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J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted May 30, 2011

Published in Green

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NEWS FLASH: Gas and food prices rise sharply -- a sign of what lies ahead

Read More: harmful and unsustainable way of eating and living, inefficient

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In a USA Today article by Martin Grutsinger (AP) on May 27, it was reported that gas and food price increases were thwarting our fragile, slowly-recovering economy. From the article:

WASHINGTON — Consumers spent more in April, but much of the increase was eaten up by higher food and energy prices. After discounting for the jump in prices, spending barely budged and after-tax incomes were flat for a second straight month. (See link to complete article below my signature.)

In the years ahead, these kinds of headlines are going become more and more common -- and, in my opinion, the good news outweighs the bad news. Let me explain. Since beginning this blog in February 2011, I have gradually come to the conclusion that rising energy prices will turn out to be our friend -- in the long term; although the transition will be quite painful for many as our world is forced to adjust to the "end of cheap oil."

The "sunset" on the era of cheap oil on planet Earth. It's time to start living like we would if the price at the pump were already $10 a gallon or more.

You see, it was the discovery of cheap energy that enabled humans to adopt many incredibly inefficient, harmful and unsustainable practices -- primarily how we have chosen  to eat and how we have chosen to live. As I said in an earlier post last week, it would be nice if we could somehow recognize the errors of our past and get busy correcting them -- for many very good reasons. For example; here are my top five advantages associated with moving back to the natural diet for our species:

  1. Promoting our own health, reducing obesity and dramatically lowering the cost of health care.
  2. Nurturing the fragile harmony of our precious planet -- our only home.
  3. Conserving energy.
  4. Feeding the world's hungry.
  5. Ending the barbaric practice of slaughtering 60 billion animals a year for our dinner tables -- having convinced ourselves that we truly "need" to eat them to be healthy. NOT! See the Protein Page.

To put that 60 billion in perspective, that is the number required just to feed less than 20% of the world's population -- the wealthiest 20%. With the developing world following our "bad example," more and more people are shifting to our wasteful, harmful and totally unsustainable way of eating. Where does this madness end? 300 billion animals? 500 billion animals? To feed just 7 billion people?

Sadly, I don't think the human race is equipped (with enough leadership, convictions and resolve) to make the needed changes for the right reasons. I think that we will have to be forced to change. And that is why rising energy prices will turn out to be our friend in the long run. Those rising prices will force us to eat a healthier diet and consume far less energy in the way that we live.

Imagine for a minute, what would our world look like if only a modest amount of petroleum had been discovered? I would argue that the advantages would far outweigh the the disadvantages. On the positive side:

  • First, we wouldn't know what we have been missing; things like indoor ski slopes in Dubai.
  • We would all still be eating a diet that is much closer to the natural diet for our species.
  • As a result of that, we would all be enjoying better health and a much lower cost of health care.
  • There would be no suburban sprawl; we would be living in more "Europe-like" villages, towns and cities -- all connected by highly-efficient mass transit powered by renewable energy sources.
  • While long-distance travel would be much more expensive, our overall quality of life would be much better. How so?
  • Where would you rather spend your vacation? Houston or Paris?
  • Sure, we've enjoyed some luxuries that we might not have otherwise enjoyed; but what about our great-great-grandchildren? Will they be any better off because their great-great-grandparents enjoyed a brief period of living high and reckless destruction of our environment? I think not.

Bottom line. Our supply of fossil fuels are finite (everyone agrees on that), non-renewable and will be pretty much depleted within the next hundred years. So the sooner we learn how to live without them, the better off we will be.

Big Picture. Life began on this planet 4 billion years ago; humans arrived just 200,000 years ago. We settled down less than 20,000 years ago and have caused most of our damage in just the past fifty years. History will record the mere 150 years (a blink of history) from 1900 to 2050 as the "era of cheap oil" that did much more harm than good for all concerned. (Watch the HOME movie now; if you haven't already.)

What to do NOW?. The top two things that you can do to use less energy while promoting your own health and enjoying a better quality of life is:

  • Make a dramatic shift in the direction of health-promoting, energy-friendly whole plant foods. Need some help? Do yourself a favor and start our 4-Leaf Program today.
  •  Establish your home in a dense community, walking distance to parks, schools, churches, playgrounds, shopping, restaurants, civic events and mass transit.
My little "castle" (with the flag) in the village of Stonington, CT. -- The Mercedes has been replaced by a Mini Cooper and my 900 square feet with private courtyard and wood-burning fireplace does a great job of meeting my needs. And I can walk to almost everything I need; like we say here, "The village is our living room." Happy Memorial Day!

I am already living in one of those towns, a charming village by the sea in coastal Connecticut. While my little town is a bit on the expensive side, there are two far more affordable towns less than 15 minutes from us in each direction -- New London, CT (home of the USCG Academy) to our west and Westerly, RI, just a few miles to our east.

Both of these towns lost their urban vitality many years ago -- now they're both just waiting for higher fuel prices to make them look much more attractive. They both have rail service, easy access to I-95, and water access to Long Island Sound and beyond. These are my two local picks for "boom towns" of the future.

J. Morris Hicks, the "big picture guy" just trying to help everyone understand the long-term impact of our actions today -- including how we eat and how we live.

Amtrak also goes right through the middle of my little village of Stonington; the trains just don't stop anymore. Maybe someday they will again. NOw, if any of this makes sense; you might want to think about moving your family to a place like the ones that I have described.

And don't wait until the value of your energy-guzzling home in the boonies drops below what you owe on your mortgage. Sadly, that's when most Americans will first get around to re-thinking their housing choices -- amid the a not-so-pleasant era of chaos, during which everyone will once again blame the government for all their problems.

It's a bit ironic that I chose this topic today -- Memorial Day; a day featuring lots of energy wasted -- from the gas-guzzling vehicles to the over-consumption of vast quantities of energy-guzzling meat and dairy products. And we do all of that to honor those who have fought and died for our freedom.

Maybe I will see the day when we honor our fallen soldiers by doing something wonderful for our planet and our own future generations of Americans. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day…

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at healthyeatinghealthyworld.com 

Gas and food eat most of the gain in April consumer spending - USATODAY.com.


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