A letter from “The Great Energy Depression of the 21st Century”
It is April 1 2025. I am in my 76th year and I am riding my bicycle down the M2 on my way to work. I suppose I should not complain, at least I have all the work I want, with the official unemployment figures breaking 25%, most people don't. The Industrial Relations Legislation that the Howard Government introduced in 2005 and 2006 was great for increasing wages while there was a skills shortage. But when the recession hit in 2008 and deepened in 2009 employers had the whip hand and pushed average weekly earnings down by over 30% by 2010 and wages continued to decline after that.
The federal treasurer, Peter Costello has just announced that they will be raising the qualifying age for the aged pension, again. I just hope I make it to my birthday in May and qualify for the aged pension before they raise the age yet again. Though John Howard recently celebrated his 50th year in parliament every body knows that Costello is the man running the country. Little Johnny hardly ever leaves his nursing home now.
On the M2, as with the other motorways, cars, trucks, and buses share the one lane and bicycles use the rest. Cyclists are advocating for the cars and buses to be removed from the M2 altogether and put them back onto Epping Rd. To reduce fuel consumption the speed limit for buses is 50 kph and cars and trucks 40 kph. Cyclists use the bus lane already; there are only 4 buses in the morning peak and four in the afternoon peak and only the occasional trucks. The young blood and gun cyclists are faster than the motor traffic anyway, the rest just move over for the motor vehicles to pass then move back again. Unless you have a disability concession, most people cannot afford to use the buses anyway. The result is, that almost all able to do so, use a bicycle for transport. The last car I saw on the M2 was Jamie Packer's Limo and that was weeks ago.
Bicycle NSW has replaced the NRMA as the prime transportation lobby group in NSW with over 4,000,000 members to the NRMA’s 15,000 members.
I pass the only service station in north-western Sydney on the way to the M2, petrol has gone down, and it's now below $60/L at $57.99/L due to the record energy-crops harvest last year, which reduced the price of ethanol.
They are still talking about building the northwest and southwest rail links. Those living in the northwest and southwest sectors, with no option but the motorcar for transport had to sell their houses when fuel got expensive. House prices slumped by 50%. That was over 15 years ago now; just after my super crashed, everybody else's as well. When oil hit $US150/barrel in 2008 the stock market crashed reducing my super from over $800,000.00 to less than $200,000.00 and with oil doubling in price every few years after that the market has never recovered. My super went backwards so far that I now get bills for the management fees from my super fund. I don't pay them; let them take the fees out of my now non-existent super.
Those who put in photovoltaic cells (PVs) before the energy crisis hit are laughing. Coal and natural gas prices rose just as rapidly as oil did and our electricity prices rose right along with them. PVs have never been economically viable, even now, but those who put them in have seen the price of electricity go up by a factor of 20 times in price. It is now illegal to use other than high efficiency low wattage lights, solar hot water heating is compulsory as is retrofitting home insulation and there are very tight restrictions on house heating. These are all not a real problem because the charge rate per kilowatt-hour for electricity increases quite rapidly the more electricity you use; so better ways to conserve both power and water are popular topics of conversation.
It has now been compulsory for over five years to retrofit rainwater tanks to your house; the minimum is the lesser of 10,000L per person or three months rainfall catchment from your roof area. I put in a 50,000L tank in 2005; when the rates for water usage were changed, the rate per kilolitre increasing as the usage increased. The charge for the water usage went up so much that by 2015 the system had paid for itself. The desalination plant the Carr government proposed as a supply source for Sydney water has been a great white elephant. The rapid increases in power costs quickly made the plant uneconomic. The CSIRO long-term weather research released findings in 2005 that showed a drying pattern for southeastern Australia from 1950 and predicted accurately that the drying trend would continue.
Food production and food theft are major problems. Vegetable gardens have largely replace lawns and most people now keep chooks again. All suitable council reserves are now turned over to community vegetable gardens. The cost of producing, transporting, and distributing food in cities makes it the biggest expense of most peoples budget, with unemployment high and wages low there are many hungry people around and food theft is rife everywhere. The obesity epidemic of the early years of this century has evaporated.
Minimum oil prices estimates are made by extrapolations from: Energy Information Agency (EIA). West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil spot prices, History
Estimates for water are made from Sydney Water supply/usage figures, Sydney population growth rates, and CSIRO long-term rainfall projections and at best are guesses, but are as good a guess as anybodies.[an error occurred while processing this directive]