WorldChanging has this troubling graphic.
The extraordinary rise in oil prices since 2003 has sucked hundreds of billions of dollars out of the US economy (and the Cascadian economy). High oil prices have been a contributing cause of most recessions: Since 1948, “all large oil price increases but two have been followed by recessions,” as Andrew Hoerner and Nia Robinson of Redefining Progress (RP) write (pdf). “Four of the five recessions since 1970 . . . were preceded by big jumps in oil prices.”
The worrying thing is that, with peak oil now here, we can expect not just regular increases in the price of oil, but also more random, and larger jumps up in down in its price. It won’t track up slowly but jolt up and plummet down erratically as supply gets harder to extract and oil dependant corners of the economy try to react. And the people who will be hurt the most are those already in poverty.
In short, if we weren’t so addicted to oil, we would not be so vulnerable to price shocks. This fact underlines the importance of seizing the opportunity of the financial meltdown and its resulting economic downturn to break the addiction.
All of which is why investing in accessible public transport, clean renewable energy and energy efficiency measures such as the $1 billion home insulation fund are the type of fiscally prudent measures that we need to take now while we have the chance.