mnmlist: localization

What would happen if fuel prices suddenly became not just expensive but ridiculous? What if gas shot up to $20 per gallon?

The notion of driving everywhere would suddenly seem crazy. We drive far wide and often because gas is relatively cheap. But if it were costly we’d walk and bike more. We’d take transit and car-share. We’d work and shop and eat and visit people near our homes. We’d be healthier because we drove less. And we’d have to work less to support our driving.

The notion of shipping everything everywhere would also seem crazy. Today we get packages shipped to us all the time. Food and goods get shipped all over the world several times over. But that requires a lot of fuel — and if fuel were costly we’d give that practice up. Instead we’d get our food and goods locally. We might even start growing our food ourselves — it’s not that far-fetched a notion when you consider how many people are starting to grow their own food these days in cities and suburbs.

The notion of heating and cooling the entirety of our (huge) houses would also become crazy. Today we heat 100% of our houses when it’s cold even if we only occupy a small percentage of the heated area. But what if we took the Japanese idea of having a small heater with a blanket that families sit around to get warm? Or a family bath that’s heated instead of the entire home? There are many ideas we’d come up with for heating locally and more efficiently.

Alternative energies would become more important. People would travel less and start to get to know their local areas more. People would begin walking their neighborhoods and getting to know their communities. Imagine that.

Here’s the kicker: fuel already is incredibly expensive — we just don’t pay the entire price at the pump. We pay for it later through costs to our health our communities our environment. We’re going to pay for it later as the rising cost of polluting our earth and heating up our climate comes to collect its toll.