Peak oil saves lives?

Sadly, as we’ve been discussing in recent weeks, peak oil is threatening people’s lives in the context of international security, war and militarism in the Middle East and other fossil fuel extracting countries.  But it seems here in New Zealand there are less people dying as the cost of burning a limited resource rises:

As of last night, 241 people had died on the roads this year, 37 fewer than at the same time last year and 22 fewer than at the same time in 2006 – the safest year since records began in 1965.

One theory for the drop is high petrol prices, which have some motorists driving less and others driving slower to conserve fuel.

I talked about this a couple of months ago. And of course that doesn’t take into account the healthy air benefits to everyone including non-drivers of fewer cars on our roads.

5 thoughts on “Peak oil saves lives?

  1. It’s just occurred to me to wonder whether any change in tourist patterns has anything to do with this latest drop as well. Quite a few of the multiple casualty crashes seem to involve tourists, and they may be self-driving less. Are there any figures?

  2. No, Owen, The impact of fuel prices on the road toll can be seen as far back as Nordy’s black budget. The cold weather can be ruled out as being more likely. Your last sentence is closer to the truth. When the price goes up people cut back on non-essential driving, beginning with recreational or leisure activities. Travel for theose purposes tends to be high occupancy and high speed so it has above average risk that a mistake will have a fatal outcome. Thus a 20% reduction in Sunday driving can reduce the entire road toll by 10%.

    Have a look at this MoT study of the introduction of the 50mph speed limit, bearing in mind that the road toll for passengers fell by more than 30% while for drivers it fell by less than 15%, and for under 25s it fell by more than 25% while for over 25s it fell by less than 15% and that seat belts only had to be fitted to front seats and only had to be wor by people over 14y.o. at that time:
    http://www.petroltax.org.nz/PDF/50MPH.PDF

  3. The number of people starving/dying from Peak Oil globally is far more than the number mentioned for New Zealand who benefit. And soon the numbers of dying will increase:

    According to most independent scientific studies, global oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time demand will increase 14%.

    This is equivalent to a 33% drop in 7 years. No one can reverse this trend, nor can we conserve our way out of this catastrophe. Because the demand for oil is so high, it will always exceed production levels; thus oil depletion will continue steadily until all recoverable oil is extracted.

    Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment.

    Surviving Peak Oil: We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel trucks for maintenance of bridges, cleaning culverts to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables, all from far away. With the highways out, there will be no food coming in from “outside,” and without the power grid virtually nothing works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated systems.

    This is documented in a free 48 page report that can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed: http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html

    I used to live in NH-USA, but moved to a sustainable place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area with a good climate and good soil? Email: clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com or give me a phone call which operates here as my old USA-NH number 603-668-4207. http://survivingpeakoil.blogspot.com/

  4. More likely the cold weather which kept many people home in the weekends.

    A price related impact would be a combination of fewer miles driven and driving at lower speed – or at more constant speed.

    Could be a combination of both.

  5. Actually monthly records are sporadicly available prior to 1965. Taking population growth into account the road toll so far this year is no worse than the January-August road tolls from 1935-1937 or 1860-1880. The 1860-1880 road tolls are the result of travellers drowning while fording a stream or river.

    Since 2002 spring has accounted for only one-fifth of the road toll rather than one-quarter. That bodes well for the rest of this year’s road toll. Curiously a low spring road toll was also normal in 1935-1937.

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