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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.


The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Monday, June 09, 2008

CBS News -- U.S. Gas Heading to $6 a Gallon in Next Few Months

CBS says gas will be heading to $6 a gallon in the next few months, as $139 a barrel oil works its way through the supply chain.

Of course, famed oilman Matthew Simmons apparently feels every $20 per barrel of oil comes to another $1 in gas prices, so by that reckoning they should move closer to $7, assuming oil doesn't rise any further. And it probably will.

The problem is peak oil. The world burns/consumes roughly one cubic mile of oil every year, and keeps increasing demand, but can't increase supply of what is, after all, a finite resource. It doesn't help that we've used up all the easily found and extracted oil, such that the ratio of energy used for finding, extracting and refining oil has gone from 100 barrels gained for every one used in that process in the 1850s, to 4 or 5 barrels gained for every one used today.

Coal is similarly providing us with decreasing power, though its volume continues to increase -- the cleaner, higher energy coal sits on the top of deposits, and is always the first to get mined out.

I realize some people find the suggestion that they should avoid using as much oil as possible irritating, so those folks can go right on driving themselves into bankruptcy and ignore all this.

But for those of you who don't want to lose everything you own trying to drag around thousands of pounds of metal and plastic to every place you go... some suggestions.

One, find out where the buses, subways and any other public transit are in your area. Can you use them? Can you drive somewhere, park, and use them?

Two, if you have to drive, is there a more efficient way of doing so? The obvious trick is to drive a smaller car, especially for longer journeys. The other obvious tactic is to carpool. But have you tried a bicycle? An electric-assist bicycle? A velomobile? A scooter? A motorcycle? A three-wheeled, possibly covered motorcycle?

Three, if you can change the source of energy powering your travels to something renewable, and then invest in creating that renewable power yourself, you may find it far more economic to move yourself around. For example, outside the Southeast (and even in the Southeast's Appalachian Mountains), there's quite a bit of windpower around. There's also micro-hydro, tidal, solar, etc. If nothing else, you can always put some windblades on your alternator and stick it up on a 'tower'/flagpole. If you have decent average windspeeds, a few car batteries can form a storage system.

If you can power your electric scooter yourself, then technically, you never have to 'run out of gas.' Then again, the same is obviously true of a bicycle. An electric-assist bicycle is basically a bike that can kick in some extra motor power for speed or to get you up hills. Velomobiles are covered bicycles, though they often have electric motors to move you about.

Motorcycles use far less gas than almost any cars, and some of them are diesel powered.

Biodiesel, by the way, is essentially a mixture of alcohol and vegetable oil. In Hawaii, kukui or 'candlenut' is apparently an extremely plentiful source of such oils. Elsewhere, walnuts are highly productive. But trees take a while to grow, so you may find other sources, such as sunflowers or rapeseed (canola) to be better interim bets.

And above all things, finally, store some food, and if at all possible, grow a garden. Fossil fuels go into many, many things, including almost all of our fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and, oh yes, diesel fuel for our tractors and trucks. In a sense, we basically 'eat oil.' So you can expect your food bills to start skyrocketing any time now.

There. I hope that wasn't too painful. But if it was, don't worry. You can always look forward to paying for $6 and $7 a gallon gas, if that makes you feel better. =)