The news this morning warned us of an imminent petrol protest that was going to start on Wednesday. It apparently is going to be a non-blocking-of-fuel-supplies protest, so we shouldn't worry about not being able to get any fuel. Nevertheless, petrol stations were full this morning of people "topping up just in case". Admittedly, even I did as I'm on low and need to get to work.
I started to feel a hint of the apprehension I last felt at the time of the serious fuel protests in 2000, when the whole country was starved of the precious lifeblood of petrol. Sitting in a queue en route to work I thought about how people would cope when fuel does eventually dry out. It would be hell on earth. Panic buying at the supermarkets would clear their stocks, then the supers themselves wouldn't be able to restock because their distribution centres are miles away. Smaller local food outlets would then be squeezed dry, followed by the raiding of neighbourhood allotments at every opportunity.
Rural communities would probably survive better for longer, the proximity of farms and supplies of farm grown food and animals, plus the fact they would be miles away from the desperate citygoers and their empty cars, and out of the reach of food looters.
Businesses would suffer because they'd not be able to get fresh stock, and their workers may not be able to get to work at all. Fat kids who are driven to school would suffer because heaven fordib, they'd have to WALK or cycle to school! But then, if teachers can't get to the school what will happen to the education infrastructure?
No doubt emergency service vehicles would get raided for their fuel, just like in 2000 when nurses had their cars broken into and their fuel siphoned out by some desperate idiot who no doubt thought that his job of pushing paper around a desk is more important than a nurses job of potentially saving someone's life.
How would food be brought to us? By the emergency services? What if even THEY had no fuel? What would we do apart from raid garden centres to get seeds to grow our own food, buy a bread machine and then try to get shitloads of flour and yeast? What if you live in a flat with no garden? What would happen to our rubbish bins if no binmen could clear them away and take our waste to the landfills? The stench of rotting rubbish would bring forth a wave of rats and scavengers, not to mention disease and germs.
How much we would be willing to compromise when fuel does run out? Would we still insist on a wide range of fresh food on our plates from all around the country/world? Would we whinge about the fact that yes we'd have to cycle or walk to work, even in crappy cold wet weather? Walk miles to get some food then queue for hours for our rationed portions of 1 loaf of bread, some beans and some apples? Would we bleat because Fat Timmy wants his dino-shaped chicken nuggets and must HAVE his dino-shaped chicken nuggets, petrol or no petrol? Would we accept the fact that until this mess is sorted out, us and our kids may actually have to eat less and have fewer choices and waste less? Back to wartime recipies using dripping and home-ground flour, and no complaining please ....
Would we patrol our allotments with a shotgun and in true New Orleans style, put signs up that said "Loot and I Shoot"? Would we steal other people's hybrid cars to get around? Or would we turn back into a community and pull together to help eachother out? Would we turn vicious and violent in our desperation, stealing and conniving to get what we need for OURSELVES, and fuck everyone else?
It's so scary to me that our entire life is now dependent on petrol. We can't get anywhere or do anything without it, we are helpless, crippled without it. I hate the addiction we have. I hope petrol never runs out in my lifetime, or I hope that soon the new emerging culture and demand for hybrid and electric cars will start to really gather pace and begin a tide of change towards breaking the addiction.
Of course fuel isn't just goint to run out just like that and leave us stranded. But one day it will grow less, and less, and less, and the panic will set in and not go away because we will discover that it is actually running out and this time there will be no respite. I hope when that day comes that electric cars are ready and waiting in the wings, and that the seamless transition will take place, and life will go on as always, dino-shaped chicken nuggets and all.