World Without Oil
The Oil Crisis and Climate Change
Gas Prices

WEEK 9: CHAOS: Outages spark $1 /gal jump

Price shocker overshadowed by tanker attacks

The marketplace worked its incontrovertible logic this week. Scarcity drives up prices, and gasoline shortages catapulted prices up by a dollar nationwide. Some areas witnessed "price overshoot," stunning residents who were paying half the amount for gas only 9 weeks ago.

The scarcity had another effect as well: chaos. Outages wreaked havoc with business operations, often by the insidiously simple tactic of delaying a key person in a gas line or stranding him or her by the side of the road.


An unidentified group hammered the oil supply this week with a coordinated and successful attack on four oil tanker ships simultaneously around the Strait of Malacca. A single attack, also successful, followed a day later off the Yemen coast. Small, fast boats were used in each case, and Islamic jihadism is strongly suspected but as yet unproven. In the Malacca assault, U.S. intelligence flatly rejected Malaysian claims that the attacking craft were sunk. The attacks have thrown the oil transport chain into a panic, and U.S. military sources promised "an appropriate response."


The so-called 'Alberta Hop' incident continues its weird trajectory, with Canadian troops deploying in the oil fields "to secure them," according to the PM. Yes, but who from?

Meanwhile, a showdown gripped Australia: the province of Western Australia threatened to secede over allocation schemes for energy resources. And rumors of gunfire and explosions in Romania and Ukraine complicated the situation in Europe. A widening gyre, indeed: can the center hold?


We don't know. Surprisingly, not a single story has come to us out of there, and frankly we're worried about how that city is doing (we worry about Kansas City, too). Anybody know anybody in these cities? Get them to update us, please!

Later: Houston is also suffering: Gertrude, where are you? And Boston: Madge-O-Matic, are you there?


To me, the most chilling words in all of the reports I saw this week. This reunion, in contrast, is pleasantly unexpected.


The slow but steady influx of reports of people coming together, planting seeds, asking questions, identifying what's important, proposing practical action, moving toward something better. And quietly doing something very small and practical: documenting what's happening clearly and evocatively. Thanks, nitefoll.

What are you seeing these days? What proof have you got of the troubles, or that you're coping? Are you willing to set up a mission, or take one on? Let us know in your videos, images, blogs, emails and phone calls.

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