I've talked about oil prices and peak oil here in the past (on several occasions, really). You may remember that we had a panel of experts here in November to provide an outlook on the economic health of the area, and one of them said that as long as the price of oil doesn't reach $70/barrel, we'll be okay. Hmm - at the end of the week the price went up to $75 a barrel, a record and people are paying US$4/gallon in some areas. And - oh my - they're actually noticing.
Perhaps its just an "Earth Day" thing, but it seems the impacts of human activities on the planet - and the resulting implications it has for our way of life - are making headlines more and more these days. Al Gore's movie about global warming is making waves around the country. Tim Flannery's disaster-is-nigh book The Weather Makers is really making the rounds in the media. President Bush is warning of a "tough summer," saying "The American people have got to understand what happens elsewhere in the world affects the price of gasoline you pay here." (Maybe a new official definition of "homeland security" is emerging?) Arnold the Terminator is weighing in, talking about the "self-inflicted wound that man has created through global warming." Even some local politicians are getting election heat for their role in narrow-minded and harmful decisions about the land in our community.
Is this a passing fad? A turning point in popular awareness of these serious issues, with unprecedented lifestyle changes and policy decisions to follow? An incremental corporate co-opting of the awareness that already exists for fun and profit? Or something else entirely? Regardless of the motives for any particular effort or project or headline, I hope that the end result is an increased appreciation for what seems to be some of the most significant (though largely self-imposed) challenges our species has faced. I hope that, as Rachel Carson put it so well, "the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction."