And how much ‘work’ is embodied in a gallon of gasoline, our most favorite substance of them all? Well, if you put a single gallon in a car, drove it until it ran out, and then turned around and pushed the car home, you’d find out. It turns out that a gallon of gas has the equivalent energy of 500 hours of hard human labor, or 12-1/2 forty-hour work weeks.
So how much is a gallon of gas worth? $4? $10? If you wanted to pay this poor man $15 an hour to push your car home, then we might value a gallon of gas at $7,500.
Here’s another example. It has been calculated that the amount of food that average North America citizen consumes in year requires the equivalent of 400 gallons of petroleum to produce and ship.
At $4/gallon, that works out to $1600 of your yearly food bill spent on fuel, which doesn’t sound too extreme. However, when we consider that those 400 gallons represent the energy equivalent of 100 humans working year round at 40 hours a week, then it takes on an entirely different meaning. This puts your diet well out of the reach of most kings of times past. Just to put this in context, as it is currently configured, food production and distribution use fully two-thirds of our domestic oil production. This is one reason why a cessation of imports would be, shall we say, disruptive.
This is from Chris Martensons "Crash Course" about Energy & the Economy. He briefly mentions the Environment - but it's not a big thing about what he talks about. For him the big thing is the society collapsing - which I admit would have catestrophic impacts - but so does global warming, habitat destruction, the over-fishing, soil depletion/poisoning, the poisoning of the planet in general, and overpopulation. All of which are being caused by the same things he discusses - the temporary abundance of oil - with little concern to the effects of our actions. He does make some interesting points and connects many dots.
One good thing I saw on my drive home from the east coast were several wind turbine wings being transported on trucks.