Saturday, October 02, 2010

13 things that will boom if oil goes to A$7 liter or $25 a gal

These things will boom and will be quickly organised via the web and social networks if something pushes oil to disastrously higher levels. A war in the middle East would raise prices as might the collapse of our currencies by high or hyper-inflation. 

1. Car pooling with 'fares' paid to cover the fuel. Governments may try to block these in defence of taxi regulation but will be laughed out of court.

2. Conversion kits and businesses that covert cars to LNG.

3. Conversion kits that turn an older car into an electric. Licensing barriers will be blown away quickly. Already legal in Australia and some US states.

4. Conversion to ethanol. Only 400 dollars. Big ethanol may be non-viable but there are those working on smaller stills and more sustainable ethanol. All the red tape imposed today will be bypassed by some cities best placed for ethanol.

5. Mopeds, scooters, motor units that convert your push bike into a moped. If your cities got warm winters or a tropical climate then these will boom; particularity in flat cities with intermediate distances and only one hill climb.

6. Bus companies that buck the system raise fares to cover the rise in diesel and offer free or cheap pensioner fares only in off peak periods. This will be particularly powerful if these are LNG buses. LNG wont rise as fast.

7. House swapping web sites. These minimise the cost of moving, finding a house without paying a real-estate middle man, swapping the papers without paying anything but the perceived value difference and taxes. Most governments facilitate swapping of government rentals but this will be mortgage for mortgage with desperation shortening the haggling.

8. Suburban micro-office. A house or shop converted into office space for 10-20 people. This creates a workplace away from the kids and the distractions of home and with the amenities of an office: broadband, fax, a big copier/printer complex. A centralised business hires a desk or cluster of desks for a month or so for its staff that live in that suburb. All staff work there 5 days a week commuting to the central office in the 'company carpool or minibus' as required but no more than twice a week. This gets people out of the house and into an office but their still in the suburbs. Team building will require some grasp of geography.

9. Company buses. Industrial companies, early in the crisis, will hire or charter private buses to go to a hub in the suburbs; Everyone working for the company will be instructed to walk or ride to the suburban hub.

10. Every church, old peoples home, NGO with a small to medium bus or large vans will go to work ferrying a few people from their congregation or neighbourhood to the nearest rail hub. The buses will fill. There will instantly be a thousand 'donations at the door bus services' using these generally underutilised mini-buses. Donations will exceed the fuel cost quickly.

11. Bus trams will be deployed in many cities. These are normal buses with capacitors in their hybrid or electric power train. At most stops there are overhead wires that a pantograph links to for quick a charge while people are boarding. There are no overhead wires on the roads its only at main stops and some traffic lights. This is the cheapest new alternative to light rail and it can be quickly deployed. and at the shanghai expo this design is in use. The ultra-capacitor technology is in free fall prices wise; one system uses flywheels that are even cheaper.

12. Some families will adopt the strategy of taking the whole family to work in the city. With schools chosen for their proximity to work not home. Tea time will be at a restaurant or in the office cafe. The trip home will be later in the evening taking advantage of cheaper off peak buses and trains. In some third world countries where the price of oil is already beyond them this is often done.

13. One from dear old Fidel Castro's Cuba. A semiprivate company has designed a 'bus' that attaches to an 18 wheeler tractor. These are called camel buses. Cheap and nasty but with a little smarts, intercom for safety and cameras so the driver can see all round the vehicle these will deploy by the thousands. Off peak the tractor does other work. Actually quite smart.

All of these solutions can be quickly deployed. All have potential problems with rip off Merchants,fraud and government red tape. Struggling city councils will shred the red tape after the first city that resists the changes dies. In some cases the Greenhouse scare has paved the way with red tape disposal and facilitation developing in response to CO2. To some extent people forget that there was suburbia before the car became cheap and ubiquitous.

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