-20% of the vehicles on the road.

The difference between europe and the US is really part of the point. All the energy savings that have been implemented in europe over the last 50 years amount to a difference of 50% consumption compared to the US. Bringing the US to a level of oil consumption comparable to that of europe would be a 10 mb/d savings, or 12% of current world supply. That's also the equivalent of 4 years increase in demand from china.

SUVs may only be a small percentage, but they're a narrow category of light trucks. Total light trucks, which include pickups, minivans, full-size vans and SUVs, went from 24% to 53% of new vehicle sales between 1983 and 2003. If we assume the percentage of buyers using trucks for cargo or commercial use was a constant 25%, that's 29% of new vehicle buyers switching from cars to trucks for private passenger use. Minivans and SUVs alone accounted for 33.5% of new vehicle sales in 2003.


In 1983, cars accounted for 76.5 percent of new light-duty vehicles sold; in 2003, they accounted for only 47.2 percent. In addition, sales of subcompact cars, as a percent of total new vehicles sold, decreased from 20.5 percent in 1983 to 2.8 percent in 2003. Compact, midsize, and large car sales as a percent of total new light-duty vehicle sales have also declined.

Since 1983, sales of new light trucks, including SUVs, have increased significantly. In 2002, light trucks made up the majority of new light-duty vehicle sales. Increases in light truck sales over the past 20 years can be attributed to increased consumer demand for vehicle utility, seating capacity, ride height, and perceived safety. Coupled with low fuel prices, this trend has provided a favorable market for new light trucks, with sales of SUVs and minivans accounting for most of the increase in light truck sales. In 1983, SUVs accounted for 2.9 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales; in 2003, SUVs accounted for 27.0 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales and represented the largest segment of the light-duty vehicle market. Similarly, sales of minivans have grown dramatically. In 1983, minivans accounted for 0.1 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales; in 1994, they reached a peak share of 9.2 percent; and in 2003 their share was 6.5 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales

Excellent reply!

Accepting the 29% number, 29% != "most".

Many many light trucks and even some SUVs get mileage that is quite comparable to the bulk of normal cars. The toyota tacoma gets 20/27 mpg, the jeep compass gets 22/28.

This compares to say 20/27 for a mitsubishi galant, or 17/26 for a hyundai azera (semirandom "family sedans").

There are even a *lot* of cars on the "small car" list that don't do that well! Just pointing out that body style does not always equate to fuel consumption. The average fleet mileage for the US automotive fleet was if I recall 27 mpg (give or take 2). That really isn't as bad as many would have us think, it includes a whole lot of special purpose vehicles that are necessarily not maximally efficient.

Just pointing out here that for all the maligning that gets (justifiably) heaped on SUVs, they really represent a shockingly small percentage of the problem. What represents a MUCH larger percentage of the problem is the white picket fence. The single family house is the item that mandated all the cars, the strip malls, the roads, parking lots and generally suburbia. It is what makes public transport not work and what makes our cities sprawl.

Well, assuming there is a meaningful formal economy, both my husband and I could work entirely from home, assuming we could afford enough electric for the laptop and could keep an internet connection. For my husband this would probably involve making less money, but his university already has a large number of commuter students and online courses, and one of his projects is adapting his larger courses to web-only projects. So assuming that there's a state budget and state universities, he'd probably still have a job. Assuming anyone has any disposable income to spend on books, teaching people how to grow food and live a low energy life might be a growth industry ;-). With farming, I think the odds are we'd be better placed than most people - we hope.

But if neither of those is true, we'd probably make our income from the farm. Much of it is hilly, and well suited to seasonal meat and milk production, but we've already run a CSA, and are familiar with the work involved. Given that most of our family and friends are much more economically vulnerable than we are, we'd expect to fill every bedroom in our six bedroom (old farmhouse) home pretty quickly, and be able to expand the CSA with existing labor.

So assuming could still buy enough gas to make staple runs to Albany once every few months, I don't honestly see a huge problem for us personally - although there'd be a lot of suffering for people we care about, a lot of it psychic.

We can heat entirely with wood, and have enough land to take wood off of sustainably. Cooling isn't a problem. Our region is rural, with lots and lots of underused land - and about half the population is likely to leave as gas prices rise, so housing costs probably won't be high. I suspect almost all local services will crap out at that level - between the decline in the property tax base and the fact that most of the town costs cover plowing, road maintenence, and school transport and heating. So I would expect the regional rural schools to close.

This is the one real and serious hardship for us - my oldest son is autistic and gets a lot of very valuable services from his school. But with more family in the house and with the ability to trade resources, I suspect we could trade housing and food for someone with special education skills to help us. And that opens up another potential source of income for us - since both of us have been teachers for years, we could operate a school out of our home. There are lots of homeschoolers out here too, so it wouldn't take much to get the neighborhood educational apparatus up and running.

We have a manual pump for our well - the only one in our neighborhood. This would be a problem - most of my neighbors would only have water if they could afford the electricity for it, and our well won't support everyone in the area. But we could get rainwater collection set up - there are a bunch of old cisterns around, and I think this issue can be finessed in our high-rain environment. We don't usually need to irrigate at all here.

We have bicycles for ourselves and our kids that would easily permit us to visit nearby towns, but longer distances would require a major investment. I suspect our incentives to do so would be much, much lower, however. We could probably put enough of our homegrown into bicycle trailers and bike them the 20 miles or so to a population center, although I would not enjoy it until I got in better shape. It won't kill me though, and I suspect more likely we'd be able to afford to fill the trunk of our Taurus once in a while.

Food wouldn't be a problem - we already grow an awful lot of what we eat, and I suspect our trading position would be better than average. We'd grow more staples, but we already grow quite a lot of potatoes and some small grains.

By the end of the year we'll have our own and be able to sell lamb, goat, milk (not until the regs settle down, but I'm assuming that's probably true at $100 barrel), maple sugar, vegetables, fruit, eggs, chicken and turkey. The varieties of animals we have emphasize small ones, so we'll probably also sell breeding stock to suburban and urbanites wanting to raise their own - meat rabbits, dwarf goats, etc... Although for that purpose, I do hope we can afford some gas, since I don't much fancy biking with goats in the trailer ;-).

For goods, I think long before $100 a gallon, many people will have sold off their valuables, and there probably won't be many used goods around. We'll have to rely on stockpiles and what we can make, and hope that our food trades well in areas with more to sell off.

I think there's a fair chance we won't have any electricity, but we won't die from it. We've got a few solar powered lanterns, battery chargers and the like, and can make candles if we have to. We've got lots of warm blankets and sweaters, and I can make things likely to wear out quickly, like socks - and we've got the sheepy raw materials.

Security/Community - my neighborhood is quite cohesive, and has a lot of both know-how and people who will do what is necessary to feed their families. There are enough of us to have a patrolling system if needed for security, and most of us are armed, if it comes to that. The transition, if it happened quickly, would be tough on food reserves (although several of us store), but if there's any time at all to ramp up gardens, all the houses have way more land than most people can garden. We'll see people taking in family and probably strangers, in order to get enough hands to help work the land.

The thing is, it really wouldn't be that big a deal for us - the consequences would be much greater for the larger society.


The thing is, it really wouldn't be that big a deal for us - the consequences would be much greater for the larger society.

Same here. We don't have all the food production available, but...

Already we purchase our electricity from wind generation. Of course it's all in the same grid as coal, so as the price of that goes up so will our electricity. But at our current use of 5.5kWh/day compared to the Aussie average of 14kWh/day, it'd have to go up quite a bit to really hurt us. Our hot water and cooking are done with natural gas, I imagine we'd have to change to electric - I'm assuming solar hot water heating, the demand would far outstrip the supply. If not, we'd get that.

My spouse's work is 5km from here, she works for an auto design company. Presumably while the auto company as a whole goes down the toilet with $100/gallon fuel, its subsidiary design company will do alright since they'll be looking for low or no-fuel use designs. Already she bikes to work twice a week, she'd just do it five times a week instead.

My own job has office workers as customers, I'd expect a lot of that work to dry up in the general economic decline associated with $100/gal fuel; at best many of those office workers will be telecommuting so won't need my services.

If we both lose our jobs, we've a few years' wages in savings, which would keep us going for several years with our current lifestyle.

For society in general I've no doubt it'd be very disruptive. $100/gal drops affordability below the freezing point of industrial society. I'd expect it to turn us into a mixed-industrial economy if the price rise happened very quickly and persisted for some years.


Re. Schools

Assuming people didn't homeschool, which was a rarity, there were isolated schools in my area into the 50's (and I know of one that went into the 70's) where the teacher literally lived at the school during the school year - or throughout the year if they didn't have a summer job.

There were so many isolated "communities" that were leftover from the logging boom days where it was impossible to transport the students to a central school. These were K-? schools where kids went until they were needed on the ranch or to log to help the family income.

Over the last 30 years, there has been a lot of effort to re-establish both private and necessary small schools in my area. Part of this was because people hated "government" schools and also because they didn't want to spend several hours a day hauling kids to the bus stop. And, of course, there was far more local control on subject matter which was expected to be environmentally oriented.

I want to add parenthetically that there was a big row with the district's attorney when the district wanted to buy some land for a school where the water came from a spring where the district would have a 25% interest. Ah, the country.


I see a lot of people saying they would go to the store less often. Well, why go to the store at all? Why not order from the store (e.g. via a web site) and have a single vehicle from the store pass thru your neighborhood once or twice a month doing drop-offs?

Unless you get sick and need a drug from the drug store that you do not ordinarily take why the need for personal trips on short notice to go to stores?

Seems to me people could live within a mile of their employer. Then either walk to the store, take a bicycle, or get deliveries. There's little absolute need for personal gasoline-powered transportation.

Another possibility: I could see a couple of people from a neighborhood walking to the grocery store (or wherever there is still any food being sold) one a week, bringing a garden cart with them (and maybe a rifle), and buying a pooled order for the whole neighborhood. These duties could be rotated through several households over the course of a month, or those that still have jobs could pay those that make the trips a little bit for their trouble. If nobody has a garden cart, then I suspect that a couple of grocery carts could be "liberated" for the purpose.

Is some one of The Oil Drummers undertaking to capture and categorize all the suggestions here on this topic. I realize that there's a fair amount of chin music, but attempting to harvest the ideas out of all the postings might produce a good list.
Perhaps you could develop a format for listing an idea and then let the posters put their idea in that format so it can be entered into a database and possibly analyzed and re-discussed by all the brainy types who post at TOD.

Great question, Robert! In my case, the answer is, probably not much different. Given my circumstances in life, plus my ecological beliefs, I've decided that Peak Oil for Hans Noeldner has already occurred and the faster I get down the downslope, the better. Below is a snippet from a letter to the editor of the Madison Capital Times which was printed recently. For those of us who believe in the necessity of (as Kunstler would say) "Other Arrangements", the imperative is clear: To establish a public conversation of REAL citizenship.

Excerpt from letter

Citizens will not see gasoline as cheap no matter what the pump register “says”. Why? Because we will see the costs written in blood on gasoline pump handles, the costs written on the sky with global warming, the costs written on the landscape with Earth-suffocating pavement, and the costs written on humanity with isolation and obesity and the destruction of healthy, purposeful self-locomotion. Citizens will not need dollars and cents to communicate these “externalities” to us.

Citizens will avoid touching gasoline pump handles as much as possible – it is one thing we can do personally. We will also point out the costs in blood and greenhouse gasses and suchlike to our families and friends, neighbors and business associates, co-workers and fellow congregants. True, right now most people are reluctant to acknowledge direct connections to their own behaviors. They say that the "little bit" they use here and there doesn't matter. They say that if they burn less oil, someone else will just burn more. And they insist on “rights” to consume and emit as much as they can personally afford.
Citizens will keep on standing for connections and responsibilities. And the people will join us.

Let's not forget that 70% of our economy is based upon consumer goods. Way before gas costs $100/gallon this part of the economy would collapse, and the corresponding poverty, starvation, crime and other nastiness associated with massive unemployment would rise exponentially in this country. This along with other factors means that we cannot conceive of a normally functioning world when fuel costs are that high since the world would be turned upside down.

If gas was even $20/gallon, I wonder what a gallon of milk would cost? ...$20?

Let's see, if gas were $100 a gallon, then oil would be $3,000+ a barrel.

But these aren't isolated or independent from the rest of the system, so what I might or might not do would depend on how other portions of the world would react to:
* massive layoffs
* massive bankruptcies
* massive product shortages
* governmental defaults
* trucking company failures
* food riots from empty shelves
* looting
* breakdown of law and order
* breakouts of disease, parasites, and disease vectors

Oh great, some of you say, just another doomer post. Well, when we're talking about gas becoming radically expensive, what we are really talking about energy becoming radically hard to get for every single person, organization, business, and government everywhere, at the same time.

So what would I most likely do if gas were $100 a gallon?


These things don't happen in a vacuum.

everyone suggesting that we should walk or bike or carpool or use commuter trains needs to realize that they're just playing 3 card monte with the finite amount of energy available for any given amount of activities. rising gas prices aren't a sign of gluttony but indemic of a bigger problem: overpopulation and dwindling resources/person in general.the burgeoning economies

Great thread robert!

At $100 a gal provided i still had a job, i would attempt to get either the train or tram, or ride a bicycle. I would imagine trains/trams to be so outrageously packed that may be easier said than done. I would have to ditch my car completely at that price but would consider a small engine motorcycle or scooter if i was still earning enough to justify the cost of fuel.

Heating i can live without, thanks to the magic of thermal underwear. (Although as they are woven from plastics made from oil new pairs would be completely unnafordable so id have to take good care of existing pairs). Aircon i can also live without provided its not 50C then i might have to build an underground bunker!

I can envisage food costs to be astronomical at those prices of oil so id do my best to grow as many vegies and herbs as my small suburban backyard will allow, or even attempting to grow plants on my roof.

If all else failed, if i lost my job or food was too expensive etc. im lucky enough to have many relatives with farms and I would probably go and live a subsistence lifestyle with them. It would be interesting to see how they faired with such extremely high prices of oil as they live in extremely different regions, i have 3 examples.

Most my family live in the grain belt of Australia which the land in a good year can provide many thousands of tons of cereals currently, but at $100 gal. the crop yield would very much depend on whether it could earn more than the huge fertilizer/ fuel bills for the large machinery which might still be possible if homegrown biofuels are used. In a drought year you can survive personally but no food would be provided for sale to the masses.

Other relatives live in the very green area of Tasmania, which can very dependably grow many different crops every year.(currently growing legal opiates/morphine poppies for drug companies but thats another story) However this is the kind of very productive land people leaving the cities will flock to and unfortunately there may not be enough to go round for most people to have their small patch for subsistence farming.

And last of all my 2nd cousin who owns and runs a cattle station of few million (yes million) acres in outback Australia. People will one day look back at the absurdity of his operation and wonder how it was ever possible let alone with $100 gal oil. They honestly let the cattle loose over an area so large i cant even imagine and muster the cattle with small single seat helicopters because, "its easier that way" once they roughly attain the % of cattle sought after they call it quits and leave the rest till the next muster. They often have to truck in water as well as every single other commodity hundreds of kilometers to the station. At oil prices that high outback australia will certainly be abandoned.

I think how commercial farming regions cope with oil prices that high will be paramount to the extent of lifestyle changes that I personally will have to make. They could be small and manageble to a complete shift in lifestyle, and nobody can say for certain how it will all turn out. (and if you can id like to know this weeks lotto numbers please :)

If diesel is $100 per gallon, it would be better for the farmers to burn wheat instead of using diesel


Part A.
Calculation of wheat price at $100 per gallon diesel:

a) http://www.extension.iastate.edu/AgDM/articles/duffy/DuffyMar00.htm (2000)
b) www.bae.uky.edu/Ext/Grain_Storage/Calculators/Control_Seed_Costs_to_Mana... (seed costs)
c) http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/financial/farm2005/cac40s02.html (fertilizer costs 2005)
d) www.extension.umn.edu/newsletters/ageconomist/components/ag237-693b.html
Minnesota is the number three wheat producing state in the U.S. In 1995, 2.25 million acres were planted, resulting in a crop worth $331 million. Farm-level fuel use averaged 7.2 gallons of diesel per acre, 0.9 gallon of gasoline, 0.8 gallon of LP gas, and 30 kWh of electricity.

I'll seperate out figures:

Current Costs:

Machinery: 60.00 @ 2000 prices. From (a), subtracting out fuel costs
Fuel: 9 @ $1/gallon. (d)
Seed: 12.00 @ 2005 Prices. (b)
Fertilizer: 33.41 @ 2005 prices (c)
Chemicals: 31.00 @ 2005 prices (c)
Labor: 22.09 @ 2000 prices (a)
Land: 120.00 @ 2000 prices. (a)

Total per acre: 286.4
At 40 bushels per acre (low estimate): 7.16 per bushel

$100/gallon Costs:

e) http://www.umass.edu/agcenter/census/Input-Price-Indeces.htm

Machinery: 60.00 x 1 = 60
Assuming abandoned cars/suvs keep price down
Fuel: 9 x 100 = 900.00 Direct input
Seed: 12 x 16 = 192 Using proportions (e)
Fertilizer: 33.41 x 13 = 434.33 Using proportions (e)
Chemicals: 31.00 x 13 = 403 Using proportions (e)
Labor: 22.09 x 1 = 22.09
Assuming Farming is the new dream job so labor costs don't change
Land: 120.00 x 1 = 120.00
Assuming Real estate crash so land remains the same price

Total cost per acre: 2131.09
At 40 bushels per acre (low estimate): 53.28 per bushel


Fuel prices paid by farmers rose by nearly 850 percent between 1970 and 2005.
During the same period, seed prices increased by 520 percent and fertilizer prices increased by 368 percent.

So if fuel goes up to 100/gallon then that's an increase of 2400 %
Let's say chemicals/seed goes up the same amount. 2400% in fuel would be about 1200% in chemicals/fertiliser cost. 2400% in fuel would be 1500% in seed costs


A typical gallon of diesel fuel stores about 130,000 Btu's (137150000) of chemical energy.
= 137150 Kj
A calorie is 4,186 Joules.
= 32764 Calories.

A bushel of wheat translates into 42 one-and-a-half pound loaves of bread

A loaf of bread has 220 calories per 100g. A loaf of bread is 675 grams. So a loaf of bread has 1485 calories.

42.5 x 1485 = 63112.5 Calories per bushel

In conclusion:

1 gallon of diesel costs about 2 bushels of wheat at $100 / gallon diesel.

1 gallon of diesel has 32764 calories
2 bushels of wheat have 126225 calories

Appendex I: Current figures

$4 per gallon of diesel vs $9 a bushel of wheat:

2.25 gallons of diesel to 1 bushel of wheat

73719 calories to 63112.5 calories.


You missed the point of this, it's to see what type of lifestyle changes people would make first, 100$ was just the same as saying it gets so expensive that you have to make lifestyle changes..

Robert: You're posts on the oildrum have always been outstanding, but you have gone off the deep end.

I think you need to rework your thought experiment.

It is not a question of what a globe trotting chemist will do to cope, the real question needs to be how does this affect the people who deliver groceries to your local store cope. Walking to the grocery store is pointless if it is an empty shell long since abandoned.

At what price does it become unprofitable to even go to work?
Especially for the poor. Minimum wage in the United States is $5.85 per hour. When gas reaches $5.85/gallon what happens?

Minimum wage in the United States is $5.85 per hour. When gas reaches $5.85/gallon what happens?


Gas is $9.50/gallon in the Netherlands.

No riots here.

They're used to it (high fuel prices), and they have better alternative transport options. Americans are crying poor because 'gas' is eying off US$4/gallon. Aussie motorists are screaming for blood, and it's only Au$1.60/L.

Aussie motorists are indeed bitching a lot, but that's what the middle classes do. If it's not fuel prices it's public transport prices or food prices or airline prices or taxes or being overlooked in the latest pre-election pork barrelling or interest rates or house prices being up or house prices being down.

It's always something, but in the end they don't actually do anything.

The question is not whether high enough fuel prices will cause people to bitch and moan, that's obvious - it's whether it'll change their behaviour.

Once more, it is all about the economics, isn't it? It is almost impossible to create a scenario for myself individually without knowing what the situation will be in the larger society. How much per week will I be making at my job? Am I assumng that gasoline prices have gone up by a 1500 times while my pay remainded exactly the same? Am I to assume that gasoline has gone up that much and no one in the marketplace has attempted to create an alternative transportation or vehicle system. Did I have any capital in the bank to begin making changes as I saw this situation developing?

It is much easier to me to play the game this way: Complete shortage for the individual (me), that is, completely cut off from being able to buy gasoline or Diesel, propane. NO PRICE ISSUES, fossul fuel simply cannot be gotten. This by the way, is actually a more likely scenario than than $100 gasoline price and could be brought on by terrorist attack in the Middle East, the clsing of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, or a regional war in the Middle East involving the major oil producing regions and the collapse of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. ZERO EXPORTS. NO GAS AVAILABLE. But for the sake of this argument, let's assume I have a little time available, say the 4 year interval which would put us out to 2012, and then out, no liquid fossil fuel available. Then what would I do?

First, I have to choose: Will my job still be there are will there be other jobs available close to where I work now? If so, relocate. I can get an apartment across the street from where I work, or buy a home right across the block BUT...I have to know that jobs will be available in the area. I live next to a military base, so there will probably always be something available, but it may not be much.

On heating the home, we live in a coal state. Electric will probably be available. I have used air conditioning only about 5 days in the last two years, so that is not a problem, and I can run heating very, very little (I have used my electric oven as a heater while I am cooking as much as anything else in the last 2 winters. After that, it will be pretty much walk anywhere I go, or the prospect of a little electric car or scooter, for anything that is further than a couple of miles. The whole thing centers on transportation and liquid fuel. I have to work where I live or live near where I work, one or the other. That's about all I can do.


Nobody thinks we are going to have to deal with gasoline at $100 a gallon.

Wrong! I do. Indeed, where else can it go? Where will it stabilize? What peaker can think it won't go to $100?

See my post above on farming for some nonsense that would happen if it hit $100 a gallon.

What would I do if gas was $100 per gallon?

1. I'm good as far as transport is concerned. Already, I barely drive my car ever. I think I fill the tank about once a month. I cycle to work and the local buses all run on biodiesel, so I can get to the store and carry a lot of groceries if I need to. Not that there would be anything on the shelves, but that is another matter I'll deal with later. Certainly, I'm not going to be planning any road trips. Simply out of the question.

2. What worries me are utility costs. So, let's do a quick guestimate: if gas is multiplied by a factor of 25, we should assume that natural gas and electricity are also going to increase by a factor of 25 in price. I currently spent roughly $100 per month on natural gas and electricity (this is an average over the year). So that would go up to $2500 per month. Basically my entire take home salary down the tubes. I need to scale back my home energy usage by a factor of 10. The way we tackle the problem is from the biggest culprit and work our way down.

2.a Space Conditioning: First, I already don't use an air conditioner. If you can't survive an ambient indoor night time temperature of 90F I don't have any sympathy for you. The vast majority of this planet's inhabitants manage just fine. So first point of order: just scrap the air conditioner, open the god-damned windows and use a box fan. Next is winter heating. A reasonable indoor temperature has to be maintained, otherwise the pipes freeze. Let's say 50F - 60F is bearable. It's darned cold, but bearable. I have a couple of trees I've been wanting to fell in my back yard. I'd buy an efficient wood stove with external air hookup and chop those trees down. They should give me enough wood for a few years. I'd chop the trees anyway because they would give me more space to grow vegetables (see "food" below). Savings: 95% - 100%.
2.b Water heating: Do without, or get by with very little. I'd say, turn off the water heater altogether in summer and set it to a luke-warm temperature in winter to make showering bearable. The washing machine has its own heater, and I would heat water on the stove for washing dishes. I could buy a passive solar water heating system, but I spent the money on the nice wood stove. So the solar option is out of the question. Savings: 80% - 90%
2.c Lighting: I already have CFLs installed, but there would have to be a strict policy about keeping unused lights off. Savings: 40% - 50%.
2.d Refrigerator: The other reason I don't want to buy the solar water heater is the refrigerator. Although the refrigerator is only the fourth-worst energy hog in the average house, this device may be all the difference between eating and not eating. My plan: Throw out my current refrigerator and buy a smaller dual compartment refrigerator and a large (efficient) chest freezer that would sit in the garage (the coldest part of the house). The majority of the refrigerator energy consumption comes from opening and closing the door. Solution: place a printed map of the fridge contents on the door of the fridge. All family members have to mentally rehearse what they need and where it is before they open the door. Savings: 50% - 80%.
2.e The rest: After that, we're playing a losing game with small percentages. I guess there will be less TV watched. (YES!!!) Less surfing the internet, posting silly comments on TOD (oops...). Earlier bed-time, rise with the sun (I like that). Winter cooking will be done on top of that wood stove. Summer will have a lot of cold dishes from the garden.

In summary, if I can kill the space conditioning and water heating problems, I think I can make that 90% cut. Life would not be super-comfortable, but I'm okay with that.

3. Food: My guess is at $100 per gallon gas, there is not going to be much food on the shelves, and if there is, it's going to be at least 10 times as expensive. I want to live, not starve, so here's the plan:

3.a I already have a 900 sq ft vegetable garden. I would remove the trees, and turn the rest of the lawn into a vegetable garden.
3.b I would encourage (and help with manual labor) all my neighbors to do the same (make their entire properties into vegetable gardens). There is strength in numbers and one person's surplus can balance out another's deficit.
3.c My house has a crawl space. I would brace the foundations and dig it deeper into a cellar. A root cellar is needed to store food in the winter.
3.d Find the local farmers (done some of this already) and make friends with them. Try and purchase things like grains directly from them.
3.e Buy a milling machine, a hand-cranked pasta maker, a canning machine and a few other odds and ends like that. Could mean the difference between going a little hungry and starving to death.
3.f Buy an air gun or something (reasonably non-lethal to humans) that I could use to kill rabbits and squirrels (and eat them too).

In summary, I think we could survive $100 gas and I could still hold down my job. (Assuming it was still there of course.) I think every spare minute of my day outside of work would be devoted in some way to my survival and that of my family, but it would be fun. Life would be very different from how it is now, that's for sure.

Very good thought experiment! I think you have probably hit most of the considerations right on.

I did a similar thought experiment 3 years ago. At that time I was burning 30-40,000 gallons of fuel a year (primarily heating oil for my apartments here in Fairbanks, Alaska). I was convinced as long ago as 1999 that the price of fuel would go to $10 a gallon by 2010 (still am), and so I urgently needed to get my fuel use down. I concluded coal would be the best interim fuel source (I expect it too will go sky high, just not as soon). So I have been pouring money (more than I can afford, really) into converting my buildings to burn coal. Since this runs $40,000+ per building, it has been a major undertaking. I've now got 4 buildings on coal and a 5th using waste vegetable oil. I'm converting 2 more this summer to coal, and selling the final two so I am hoping by the end of the year to be entirely off heating oil for heat.

My personal use of heating oil used to be 1,200 gallons a year to heat my home. The last time I filled the 500 gallon tank was 3 years ago, when my wife and I decided to use firewood as our primary heat. Last winter we only burned around 180 gallons of heating oil, or an 85% reduction in use. This was primarily as a convenience; if fuel was a lot higher we could have burned just wood or coal. (eg my wife was out of town for 3 weeks during cold weather so I used the majority of the fuel then.)

We do an enormous amount of driving to keep up with our far-flung rentals (55,000 miles last year!!!). 3 years ago we began attacking our high fuel use: we bought a diesel truck, which we make our own biodiesel for during the summer (still need to make that heated tank so the biodiesel won't jell when it cools off outside). We also bought a scooter that gets 100 mpg, so if fuel is ever $100 a gallon we can still drive around at $1 per mile. It'll hurt (a lot) but it would be economically feasible for us to drive our 55,000 miles a year. (I realize this sounds outrageously high, but 90% of this driving is related to the rental business; the only non-business trip involved a drive of 5,000 miles for vacation.)

My expectation is the limit of what people will be able to afford for fuel will be an average of $1 per mile (even with lots of car pooling, public transport, etc). So with our current vehicle fleet we will be looking at $20-$25 per gallon as a top price. Then as fuel economy rises, the price may rise beyond that, though I think alternatives may become cheap enough they will compete and even pull the price of fuel down.

Our first iteration on getting away from the high cost of fuel is almost done. We have nearly finished converting our buildings to coal or vegetable oil heat; for single-person driving we have the scooter, for family driving we have a hybrid (50 mpg if we are careful), and for hauling coal and firewood we have a biodiesel vehicle. I'm not sure what the next iteration will be; that will depend on what technology brings along. I'd really like to get an ultra-high mpg diesel vehicle and then grow our own biodiesel, but that is probably not very realistic.

As the crisis builds I expect very high mpg vehicles will become available (eg the Volkswagen 1-litre car--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_1-litre_car or the Aptera--http://www.aptera.com/) which get over 200 mpg. Using vegetable oil as a fuel source, such vehicles will need less than an acre to provide enough fuel for an entire year of driving for the typical 12,000 miles/year driver (eg using rape-seed oil--about 100 gallons per acre--you'd need about half an acre; oil palms at 2,000 gallons per acre are a lot more efficient, and algae oil the best yet at over 8,000 gallons per acre).

I think there are going to be several iterations of infrastructure change to deal with the energy crisis. For example I have moved from heating oil to coal in my rentals, and I expect as coal becomes more expensive other alternatives will become viable (geothermal? biofuel?) As long as the depletion rate is low enough there will be time to do these changes. If there isn't, we'll all be in trouble.

First, $100 a gallon is absurd. Supply and demand would kick in. No one would be able to pay that. However I think you mean this to be an absurd question. Think of $100 gasoline like a mathematician thinks of infinity. It's a really big number well outside of the range of numbers being considered.

What changes would I make? I simply wouldn't drive. But I have that luxury. I'm within 5 miles of everything I need, including where I work, and I already often ride my bicycle. We'd have to shut off the air conditioner and heater. Our winters wouldn't be bad, but Texas summers would be brutal.

However I might not even have to make these choices. Society would devolve into chaos long before we hit $100 gallon. Anyone found driving would have an armed, angry mob surrounding the car. Sure, people who can afford $2,000 visits to the gas station could afford armed guards, but even a car full of Navy SEALs would be no match for hungry, angry mob. I'm certain my company would shut down as would most others. Supermarkets wouldn't be able to stay open. They couldn't afford the diesel for their trucks and they too would have the armed mob problem. We would quite literally be partying like it was 1699.


Never say never. Check out what the price of petrol in Ugandan dollars.

Apparently you live in Uganda.

Actually I meant to say Zimbabwean dollars. $3600.
No I live in Australia, but I am a New Zealand sympathiser. Here in Aus petrol is tickling A$1.60 (US$5.47/US gallon). I think that the rest of the world is bemused by US "shock horror" of gas prices. Those guys have really made a rod for their back, have'nt they?

What I would like is to hear how you would cope with $100 a gallon gasoline.


Is the low-end job working at the co-op slinging hash $180 an hour? If so, my answer is raise prices.

If the wage is still $7.50 an hour - I'll be dodging bullets, moved out 'cuz my home will have been burned in the riots, or already dead because the rioting would be well underway. The lack of food will have many people upset.

I'd hope that my local Woolworths (Australian supermarket chain) had invested in a flywheel or battery-power delivery truck or two. I think that's a pretty safe bet. Instead of going to the shops, I'd do my grocery shopping through their website, which I sometimes do anyway when I'm busy. I'm not expecting any major problems for Woolworths to stock their shelves because (a) they'd have their short-distance delivery trucks, and their warehouse is in range, and (b) the national warehouse is on a train-line near a port. So no problems there. There are a lot of old people in the area who use the home-delivery service, which would probably evolve into being some teenagers ridding freight rickshaws around the suburbs.

I wouldn't drive my daughter to the station for her to get to school, she'd have to walk. But that's only 900 metres, and let's assume she's at least late primary school by the time this is an issue. So no problems there -- the train system is all-electric. My (just-past toddler) son would have to walk a similar distance to get to his school (it's near the station), but he's pretty strong so I think he'd manage.

There transport options to the church we go to aren't real good, since they're all bus-based. I think we'd change churches, or maybe as a church we might decide to splinter into a large bunch of small home groups. Perhaps we might iChat/Skype a church service to a bunch of disparate sites. We'd be only spread out over a couple of Unwired cells, so it could be done pretty cheaply.

Karen would catch the train to work as per usual. Maybe she'd move into insolvency rather than compliance, since there would be a lot more jobs in that. ;-)

I suppose I'd keep going with my existing clients. Most of them don't seem very oil-dependant, and I'm usually working remotely. The toll road owners in Melbourne might not be able to afford my services any more, or maybe tolls would become so expensive that my fees would become chump change. Obviously, I couldn't fly there, but there's an overnight train (leaves Strathfield at 8:51pm... at the moment I catch a plane at about 8:00pm and stay overnight when I need to go face-to-face), so that's no biggie. Motor insurance (another client) would be irrelevant, but other kinds of insurance would still go on. Dentistry would still happen regardless of the oil price; as would teaching, so those clients aren't going to go out of business.

I'd buy my sister an electric golf cart so that she can get to the station (same suburb as us, but further from the station). I wouldn't see my mother as often as we do now since the only public transport to her place is a bus, or an hour's walk from a station.

Power could be a small problem because so much of NSW's power comes from coal at the moment. We'll probably be putting solar panels up on the house anyway in the medium-term future because the roof needs replacing. I'll have to talk to the neighbours about whether they'd mind a wind-turbine.

So... what does $1000/barrel oil mean to me? A little bit more exercise for the children, a few extra nights on sleeper trains for me, a lateral career change for my wife. Funnily enough, the most significant direct impact would be on social activities -- visiting family and where I worship. Which would probably be the most jarring change -- the thing that would stand out as being "and this is how the world got worse after $1000/barrel oil... we don't get to spend time with the ZZZs any more or see their children grow up".

This seems hard for me to believe -- that I can't point to much in the way of day-to-day activities I do which are necessarily and directly oil-dependant. I know it's different for other people. What am I missing?

(P.S. If I'd had to have answered this question while I was in Silicon Valley... I honestly don't know how we would have coped if petrol had been $300-$400 per gallon. We barely coped with just one car. On the other hand, I can only remember taking one fossil-fuel powered journey in all the time I was in Zurich -- and that was only because my host insisted -- I was happy to take the train home after midnight.)

I think it's the indirect costs that will hit home, even if one isn't personally using a lot of oil. At these prices I won't be travelling overseas again. I don't have a car and I work locally. But the trains that I catch in Sydney will simply not be able to handle all the people who will want to use them so there will be serious issues with using them as much as I want.

There will be more buses but they'll be crowded and expensive at those prices. I'd certainly look at riding on the largely car empty roads. Electricity isn't generated by oil in Sydney so that should be OK. But will all the food I need be available in Sydney. Assuming yes, will I be able to afford it?

I'm a teacher so I'm reliant on the government and at those prices, the government will be suffering so the amount of money they will give me will drop.

My landlord already grows quite a bit of food and I'd help him with that as there's a fair bit of land out the back that he isn't cultivating. my family are also living locally and I'm certain one of my brothers would start doing some serious food growing under those conditions.

So my personal usage will drop to almost zero, consisting largely of occasional car sharing and bus riding. But the indirect hits on my employment and the cost of food and goods will be extremely large.

I'd hope that my local Woolworths (Australian supermarket chain) had invested in a flywheel or battery-power delivery truck or two. I think that's a pretty safe bet.

Not going to happen. Woolworths puts on a bit of a show about its environmental credentials, like recycling plastic shopping bags (fyi, they don't, actually), but at the core of the business, they are fixated by Growth. They strive to make things more efficient, rather than more robust. They ship goods from Sydney and Melbourne, because it's cheaper and more efficient to have certain items in certain warehouses, while at the same time maintaining a large number of regional distribution centers around the country. They have huge amounts of equipment sitting idle, and drawing power when they could be turned off (eg, the LCD's on each register (at least two per register) could be turned off at the end of trade or when the register is not manned, but you can't because the touchpad over the top blocks the power button!), but aren't. They light, heat, and cool huge areas of wasted space (high ceilings). Their Managers (even the ones who work in the cities) all get a new Commodore or Falcon every few years, instead of a smaller, more practical car. A few years back, they spent millions implementing a new method of delivering stock to the store (rollcages instead of pallets), and only afterwards discovered less work got done. They kept the rollcages anyway.
Many stores are alongside railway tracks, and a spur less than a hundred metres long could deliver wagons of stock each day, but they get trucks to deliver the stock.

No, I am confident Woolies will not invest in alternative trucks.

Thinking about the thought experiment, perhaps it could be re-phrased "at what price point will gas become unaffordable?"

Well, gasoline is a commodity that the majority pumpers must sell if they are to keep their populace 'happy'.

So producers are victims of the market.

The market is you and me. If the largest numbers of potential buyers - lets say the west (ignoring subsidised state producers) - can't afford your product, you are in deep trouble.

The price can only become infinitely high (exag) if the largest part of the pool of buyers has an infinitely high income.

In the west, the pool of 'very rich' is also 'very small'.

The middle income people have an upper bound on spending. The well known hierachy is food and warmth first.

So, depending on median incomes in a given western country, depending on the proportions of people renting vs mortgaged vs freehold, there is a variable bottom line 'drop off' point were there is insufficient residual income after food and warmth to pay for gasoline to get to work.

Of course, some bus/walk/cycle - and these proportions will increase. The relative proportions vary from country to country.

All the while, jobs are disappearing. As most western economies have a huge 'service' component,as discretionary spending shrinks, a large proportion of the job market shrinks. This feeds back on itself. Less work, less discretionary, more layoffs, less discretionary from a shrunken workforce etc.

In the face of this, the oil sellers must still sell oil. What will they do?

Counterintuitively, they will match price to 'demand'. As demand drops off, price drops off.

So, in the end, it is a race between geological shortage and job shortage.

Faced with this stressful situation, what will people do? This question is really what will most people in the west do? The obvious.

Economise. Localise. Worry. Panic. Feel angry. And in the end, organise.

There is no solution, but there are salves. Drugs, alcohol, and religion.



I've been lurking for about six months having had an epiphany via a search for "peak oil" on google and you tube. I find the whole peak oil thing overwhelming sometimes, when I think of my tiny island nation and the enormous challenges we face. Jamaica is a place most foreigners think of as some sort of paradise. A summary of the facts is available at http://www.jamaicans.com/childsguide/facts.shtml

Key points area: 4,411 square miles (Slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut), with a population 2.6 million, GDP per capita: US3,350, minimum wage: US170 per month. We are hugely dependent on fossil fuels, mainly petroleum and natural gas, to generate our electricity. I am not aware of any alternative fuels for transport apart from the golf carts (NG and electric) and a handful of Priuses. A pre-independence railway line between the capital city in the south and two port towns on the north coast has has been allowed to languish with the only remaining lines being,maintained by the bauxite mining companies to move caustic soda to the alumina plants and alumina back to the ports.

During the oil shocks of the 70s, we had a "democratic socialist" government that tried to protect the poor using the usual leftist methods of price controls and subsidies, the funding for the subsidies coming from the proceeds of a levy imposed on the North American aluminium companies who were mining bauxite at the time. One other export industry the sugar industry was nationalized with the result that 35 years later, Jamaica has what must be the most inefficient sugar industry in the world with a 30c per pound cost vs a world market price of 9c. Also nationalized was the local electric utility with the result that a lot of our plant is now decades past it's retirement date, ancient and inefficient. For a look at the official government energy policy see


Ever since our experiment with socialism in the 70s we have had negative economic growth, broken by a few years in the 80s under a different, less leftist administration. One of our best performing sectors has been tourism which might be the only sector that has bucked the trend and is a major employer and hard currency earner. I cannot remember the country having had a budget surplus with the deficits being financed by loans including some from the World Bank and the IMF. The end result is that some 70% of the national budget goes to debt servicing. Sorry I cant continue this, it's getting too depressing. At $100 per gallon I think my best options would be to head for the hills, high in the mountains to my dads birthplace, or prepare to do a job on myself before the marauding bands of inner city ghetto dwellers do it for me!

On the other hand, if we had time and money, we could probably do tons of mitigation. We are blessed with a tropical island climate so no winter heating is necessary. We've got loads of under utilized land some of which has suffered from poor agronomic practices (industrial agriculture and peasant farmers). We could probably benefit from sugarcane ethanol, algal biodiesel, palm oil or jatropha. We've been growing sugar cane for centuries. We could probably make do with electric cars for most people and we use electric buses and make some investments in rail . We could use, solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind and wave power to fill most of our electricity needs. We could eat more of what we grow and grow more if we had to. I don't think we're going to be able to finance this. Does anybody here think we've got the time?

Alan (from the islands)

Paying business clients for corporate employers would dry up. Incomes would dry up. Banks would foreclose.
All domestic prep [rainbarrels/solar panels/hoarding] will have been for naught; become hobo.

Got camping gear? Got wilderness survival skills? Got defense against crime?

Dang. Got kids.


Hmmm...Therefore would first need the whole neighborhood organized to help fight off the banks and the [other] criminals....

I'm sure someone has already mentioned it, but $100 a gallon is entirely realistic. When? I don't know. But the amount of energy in one gallon of gasoline is something like 28,000 Calories. Instead of paying $100 for a gallon of fuel, would it be cheaper to hire manual labor to do the same work? If it is farm work, no, if you paid people real living wages, then the fuel is cheaper. In fact, $100 per gallon for plowing the field would be a bargain.

With wages between $1-$10/day in much of East Africa, and travel at approx. $1 per hour or more, you get the following estimates:

for low African wage earners:
1 hr trip = 1 days' wages.

for average Western people:
1 hr trip = 60 km = $12 = 30 min. wages.

Thus poor Africans pay 16 times more for low-quality travel, which equates to about $80/gal fuel in the West.

So, how do these Africans travel, you may ask?
It is by minibus for most trips from 30 min. to 1-2 days. In a minibus there will be a maximum of 19 - 23 people. Often the minibus will not leave the main station until it is full, or nearly full. On short trips there is one driver and one fee collector. On longer trips, there is only the driver. The minibuses are often in poor shape. The seats are hard, and none of the comforts of buses in the West.
Travel can also be atop delivery trucks, or in dump trucks, or in Semi-trailer truck cabs. Hitch-hiking in normal, and about 20% of drivers will stop to pick people up -- for a fee. At times there will be 25-50 hitch hikers on the side of the road waiting for traffic to come down the road. All vehicles leaving the main cities are packed solid with bodies. If you are hitch hiking between the cities, tough luck. Nobody is going to pick you up. You can wait all day, in the shade of a tree.


"at $100/gallon people would be living in my garage."

A few weeks ago a sign went up on the main street in my neighborhood: "Double garage wanted to live in". I'd never seen a sign like that here in Melbourne (Australia) before. Unfortunately, I don't expect it will be the last one.

I am constantly being told that we can switch to other sources of energy, and my reply is that the time taken to replace fossil fuel electricity generation is far too great. Besides the time scale, there is another aspect that does not seem to have received much attention: how many barrels of oil needs to be used to build an average nuclear power station (say 1GW) and an average wind turbine (say 1 MW)? We may reach the stage where there is simply not enough fossil fuel available to build the infrastructure of alternative energy generation. Does anyone anybody have any figures?

Here's the current situation: Oil is now trading at 133 dollars, however the Europeans pay 75 euros for the same barrel of oil. In 2002 the dollar was worth the same as the euro. So if the dollar was still as valuable as the euro, then we would only be paying 75 dollars for a barrel, and fuel would be only 56% as much, or instead of 4 dollars a gallon it would be 2.24 a gallon.

Hmmm, so let's take a look at why the dollar has lost so much value in relation to the euro.

1. Since 2000 the US debt has risen from 5.4 trillion to its current 9.4 trillion, devaluing the dollar.

2. Due to the mortgage meltdown interest rates have been lowered to provide funds for businesses to borrow so the economy doesn't tank. But the lower the interest rate the lower the value of the currency and the more inflation occurs.

3. More inflation means our money is worth less.

Get it? Bush instituted 3 huge tax cuts for the wealthy that Gore said would cause huge deficits and Bush called that Fuzzy Math. Also the war in Iraq has added to the cost of those tax cuts, and even though trillions have been stolen from social security (so us sorry saps can lose our retirement so rich people can have some extra money now), the debt reduces the perceived value of our currency.

So don't wonder why fuel is so much, at least in the U.S., it's for a number of very solid reasons.

Well, actualy we pay the barrel of brent 133$ which means 85 Euros with a dollar at 1.57 Euros.

Our financial and economic systems are as tight as yours albeit in the US the disequilibrium expresses itself earlier because the accounting system is much more open. I fear that the asymetry is only temporary, when the dollar will fall, the Euro will follow 2 or 3 years afterwards, if not earlier.

I am constantly being told that we can switch to other sources of energy, and my reply is that the time taken to replace fossil fuel electricity generation is far too great.

This is a meaningless statement without context. Too great for what?

Besides the time scale, there is another aspect that does not seem to have received much attention: how many barrels of oil needs to be used to build an average nuclear power station (say 1GW) and an average wind turbine (say 1 MW)?

Very little. Most of the energy consumption of nuclear and wind construction is from coal for refining the steel and concrete.

We may reach the stage where there is simply not enough fossil fuel available to build the infrastructure of alternative energy generation. Does anyone anybody have any figures?

You mean like at the beginning of the industrial revolution when we didn't have any infrastructure to utilize fossil energy?

Statement 1: Gasoline price can never exceed $32 per gallon. Here is why:

World's GDP: $48 trillion
Oil Share in World's GDP: 40% of World's GDP = $19.6 trillion
World's Oil Consumption: 31 billion barrels

GDP per barrel of oil consumed: $19,600/$31 = $632 (or roughly $640)

Therefore at $160/barrel oil itself would be 25% of what gdp it produce, a ROI of 1:4 at which point many structures break and many pillars of world's economy fell. At $320/barrel when ROI is 1:2 the economic system stop to function and we have to return to agriculture. Certainly no oil usage in economy after $320 when its left only for non-economic usages such as leisure, military etc.

Assuming the historic 100% profit rate of refineries in future and 42 gallons per barrel, gasoline prices are estimated as:

Price of Crude Oil per barrel Price of Gasoline per gallon

$20 $0.95
$40 $1.90
$80 $3.80
$160 $7.60
$320 $15.20
$640 $31.40

At 25% profit rate for refineries which I this is the lowest on which they can operate:

$20 $0.60
$40 $1.20
$80 $2.40
$160 $4.80
$320 $9.60
$640 $19.20

You forget that if the price of oil goes up and people still buy it, the GWP goes up, too :)

The Gross World Product is simply the sum of all the money spent. So if I spend $100 on tickets to a Britney Spears concert, donate $100 to buy grain for someone in Darfur, spend $100 on building a raised-bed garden which will produce organic vegetables which I give away, spend $100 on a gallon of diesel, or if ten women pay each-other $10 each to do each-other's laundry, the GWP rises by $100.

If we spend more on fuel while buying the same amount of fuel then the GWP goes up, sorry.

The most useful comparison was above, where in Africa in terms of affordability fuel already is $100/gal.

You forget that if the price of oil goes up and people still buy it, the GWP goes up, too :)

Not if you're measuring in constant dollars. All that you're describing is simple inflation.

Consider two regions, Export Land and Import Land. Export Land is non industralized living off its oil exports and Import Land is highly industralized converting its imported oil into industrial products and living off on it. Assume there is only one energy resource, oil.

Export Land sale oil at $X/barrel which is converted into industrial product worth $Y/barrel-used. As long as Y is greater than X Import Land's economy works. Infact Y needs to be atleast twice than X to account for Import Land's own consumption (civilian and military). Import Land can cut off its consumption to some extend but it has to maintain its high energy usage if it wants to remain industralized to earn an income. It has to maintain its technical expertise, medical expenses, military etc.

When limits of production is achieved for oil, X can only increase. As X increase Y must also increase as much if Import Land want to maintain its economy. Due to competition between Import Land countries because of newly joined members (india, china) who are more efficient than older members, Y cannot increase as much as X and would lag behind. So as time passes ROI for Import Land would decrease.

Import Land imports oil because its ROI is more than 1. Therefore Export Land remains poorer than Import Land (on absolute basis, non per capita) because Export Land's source of income is selling raw materials whereas Import Land's source of income is selling finished products. Finished products are always expensive than raw materials, the very reason these products are made.

In an actual, physical decline in production of oil of say 5% there would be a corresponding decline in industrial production of same 5% if all products are made with equal amount of energy and there is no room for efficiency. In reality, first the least efficient production would be removed which can aborb some decline in oil production and others parts efficiency could be increased but only till a point after that the actual industrial production start declining.

Assume there is only one barrel of oil traded per year between Export Land and Import Land. Assume X to be $160 and Y to be $640. Also assume no room for further efficiency as all attainable efficiency is already attained. Now if X increase 25% to $200 there is a rise in Export Land's GDP of $40. This rise reduce Import Land's industrial production by 25% assuming all room for efficiency is already attained, reducing Import Land's GDP to $480, a fall of $160. Therefore the net GDP of world falls $120, not rise, as finished products are more valuable than raw materials.

I'm that low-income person. $6/hour, 25hours a week. Theoretically I could walk/bike to work (3 miles, and about 1500ft of total elevation change). However, my job wouldn't exist. And my time would definitely not be worth spending there. 15-30 extended family members would end up relocating to the mother-in-law's farm. Only 40ish acres, but its really rural. Probably one house in town would become the boarding-house for people who retained town jobs.

I'd be spending my time engineering a windmill, a steam-engine, etc. Since I can't buy any of those things, I'll have to build my own low-efficiency version of them. Many other things are much easier, like solar hot water, rigging more cisterns to save load on the well, etc.

Long ways to a big city, so any crime should be of the local variety, which means small. Everyone has guns and there is a big proportion of veterans, so I expect the criminals wouldn't make it long.

Not seeing my own family (local is all inlaws) would be the big impact. 2500 miles is already in the "once every couple years" category. Hopefully the internet stays up enough for voice, if not theres always shortwave.

If the extended family wasn't there, my wife and I would be looking for one of you guys to be your basement boarders.

Interesting idea. Firstly I'd guess that gasoline won't ever get to $100 a gallon because long before then we'll have a big recession/depression and we will either fight a war and blow us all back to the olduvai gorge or else we will get a whole lot poorer till the kinks are worked out of the economy and we end up with an electric transport powered economy.
Looking at current prices of electricity and electric cars I note that equivalent electric vehicles built by boutique suppliers cost around $40-$50K for a vehicle that can go 100 miles and otherwise behave like a "normal" vehicle.
Likewise electricity produced from solar is 2-3 times the cost of electricty produced from fossil fuels.

Taking these two sets of prices as a base we can figure that if oil prices rise to somewhere around $300 a barrel then we are on par with the cost of "fuel" derived from solar to power your electric vehicles.

In an ideal world we will get a slow decline and a fast take up from the marketplace and we will simply switch over (not without a recession in the meantime however).

There are signs this is already happening.
In the UK for example, TNT bought 200 7.5 ton electric trucks with a 100 mile range. Sainsburys (a large supermarket) put in a similar sized order.

100 mile range is enough to support our current infrastructure.
So what if the 7.5 ton trucks can take only one third of the volumetric weight of an 18 wheel semi and so what if the truck has to take a break every 100 miles.
We can live with it.

If you are really asking what will happen if we get a sudden disconnect and shortage of fuel then that's not really a question I want to think about but I guess the answer is probably to look at cuba or pakistan.

If you are really asking what will happen if we get a sudden disconnect and shortage of fuel then that's not really a question I want to think about but I guess the answer is probably to look at cuba or pakistan.

Pakistan has quietly shifted to natural gas (cng, lpg etc) as transportation fuel. Effectively oil as vehicle fuel passed the purchasing power of average pakistanis in 5 years ago. We give to govt and state oil company 1.5 times the price of oil cost, making it 2.5 times so our tipping point came long ago. Pakistan has huge deposits of natural gas of its own therefore we not import it from anybody and can rely on it for few more years. When we run out of our reserves of natural gas in next 5 years or so we will hopefully be buying it from neighbouring iran who has huge almost unused deposits of natural gas. Work on these projects have already started. Then there is the central asian pipeline project.

Electricity is produced in pakistan almost entirely from hydro by our two major dams though some of it is also produced by thermal (oil, gas) plants in karachi.

We have the advantage of being very close to the oil producing region and they being our friends we not have much to worry. Our real power lies in the fact that we are not industralized. Our 62.5% population still living at village and 50% of pakistanis are farmers. At the farming side, our productivity only increased 2 times to 1600 kg grains/acre/year than 800 kg grains/acre/year we were getting since past 9,000 years (starting at mehrgarh, 7000 bc). So we have to only learn to live at 1/2 of our traditional productions.

In contrast europe is 90% industrial which all have to fall back to 10% agriculture. Traditional production of grains in europe was just 100 kg grains/acre/year because of the typical weather, rain pattern etc. Today it is 6400 kg grain/acre/year so they have to learn to live at 1/64 of their current production.

In Pakistan we also have the facility of using 125 million acres of highly depopulated afghanistan once peace comes there after inevitable defeat of americans and british.

We have the recently discovered 200 billion tons of high quality coal (20% of world's reserves) and more can be find if we discover more (we have put very little effort in discovering).

Since we consume very less, about 50 times less resources than americans and since our population is half than that of america our net usage is 100 times less than americans. We not waste money in keeping army in more than 120 countries in world and certainly not in "conquering" deserts of other planets by destroying our own through over-consumption and pollution.

We have an enemy in our east but a bigger friend in its north that more than balance it. Even with this enemy we be living in peace since 37 years, since we last had a war in 1971.

Re Grain production in Europe.
Your numbers for Europe are too low by a factor at least 2-3.

In my country -.Scandinavia we started farming ca. 4200 BC +/_ 200 years (6200 years ago).
Between 1700 and 1800 BC the production of grain was between 500 and 700 kilo grain per tønde land = 1.36 Acre. 500 kilo without dung and 700 kilo with dung from farm animals. Soil was regularly rested each 3 years. So European average Grain production including resting was probably closer to 600 kg*2/ 3/ 1.36 = 294 kilo/ acre in a situation with no fertilizer.
The grain yield in the UK was similarly http://www.jstor.org/pss/2596884 ~22 bushel per acre around year 1800 which is close to 620 kilo/acre.

When I was a kid 1955, yields of 2500 kilo Barley /tønde land was common with small addition of fertilizer, and in the 1980 we harvested 3000 kilo Barley and up to 5-6000 kilo Wheat per tønde land (9-11 tons per Hectare). And no irrigation necessary.
As a former farmer, I know the high effect of even small amounts of fertilizer.

kind regards/ And1


Well good for you. That's great for pakistan. I wish you all the best.

So it looks like pakistan cannot be used as a proxy for what happens when the oil runs out.

If we theoretically assume that the oildepletion will be orderly, and the exportlands continue exporting oil, then we should have a gradual price increase of oil, which would destroy demand(as has happened in Pakistan).

In Europe there are a lot of ordinary citicens that are not so well off, and they would also be forced to cut demand of gasoline long before 100 USD/gallon. My guess is that already 30 USD/gallon would cut demand so much, that the oil would be enough for the well-offs needs fore guit some time.

That;s assuming no rationing.

But on the other hand this is only theoretical. The unravelling could ne nasty and not orderly, so the future is somewhat unpredictabel.

But at 100 USD very few ordinary people would use gasoline. If they have any money ore incomes left, i guess it would go to pure survival.

So i think that RR had got better answers, if he had put the Q at for example 30 USD rather than 100 USD.

Perhaps we could make a new try??

A lot of interesting information there. I've just learnt more about Pakistan in 5 minutes than I have in a lifetime up till now. Thanks.

Back to the original subject.

As I said on another thread a couple of days ago, If diesel was $100 a gallon...I'd top off my tank before it went to $105 next week! Then park it and chain a doberman to the car.

There's a certain satisfaction that comes from having $2000 in your tank for a rainy day! :-(


After an overnight sleep on your $100 motor fuel question, I have some additional thoughts.

First, to get to $100 in five years implies an average rate of increase of 124 percent per year. That seems high; on the other hand, given how fast oil is moving up, I suppose it is not totally out of the realm of possibility.

This raises a question in my mind, though: Do we assume that motor fuels start to level off once they reach $100/gal, or is that just a milestone on a long uphill climb? It does make a difference. If people know that it is going to pause at around $100 for a while, they might make one set of adaptations, but if they have good reason to believe that it is going to continue increasing at that rapid rate, then some different adaptations might be in order.

The trouble is, prices of anything seldom move in such a straight line. Usually, there is more of a sawtooth pattern. The overall trend might be up by 124% per year, but we might see 200% one year and 50% the next. This makes the problem worse, because it is difficult to really get a good handle on what the actual long term trend is with just a few years of data.

Which leads to my next observation: The difficulty of adapting due to uncertain & rapid price increases. It is one thing to speculate on how one would adapt to $100 gas in five years, knowing or assuming that it will happen five years in advance. It is quite another to thing to adapt without such advance notice.

Given a hypothetical 124% annual rate of increase, what we have here is a little bit of a variant of the classic doubling problem. Most people cannot imagine what one grain or one penny on the first chessboard square, two on the 2nd, etc. will add up to by the 64th square. Similarly, people tend not to grasp that by the time the pond is half full of plants, they only have one day left before it is full. Thus, if gas is around $9/gal next year compared to around $4 now, few will really believe that it could be over $20 in 2010. Nor will people in 2010 believe that in 2011 they would have to pay as much as $45. Even after that track record, people in 2011 will find it inconceivable that by 2012 they will have to pay over $100/gal.

Then, too, there will be the problem of people thinking that each increase is only temporary, and that prices will soon drop back down. Because this is what they will be wishing for and wanting to believe, they will undoubtedly be encouraged in that belief through misinformation from politicians, governments, corporations, and the mass media.

Thus, it becomes very doubtful that people WILL make the adaptations in advance that they COULD have made. The likely outcome is that people will have to struggle a lot more to adapt than they would have needed to, IF they had anticipated the price increases in advance and taken timely action beforehand. (For example, relocate closer to work, replace cars with NEVs or electric bikes, etc.)

Thus, to adapt a quote from a certain notorious former SecDef, for the vast majority of people “when $100/gal motor fuel hits, you won’t cope with the gear you would like to have, you will cope with the gear you actually do have.”

Of course, TOD readers are not the average person. We have a much higher degree of awareness; most of us are already anticipating that energy will be getting more expensive and are doing something about it. Nevertheless, I submit that a really honest answer to your question would limit itself only to whatever things one has already done, or are already well in the planning stages for the next five years. “Maybe I’d like to have it if I can get around to it someday” doesn’t count.

One other thought: $100/gal is twenty-five times higher than the present price of around $4/gal. Hardly anyone is going to be able to afford to spend twenty-five times what they are spending now for motor fuel. However, most people very possibly could afford to spend somewhat more. Looking just at what they have to spend in motor fuel for their commutes: Could they afford to spend as much as five times what they do now, if the alternative is to lose their jobs? In many cases, I am guessing that they might. People would cut almost all the other driving out and walk or use bicycles for shopping and other local errands rather than lose their jobs.

Now consider this: Instead of five people each driving their own cars to work, they carpool, and each person covers one day’s fuel per week. Or, a person leaves for work Monday morning, stays overnight at someplace cheap close to work (maybe an RV or Airstream parked on the employer’s parking lot), and drives home Friday evening, thus cutting down from five trips per week to one.

Thus, by spending five times as much, and only paying for one-fifth of the trips they are now, it might be just possible for those suburbanites and exurbanites without access to mass transit to still make it in to work – assuming that motor fuel prices don’t continue rising far above $100/gal.

This is exactly what I did when I worked in the UK
My family was in a northern city and I was working in London.
I flew down to London on sunday night, stayed in a cheap shared apartment monday to friday and flew back on friday night.

Some variation of this would work in $100 a gallon world.

In any event, we may be making a mountain out of a small problem.

How many people actually commute 30 miles each way?

So that means 50% commute less than 30 miles each way?
If it's 15 miles it could be done by bicycle in most places.
If it's as little as 5 miles you could in theory walk to work.

OK, to follow up on my previous post above, assuming $100/gal in five years, focusing just on the personal and disregarding the wider economy, and limiting myself to things already in place or definitely planned to be in place in less than five years, my response (just focusing on direct energy use):


I’m already walking to work, so that is covered. I could also walk downtown to cover most errands. Unfortunately, most of the stores are closed by the time I get home, and downtown is in the opposite direction from work, so I must do most of my shopping and errands on Saturdays. If that includes groceries, then I would need a hand truck or garden cart to haul groceries home; I plan to buy those within the next couple of years, so let’s assume I would have those.

I really need to get an NEV, mostly for my wife. Her commute of 3 miles is too far to walk, and often she has to work late and come home after dark. I was planning on buying a GEM by 2012 if possible, so I just might be able to have that by the time gas hits $100/gal under this scenario. If the waiting list is too long, conversion of our Honda Civic to electric is a feasible plan B. Again, due to the risk of theft, we’d need to keep the NEV locked up and only use it when and where we really had to. I’m assuming that I’d also get a PV panel to power a recharger. There is a shuttle bus that she could use, though, presuming that it is still running and that she can modify her work schedule to catch the last one of the day. Unfortunately, I cannot assume that funding won’t be cut just when people need it most.

I am waiting to buy an electric bike until gas has gone up enough to seriously thin and slow down traffic on our town’s street. I am assuming that gas will have to be in serious double digit territory for that to happen. Under Robert’s scenario, that could be as early as 2010. I could afford to buy an electric bike by then, and I would still be far enough ahead of the curve that I’d avoid most of the rush. I might need to wait a few months, or even the better part of a year, but that would be OK. I’d also try to buy a trailer for the bike, but could rig up the garden cart if necessary. Due to the risk of theft, I would probably only take the bike out when I really had to, and try to travel on foot for shorter trips. While I would really like to have the electric bike, if we get the NEV then we could live without it, so it would not be a disaster if that doesn’t happen.

That takes care of transport within town (I live within a relatively walkable small town of 7K population). I would cut our trips in to the nearest big city (Asheville) to the bone, and use public transit (there is a bus line) if at all possible (again, assuming that the service isn’t cut for lack of funds); ride sharing might also be a possibility. We would probably still be able to afford enough gas for our other car for maybe 6-8 trips to Asheville per year, but we’d want to avoid that as much as possible. Most shopping items that cannot be supplied locally could be mail-ordered, although the delivery charges would be frightful. The big thing that we’d probably need to travel into Asheville for is specialist medical care; fortunately, right now we don’t need very much of that other than annual opthalmological exams, but that could change as we age. One thing that could definitely help is if the specialist practices would equip a bus or RV with their diagnostic equipment and an exam room, and make regular rounds to the outlying towns and villages. This would have a lot of energy, and would probably enable them to maintain more business for their practices than they would get if they continue the present model of expecting everyone to come to them, Whether or not anyone will take the initiative to actually implement anything like that is uncertain, though; I certainly can’t count upon it.

I am assuming that at $100/gal, my travel days are over. I’ve already sworn off air travel, and limit myself to wherever Amtrak can go or a 1 day driving radius. At $100/gal, the driving radius shrinks to zero, so all I’d have left is Amtrak. Even that depends upon NCDOT getting its act together and extending service up to Asheville. If that doesn’t happen, and quickly, then WNC will be pretty much shut off from the outside world. Since Raleigh would presumably prefer to continue collecting taxes from our end of the state, maybe they will get their act together and provide us with some sort of minimal passenger rail link.

My big transport challenge, though, would be caregiving for our aged parents. Given a five year time frame, it is likely that at least one or two would still be alive. With $100/gal gas, the only possible way that we could get to them in an emergency would be if they were to relocate to our same town. We’ve already had discussions about that, and presumably could make that happen in time.

Other gasoline uses:

The only other thing I use gasoline for besides automotive fuel is for my lawn mower. I am already planning on expanding my garden, and planting much of the remaining lawn in edible cover crops. I might leave a small patch in grasses, which I would harvest with a scythe and use for rabbit feed & bedding, or maybe for a goat pasture. I do plan to get a scythe within the next couple of years, so that can be included among stuff I can count upon.

As for cutting wood, I no longer use a gas powered chain saw. I do have a small cordless electric chain saw, but it is of very limited utility. I have gotten a large one-person crosscut saw, and plan to get a two person crosscut saw next year. That, plus my sawbuck, axe, wedges and sledge hammer, should suffice for cutting the firewood I need. Maybe I’ll get myself one of those hydraulic, foot-powered log splitters, too. There are harvestable public land forests within two miles of my home, and I could go into those with the garden cart to cut some firewood for myself if need be; undoubtedly, there will also be many enterprising people in the firewood business, as there already are here.

I also do not use a rotary cultivator. I have a Brazilian azada grub hoe, and it makes quick and easy (relatively speaking) work of any digging or tilling job, and not at all back-breaking. I’ve got two, just in case one breaks, so I can keep working until I can replace the broken handle.

I don’t have a gasoline-powered chipper/shredder, but do have a small electric-powered unit. These are valuable tools, and I strongly recommend that everyone get one while they can. The shredded leaves that it produces makes great garden mulch.

I don’t have a gasoline-powered string trimmer either, I have a cordless electric one, with a couple of spare batteries. Those batteries could probably be recharged by a PV panel. A string trimmer is a good tool to keep weeds around fruit trees, etc. under control, and a cordless electric one is worth having.

I think that covers all of the small gas engine equipment that most people might likely have. Anything else, I don’t have and don’t need it.

Residential energy:

I use propane for space heating, water heating, and cooking. Assuming that gasoline increases to $100/gal in five years, I can also assume that propane will go up just about the same percentage, which suggests a price of maybe $75/gal. Were we to continue our usage as at present, that would suggest an annual propane bill of $30,000. We can’t afford that, and it isn’t going to happen. What would we do?

For space heating, we already have a programmable thermostat, set at 66F when we are home in the morning and evening, and at 60F when we are at work or at night. As the price of propane went up, these settings would go down. I would also gradually increase the extent to which I use the wood stove. I have also been planning to install two solar heating panels on the south side of my house within the next five years, and to finish a long list of projects to improve the tightness and insulating value of our building envelope. Thus, I can safely assume that by 2013, we could do without propane for heating altogether, except maybe just as an emergency backup during a really deep cold snap.

I’d also like to put a solar water heating system in. I was hoping that I wouldn’t be so much under the gun, but was planning on moving forward with it as soon as propane hit double digits; that would mean moving forward with it by 2010, which is just feasible. Presuming that we are able to get solar water installed, then again propane just becomes a backup when we have multiple cloudy days. We would adjust our lifestyle patterns, doing just one laundry or dishwasher load each evening, and also shifting our showers to evenings, to take advantage of solar-heated water when it is available and minimizing the need for the propane tank to fire up.

That leaves the range. I am planning to buy or build one or two solar ovens, and also a solar dehydrator. We already use a crock pot, toaster oven, and microwave a lot, and would probably buy an electric kettle and a few other small electric appliances. We have one wide-mouth stainless steel thermos jar and will probably buy several more; pour some boiling water in with some grains or pasta or legumes or vegetables, and you have an energy-efficient way to cook them. Some things could also be cooked on top of the wood stove during the winter time; Maybe I’d build a small brick oven out behind the house to use in the summer time. Given all of these, I don’t know if I’d keep the propane stove for emergencies, or replace it with an electric, or what. Maybe longer term, once I’ve got chickens and rabbits, I could try building an anaerobic generator to produce our own methane; we could at least produce enough for the stove, and maybe for supplemental water heating. Or maybe I would replace the gas stove with a wood cooking stove, though probably not within five years.

As for electricity, that will undoubtedly be going up too, though probably not as much, nor quite as quickly. We’ve already done a lot: replaced most light bulbs with CFLs, replaced the refrigerator with an energy star unit, etc. Clotheslines and wood dryers will be replacing the clothes dryer soon, maybe this year. We’re investing in storm doors with slider screens this year to provide more cross ventilation, and more ceiling and other fans will follow as we keep working on reducing our air conditioner usage; we could just cut the a/c out altogether if we had to, and undoubtedly eventually will. If electricity goes up very much or very fast, I might consider buying a very small, highly efficient refrigerator like a SunFrost R10 or RF12, just to assure that we continue to have a small amount of refrigeration capability that could be powered by a reasonable PV capacity. Most other electrical appliances could be replaced by hand cranked units, or hand/foot powered tools; or is something we could just do without. Thus, I’d like to get some PV panels up (we do have a south-facing roof with good potential, if I cut a couple of trees – which I’ll have to do anyway for garden expansion), but not until I get the load that we’d have to power way down. If need be, I’ll just buy a panel or two, a few batteries, and an inverter and try to rig it up to power whatever I can, even if that is only a couple of CFLs, a couple of battery chargers, a couple of fans, and maybe that small SunFrost. Even those we could live without if need be.

Thanks for the thought-provoking thought experiment. Since I live 2 miles from work (~1 mile if one follows a straight line), biking to work is very feasible, and it's what I will start doing next month. My wife and I have started talking about this; as a result, we will log every car trip for the next week or two, and see if we can consolidate them.

Since I walk 1.7 miles each way, even walking should be feasible for you if the route is safe. It isn't that bad, if you invest in good footware, a book bag, and change clothes once you arrive at your employer's.

I agree about the unrealistic comments, but this is a good mental exercise, so here goes.

First,my source of income will be long gone, since I am an oil producer, and my leases will certainly have been confiscated by then, so I won't have to go to work. I already own 80 +/- acres of surface, and have a garden, which I will work for most of my food. I'll have to revisit skills I learned when my grandmother "made" me help with the canning, and oddity for a boy, but I will be able to appreciate that when this comes to pass. I already have a pedal powered Rhoades Car, a four seater which will have the rear seats removed to make room for the cargo it will have to carry. I am sure that even my CNG pickup will have bit the dust by then, since natural gas will also be unaffordable to a then unemployed individual.

Heat will be from the blackjack oaks and the hickory on the acreage. I will be glad that I planted the 250 or so black walnut trees, and hope that they will be bearing by the time of $100 gasoline. They were cheap (bought them looking like sticks, from the State of Oklahoma forestry organization) and took a lot of time to get started, and they will be the last things I cut for firewood, but they will likely have to be used.

Water, in this rural area, will probably be unavailable by the time this comes to pass, but with a spring on the property, I should have fresh water most of the time. I may have to have another water well drilled while I still have the income, and I better put that on my to-do list.

I have a small solar powered system, far less than what I had before my recent divorce (in current time, not this imaginary future), where I also had a water well which was equipped with a solar powered pump. The solar will provide for the minimal lighting and refrigeration I will need. My present abode already has a small refrigerator, and I will expand the PV system to cover the needs for that. I am looking at possible wind, but the inverter I am looking at for the combined system is expensive - like $6700 for an inverter to handle the whole system.

All this time, I will be PO'ed, and that doesn't stand for Peak Oil in this instance, that everyone sees oil production as something which can be confiscated whether through some scheme like "windfall profits taxes" or the outright literal taking of my property. Other mining operations will not be impacted, since oil is a "necessity" and gold, for instance, is not. As I have said before, while nobody offered to assist me when oil was $8.00 a BARREL, I am confident that my rights will be disregarded when oil and the products made from it are as expensive as this experiment postulates. Not that the meager amount of oil which the leases I now own produce will be worthwhile for anyone else. That will not be a factor in an eventual decision to confiscate them, I am sure. But just because I can make money producing them does not assure that anyone else will be able to do so. They will most likely be plugged and abandoned, and if these events do happen, I hope that the price of gas will then go to $125 a gallon, since my little leases are not unique.

I am sure that I will appreciate my learning to have done without as I did when oil was below what it cost me to produce. I walked out my leases at that time, and made my own repairs as best I could since the surface owners saw my production as a mere nusiance. And lest anyone here thinks I am a paranoid old coot, let me remind you that as recently as 1998, for one load I had to sell because I had to produce a lease continuously and both my tanks were full on that lease, the price I was actually paid for oil (the "posted price" plus a bonus I had negotiated) was $13.19 a barrel (paid October, 1998 by Teppco).

I do feel confident that at some point the rule of law will become immaterial. And, anarchy will not be a pretty thing, and therefore can understand the reports that Richard Rainwater, et al, are reportedly already firmly entrenched in enclaves which are very well protected. I would as well, but am not among the rich.

In order for gas to rise to $100 a gallon in 5 years, it would need to increase by about 5 cents a day, each and every day.

I predict civilization would collapse within 3 months. Those with no money to prepare, and those in big cities, would basically end up forming gangs and killing each other. Those with any real wealth would get raided by the gangs, unless they were armed well enough to defend against hundreds. Some gangs would be bought off and used as mercs. Most would be killed by better equipped gangs (ie, the military.)

Once the cities are sacked, the countryside would be ravaged next. This would be done by loosely organized paramilitary gangs. The whole land would be scanned for heat signatures, smoke, solar panels, windmills, and hydro power. Any property with such sources of power would be raided and fully looted. Few people seem to be able to understand how inevitable and all-encompassing this type of tyranny will be, once they finish torching the constitution. Whether gas really goes to $100 or not, this type of cancerous despotism is a near certainty in any future scenario of energy scarcity. Basically, whatever sick and twisted thing you can imagine, would become a reality in the New Amerika. And it would probably all be done in the name of fighting Al Qaeda.

If you lived in a self contained bunker, stocked up with years of supplies, you might be able to wait out the storm. By then most of the gangs would have died off. Once about 80% of the industrialized world has died off, the remaining people would find themselves with abundant resources. How much freedom they would have to exploit those resources to rebuild some kind of civilization.... who knows.

I am stunned by the Mad Maxian fantasies of people on this site.

I am stunned by the Mad Maxian fantasies of people on this site.

Man you said it.

I don't know. People have been talking about the end of the world for millennia. Catastrophes followed by small remnants that survive and repopulate the earth go back to Gilgamesh. Before the Internet, even! That seems to be the norm. I wonder what myths (some of) our descendents will tell about this time?


We use bikes for 95% + of our trips. You would be amazed at how much one can carry on a bike...in my case, it's the same load we used the carry in the car, which weighs far more than both bikes and riders do.

Also, many of you may be aware of the legions of studies which show bicycle travel to be quicker than car travel in major cities. Factor other cars, snarls, and traffic lights into that equation. Plus, sitting in a car does nothing for your health.


Whether the air travel math is correct is immaterial to me. If gas is $100/gal, I park my car. If I want to eat - and can afford to - I must walk 3 miles to the grocery and the same 3 miles back, carrying my purchases. That trip will have to be made frequently because I am an arthritic 70 year old and cannot carry much at a time.
If you call that scenario coping with pump prices, then you have mine.