Posts about Peak Oil
As we discussed the big highway projects in the news, like the I-66 widening in Arlington and the Intercounty Connector, I began to think about their long-term sustainability once they get built, cost overruns and all.
I personally agree with the viewpoint that we shouldn't build any more roads until we properly maintain the ones we've already have. The materials used to maintain roads are getting increasingly scarce and expensive. There is currently a shortage of asphalt, on top of the already steep rise in price for this precious material this year.
Imagine the ripple effect should asphalt remain scarce and expensive. In the short term, we'll depletion of highway funds even faster than we already have this year. What will become of our source of funding for infrastructure in the wake of predicted future oil shortages? The Financial Times reports:
The [International Energy Agency] found that even after recent investment, production from the fields was declining at an annual 6.7 per cent and that this rate was accelerating. This means 45m barrels a day would have to be found and tapped in the next 22 years simply to meet an unchanged world demand. As it stands, however, the IEA expects demand to rise from 85m b/d last year to 106m b/d in 2030, making the challenge that much greater.I think the Peak Oil theorists have a point, but I don't share James Howard Kunstler's apocalpytic predictions. With proper urban planning, we can greatly mitigate our dependence on oil. Building huge, unneeded highways are very harmful, both directly to walkable urban communities, and through the opportunity cost of not building transit. And, most frustrating of all, is we are sinking so many resources into building highways that we might not even be able to maintain in the very near future.
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