Poll: Vacation travel

We all know that when there is a shortage of oil, the first thing to go will be extraneous travel. In yesterday's post, there was a short comment thread about whether or not we should be traveling for pleasure right now, or whether, knowing how bad air and long distance car travel is both for wasting oil and CO2 emission, we should already begin eschewing long plane and car trips. One sentiment was expressed by TheFatLadyHasSung:
I have a totally different view about life style and PO.  My feeling is that a doctor just told me that in 2 years you will end up in a wheelchair and have to be fed thru a tube.  But your health will be perfect until then.  Sorry guys, it's party time!  I'm gonna take a few weeks this year by car to explore the wonderful country that oil created and view the amazing natural beauties of this country.  If you don't do it now, you won't in the future.  I can go veggie in 2009....
Some others more or less agreed, but with the caveat that once you get to your destination, you should enjoy it by biking or hiking.

So I'm wondering what the general consensus on this issue is. To that end, I give you a poll. Just to simplify things, I'm going to specifcally refer to air travel, although I suppose a similar poll could be constructed for long road trips.

This "party like it's 1999" mentality is probably reason #1 the USA has 0 savings right now.  Use it now or lose it later.
But there's good reason for it, if you're expecting economic collapse, or even just massive inflation.  Might as well spend it now, because it won't be worth anything later.

The way I see it, spending money on travel is buying something that can't be taken away from me.  Others might buy a big-screen TV or a fancy car, but as a peak oiler, I don't see any point in that.  Land?  Could be worthless when TSHTF, especially given how climate change seems to be speeding up.  Gold?  Can't eat it.  Solar panels?  I still haven't decided where I want to weather the peak, and solar panels aren't exactly portable.

I'd rather spend my money on travel.  New experiences and time spent with family and friends - what better things to spend money on?  I've even told my family that I'd prefer we save money for vacations together, and skip the usual gewgaws for Christmas, birthdays, etc.

That's how I see it too.  Travel is almost the only thing you can buy that they can't take away from you (as long as you are alive and in your right mind).  I have spent much of my life and my fortune (such as it is) on travel, and I don't regret it one bit.
As the chemists used to say ... if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.
If people in the rich world party like it's 1999 and do not conserve even a little, then the price will remain high and go much higher which will not be a problem for those who still have the cash but what about those who don't? What about those who 'need' oil just as much as you do but who will not be able to buy it because you can't even tighten your belt even a little? What about the idea behind the Uppsala protocol? Just think of Richard Heinberg working his ass off to make this idea work...no you just do what YOU want. Never mind anyone else. Fucking selfish and really sad.
A bit of hi-falutin morality here.  Nobody's forcing YOU to take vacations - we're each just voicing an opinion about how WE individually think about it.

I don't think shaming people for voicing an opinion is a big seller on this site.  You can try though.

Agreed. I think the environmental movement is starting to learn this. I personally don't use planes, but my parents do when they come to visit me at college (I guess I could develop a preemtive strike policy where I come home so they don't have the option of flying!).

If/When I do a semester/year or two abroad (in India, Australia, New Zealand, maybe somewhere in Africa or just SOUTH) I will likely take a plane. If I could book passage on an old school sailing ship I would, but the difference in price there as well as risks/time involved might be even too much for even me.

But I understand where that sentiment for Party like its 1999 comes from. I just hope you arn't complaining to people about the amount of driving they're doing, etc.

As Gandhi said,

Be the change you wish to see in the world

And as Nader said,

Less bad isn't good

(although, in that regard, I would rather have a less incompetent dem in 2008 then a raving mad neocon). I just interpret this to mean that one should not compromise one's principles generally, but when a clear strategic advantage is afforded one should. Is a presidential election, likely partly rigged anyway, a time to compromise? I still don't really know.

Wow...you would never guess Peak Oil is a problem for the rest of the world too. So let's get this straight... possibly the premier and certainly most informative Peak Oil website is read by people who want to alert others to the problem and then what? Carry on as normal? And the moralizing? As if everyone doesn't do this everyday? As if voicing an opinion against the behaviour criticized here day after day is suddenly a crime? Have you all just let your guard drop?
I know a few of us here talk about our lifestyle changes, but this thread did start off more "hat" than "cattle" if you know what I mean.

Actually thinking about it now, I'm kind of surprised that (a) I am one of those with the changed lifestyle, and (b) I am one of those pessimistic about society as a whole responding to any message other than "price."

I think I've seen discussions here about how the word has to be gotten out.  Why?  So everybody can party?

I think I'll continue with gentle suggestions that we can find happy, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly lifestyles ... but we can treat this thread as a test tube.  We see that "peak oil awareness" does not necessarily reduce oil consumption.

We've probably all heard the story about the horse thief who was brought before the king to be condemned to death. The thief wins a reprieve by promising the king that within a year, he will teach the king's horse to sing. Day after day he stands before the horse, patiently singing scales to the oblivious creature. But when the other prisoners and guards scorn him for his futile efforts, he has a ready reply.

"I won a year of life from the king. Much can happen in a year. The king could die. I could die.

"Or perhaps, the horse could learn to sing."

The moral: the future is uncertain, and you should not give in to despair and hopelessness. Enjoy life while you have it, while you are able. The days of your life are few enough. Even if you're convinced that dark times are ahead, don't jump the gun and live life as if they are here today.

And no matter how sure you are of Peak Oil disaster, keep in mind the optimistic thief. You never truly know what will happen; maybe the horse will learn to sing.

Right but, IMO it falls a little too much into the "conservation is privation" trap.

The guy who buys an energy efficient refrigerator may (depending on his chioces) save money up front, collect a rebate, pay less in electricity costs over time and ... his food will be no less cold.  Etc.

I'd say the win/win is overlooked too often when fearing the loss.  This isn't to say that all conservation is loss-less, but talk about things you can do now ... sort out what works for you.

For me it might be a bikeride to coffee and or a bagel, or knowledge of 100 ethnic restarants within the range of 1 gallon in my Prius.

I think that preparing society for life after Peak Oil takes priority over pleasure trips. So, if energy taxes drive up gas and jet fuel prices to, say $10 a gallon, with all that tax money going towards urban build-up, knocking down and green-meadowing of suburbia, rail service, and public transportation, I wouldn't be driving or flying much, and wouldn't be complaining either. But since this society has apparently gone on permanent vacation to La-la land and will not be able to make the necessary steps to prepare, why even waste time worrying about it? I will make my own preparations. I expect to be able to see quite a bit more of the world after Peak Oil - by sail and by bicycle.
I've learned to appreciate life more since I've realized the oil will run dry within my lifetime. I suggest relaxing and sipping on Grey Goose vodka while watching strippers undress on stage.
You are correct - with the likes of Boxer and Bagdad Jim in congress there is no hope - enjoy it while you can - profit from it while you can - be flexible enough to change with the times and stay just a little ahead of the curve - Good sipping ...
How timely!  This article  from the travel section in Today's LA Times discusses some of the spending and consumption patterns for Travel in the US.  Cartainly, I am thinking of doing some travel now while I can afford to do so, not sure what the next few years will bring in terms of the costs of travel.  Also, how many airlines will be around by 2010?

In any case, no one really knows what to expect in the near term or the long term.  One of the early discussions at TOD last summer was whether or not we would be able to afford travel THIS summer (2006).  So far, looks like things are going to be working in June.  But, then, a lot can happen in a few months (let alone a year).

When I was attending a meeting in midtown Manhattan in Sept. 2001, I certainly could not have guessed that two planes would bring down the World Trade Center towers that day....Wonder how my decisions would have been different had I known?  Wonder how my relationships with dear friends and family would have been different had I known?

Sometimes, you just have to live your life, I guess.  See what happens.

In my humble (LOL) opinion, everyone should immediately jump on a plane and fly like a viagra salesman behind in sales. I also advocate the purchase of Kenworth tractors to replace your regular vehicle. Instead of walking to the end of the drive to pick up the mail, fire up the Kenworth and motor down there. Buy a 1000 gallon gasoline tank and fill it with fuel then dump it in your swimming pool and set it on fire!!! What fun!!!

Leave the Kenworth idling all night in order that it will be warm when you wake.

I'm sure there are a lot of other fun ways to hasten the end of the petroleum era. If you think hard enough, or should I say watch a few NASCAR races and dumb yourself down enough, I am sure you too can become part of the great American/Western selfishness festival.

Now, some of you may think I am being ironic. I am not. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY do want us to hasten the end of this despicable era. The one thing I know for sure is nature/physics does not care about your politics, your invisible sky-being, or your family, so do not start whining and crying about the "good" parts of society, the arts, or the vast variety of cultures we will kill. TOO LATE FOR THAT, YOU SELFISH BASTARDS. The sooner we go into a Malthusian collapse, the better it will be for the remnants of humanity, the sooner we will have to deal with nature/physics on a real time basis.

Yes, vacation your ass right out to Antartica. If you can figure out a way to do it with your Kenworth mounted on a concrete barge, all the better. BURN BABY BURN.

Bring on the cull.

I couldn't agree more with this.  Every day this stupid chimpanzee adds a net 200,000 more people to this badly overpopulated planet.  If there was wide-spread recognition that we have a problem and need to stop or at least severely curtail our breeding for a while then I would say lets conserve.  But since every day we delay the collapse we effectively condemn another 200,000 unfortunate people to an early and probably painful demise I say lets use it up as quickly and inefficiently as possible.

I'm taking a trip to Belize in a couple of weeks which I figure may be my last plane trip ever.  When this bombing of Iran starts I expect the fast crash and police state lock down to get under way.

I guess I prepare myself that EVERY flight I take is going to be my last, and not usually because of oil supplies running out.  I've got a job flying me to Costa Rica next month, though I'm not putting my own cash in for the ticket, but I do consider that I'd better appreciate the thrilling rush of takeoff in this Dinosaur-guzzling Dinosaur each time, in case it is the last time, for whatever reason.  But I'm not turning the trip down, as if such an action would support some kind of ideal or save us a couple gallons of fuel.  I'd love to see Costa Rica, and lots of other places.

I am still truly annoyed at the 'Party Full Tilt' attitude that I see in this country (and thread) .. a Brazilian friend was telling me about the knuckleheads he worked with when he first got to the US, but said don't forget that there are idiots everywhere.  I asked him 'what's the difference between Brazilian Idiots and American Idiots?'.. He said that 'the Brazilians just aren't as proud of it'.  I don't think you're an idiot because you want to see your family or the world, but when I hear that pushy Me-First, I want my MTV! attitude that thinks that what you do with your last dollar is buy Candy, not try to leverage another chance with it, not try to make things work out.. then I'm more than happy to Moralise against it.  It's the American fantasy of PseudoLibertarianism that says there's nothing but the individual, and this individual wants more toys! Got Kids?  Nephews, Nieces, Grandkids?  Try to think out a few steps.  There are some pretty simple things we could be designing, collecting, saving for or learning that could make all the difference if/when the basics that we take for granted are suddenly not so easy to lay a hand on.  Energy, Food, Social Systems, Water Supply, Alternate Communications..

I don't think Vacation travel is where you'd make your greatest impact in fuel usage anyhow.  It's the constant, daily uses that really add up.  Every day your house helps burn up more calories than your car, or likely your flying fuel will have ever added up to..  Mine is burning around 7 gallons a day this winter, up to 12 when it gets really cold and windy for a long spell..(Coastal Maine)  A bunch of glazed boxes on the roof or south face could cut way into that.  Got Glass? Couple Fans, Some Insulated Hoses?  

In some ways, I wish the early arrival of Peak Oil not because of the hardships it will bring to all of us, but of the hope that it will bring regime change to the USA.  Which is the lesser evil?  Continued life under Bush policies (plenty of oil obtained militarily) or Post Carbon society without any effective centralized government?  Hmmm...in my mind, I choose the later.  Of course, these may not be the only choices.  We shall see.
Global Warming.

Will burning more now prevent burning even more (biomass, coal, etc.) later? I'm not sure.

I knew some of us lurked here. Bring it on, indeed. Let it come, since it will come.
Why settle for a Kenworth? Better yet, use a cement truck with a load of gravel. Have it rotate any time you use it, just to waste more fuel. Now, I can have SEVERE taste. A Harrier is better yet. Besides overflying traffic, it can take off and land vertically - right into a parking space. And it uses LOTS of fuel to hover. Get yourself a pilots license and your Harrier. You'll be glad you did, if you REALLY want to waste fuel. An even better ride is a Lockheed F-35. It does the Harrier parking trick but can go double-sonic. i.e. you can drive from Chicago to Miami in an hour.

Also, get the biggest house you can. Then order it uninsulated and leave the windows open to waste natural gas. Make sure to heat your outdoor swimming pool year-round with it in Minnesota. A -30F day will REALLY use up the NG. And take a dip before you drive to your cushy job in Miami with that F-35.

(and, yes, I'm being sarcastic)

Having a social conscience is a handicap. Is using up a precious resource, knowing how little remains, any better than not knowing or caring how much is left and doing the same trip? I would do the trip, mourning that grandchildren will not be able to, no matter what conservation I did to offset the trip.

I think that there is far too little oil left to make a difference to how future generations will live. Any babies born recently will be unlikely to drive much by the time they are legally able to. Personally, saving a ton of fuel this year by not travelling is irrelevant in relation to what is left and how quickly it will be used up by others that care little or not believe in oil being a finite resource. To borrow the phrase Are humans smarter than yeast? I don't know. Yeast hasn't been able to wreck a planet yet.

It will be quite feasible to take vacations by bus, especially if we electrify our freeways.  A lack of oil doesn't matter if your transport system doesn't need it.  Airliners need high-density chemical fuel (even liquid hydrogen is problematically bulky for them), but anything that goes on a road is a potential convert to wind/solar/nuclear/hydro, either delivered by wire or stored in batteries or ultracapacitors.
I am proud to say that Waikato, New Zealand is doing its part to bring on collapse.  We just landed the 2008 V8 street race.  Pland are afoot to lengthen the runway at Hamilton airport to 2.5km to accomodate the heavy cargo 747s that will be used to fly the race cars in from Australia.  I am so proud.  Yeehaw!!!
And we in Auckland were so sorry to see it go ...
Hey, there seems to be a few TODers from NZ.  How about we start a TOD NZ local site?
I routinely extend any business or conference (hydroelectric or mass transit) visit for some local vacation.  Usually interesting cross-section of places, not all on teh typical tourist trail

I try to use local mass transit when and where I can.

I live in a wonderful city (just about to walk out the door for an early Mardi Gras parade) and can vacation here incessently, even amidst the ruin, disaster and misery.

And I routinely fly Southwest, 52 pax-miles/gallon.

If you want to see how different a country's mind set can be read this about Japan. Note three quarters of the population believe saving energy is a personal responsibility.
What thefatladyhassung said is EXACTLY the opposite way we should approach this problem(opportunity). Using Jevons paradox and the theory of relative fitness, if we conserve or make sacrifice, someone somewhere else in the system will just use our energy, perhaps my turning down the thermostat and riding my bike to work will end up in 12 more square feet of cement in China. But I will live for a long time yet - for me to replace my daily allotment of happiness and contentment( which I argue is a cocktail of evolutionary refined neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine), I should choose to replace as many as unsustainable activities as possible NOT TO SAVE THE PLANET BUT TO INCREASE MY OWN WELL BEING. (an unsustainable activity is one that will be unavailable at some point post peak oil, like flying overseas, or eating Capn Crunch w/ Crunchberries)

If I truly believe that there will be less energy and less travel available,  I am wasting an opportunity for future happiness by splurging on travel etc- I should be splurging on bicycles, greenhouses, giving up coffee, raised bed gardens, solar panels, arts and crafts materials, and whatever else is inexpensive, I enjoy and is repeatable.

Each day we wake up and are faced with an enormous smorgasbord of activities that give us feelings, both good and bad. Good ones are feelings of camaraderie, social approval, social advancement, exercise, monetary gain, sleep, sex, playing with our dogs, watching a sunset with a loved one, being elected Mayor, writing a book and getting it published, eating good food etc.  Bad ones are social disapproval, losing money, getting fired, etc.  The best things in life really are free. People that structure their current lives (based on Peak Oil foresight), to maximize the net present value of all future happiness (brain chemical mix), will be ahead of those who fly to Africa or build more concrete.  But as human animals we are conditioned to live for the moment - we have to redefine the 'moment' as 'being more fit for the future'

Think on this. The proof of what I say is apparent to coffee drinkers - when are you happiest? When you are on your way to Starbucks and walking in, ANTICIPATING your coming caffeinated beverage reward? or after youve drunk it, when in fact the chemicals are in your system? Or three hours later?

I believe we each has it in us to design our post-peak oil smorgasbords- smaller energy footprint, equal or greater happiness to what we have now. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to be in a community with like minded people - then one satisfies reciprocal altruism algorithms, camaraderie algorithms etc as well as the material benefits (more food etc) that come from these areas. Washington DC and Atlanta will not be 'feel good' places as US energy per capita drops precipitously. Willits, CA and a community near you will be.

Splurge! But splurge on your own recipe for sustainable dopamine.

You raise a very important point here Sasquatch. Programming one's own happiness circuitry and that of one's family to be compatible with a low-energy lifestyle takes time. If successful, it will be much easier to maintain a positive attitude post-peak. There'll be plenty of depressed and hopeless people who will be disappointed with what the rest of their lives have to offer, just because they had inflated expectations. Why join them? Why allow your children to join them by raising them with unrealistic expectations?
IME, it doesn't work that way.  People don't become miserable when deprived of things they used to have.  At least, I don't.  My standard of living has been up and down like a yoyo, for various reasons.  I've lived overseas in Third World countries, where running water and electricity were not available.  I've taken jobs that resulted in much less disposable income.  Sure, I missed things sometimes (ice cream, and air-conditioning!).  But it didn't make me unhappy.  Human wants are infinite; you never get everything you want, no matter how much money you have.  If not getting everything you want makes you unhappy, you'll always be miserable.
On the ground in New Orleans, I can confirm this.  Not just for me, but many others as well.  Many have remarked upon the friendliness and giving of our fellow natives (not so true of our FEMA guests).

Some live in tents, without power, inside their gutted homes, other in small trailers.  Many inconveniences (I am still w/o natural gas, so cold baths, microwave cooking and floor heater heating).

Would I like not to have to plan my baths with help of the 7 day weather forecast ?  Of course !

Does it make me unhappy ?

No !

1) We could consider fixed vs. variable resource consumption.

If I take an optional personal car trip, all of that extra gas consumption and incremental C02 causes resource depletion and environmental. And it is all my fault.

If I fill an otherwise empty airline seat, there's virtually no difference in environmental impact, and we get more pleasure and social utility from the same amount of jet fuel. We amortize the environmental damage across more people.

If airline travel were really elastic--and they put on more planes to fulfil more demand--then there's an environmental cost. But I don't see airlines acting like that right now.

So, consider flying on a less-than-full redeye flight that is ferrying a plane back to point of origin. Or use a last-minute website to fill an empty seat. This doesn't work if everyone wants to do it, but they don't.

2) Jet fuel is jet fuel. We get a certain amount per barrel of crude. Not much else runs on it right now. Yes, it's environmentally damaging to burn, and we should conserve. But hoarding jet fuel won't solve shortage issues with any other types of fuels. So if we continue refining crude to get gasoline, and have excess jet fuel remaining, where would we store it, and for how long is it stable?

But if we were to choose not to give the airlines money then maybe they would go bankrupt faster? The ideal situation would be to find a way to get on that plane for free. Then you arn't using really any extra incremental resources, get free pretzels, and encourage the shutdown of the airline industry (or at least don't encourage the airline industries existence).
I thought jet fuel was basically kerosene. Lots third world people cook with it on little portable stoves.
(1) There are no immutably "otherwise empty airline seats", these days. The airlines have become pretty efficient about not flying empty seats - so efficient that overcrowding and constant cancellations contribute to the thoroughgoing awfulness of flying these days. Book a redeye? Huh? Maybe if you live in LA and want to fly to NY, and that's about it? The last time I tried to book a redeye, they treated me like I was from Mars. They hadn't flown redeyes for years, and that was back in the early 90s. The schedule boards at O'Hare these days tell me in no uncertain terms that aviation is an extended 9 to 5 industry like a shopping mall, not a 24-hour operation. And domestic flights after about 6pm are nearly useless because they are subject to such heavy cancellation.

(2) There is no immutable surplus of jet fuel. The crude fractions that become jet fuel could just as well become diesel or kerosene. With enough processing they could even become gasoline.

Jet fuel is kerosene, isn't it?
I very much like how you point to the inconsistencies and imprecisions of our ideas. How do you define peak oil ? What is oil anyway ? And so on. Very challenging.

And now kerosene. As I try to understand things with my own little mind, I also stumbled on a lot of confusion with these terms. Kerosene definitely belongs into this category (of confusing items). Is Kerosene a primary cut product ? A secondary product ? Finished jet fuel ? In textbooks everything looks fine but when you look at the EIA figures ? Isn't there some confusion in terms ? In the detailled statistics, jet fuel is definitely used apart from kerosene, kerosene beeing a generic product. But in the summary, kerosene seems to apply to finished jet fuel. So what is kerosene ?

So keep stimulating us, and perhaps you could help us to define these things more precisely !

Kerosene is jet fuel, just as heating oil is diesel fuel, to a very close approximation. Yes, there are different grades and varieties, as one would expect.

Note that different categories of fuel (e.g. diesel vs. home heating oil) are taxed differently and hence counted differently. Most people I know with diesel cars fill them up quite illegally with heating oil and when the weather gets really cold doctor they compound with additives. BTW, running a diesel at thirty or forty below zero, you want to be really careful to keep the fuel from turning into something that clogs things up. No law of chemistry says that you cannot dilute diesel with kerosene to get a thinner liquid.

I have been a spectator for a while on this website. I truly enjoy the balance and intelligence of the constituency, but have never posted. I believe the question put here is a simple one:
   Knowing that the end of a very liberating period of human existence is coming to a close, is it appropriate for one to "burn" this precious resource, while the infrastructure and cost structure are still at a level to support such, in a purely selfish manner.
   I do not consider myself suitable to sit in judgement of others. In fact, I believe one of the most significant needs of humanity is tolerance. I can see both sides of this argument.
   Side 1) Of the billions of homo sapiens to walk this planet, there are only a handful who will have had the opportunity to enjoy the ability we have had to circumnavigate the globe at will and see the wonderous diversity that spaceship earth has to offer. So make hay while the sun shines.
   Side 2) However, the price of such an ability seems to be at the expense of the very wonder we are allowed to examine. In addition, the resource being consumed could certainly be better used for the myriad wonders offered by our current understanding of chemistry and materials engineering (eg. pharmaceuticals). So preservation (read conservation) of the resource allows a longer term benefit.
   It has been my experience, in my few number of spins around Sol, that there are always three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. I think the truth is that there are just too damn many humans on the planet. With technology where it is today and only 100 million on the planet, someone calculate the longevity and opulence of our culture. The trouble is, who should be the ~2% left. As in all things, equilibrium will be maintained and feeder populations will eventually balance with the resource base. It doesn't matter whether you are Homo sapiens or Pan troglodytes. You cannot repeal natural laws by vote or use of the media. That is why they are called laws.
   In the final analysis, each inidividual must select their own path. Instead of looking at societal norms for guidance, examine and calibrate your own sense of fairness and see where that leads.
You forgot:

Side 3)  We're living beyond the sustainable consumption rate of fossil fuels, but not wind and sun.  Wind alone in the US and the continental shelves is enough to replace all energy the nation uses; the potential of solar is many times as great.  It behooves us to find ways to power all of our toys off this energy so we can stop the moralizing over the status quo.

"I do not consider myself suitable to sit in judgement of others."

Yet I can judge you well enough by this single contemptible utterance.


I'm not sure how this single "contemptable utterance" would provide enough information to make such a statement.

Please enlighten me.

Trust me, I am not being defensive..... merely curious at what penetration observation this information would allow a reader.

Human ethics is not rational. We only think it is.

They've done some fascinating research, by putting people in MRI machines and presenting them with ethical conundrums.  When asked about, say, flipping a switch to kill someone, we use the part of our brains that solves ordinary logic problems. (Should I take the train or the bus home from work?) But when the question involves killing someone with our own hands, it's the emotional centers of the brain that light up.

Neurologists speculate that, hard-wired for the Stone Age as we are, we just can't imbue pulling a switch with the emotional resonance of killing someone with our bare hands.

Another example: You are walking past a pond, and see a baby drowning. You're wearing $200 shoes, and don't have time to take them off. Do you save the baby's life and ruin your shoes?

Of course you do. If you don't, you're a horrible human being. However...isn't buying $200 shoes in the first place effectively the same choice? If you gave that $200 to Oxfam or the Red Cross, they could probably save several babies' lives with it. Our Stone Age brains don't see it that way, though.

So...maybe riding a plane is evil, because it uses up oil poor people need to live.  But then, isn't using a computer and the Internet also evil?  You don't need to be online; only a couple of decades ago, almost no one was.  Obviously, that's not a major concern of anyone here.  And it's not reasonable to expect it to be.  

Price will force conservation soon enough.  As it is, air travel is becoming more and more unpleasant.  High fuel costs have forced airlines to cut back on the number of flights as well as the number of employees.  Planes are increasingly crowded, employees ruder, amenities fewer.  And they're still losing money.  Eventually, they'll have to raise prices or go out of business.

This was such a great post!

I guess I am wired differently than most people, I must have a dysfunction in my limbic system because I get those primitive distress feelings from ordinary activities that most people take for granted because I do make those connections.

If I do this thing, how does it affect someone else, or the planet? What kind of impression does my lifestyle make on an observer? What is the option of least harm? How can I make my impact even less than what it is now? I am constantly looking for ways to cut back and there is very little left.

If you ask me, the world could use more of this kind of thinking. Or should I call it emotional reactivity?

Most people are too numb or too disconnected.They will not make any significant change until they have no choice.

Sorry, I have to disagree. Consider on the question of the rationality of ethics: Plato, Kant, Jacob Bronowski in "Science and Human Value."
A few fun questions there. With saving the kids but ruining the shoes, there is the case of the non-swimmer. In that case, you don't becuse you drown yourself too. HOWEVER, you can call 911, throw a floating object, etc. and save both the kid AND the "upscale" shoes. If others are around, you could scream "HELP!!!" and hope someone does jump in to save the kid.

Here's one: There is a petite yuppie lady with a Great Dane that gets away and attacks another yuppie's kid. You have a gun but no cell phone to call 911. Do you pop the "companion animal" to save the kid? I live in a place loaded with yuppies who are irresponsible enough to buy a dog too big for them to control.

With how arrogant and selfish yuppies get, I could get a last laugh as their wretched portfolios dematerialise in a supermassive market crash. BRING IT ON!!!

I was in a similar situation some years ago when an out-of-control running loose German shephard attacked a six year old girl waiting for a school bus near my place. Got the dog under control with no blood (not easy), tied it up and called police to get the dangerous animal to the pound, but in my pocket was my .44-40 Vaquero sixgun by Ruger as backup. In the Wild West, revolvers were used far more often on animals (typically a horse or cow with broken leg) than they ever were on humans. Also, a loud gun makes an excellent signalling device in case of emergency.

I've been bitten by an out-of-control dog while bike riding--not fun. A squirt gun loaded with household ammonia works well: Squirt it right in the eyes. Hate those damn out-of-control dogs and think their owners should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

I'm an old-fashioned guy.

I think travel for the reasons offered by TheFatLadyHasSung and Leanan is infinitely more important than 90% of business travel in general, and 100% of business travel to "conventions" and "trade shows". I'm assuming for the sake of argument that the fuel issues are urgent enough to justify sacrifice - otherwise there is no need for the discussion - and I still question the emphasis on vacation travel.

Why should anyone ever forgo a vacation, or bicycle to work, or do anything that might be experienced as a sacrifice, just fuel some salesperson or professor flying around the world and back again for the ego trip of delivering a quick PowerPoint in person instead of via the internet? Why should anyone lift a finger just to fuel executives and engineers flying ceaselessly back and forth between Stuttgart and Detroit in order that Daimler and Chrysler can pretend to meddle in each others' affairs? Many of these folks command huge salaries, built into the price of everything we must buy. Why shouldn't they be working productively instead of spending most of their time cooling their heels in the utter misery of our extravagantly expensive, dysfunctional, incompetently run air system?

There is a lot more to be said for interacting with folks of other cultures than there is for ego trips. Business deals will be made in any case, out of fiduciary duty; that makes the "handshake" trip superfluous. The traveling salesperson is likewise superfluous. PowerPoints can be uploaded, FTP'd, or emailed. We no longer need to ship protoplasm just to ship information.

Nonsense business flying has become so commonplace as to be beneath notice. As long as that continues, I wouldn't advise anyone to forgo a vacation trip.

Of course, vacation flight is practically free because it is paid for by exorbitant fares often extracted from  businesses and institutions, who are usually spending someone else's money, and very freely. Make business people learn how to use the internet and the telephone, take away their tax subsidies, and, voila, the subsidy to vacation flyers more or less goes away. Without that subsidy, we go full circle to the original thought: vacation flight all but ceases.

I've asked in various "green" groups if they could use more specialized "net conference" software.  The answer was always that they needed their face time.

I agree that they should see that as absurd, and should be demonstrating how to accomplish the same without the bodies in motion.

Of course, I recognice that "conference" is an "industry" and it's hard for everyone to break off what is a profitmaking venture.
With our embodied minds, communication is much more than simply providing information. I don't like flying (except on a very clear day when I can get a much different perspective of the earth than I get from the ground) but I do more than the median person and none of it is at my initiative.

It is because much of communication, some say 75% or better, is non-verbal and unconscious. When I speak, my goal is to grab you by the lapel and shake you such that when you walk out of that meeting you have such a different perspective than you had before (an 'aha' moment) that of your own free will you will change not only your own thinking and behavior but that of others (providing, of course, change is needed but it often is and is a very difficult thing for humans to do).

But for me to have that impact on you, you have to trust me and generating that trust is a process much better done in person. Two-way video technology and other virtual technology may eventually replace face-to-face but it isn't there yet. This is also a dangerous process as those who can do this really well can talk people out of their life's savings, into joining cults and into turning over their teenage daughters. No, I'm not nearly that good; rather, my opportunities occur because of the intersections of reductionist knowledge areas that I happen to inhabit.

Despite our self-perceptions, we are not rational beings. With the advent of fMRI technology (try putting 'fMRI' into blog and web search engines), fascinating work is underway in the neurosciences, cognitive linquistics and evolutionary psychology. Books by Steven Pinker, William Calvin, George Lakoff and others provide ports into this domain of understanding ourselves.

So why did you post this?

Not to be too rude, but obviously you think you can communicate the fact ... that you cannot communicate with me?

... maybe if you could "grab my lapel" or something.

Me thinks your response concisely makes my point (that because we humans do far better communicating in person, face-to-face than via any other medium people will pay more for that mode compared to others when the stakes are high).

Not that other mediums aren't important and that the balance isn't swinging away from face-to-face as the economics change. The printing press changed the world, likely not in the way initially expected by those initially promoting the technology, and the internet is doing so again. Over the generations evolution has honed our brains for face-to-face as we unconsciously continually evaluate cues transmitted by the other party, again mostly unconsciously. If we had been face-to-face, you would have been reading my reception of your delivery and likely shaped it and meanwhile, I'd been reading your delivery and shaped my response accordingly. Instead, my reading from your words is that you have taken offense at my response when none was intended and the balance between rational vs. negative emotional discourse has shifted. As such occurrences can adversely affect the dynamics of further communications, when the stakes are high people are likely to pay a higher price for the better mode.

Whether communicating with an audience or an individual if I can't get them actively and positively engaged, thinking critically about what they believe, and they remain passively engaged (only present and accounted for), I fail. Doing this successfully is a performance art and I'll chalk this one up as a failure. And offer my apologies.

The Secret Cause of Flame Wars

Funny that you quote that paper .. but define one meaning for my earlier comment?
Waking up a little more, I'll give more than the previous low energy responses.

I have read "Books by" (but never attened a lecture by) Pinker, Calvin, and some related (not Lakoff).  I'd apply those to this discussion by saying that both "jet flight conferences" and "computer mediated communication" are technical innovations not found in nature.

They both have seen evolution and improvement (as well as increasing overlap with pre-conference message boards and post-conference podcasts springing up).

The strength of the jet flight conference is its short intense communication.  It's disadvantage is that it reaches few people, and unless augmented by print, podcast, or video ... is lost.

(I might actually have listened to a podcast of Pinker or Calvin.)

The strength of computer mediated communication is that it can reach millions, does not require physical or temporal coordination and inherently preserves knowledge for "late arrivals."

Given the direction of evolution, I'd ask how long the silent audience is required in meatspace?  In technical and practical terms, I'd say not long.  Of course, while they're paying a few grand a head, and subsidizing the more active participants, they (sadly) become a reason to hold back the evolution.

Would a $3K/seat conference notice a fall-off in registration if they offered podcasts of each presentation an hour after it was given?  If so ... what does that tell you?

The Fat Lady feels famous!  A few thoughts:  I've only been reading TOD for a week or two, but what impresses me is that there is a wide variety of people with strong opinions here that generally get along pretty well.  I'm 55, have a Ph.D. in the hard sciences, but have been involved in the venture capital / emerging technology business for 25 years.  I invested for a major insurance company in a wide range of deal some incredibly successful and some incredible failures.  Nature of the business.  I did the first financings for a number of environmental technology companies back in the 1990's.  So I will put up my "greenness contribution to the planet" up against just about anybody, despite the fact that I'm a money grubbing capitalist.

As a complete technological optimist (meaning we will eventually be able to solve anything) I was stunned to discover a few months that ago PO can't be solved.  And that the rate of a 5-8% depletion per annum will probably result in a dieoff (we are dumber than yeast).  

In the long run we're all dead and the world runs out of oil. I guess your viewpoint is how much of a run you personally have left.  So I'm hitting the road this year, but I'm also buying as Vespa in the spring.  Not to cancel anything out, but they look like fun!

Seems like you are giving up. If you anyway are giving up send  your excess capital over here please. And please send it with some knowledgeable friend to discuss its use with. I got plenty of ideas, my own and others, but they turn out half done when I am on my own.

On the other hand, I am not important for the world. The general problem is: How can a contracting economy be manipulated so that available resources migrate from those who give up to those why try even if there realy is a die off? Its no use having depressed rich people mourning to death thinking about using their golf hotel and idle machine shop as funural pyre since the world ends with them. The current most important mechanism for this is bankruptcy.

I agree with Leanan, the crucial point is that we are not rational animals. Thats how we can keep saying "we're running out, but it doesn't matter how much i use". A veneer of educated concern helps maintain our self importance, but actually taming our appetites is not at all appealing, and so endless (ir)rationalisations are produced to justify our 'thinking'.

The argument that others will simply use the oil anyway A. predicts the future, a dodgy business, & B. ignores the fact that LEARNING to live with less, adaptating, is the best, if not the only 'preparation' we need to be pursuing for the collapse in progress. The longer i rely on oils crutch, the lower my chances of saving my sorry hide and making any useful contribution. Change is hard, but business as usual will make the hardest of crashes.

I'm with Liam, Lasaquatsh, Stoneleigh on this. Now that I know how precious the stuff is it does matter how much I use; wanting a crash sooner notwithstanding. And personally & family, friendwise do I think we need to be preparing, like maybe no tomorrow to get some things done. Do I still have to live with both feet in the carbon world; yeah, but I am practicing walking in the postcarbon one & given the falling & crawling I better practice a lot more. I think this practice part is WAY underestimated.   Do I think my best friend who bought my van that wasn't selling to take his teens out west is wrong; I'd be practicing otherwise I think but I'll celebrate his trip; with envy at times.
I can't answer the poll.  My father was a carrier pilot, and we flew a lot when I was growing up.  We once took a commercial helicopter flight off the top of the PanAm building.  In the 90s, I flew in my firm's two-engine commuter fairly often.  I enjoyed all of it.

But I have lost so much confidence in commercial airlines that I'd be more likely to take a train than fly.  The post 9/11 security measures only make flying sound like a bigger hassle.

Right now, I'd only take a commercial flight if my job depended on it.

The point I wanted to make about "getting out of the box" (i.e., the car), is that it is not the case that your chance to enjoy travel to beautiful places will disappear when cheap oil does. Party on when the cheap oil party is over. Do it by bike and foot.

PhilM says people who don't conserve are effing selfish and sad. The problem with that statement is its underlying assumption that an effective solution to the problem of global warming and oil depletion is for people to act altruistically for the good of all. And when someone doesn't we can change that by calling them names and trying to shame them. Good luck with that. It doesn't work.

Gas is cheap right now. Motorists get a lot of subsidies. Driving is legal. To change people's behavior you have to change the incentives, not call them names. The upside of peak oil is that it will change the incentives, and break through the political inertia that makes it (apparently) impossible for politicians to change the incentives through legislation.

Yeah, but if you want to walk along the Great Wall of China and you live in Iowa, you aren't gonna do it by bike.  :)
Yeah but, if you want to go to alpha centauri and are out of interstellar space pods, it doesn't mean you have to stay home and sulk. There's a big world of amazing sights within a 2000 mile radius of Iowa, all of it reachable under your own power.
And by all means, do that, if that's what you want.

For me, I think you never regret the things you do. You regret the things you could have done, but didn't.  

Can't ... communicate... not ... getting .... through.... ugh!

I guess we're in violent agreement :)

I'm saying after the party's over, you'll find there's still a party if you look more locally.

I'm not counting on that.  
2000 miles is a long bike ride.
Not really: Some years ago I met a guy who was pedalling his adult tricycle (to promote the product) from Key West, Florida to Fairbanks, Alaska. Now that was a long ride . . .

Year before last I met an old geezer who claimed that he was aiming for the Guinness Book of World Records as most lifetime bicycle miles. I signed his logbook, and I do not remember how many miles were the total, but it was well over 100,000, and at the age of seventy plus he was still doing over 12,000 miles per year by bike and loving every minute of it. My guess is that he will still be bicycling at age 100. Other than having great aerobic sex, I think biking is probably the healthiest exercise one can have.

I'm surprised that you didn't recommend the sailboat, and folding bike, for the China trip ;-)

(People who sail/bike for long distance travel have some great experiences.  On biking ... how about Pedaling for a pint from Japan to Ireland?  It's a great book.  My mom picked up a copy for me in Ireland ... not sure if it is widely available elsewhere.)

My favorite biking book is "Miles from Nowhere." Good stuff in there, and I found all observations to be cogent and correct. Also, there are some hilarious parts . . . .
You have to be physically fit, and then it might be something like a 3 week trip if you don't stop anywhere for too long. I've done it. Even if you don't start out in great shape you get that way pretty quick. We were talking about travel for enjoyment and memorable experiences. Some of my most memorable and enjoyable experiences were on long bike or hiking trips. (It helps to not have a job, kids, or other responsibilities tying you down :)

I think a lot of people don't realize that the reason their bodies feel weak and hurt all the time is because they're not using them!

The Poll doesn't have any questions I could check off.

I liked the comment about how 75% of Japanese felt there was a duty to serve others.  Our (USA's) 'individualism' can really trip us up a lot of times.  We act like "Cuz I wanted to" is somewhere in the bill of rights.  Rights don't even exist, unless we agree to grant them to each other.  They're not just 'out there' somewhere.  We made them up, in an inspired moment.  But we act like they're all about 'What's coming to me', not about 'what I'm giving to all my neighbors, because I believe in these concepts'  So our mutual responsibility seems to get lost in the mix.  Self-made men, all. (Don't tell Mom I said that)

I don't think it's wrong to fly.  I think it's important for people to be out in the world, making connections and seeing that people in other places are not 'aliens'.. something America can stand to be told over and over again.

I just think that, since we ARE now looking into this Oil-abyss, that we have an opportunity and an obligation to find ways to apply what Petrol energy we can, WHILE we can, towards the development of alternates, efficiency-measures and infrastructure changes that will become increasingly essential as oil's easy power gets more restricted.

Is it something in our National mentality about planning and trusting in Long-term thinking?  Why is this discussion about 'what vacation do I still get to give myself, cuz I think I deserve it.'  Sure, we'll take vacations.  We have to, here and there. Fun trips, great places sometimes..  but deciding to hog what you can while there's still some in the ground is just glutting.  There are some critical things we might only be able to accomplish by using what we can from this remaining resource, and BEFORE the run on the bank comes.  Retooling industries, Redeveloping Railways, Researching other Alternatives, Rehashing the Highway System (Asphalt, you should already know, is a Byproduct of Petrol Distillation), Building Zeppelins??, ..  I don't think this has to throw us back to the Stone Age, but it could.  It could.  And "Let's Party til it's over, then we'll figure it out" sounds like a roadsign to the Stone Age.

"It's not over 'til I say it's over! WHO'S WITH ME?!" -bluto

It's 4 am where I live, I got up to refuel the wood stove so that when the spouse gets up it will be warm.  I always read this  site for amusement when I do this.  Is there hope?  Sometimes.   You folks have said all the usual stuff about travel.  I agree with a lot of it.  I had the good luck in my previous life to travel a lot.  I even stood there in the Kremlin listening to Gore having an argument with Gorby just before the collapse of the Soviet Union.  I remember thinking "This guy is real smart.  How come their president is so much smarter than our president?"  I also mentioned there to Amory Lovins that we sure had burned a huge amount of kerosene getting to a conference about global good stewardship, and he rolled his eyes around like a pinball machine and answered "Yea, you're right".

None of this interesting stuff would have happened to me if I had just kept  home with the wood stove.

But still, if a sin is that which we do that our grandchildren will regret, then air travel is a sin. A Big One.  Especially since we know how to get there without painting the sky with contrails.  Don't ask me how.  Last time I suggested how you all hooted me down with lots of empty economics.  Look it up yourselves. I am going back to bed.

Last time I calculated thism Amtrak was 74 pax-mile/gallon and Southwest was 52 pax-mile/gallon.

A difference, but not worth the extra travel time and risk taking AMtrak (did you know that Amtrak kills 70 to 90 people/year ?   Mostly members of the general public. Also more passengers are killed on Amtrak per pax-mile by a factor of twenty+).

Aviation is getting steadily more fuel efficient.  The 787 will use 20% less fuel than the 767 it replaces and a 25% more fuel efficeint replacement for the 737 is likely in 2012.

Right, Alan, and I love N'Awlins food too, used to play HS football there and have the missing teeth to prove it.

But what you gotta do ( and I am sure you and all us noble engineers around here  know this full well) is compare the really true costs (like frying the planet) of all the options for getting around, and then look for the best ways and then go for them, keeping in mind that what we start off thinking might be best might turn out to be  quite stupid when we actually get to it, so we have to be fast on our feet and quick to jump on the best hoss running.

As for killing people with trains, sure, we do lots of  that.  But do we need to? One of the things to do is to look at other people and see what they are doing and could do that might be better. I used to love to travel on trains in Germany.  But not here.

I will now actually make a suggestion, knowing well that I am putting my hoary head on the chopping block.  Just slow down, people-why rush?-- Cancel that, somebody might feel compelled to tell me why rush.  Don't rush.

And by the way, Vespas are cute all right, and damn dangerous.  I knew a truly wonderful young person who did not survive her first ride on wet bricks.

"Peak Asphalt" is not a major concern.  Centuries left as oil quality goes downhill. Canadian tar sands and Venezula tar are both excellent sources with massive reserves.

Asphalt is plentiful today as crude oil quality drops.  Asphalt (and low quality bunker fuels) are the least at risk oil products.

Very good point.

From my personal view, when the going gets tough, the tough go sailing. Without using an engine I can sail down to see where New Orleans used to be before the Greenland and antarctic ice caps melted, or I can sail across Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes, down the St. Lauranence Seaway and through the new Northwest Passage that should be showing up in a few decades.

With a twenty-eight foot cruising sailboat (either good wooden one or made from other materials), provisions, charts, a few instruments such as a sextant and magnetic compass, an expert seaman/sailor/navigator can go anywhere in the world. You can go by yourself, as Slocum and many other did to sail around the world, or you can go as a couple, which is more fun. If you want to have more than two people on board, you need a somewhat bigger boat, but be sure that everybody gets along extremely well with everybody else.

Both Iceland and New Zealand are on my itinerary, two of my very favorite countries.
P.S. Don't try this until you have had at least 2,000 hours of sailing experience, been aground at least once, and been lost in a fog, possibly in a shipping lane.

You omitted to say "I digress..." LOL

You are a quite a wise old owl (not that old and meant as a compliment). If you are tempted by that path and things turn out as I expect I would plant a few ideas in your mind.

Have a base community that you can return to if the outside world is found to be too nasty, make sure it can sustain itself - that preparation should be starting already. Maybe your greatest treasure will be seeds, please commence growing as wide a variety of vegetables - and multiple varieties of each type, and learning to save seeds this summer (if you haven't already), that means no hybrid varieties. When you travel, carry some of your surplus seeds, it will make you welcome most places. Learn some practically useful skills, I'd guess you have one or two already, let your own inclinations guide you on that. I could go on for pages but there is time enough for that later.

I hope you have or find a pussycat, beware the bongs.

Thank you. My source of seeds is southernexposure.com  the Southern Exposure Seed exchange. I do have a solid base. Anytime I feel like going sailing, I do so. Currently my biggest projects are restoring an old wooden sailing boat and teaching my granddaughters to sail.

We are pirates, my granddaughters and I: The skills required to be a pirate, I suspect, will be of great value in times to come.

Oh, and for birthday presents, I give them bows and arrows.
Truly, I am an optimist.

Good, but you must learn to grow and save your own seeds. Almost nothing is more important if things pan out the way I, and perhaps you, see. If you can think of a more critical resource I ache to know. If you are truly as well set as you say then you should fare well and your worst enemy may be complacency ;)
A more critical resource: friends with seeds and bows and arrows, and chickens, and land, and shelter, etc. I think THE biggest resouce post peak will be social capital.
You are 100% correct about the importance of social capital.

And in regard to an earlier post, there are old sailors and there are complacent sailors. There are no old complacent sailors.

Going out in a small boat on, say, Lake Superior, is a truly humbling experience. Native Americans did this in big birchbark canoes . . . though they did stick close to shore.

Currently I am using my own potatoes and jerusalem artichokes to grow more; i.e. am saving my own seed stock. However, I like to keep experimenting with various varieties.

BTW I am a great fan of Black Mexican Corn--so much better for flavenoids than the hybrid varieties, and it does well in Northern Lattitudes. Also, out of respect for Native American traditions, I often put a small fish in with each planting of three seeds. This is great fertilizer. (Alternatively, fish guts also make great fertilizer; then you can feed the little fish to your cat or eat them yourself.)

Many places in the old and new testaments of The Bible refer to a seven year tribulation followed by a judgment. We appear to be in a position that many of the catastrophic events prophesied in relation to this tribulation seem downright inevitable in the wake of peak oil, climate change, declining water tables, etc. These include wars, rumors of wars, kingdom against kingdom, famine, pestilence, brother betraying brother.

A tribulation is a testing. Jesus says very clearly that the judgment after the tribulation will be based upon how we meet the needs of "the least of our brothers". What if this tribulation were something like peak oil, and the question that we may be answering is, what did you do, when you had the opportunity to take for yourself and others were left short?

You don't hear too many Christian churches looking at it from this angle, but it's all right there.

Dang it! I guess GW hasn't been listening too much to Jesus.

Perhaps the Christian churches should be majoring on spreading the word about peak oil, that way they will help do the most good.

Do I sense a hint of judgement in "What if this tribulation were something like peak oil, and the question that we may be answering is, what did you do, when you had the opportunity to take for yourself and others were left short?"

I am doing my best to inform people, be self sufficient in vegetables (already) and other things when I can, helping people grow their own food through voluntary work, thinking about becoming a 'sustainable communities nomad' to learn and then pass on skills, building a set of useful information on important skills and technology to put online. If TS really HTF and I survive I know I will help many others to survive, feed themselves and re-skill.

What are you and your church doing?

I apologise if my tone if a mite disparaging - I mean no personal offence to you and you are welcome to the religion that most suits you, I respect your choice. I have a low opinion of monotheisms, though, and would perhaps label myself as cosmotheist with pagan tendencies.

Do your pagan tendencies include pussycats and bongs?
LOL. I have partaken in the occasional bong, but not in the Lear sense. It would be too crude for me to comment on pussy here. Cats and I are antipathetic, birds are my friends and I talk with them, cats are disposed to kill birds, I throw stones at all cats that come near my garden. Cats feel amoral to me, that is alien to who I am, I will accept them pursuing their inclinations outside my sphere of influence but within it they must observe my rules. In brief: not all pagans like cats.
They walk by themselves and all places are alike to them
as Rudyard Kipling observed.
Egyptians worshipped cats for good reasons. Without cats, rodents tend to get out of control and eat all your grain or spread plague. Cities that the Black Death touched lightly (or not at all) often were famous for their cats. Cities without cats sometimes lost three-quarters of their populations.

In regard to bird populations, some birds earn Darwin awards, but most of them do not.

Thanks for asking about the tone of judgment. I wrote this simply to point out the criteria of one judge (the only judge in my opinion), not myself.

Jesus also chastized those who point out when someone else has a speck in their eye, while they have a plank in their own. One of the hard parts of knowing what we know about peak oil is NOT judging.

For what it's worth, my wife and I went to Hawaii last fall, in advance of having our first baby. There aren't easy answers to this question.

Forgive this pedantic point: displacement of judgement onto some religious personage while arguing that judgement is somewhat hypocritical.

But you have not answered my question: What are you and your church doing about it? I have done you the courtesy of my answer, I look forward to similar from you and perhaps a commitment to do more.

I know someone who looted Big Lots for food and something to drink.  The first shopping basket she pushed back through the water she gave it all away.  She kept some of the second basket for herself.

Looters sharing with others is how people survived for 5 days in terribly humid heat.

OTOH, her group begged news crews, military, etc. for days to PLEASE take the small children with them as they drove past.  None did.

I took 3 people without cars out with me when I evacuated.   Wish we had left most of our collective luggage and taken a fourth.

Seriously, and with no attempt to be funny, I do think you are onto something. Perhaps at this point one of our best hopes is that George Bush falls off his horse on the road to San Antonio, has a vision, renames himself George Shrub and begins listening to scientists instead of lawyers and fat cats.

BTW, I am not a Christian, but I am a great admirer of the wisdom of Jesus. Especially, I find it useful to mingle among publicans and sinners, because they frequently know what is actually going on.

Suggestions for future polls:

Is driving a gasoline-powered auto wrong?

Is driving an electric-powered auto wrong?

Is pushing a Harley instead of riding a rice-burner wrong?

Is living in more than 320 SF per person wrong?
(I divided the area of my house by the number of people living there.)  

(We're considering an addition.  A small addition. Is that wrong?)

Is heating your house with oil wrong?

Is heating your house with coal wrong?

Is heating your house with wood pellets wrong?

Is heating your house with corn, instead of making ethanol, wrong?

Is heating your house with hemp, instead of smoking it, wrong, man?

Is heating your house wrong?

Is eating animals instead of plants wrong?

Is agriculture wrong?
(tip of the hat to Jared Diamond)

Was inventing the bow and arrow wrong?

Is having more than two children wrong?

Is having more than one child wrong?
(tip of the hat to China)

Is having a child wrong?

Is being alive, and using resources that someone else could use, wrong?

Good questions Donal. Your list ultimately gets at the meaning of life. We are each of us 6 billion+ acting in ways that evolutionarily met with success. Our intellect is too small to overcome the limbic drives within us. Some things we have long evolutionary leashes, like fidelity. Others have short leashes, like eating. We really cant be 'faulted'. Do you condemn a cat for killing a bird, or a dog for crapping in the backseat of your car? Or a bear for eating a salmon? Life is life, and it will move on whether humans are the lead actors or not.  The stage is set - we've been through the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution and are now in the early years of what one day might be known as the sustainability revolution.

The answer (to me) is 'sustainable dopamine'. What ways are there for us to receive the feel good brain cocktails consistent with our wiring that are sustainable or steady-state for the planet. You can add whatever moral filters on top of that you like but its the only pursuit consistent with a species who uses as many resources as possible, yet is also aware that he is using those resources, and they are finite.

To live sustainably yet miserably wont do either, because given our programming we wont stand for it, and there will increasingly exist cheating at the margin. We have to WANT to live sustainably to the point of a relative fitness impulse saying 'wow -look at that guy - he is WAY more sustainable than you...' and causing jeaulousy.