Panic and angst should come to an end at the pump...for now

From Morguefile/cohdra
Either you were out of the country visiting a place like Tierra del Fuego or you were living under a rock if you haven't heard about this past week's fuel shortages. Most of us living in metro Atlanta more than depend on a steady supply of petroleum to function in this world.  

Many of us already know that we have been short of gas due to a pipeline leak in Alabama on a line that supplies metro Atlanta and several other markets. Just like a set of dominoes, one part of the supply chain obviously affects the next. Therein lies the problem with this set-up. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that there's pretty much only one way for the fuel to get to us in metro Atlanta and yes, points north of this area. Certainly it's easier said that done, but it would be nice to have a back-up system in place. 

The local news outlets - and to a lesser extent , their national counterparts - were all over this story. Reporters have been camped out in front of gas stations catching motorists pulling up to dry pumps, shocked that there were bags over the outlet's fuel nozzles. Stories of price gouging and gas hoarding have plagued most of these television, radio and print reports on the petroleum shortages. Thankfully nothing violent has taken place this past week.

As of this writing, there is some good news. The Alabama pipeline leak has been patched, but just like a bad traffic accident, the problem lingers for a bit. Hopefully all of us fuel-using motorists in metro Atlanta will see gas stations "come back online." "Back online?" I had no idea that computer terms would invade real life. Since most things are now computerized, I suppose "back online" is appropriate in this situation.

During times like these our electric car-loving automobile owners have this "see-I-told-you-so" statement. Electric cars produce zero emissions which is obviously better for our general health our short-term environmental goals to reduce pollution. I wonder if the majority of the population owned electric vehicles, would we as a nation put more demand on the power grid from nuclear and coal-fired plants? Many argue that nuclear power also produces zero emissions and 'clean coal' is not that bad either, but with nuclear, where does the radioactive waste end up  and it's also reported that those plants use a lot of water - which we do not have much of these days in the Peach State.  

Every time something like this gas shortage occurs, I'm reminded that we as human beings have a penchant to be spectators to disorder. Somehow seeing folks panic at the pump piques spectators' interests. Now with participants in the disorder, it's another story. Participants jump into that "survival of the fittest" mode by unnecessarily filling up the automobiles or in some cases, pick-up trucks even if they do not have to fill up their tanks. Oh yes, and then there are the folks who take multiple gas containers to the stations and fill up just in case an apocalypse is on the way.

We also love watching chaos, but methinks we didn't get to that point this week. We were closer to chaos after Hurricane Katrina forced Gulf of Mexico oil rigs to shut down thus weakening our supply in that disaster's aftermath. We certainly had a minor set of gas lines at the pumps and some ridiculous price gouging throughout that event, but this week has not been anything close to 2005's fuel shortages.

Here's hoping that everything will quickly be "back online" and order restored.


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