Will we recall the oil decline beginning like Georgia, N.C.?

My friend Katharine has commented on her own LiveJournal on the gasoline that cannot be found in metro Atlanta. Other reports I've read note great anxiety in western North Carolina with spot shortages in other Southern locations.

The word is that these shortages are due to hurricane-hampered refinery production, but new refineries aren't going to be very helpful if we're reaching the point where easy-to-extract oil ends, and all oil becomes painfully expensive. Hubby and I bought our new place for several reasons: one was to be less oil-dependent that we might otherwise be. (Remind me of that as food transportation costs become more noticeable: you can't really escape oil use in our economy.)

I wonder if the folks back home shouldn't welcome this recent shortage as a dry run for times to come.

Are churches planning ahead for expensive oil?

I keep up with oil prices -- and even with the recent increases past $90, $100 and $110 -- yelped when New York crude jumped to more than $129 in morning trading.

Moan as I might about governments failing to plan for change and groan as I might that warnings about a bubble seem like wishful thinking, individuals are planning for a future of expensive transportation and food. Are churches among these?

  • What can we do, Unitarian Universalists particularly, given our church growth model of the last two generations has been based on automobile-dependent, suburban establishments?
  • What can we do given our primary mode of training and inter-congregation community building has been in national and regional meetings?

We don't have a generation to figure out a solution.

Life at $4 a gallon

Within a three day period, I have spoken with two persons in completely unrelated situation (and different locales) who have made statements starting "when gas hits $4 a gallon we'll have to . . . ." with something not-nice following.

You, dear readers, know how much I like dense urban development and reliable, efficient public transportation and options to single-occupant driving. I also like full-fat ice cream but I'm on a diet and we don't always get what we like. For many, many people, there's nothing but hardship in expensive gasoline, so I suppose the first thing to do is mourn. I'm not expecting a rebound in cheap oil like the two we had in the 1970s, and if something approximating one happens, we'll just be that much more worse-off then the boom lands again.

So first mourn, then organize. More about some constructive actions later.

Until then, an tale of the scope of the problem.

About three weeks ago, an Associated Press article ran widely under the title "Residents of Alabama's Black Belt hit hardest by high gas prices" (at Birmingham News) .

Residents of the Black Belt -- a reference originally to the rich soil that supported the former cotton plantation economy, but now includes the majority-African-American population -- are hit by a double-whammy of endemic poverty and higher than average fuel prices.

According to the latest Pain at the Pump Index by the Oil Price Information Service, residents of Wilcox County spend more of their money on fuel than their counterparts in any other county in the nation.

The median monthly income in Wilcox is $1,460.50, according to the index. Each month, Wilcox residents spend more than 13 percent of that monthly income on gasoline. And the price they pay at the pump is 12 cents higher than the national median of $3.17.

A Google search shows that transit options are especially limited -- largely medical shuttles for the elderly and workplace vanpools -- though greater access to work (as many of the Black Belt residents have to cross county lines to work) means that even business are beginning to back transit. But I imagine life is going to get very life there, even if gas doesn't make it to $4 a gallon.

Spare a prayer.