Peak Oil

'None of us saw this coming'

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 29, 2006

The Globe and Mail recently ran an article reporing that city road work budgets are being squeezed by high petroleum prices (thanks to John on the TLC list for sharing this link).

Liquid asphalt, the "black" in blacktop, is made from petroleum, and petroleum prices have been hovering around $70 per barrel since last summer. As a result, materials prices have risen, contractors' profits have narrowed, and cities are having to scale back and push out their road work schedules.

In an early sign that the consensus trance of boundless cheap energy is starting to crack, the road making industry is wringing its hands over this development:

"None of us, none of us saw this coming," said Mike O'Connor, executive director of the Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association, a group of asphalt makers. "I hate to use the term 'perfect storm,' but I think it's what we've seen."

Of course, Peak Oil theorists have been predicting this sort of thing for years, but the industries that will be most affected by declining oil production have almost uniformly ignored the hypothesis.

Expect to hear many more variations of the 'We never saw this coming' refrain in the coming months and years.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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