Sunday, May 6, 2007

Going Electric vs. "This Isn't Happening"

Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2007 10:44 AM
Subject: From Amanita Pavlova...

I've been through this before... twice, in fact... but this time, it might change everything. The price of gasoline hasn't been this high since the '74 oil shock; and, while I've been biding my time, waiting to see if supplies and prices reverse their trends, it doesn't look good.

We live in the woods, 11 miles over the Santa Lucia mountains from Big Sur, in California. A few years ago, we made some good choices. We leased an all electric RAV4EV from Toyota and we still have it; and, we put in a grid-tie solar system. So, we're not as oil dependent as many around us.

Thanks to the RAV, I don't see gas stations, except the need to refill gas powered tools, and even those can be substituted for with electrically driven units. But, the impact is being felt, none the less.

My employees can still get to work and so can I, but the cost of shipping product has gone wild. Notifications from UPS and FedEx of repeated "adjustments" for fuel costs are taking their toll on my profitability, in the form of fewer orders. And, the cost for plastic containers in which we package product has gone stratospheric, having increased tenfold over the price of seven years ago (a plastic container in 2000 cost $1.75. This week, I'm notified that the cost is $12.10 PLUS transportation).

One thing I noticed is that our local grocer has stopped stocking plastic grocery bags... says she can't get a regular supply. Hmmm... canary in the mineshaft?

Right now, we're not hurting much. We've got wood with which to heat the house come winter. But, my fear is that - if this gets REALLY bad - city-dwellers will use what gas they have to come out here begin cutting trees rogue and willy-nilly.

There are signs of it, already. I had a few woodstoves up on Craigs List that I don't need... I put them up for what I thought was a reasonable price. Both were subject to a bidding war that was astounding to witness. I priced each stove at $150. At the end of the week, both had sold for over $800 each!! The phone wouldn't stop ringing.

One thing that still amazes me... the guy up the road... with the Hummer H1? Gasoline engine... still drives the 15 miles to town alone, every day. Some people just don't care, or maybe they think this is temporary.

I still have my doubts, I admit it. We'll see how this develops.


Rainey said...


Here in Bonny Doon (I'm not too far from you :)) I've been hearing chainsaws. Before I read your post I thought it was an annoying sound, and a waste of gas.

But I've since mentioned your concern about tree theft to my fellow community gardeners, and my neighbor Amy said she's been to a remote area in the forest here where three or four trees have been felled.

Neighbor Steve thought it was just a homeowner gathering their own fuel, but it's a bit rash if so--a felled redwood can fetch $100s or even $1000s from lumber companies.

So that's my suspicion, that poorer folks here in the woods are earning dollars however they can. I wish I had the chutzpah & blind eye to pull similar poaching--this is a crappy time to try & find a job!


ben said...

This is is a big issue that could turn into a major problem. Something needs to be done, think about what will cities do when they cannot be heated. There just aren't that many trees.

Jennifer Carrick said...

I feel that tree theft is not the only issue to be worried about. Not only can tree theft deprive the rightful owners of the resources necessary for their own stoves, but it could also lead to deforestation of the countryside.

I also do not understand those people who choose to keep their SUVs during a time when most can barely afford the gas for their fuel efficient cars. It's not only wasteful but also ignorant to the environmental issues that surround them.

Casey Drummond said...

I am encouraged by your ability to think ahead and try to not rely on only gas but to be opened minded toward electric power as well. I think that we need to find ways to incorporate that same view into our cities. Possibly using more electricity and as little gas as possible.
I also think it is awful how we as humans do what we want and have the enviornment as an after thought.

John Wood said...

You have some very good ideas about how the economy will be affected due to higher gas prices, but I disagree with the point you made about shipping costs. The powerhouse shipping companies such as UPS and FedEx will not have to raise their prices as much as you would think. Believe it or not, higher gas prices can lead to more business for these companies due to the fact that people would not be willing to drive and personally deliver packages and freight, so they will ship it via UPS/FedEX instead. Also, UPS has been very active in creating "green fleets" which consists of hybrid and electric package cars.

Krishna T. said...

I think Mr. Hummer Dude just thinks he has enough money saved up to cover this "rough patch" that everyone else is going through, and probably thinks to himself that being able to still buy gas, despite its ridculous price is part of his careful planning and that HE is living the American Dream.

I mean, thats what we do as Americans, we adapt. Unfortunately, the way we adapt is different for each person, and some methods are just way more selfish than others.

I hope you have a warm winter.

Daniel said...

I feel like you have made many valid points about how the shortage or gas and gas prices will affect shipping costs and also people in the city. But i do agree with John on his comment about shipping. I feel like people going and chopping down forrests may be a little extreme. I believe that the government and the people of our country are becoming more aware of this problems and i believe that we will take the necessary steps to avoid an act of desperation such as that.

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Anonymous said...

Wide redwood trees are valued more than 10K each. It seems there is a lack of complaint and/or concerns regarding epidemic redwood tree theft. Right here (and all coast counties i expect) sant a cruz county unincorp, boulder creek, deer creek road, all down hwy9 to felton -- just TRY to spot a large trunk and beautiful grove close to the road like you use to... its really weird. It seems the pirates pull branches down to cover the trunks also build 4 feet dirt birms to mask them, then one day you barely see them, the next day GONE ! scary it will be when everyone raids the forests for insta cash

Anonymous said...

guys knock it off, this shit is serious man. Zombies have been coming from everywhere. Ive already lost my sister to those walkers!

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