As gas edges toward $1.50 a litre, people are getting peeved.
We’ve become accustomed to cheap fuel.
And, because of that, we often forget what an amazing source of non-renewable energy petroleum is.
Imagine, for a moment, a different world.
Imagine that oil was so valuable that its use — its energy — was considered a loan that a user had to repay.
So, say you wanted to drive to Wal-Mart from Porter Creek to get groceries. A round trip of about 15 kilometres.
A small Japanese car might burn a single litre of gas on that trip.
And, in this alternate universe, you’d have to work to repay the energy from that single grocery run.
How much effort would you have to expend?
To pay back the energy from that single trip, a person would have to labour for 131 hours — more than three work weeks.
A single barrel of oil, which currently costs $116 a barrel, contains enough energy that a single person would have to perform hard labour 40 hours a week for 1.5 years to pay it back.
There are few things on the planet to rival it.
And, once it’s gone, it’s gone.
So, the next time you decide to drive to pick up four litres of milk instead of biking to the corner store, marvel that you’ve just burned a litre of gas.
Today, that’ll cost you about $1.30.
And, compared to what it was in December, that’s pretty expensive.
But, if society demanded you pay that non-renewable energy back, you’d have to work — hard — for the next 131 hours.
And, next to that, a bike ride looks like a bargain. (RM)