Sunday, January 25, 2009

What Are the Possibilities....

From The Oil Drum comes an essay regarding the potential of social breakdown in the future due to "peak everything." The short answer is - low potential, for a variety of reasons. Those reasons make interesting reading, and confirm (for me) that political leadership and community cohesion will be the key to survival.

In the comments there is an interesting exchange regarding liquid fuels and infrastructure activities in France. Knocking the French may be emotionally satisfying, but it is clear they are way ahead of us in some ares and we could do worse than to emulate them. Alan Drake (Alan from Big Easy) offered this nugget:

After 3 decades of "one line at a time", France has 3 TGV lines under construction at one time. The original plans are 100 km from completion, a new set of lines is planned.

France has a goal of electrifying every meter of their railroads and "burning not one drop of oil".

They plan to build 1,500 km of new tram lines in the next decade, and in every town of 100,000 or more (and some in less). Even Reunion (their "Hawaii" in the Indian Ocean) will get a train-tram between all of the populated areas.

They plan to increase bicycling from 1% of Urban trips to 10% (see velib, rental bikes, first 1/2 hour free).

They have urban growth boundaries to prevent sprawl.

They still use oil, but they are creating a Non-Oil Transportation system in parallel that they can move to if the oil based one gets stressed.

Mr. Obama ought to consider an infrastructure project that modernizes our rail system across the board. It seems like a self-evident no-brainer to me. Of course it would not be in keeping with our Happy Motoring culture. But this would be part of the "change we can believe in." If the French can pull it off, why not us?

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