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The End of Suburbia


Slick Vik

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Peak oil, no - peak cheap oil, certainly.

Can't say anyone seems to feel it, though - as people seem as keen as ever to idle their SUVs while parked for an hour. Perhaps that's connected to "standard of living," somehow ...? Such nuances are not my strong suit.

Edited by luciaphile
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Good luck in the bunker. You'll be waiting a long, long, long time. The US is poised to be the top producer of oil by 2015. Any economic effect will be even more gradual than was predicted just a few years ago and will thus be more than manageable. You can put away the peak oil videos now. It's not going to happen the way they say it will.

Reality will bite

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For some perspective, read "The Prize" by Daniel Yergin (history of the oil business).  Bottom line is that people have been predicting shortfalls of petroleum for 150 years, but it never seems to come to pass.  My guess is that the industry is more at risk from over- rather than under-supply.  Oil prices have primarily drifted down for five years now, indicating that commodity markets aren't anticipating any shortfall.  In addition, per capital consumption is growing more slowly and the next few years are bound to see growing efforts to de-carbonize where possible, as well as a lot of new supply coming online such as Brazil's pre-sal

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There's a difference between reality and denial. The earth doesn't have unlimited resources. There are consequences to the actions of humans.

 

It's hard to deny the reality.  Human ingenuity is unlimited, even if specific resources are (eventually) not.  Petroleum is no longer the only direct source of locomotion for the automobile.  Other techonolgies have come a long way and will eventually replace much of the consumer demand for petroleum for individual cars.  Any looming catastrophe regarding suburbia has been permanently avoided by the fact that fracking has given us many more decades of supply at a high enough cost to encourage further development of alternatives. 

 

The only way you would end suburbia would be to make the cost of commuting to individuals so high that they would be forced to live in densly packed highrises.  Either that or directly proscribe development outside a certain limit of the city.  Neither thing will ever happen due to the political backlash and economic chaos such measures would visit upon their makers, even if enough politicians could be convinced that such things are proper (not a likely scenario either). 

 

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Houston is a very decentralized city, so even the definition of "suburbs" run pretty loose. Even "suburbs" like Katy, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and Cypress now are getting "real" workplaces and their days of being bedroom communities are long over (a 1994 article on George Mitchell and the Woodlands in "A&M Magazine" had the Woodlands no longer being a bedroom community, even in the early 1990s). The Energy Corridor at I-10, Uptown, and even Greenspoint are major work centers, and because of the way Houston's boundaries are, even far-slung areas like Kingwood are annexed, while more urban areas like West University Place are separate entities. 

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