Friday, September 26, 2008

Mad Max

The aftermath of Katrina left much of the southeast United States short on gas as refineries and pipelines shut down. A few weeks ago, I was in Asheville, NC seeing something familiar in the aftermath of Ike. Asheville is at a high altitude and it's hard for gas shipments to reach there after a crisis. It was pretty exciting, really, to see the entire region practically shut down. Many gas stations ran out of gas, others--mostly independent retailers--had prices going up to about $5 a gallon. Some stations tied to the oil majors had lower prices, but had large lines. Traffic plummeted and at the clinic I was working at, many people cancelled appointments.

Well, this is still ongoing. From what I hear, gas is still in short supply, and stations either have no gas or long lines for expensive gas. Police are stationed at pumps, and all sorts of events have been shut down or curtailed. It's a great glimpse at our dependence on fossil fuels, and the chaos and anarchy underling the well-greased market system of tradable goods and services. It's tough to imagine Appalachia with excessive gas prices. Without roads to connect far-flung valley communities and mountain outposts, you either have self-contained hamlets or a handful of denser areas. And without the tourism or expansive mountain cabins, there are few remaining attractions. It's going to be a lot easier to replace this addiction with biofuels or compressed natural gas rather than move to a Japanese or European style of living.

No comments: