The impact of rising oil prices on society
It is anticipated that the price of oil will continue to increase, as we have now gone beyond what is often described as ‘Peak Oil’ that is the point at which the maximum number of oil depository discoveries are being made. We are entering a situation where previously uneconomical sources of oil such as using Coal to Oil technology, as detailed in a differing article are becoming viable. However these sources will not last, and it will eventually reach a point at which oil will either have to be rationed, the burden for which will be shared by all taxpayers, or a split society will prevail, whereby those unable to afford the prices will suffer.
The doomsday scenario of rationed oil, and or markedly contrasting wealth may occur, however what may be more likely is that people will increasing look to obtain jobs within closer proximity, and the focus of commuting will be on public transport, which are themselves reliant and interdependent on oil prices. Localisation therefore is beginning to take centre stage, the principle upon which Eco Towns are based, through which clever planning of mixed use developments we may be able to achieve such a lifestyle change.
Cities (ignoring the new eco towns) were recently designed to cater for the motor vehicle, and thus a world without would be somewhat much harder. An example is the city of Milton Keynes, built circa 1960; it operates on a grid based system, similar to many in the US. Although efficient for reducing traffic, this means that those without a car may struggle to reach large out of town supermarkets or retail parks. We need to look closely at the use of inter city public transport schemes such as the Sheffield and or Nottingham Tram system.
Deliveries for food will be more expensive and this cost will consequently be passed onto the customer through higher food and drink prices, thus the benefits of self growing your own food have never been more prevalent.
The government is making strides to resolve this pressing issue which is slowly creeping up on us as a society through Eco Towns and increasing funding on public transport, (although other schemes such as widening of the M25 are not so clever).
Energy is also increasingly a vital commodity, the source of which for future use is debateable; therefore the need to reduce our energy consumption, attaining a power down approach has never been more important.
Both Oil and Global warming and entwined threats, both able to be tackled by similar approaches such as reducing your commuting distance to growing your own food. Changes need to be made in how we live, and these may end up arising not through personal choice but by outside economic and social pressures, through higher taxes, costs, leading to a situation whereby individuals who fight the system, and refrain from being environmentally friendly or ‘green’ may be coerced by a sense of peer pressure to conform, or alternatively be forced out of their environment in which they live.