Non Sequitur

May. 25, 2010 at 6:02pm

Do you Enjoy Hypotheticals? The NS edition

Imagine this scenario, if you will.

It's May 25, 2019. Peak Oil rears it's ugly head (as it will), and gas prices shoot to the moon. Unleaded 87 now runs $14 per gallon at Arco (don't even ask about the price at Shell). The price is high simply because demand now greatly outstrips the dwindling supply. There really isn't enough to go around. The world wants to use 100mbpd, but now production has dropped to 70mbpd, and is dropping 4% per year.

Our good friend Fredo drives a Ford Expedition. The V-10 in there gets 8 mpg on a good day. Fredo is well-off enough that the cost is no big deal. He can easily afford to drive that beast of a vehicle as much as he wants. Fredo drives the vehicle he wants because he can afford to do so.

Due to the dwindling supply, is Fredo morally obligated to get a more efficent vehicle or can he burn as much gas as he can afford?

Or, prehaps I should rephrase the question: Is one morally obliged to use less of a scarce resource even if they have the means to afford as much of it as they want?


comments [12]  |  posted under gas prices, Hypotheticals, paradox in a box

Comments

by fredo on 5/25/2010 @ 9:54pm
NS, I like the hypothetical.

I think it's worth noting that the situation you describe as happening in the year 2019 is happening today. People are already driving around in expensive fuel inefficient vehicles while other drivers can barely scrape together enough gas money for the errands of the day.

But your question was this: is one morally obligated to use less of a scarce resource even if they have the means to use as much as they want? Its a brilliant question and deserves discussion.

Of course there are many scarce resources. Oil is just one of them. Here are some other scarce resources: clean drinking water and clean air. If a couple has more than two children aren't they responsible for creating an excessive and therefore immoral demand for resources? Is a religion which advises it's practitioners to "go forth and multiply" engaging in the immoral act of overpopulating the earth and therefore depleting our resources?

I do believe that wealthy people have a moral obligation to conserve resources but we are conditioned to use a lot. It would be nice if powerful people like Obama, Bill Gates, etc. would set good examples.

by Erik on 5/25/2010 @ 10:15pm
DYEH? It's a whole new genre on Feed Tacoma!

Or, prehaps I should rephrase the question: Is one morally obliged to use less of a scarce resource even if they have the means to afford as much of it as they want?

We are all guilty.

It's only a matter of time before the world has a huge "die back" when the oil in the world starts running out:

Best to get up to speed soon with Kunstler:

www.kunstler.com/index.php

by dolly varden on 5/25/2010 @ 10:34pm
I think rich people have a moral obligation to use less.

Interesting column wondering why peak oilers and people concerned with global warming don't seem to see eye to eye too much: www.grist.org/article/2010-05-03-why-do-...

by seejane on 5/26/2010 @ 12:29pm
I hope that by then people with realize that there is a higher and better purpose for oil. We need it for plastics. Think of your computer's boards, syringes, sterile tubing, cell phones, food wrap and all the other things we use that are oil based.

I'm already doing my part by avoiding polyester whenever possible. Also, we have just one vehicle. An SUV to pull a utility trailer. Because it uses more gas that I like to pay for we've become quite good at combining trips.

Oh, and the rich will have the right to burn as much as they want - but it will be unmoral of them to do so.... and Fredo is concerned about morality, so he'll trade in the Expedition for a Jeep Liberty.

by fredo on 5/26/2010 @ 12:49pm
No such word as unmoral but I get the idea. If I have an Expedition in the year 2019 you can be sure I will be trading it in.

by daydreamer on 5/26/2010 @ 12:50pm
If you have the resources to acquire resources, there is no moral issue about having said resource.

by L.S.Erhardt on 5/26/2010 @ 3:20pm
Solar panels are made of, and take petroleum to make. As do wind turbines. As does just about everything in the world.

Buy solar panels now, while there is enough oil to make them.

->Ironic, isn't it? We have to use a lot of fossil fuels to make things to get us off of fossil fuels. It's like that medication they took off the market a couple of years ago. You took it after a heart attack to prevent having another one. But if you stopped taking it, the drug caused a heart attack.

by Jesse on 5/26/2010 @ 4:16pm
Vioxx by Merck. As soon as my cousin Maria got off of it she was fine.

by seejane on 5/27/2010 @ 11:57am
unmoral

Main Entry: un·mor·al
Pronunciation: -ˈmȯr-əl, -ˈmär-
Function: adjective
Date: 1841

1 : having no moral perception or quality; also : not influenced or guided by moral considerations
2 : lying outside the bounds of morals or ethics : amoral

— un·mo·ral·i·ty ˌən-mə-ˈra-lə-tē, -mȯ- noun

www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unmor...

by fredo on 5/27/2010 @ 12:19pm
Jane, you're right, it is a word. I stand corrected and extend my apologies.

by seejane on 5/27/2010 @ 2:24pm
just easier to spell

by Altered Chords on 5/27/2010 @ 3:57pm
Are we living in an artificially produced environment that has been the by-product of extremely cheap energy?

Eric B is right when he refers to it as "die back"

Horses, bicycles, walking, running, rollerskating etc. These will be the new modes of transportation.

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