Gristmill sees the positive

I love this post from Gristmill.
In light of this summer's wicked high fuel prices, has started a daily "gas gripes" section where readers can spout off about how tough life is.

But here's a little secret -- these aren't gripes! Today's collection, especially, is a quietly inspiring list of conscious eco-choices. These reports bring a tear to the eye: I moved back to the city. I stopped driving my SUV. I vanpool. I bought a hybrid.

It's everything that Grist and a thousand other nattering environmentalists preach every day. But money is making it real -- at least for now. Hooray for capitalism! Hooray for oil! Hooray, hooray, hooray.

CNN has a poll out for what people think is the cause of climbing oil prices.  Here are the choices.  First, close your eyes and make your own list of what you think CNN would give you has their choices.  What percentage would "peaking oil production" get?

Good.  Well, you might have guessed this is a trick question: here are the choices: Oil companies (28%); OPEC (13%); Market Speculators (24%); Gas guzzlers (12%); China and India (14%); Other (9%).

Here is the link:

I'm definitely seeing more bikes in our town.  Part of that is summer is ending, but part of it is (I imagine) folks that realize they can go the three miles by bicycle almost as fast as they can by car.

They're still melting, though, highs are near 100 ever day plus humidity.  It won't be "comfortable" on a bicycle for another couple months.  There's a reason it's hard to buy a car in Texas without air conditioning...

Hey, riding a bike in Houston is hard enough in the winter when you just have to deal with Hummers trying to run you over.  In the summer, if the tires don't melt to the pavement, then combination of heat and humidity will turn you into a puddle of green goo.  

In any case, I am still working on my collection of essays on "The Common Misconceptions About Peak Oil".  The two I have done so far are "Oil shale will save us!" and "Tar sands will save us!" Check them out at

I felt funny about posting about my love/hate relationship with bicycling. Now I don't feel so bad.  It appears to be the new way of flying the flag.
I know how you feel, GM. I get a little choked up when I look at the commodities prices in the financial pages.
Those of us who think peak oil is real, imminent, and serious, can hope for nothing better in the long run than for oil and gasoline prices to stay where they are, or even rise slightly.

The consumer psychology is at a critical turning point; prices have been "high" for just long enough that the non-energy-geek mainstreamers are starting to accept that this isn't just a short-term price blip.  We're seeing behavior start to change at the margin, which is a crucial step in the education of the masses.  If prices retreated substantially (which I don't expect to happen), it would reinforce all the bad behavior and mistaken beliefs we're battling.

I've long contended that one of the most powerful forces in this kind of market sea change is the "water cooler effect".  People talking with co-workers complain about gasoline costs, and an early adopter in the group says, "Tell me about it.  I got sick of paying an arm and leg for gas, so when we traded in our SUV I got something a lot cheaper to run.  My [model name] gets about twice the miles per gallon, and it's more fun to drive."  (The fun to drive part might just be a defense mechanism--the speaker is trying to make it sound like an even better decision by piling on benefits.  It doesn't matter if it's true--it has the same effect on listeners.)  It doesn't take long before all of the early adopter's friends hear his story and start re-evaluating their transportation needs and solutions, and the "you can save money and be happy" meme spreads.