Sunday, November 09, 2008


Asphalt Shortage and Road Maintenance

In the US an asphalt shortage is cutting into road maintenance plans. This article on the problem also includes some other interesting facts, such as the number of barrels of asphalt that are needed to pave a mile of road (5,500 average). This should give the reader an idea of the large amounts of materials and energy invested in just a short length of road. And as I’ve noted in other posts, the problems of maintaining the infrastructure of industrial civilization don’t stop there.

Another item of particular interest in this article is that refiners are shifting to heavier, cheaper crude oil. Apart from the part this plays in the asphalt shortage, it is yet another indication of the changes brought about by peak oil.

When you start adding up all the costs of resurfacing roads, rebuilding and repairing bridges, upgrading the electrical grid, repairing and rebuilding public water systems (many with very old and leaky pipes), and maintaining all the other elements of infrastructure, any rational person can see that — combined with the economic meltdown, higher prices for energy and resources, the cost of never-ending wars, and of course peak oil — it is all downhill from here for the infrastructure of industrial civilization.

Enjoy it while you can.

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