Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When Is Good Bad?

I had an odd moment this morning while listening to MPR's Morning Edition. Local anchor Cathy Wurzer interviewed an energy analyst about ethanol production. Basically, demand is down for gasoline and therefore also for the ethanol that is mixed into the gas. This is decreasing profit margins dangerously for many ethanol producers in Minnesota, and will soon force some of them to go bankrupt.

Decreased demand for fuel was never recognized as a good thing -- only as a problem.

What is that about, MPR?

I had a similar thought during an episode of Up with Chris Hayes last month. In it, a miner from southeastern Ohio was on to talk about the effects of decreasing coal demand on his area and livelihood.

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We can all empathize with people who work at an ethanol plant or in a coal mine and who lose their jobs because of decreased demand. But isn't decreased demand the point?

Another recent article touched on this in a different way -- an AP story titled Meeting the Transportation Needs of Aging Baby Boomers Could Once Again Change Society. The story points out that it was baby boomers who made the U.S. into a culture of two-car families, and as well as two-income families as the rule, doubling the number of miles driven (even accounting for the rate of population growth). As boomers retire, we will drive less for work and in at least some if not many cases, move closer to amenities we need on a daily basis.

Combined with the increased fuel economy standards planned for the next 10 years, gas demand should stay down for the foreseeable future. Adding some free public transit wouldn't hurt either.

It's time to start recognizing this is the reality we live in, and deal with it. The need is to plan for these transitions, rather than let the market run rough-shod over people's lives. We can't spend time mourning what's lost in our unsustainable lifestyles.

1 comment:

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

So true! I see the same in stories about the economy and how consumers are failing to buy enough stuff, the assumption being that any day now this will change. Media people need to wrap their heads around some new realities.