Legal Law

$4.90 per gallon

We just received our contract price for fuel oil for the upcoming heating season and the price was $4.90/gallon. Our 2007-2008 contract price for heating was $2.79/gallon. We use about 1,000 gallons to heat our house. We will not pay it! We purchased a wood pellet furnace and purchased 5 tons of pellets which should cover most of the heating season. Our pellet oven, listed as carbon free, will pay for itself in savings in a season! Pellets, at current prices, will save us about $3,700/year. Assuming costs rise proportionately, pellets will always save us thousands of dollars on heating each year while adding basically no carbon to the atmosphere.

Consumers are going to have to change their spending habits. Since the pellets are produced in Maine, it makes sense to adjust our spending and use what makes sense for our region. It would be wise to follow this same approach elsewhere. We have become so accustomed to mega-solutions that we have ignored a more rational regional approach to meeting our energy needs. While solar power is certainly viable almost anywhere, at least as backup power, it would seem to make sense to use it as a primary power source in sunnier regions. Wind turbine generators may be more viable in certain regions, as is hydroelectric power in others.

It is no longer a question of stopping importing oil. That option has passed. We have been hit in the head by the 2×4 oil rig and consumers need to respond accordingly. While we can hope that a new administration will help our transition to more viable and environmentally friendly power sources, don’t hold your breath. It could be years before politicians, regardless of who is elected in November, make any temporary financial support available. The power of oil is too entrenched to think that everything will be fine when we have a new president. Time is not on our side. If we wait for Washington to act, we will have lost the planet to the cockroaches. Smart money says bite the bullet and find alternative energy sources now. Buy fuel-efficient cars now; unfortunately, they will probably have to be foreigners since Detroit is still in its own dream world. And, while automakers are cutting back on manufacturing for the big gas eaters, along with job losses, they don’t get high marks for introducing an affordable lineup of fuel-efficient cars. Some of their hybrids don’t get as good fuel economy as regular, business-as-usual foreign imports; they will be left behind in innovation. I’m not sure what will happen, but the BBC had a report of a British car manufacturer producing a petrol vehicle that gets 80mpg. This is apparently done by drastically reducing weight by using carbon fibers for body work. Maybe this is what we can do with all the excess carbon, make cars out of it.

On another front, rising food costs have been attributed, at least in part, to increased use of biofuels. “The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Food Price Index rose a steep but manageable 8% in 2006, but then was much steeper, 24%, in 2007 and up 53% in the first three months of this year — just an unprecedented increase.” If you’ve shopped recently, it’s clear that prices are going up, and as you know, once they’re up, they don’t tend to go down much. With gas basically at $4.00/gallon and a $5.00/gallon forecast for September, it is clear that the consumer must act now to prevent their own demise.

According to Michigan Business (05/31/08) “The steepest increases in food prices since 1990 are hurting grocery shoppers, restaurants and school cafeterias, but making others rich.
Winners in the new food economy include farmers selling corn and wheat at near-record levels after years of staggeringly low prices. Ingredient manufacturers like Cargill and ADM are flush with profit. Fertilizer and tractor companies are getting paid. Hedge funds that made big bets on rising wheat, soybeans and corn were spectacularly right. Oil and gas companies too – you need natural gas to cook those Wheaties and diesel to transport them across the country.” Rising food and fuel prices are here to stay and there may even be lean periods, but they don’t have to take the pain. Prudent and wise spending decisions now can soften the economic blow that looms very large just around the corner. Australian wheat is suffering under drought conditions and who knows what calamities may lie ahead this summer.

Remember, you cannot trust the government to deal with these problems effectively. Just look at Louisiana and the toxic houses that FEMA gave those poor residents for housing. NPR’s recent report on formaldehyde poisoning in FEMA trailers should be a warning about the government’s dependency. In my book, RAPING LOUISIANA: A DIARY OF DECEIT, the government’s incompetence in dealing with disasters is well documented. Between energy and food issues, you’d be wise to plan how you’ll get through a not-so-short period of economic contraction and transformation. With the power of the bag, the consumer can drive change in a way that makes sense. Time to wake up, read the signs of the times and take control of your life.

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