Forbes has posted an excerpt of a new book by one of its writers, Christopher Steiner. The excerpt from $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives For the Better, seems to retread ground covered by the peak oil crowd a couple of years back.
Nevertheless, it is always interesting to remember the likely impact that will accompany the inevitable rise in petrol prices. Steiner’s excerpt takes aim at the Big Box retailers and–not surprisingly–thinks the prospects for such retailers as Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, etc… are dim.
The reasons he highlights are important. First, there is the problem of where the big boxes are located–low density suburban areas that are only accessible by automobile. With petrol at $20 gallon, the volume of traffic that these places count on for customers will diminish.
The second reason he cites is the vast global transport network that undergirds the products that are stocked in the stores. Raw materials from the other side of the planet are moved to factories in other countries similarly far away. Commodities are assembled in places like China and then shipped to massive distribution centers in the US where the “just-in-time” stocking system insures that goods move in and out of the store quickly.
This whole system of distribution, manufacture and consumption is fossil-fuel intensive making its sustainability, according to Steiner, questionable.