Jeff Rubin, that is. When oil is no longer cheap and plentiful, our systems that are fueled by this inexpensive energy source will no longer be viable.
By Darren Kaulback
Published June 22, 2009
What would Jeff Do? Jeff Rubin, that is. Last week, I went to hear this former CIBC World Markets chief economist talk about his predictions for the future. Unless you're the agrarian type or one nostalgic for days gone by, you might not like what he has to say.
In his new book, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, he claims we're headed for a significant shift in our standard of living and a major downscaling of our indulgent, energy-intensive lifestyles.
For those of you who know the scoop on peak oil, he hits all of the familiar chords. Bottom line: when oil is no longer cheap and plentiful, our systems that are fueled by this inexpensive energy source will no longer be viable.
It's not that there will no longer be oil in the ground or in the tar sands or elsewhere, it's just that it will be too costly to acquire.
This has profound implications. Rubin says to sell your house in the suburbs and move downtown because the suburban landscape will be plowed over and reclaimed for food production. With transportation no longer a cheap option, we'll need to produce our own food.
That's right. We'll all be on the 100 mile diet.
But he says there is an upside. Without the plentiful supply of cheap crude, the work gets a whole lot harder. (The good part is coming...) There will be lots of jobs for all of the unemployed Starbucks baristas (and probably the rest of us too).
I've got to admit that Rubin's argument is compelling. I've read other "peak oil" books but somehow his predictions feel more imminent.
Perhaps it's because Rubin himself has made some significant shifts in his own life. After working 20 years at CIBC as a senior economist and being named Canada’s top economist on ten occasions, Rubin quit his job to jump on the peak oil bandwagon. He's taking this stuff seriously.
Another difference is that he has not approached this topic from a geological perspective, as most have, but rather an economic one. In fact, he suggests that our current economic crisis has not been brought on by the sub-prime mortgage fiasco but rather that the price of oil reached $150 a barrel last summer.
Who knows: maybe he's onto something.
In the meantime, I'm going to ponder the wisdom of Jeff Rubin and perhaps apply this scenario to my own life. In the future, will I have to stop "living the dream?" Does my happiness in life really rest on the flow of cheap and abundant oil?
first published in Darren Kaulback's blog, Raise a Little Green
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