Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rethinking energy use

It is finally coming clear to policy makers that we cannot continue down the path of energy waste; and ironically the endemic greed of the corporate world is driving awareness. By restricting oil production the need to rethink energy use message is reaching everyone.

Even given natural resources are finite there is still as much again to be recovered as we have ever used, but the greed factor, the artificial shortage, ensure bigger profits for longer. Whatever, as long as the world is finally taking notice.

Even those like me who are not addicted to the motor car pay the price of increased fuel costs. Industry - manufacturing, processing and transportation are enormous fuel users, and few of us can claim to be self sufficient in any significant way. If fact few can even travel to and from work, the places of this industry, in a fuel efficient way.

Along with other countries Australia is setting up a carbon emissions trading scheme Our farmers are already saying they will refuse to join any carbon emissions trading scheme in future which disadvantages them against competitors. We have created an industrial/producing infrastructure that will starve and cripple us if we do not adjust quickly.

I live in what used to be a rich agricultural area, still with a portion of the old fishing industry but land farming being greatly reduced in the immediate area. Still, the region continues to be productive, and virtually everything, from the local fish catch to fruit and vegetables, is shipped to major centres for processing, or at times simply for redistribution.

Early each morning large trucks lumber into town to load up shop shelves, ach evening large trucks head the other way carrying local produce away. If there were a major dislocation of the road transport system we would starve to death. As it stands we are simply required to pay more for inefficient double handling so producers can compete in overseas markets.

I would love to live on local fish, we have a brilliant variety, all close at hand. But go to the supermarket or even the fish co-op and we are offered fish and sea food imported from Asia. We are surrounded by rich dairy country but can’t sustain local processing because of the needs of international competition.

At the very least, to mitigate costly double handling, we need to be looking at a two tiered market – one serving local areas and a second if needed serving wider trade. True, issues of scales of economy reduce real energy savings, but small operators are innovators and would soon find ways of reducing carbon fuel use.

The world is being forced to change and distribution should be high on the agenda of change. Apart from anything else it would serve to rebuild the concepts of community.


D.K. Raed said...

You are really refining this idea to the point where even *I* can understand it now. I don't know how Local Produce would work for bigger cities, but it would seem very workable for smaller communities. One problem I've experienced is that locally-grown produce & meat is always more expensive than that which is flown in, shipped in, or trucked in from far away. Go figure. Maybe with the price of fuel having reached the stratosphere, soon our local producers might actually be able to compete for local business.

So for your area, there is no local equivalent of Pike's Market in Seattle for local fish? It must be very frustrating to be so near to wonderful fish, but only have imported fish available to purchase.

Cart said...

DK, what is local is either poorly presented, way over priced or both.
Bur also, I'm not suggesting w do not supply our city markets, simply that we should directly supply local markers where possible and cut out two road journey for goods.
Of course that means marginally smaller turnover and profits for central markets - what ashame...