High Gas Prices

Pretty much every SHTF scenario you can think of includes the added bonus of high gas prices. So, it’s no surprise to me to be seeing higher prices at the pump.  The supply chain from the ground to your gas tank is so complex, volatility is practically built in. I’m going to assume that our readers already know about gas efficient cars, and hit on some other ways savvy preppers can buffer their lives from the sting of high gas prices.

Isolate your SHTF job from gasoline needs.  Whether it’s shipping in components or ingredients, or running the equipment that makes your job feasible, make sure you can get it done without gas if needed. Find local suppliers, figure out ways to grow/make what you need. Shipping runs on gas, whether it’s trucked in from California or floated in a container from China, shipping is going to get expensive whenever gas gets scarce or pricy.

Find alternate forms of power. Most of the time, your best bet is going to be people power, muscle power. Bikes can be very useful, especially if you or someone you know is handy about building things like trailers.  Even broken bikes can be useful, if the pedals and seat and gears work, they can direct muscle power into a machine. Carts could make a comeback, anything that can haul loads and be pulled or pushed by people or four legged companions.

Practicing those plans can take on many forms. You can practice parts of the fall back plans, without having to go whole hog.  For instance, if my hubby wanted to do cord knotting as a post SHTF job, he’s going to run out of the cord we have in the house eventually. He’ll need more supplies, at regular intervals, without having to pay a fortune for them in order to have a viable, long term, SHTF proof, source of income. So, maybe we practice growing some cordage fibers one year. I don’t think we’re in a warm enough place to grow something like Agave sisalana (Sisal twine is made from it) or Jute. But we could do hemp, flax, we could do some species of bamboo, nettles, yucca and cotton.  Cordage can be made from all of those, so maybe once we figure out how to grow or gather sufficient quantities, we switch our focus to learning how to process the fibers into cordage.  Then of course there’s learning which knots work best with it, and learning variations to the process for dyeing or coloring.  There’s no need to do all of it every year, but practice with the individual steps can make an emergency transition that much easier.  If baking is your thing, think about growing some wheat, or grinding some local grains into flour, maybe practice your wild yeast harvesting.

At the very least, have some plans in place.  If your children’s school stopped bus service due to funds, can you still find ways to educate your kids? If you can’t afford to gas up your car, can you still get to work? Can you find replacements for things that you currently use gas to procure? I think we’re likely to see lots more volatility at the gas pump, make sure you’re ready for it.

– Calamity Jane

8 comments… add one
  • KC April 10, 2012, 9:08 pm


    Very timely article, the volatility of petroleum logistics, is something that modern civilization has had to contend with since the advent of the internal combustion engine in the 1880’s. Now over a hundred and thirty some years later, all with the exception of very few, depend on various degrees upon internal combustion engines and their application. This being said, all those with a mind towards preparation should make the investment in transportation alternatives, which lessen the grip that petroleum distillates (specifically motor gasoline) have upon their lives. As a personal choice, I have invested extensively into diesel engine driven transport, since E-100 can be made from non-petroleum distillates, specifically various vegetable oils, which are readily available from a wide variety of local sources. Additionally something which is lacking everywhere recently, is the lack of coverage on using animal-traction as a form of alternative transportation. Living where I do, in the Southwest; many rely upon the services that equine animals provide for personal transportation. Finally in an era of contracting supplies and uncertain futures concerning the petroleum industry, it would be prudent to lobby local officials, in relaxing the laws about the use of animal-traction on public roads and thoroughfares, since how else are you going to get your self-produced products to the local markets in order to further your existence?

  • irishdutchuncle April 11, 2012, 7:20 am

    some type of hand truck/wagon/refugee cart, should be on everyones SHTF equipment list. (i have two hand trucks, am looking for a cart, and the right wagon…)

    a full 5 gallon gas can weighs 30 lbs, plus the weight of the container. water is 8 lbs. per gallon. a real battle rifle probably weighs close to 9 lbs, but a reasonable supply of ammo…
    weighs more than i can carry in my pockets. (even while wearing suspenders)

  • mmasse April 11, 2012, 3:50 pm

    I see horses making a big comeback as gas prices go back up. Donkeys and mules as well.

    • Jason April 12, 2012, 4:24 pm

      The recent comeback of donkey’s & mules are politicians – it’s an election year.

  • Jason April 12, 2012, 2:26 pm

    Gas prices are a function of demand only. We’ve witnessed that phenomenon specifically this past year. The supply had remained a constant but the prices at the pump changed nearly 20% to us end users. Peak oil is a created myth to keep prices moving upward. In fact, the new discovery of oil in the Gulf of Mexico is said to be greater than the oil fields in Saudi, giving the world another century of fossil fuel … then there is the North Dakota oil fields and so much more.

    It’s a minimax algorithm – prices are relative to specific geographic economys – i.e. demand & supply of money for a given location has been calculated, which is why pump prices widely vary regionally & worldwide.

    Second, I cannot think of a single product that does not rely upon oil fed transportation. Everything you see on any shelf in any store got there by fossil fuel power. Therefore we pay for that fuel in the price of bread, milk, diapers & laundry soap. If we buy less from the stores that impact is negligible at best.

    We are trapped by the symbiotic relationship created by the supplier (big oil) whose sole purpose is maximized profit with a near maximized stress on the consumer pocket book. Pretty brilliant eh? This is why I disagree that fuel prices will put the vast majority into 19th century transportation modes – it does not serve the ultimate goal.

    Further extrapolated is why I do not believe an economic collapse can or will occur in the US & other powerhouses like China, who is now seeing a reduction in economic growth. Sure we may experience financial pinches here & there but it is all part of the long term game of extracting profits. Remember, each nickel increase at the pump represents billions of dollars in pure profit.

    Third & more to the individual point, the one thing most do not factor in is the cost associated with their personal time … and that is the greatest, real cost. Work a “normal” job, including travel & getting ready & wind down time, then spend another X trying to save money manufacturing products ourselves? Why sacrifice quality of life to save a few bucks? In the end the only thing we have left that is any value is the relationships developed & those are completely a function of time spent, nothing else.

    Time is the only commodity that cannot be purchased or recaptured.

    So while I greatly appreciate the novelty of the suggestions here, it makes me realize even more that the present is far more important than trying to guess what the future holds because I can only live within the rules of the game that has placed upon me & fighting it is a waste of time.

    So, if it costs me a half a buck more a gallon or I spend a quarter more on a bag of rice, it’s fine. The greatest lesson of this economy is learning the value we placed on discretionary income. I firmly believe that this one of the key ingredients to personal economic failures – taking the eye off of the ball & buying into the better, faster, younger items.

    End of sermon ~


    If the school buses stop, carpools will emerge & with little complaint.

  • lateToTheParty April 16, 2012, 12:54 pm

    Jason, you forget that while for most people a nickel at the pump makes little difference now, the rising prices have basically enslaved those making minimum wage. You are talking about your situation, not others when you speak of it not hurting that much. The take home pay of those not getting government benefits, having no salable skill, and making minimum wage per hour, is rapidly disappearing. The price of a gallon of gas here now is a $1 or so below the take home per hour pay of minimum wage workers.

    As it appears to headed to $5 per hour, those who drive distances to minimum or low paying jobs are going to be squeezed to ‘death’ by the cost of fuel. My eldest drives about 45 miles a day for day-care and work. With an older car at 17 mpg, that’s 2+ gallons of fuel a day. If it hits $5 a gallon here, she’ll be working 2+ hours per day to pay for fuel. If it reaches at $10/gallon, she’ll be working 4+ hours a day or half of her week to pay for fuel.

    It is amazing to me that apparently oil companies can’t see how at such a point you lose a consumer. Sure you keep them on heat or a/c or a few necessary products (new plastic items)… but when a large portion of your income is gone to fuel and food, there’s not much to discretionary spending. No new car made of plastic from oil that runs on oil, no new boat or jet ski, no new all plastic digital camera. iWhatever made with lots of oil? Ain’t happening. We’ve already hit a limit and the prices, and profits, are still going up. They’ve made their decision to squeeze blood out of a turnip, and soon there’ll be no turnip to squeeze.

    You and I may be fine with $10 gas, I am ok with it for work transport, it’s only 2 miles for me; but for those who, by birth or by previous choice, cannot handle such a change in the price of fuel, the astronomical price of gas is going to knock them on their tail. Any chance of this ‘recession’ staying a recession is gone, the force of gasoline driven market prices will kill any growth that has been made since 2008. And full on depression, in my view of course, is inevitable. Whatever is driving this price climb (artificially created or natural) is going to drown the lower class and put even higher burdens on the middle class.

    You can say all you want about bad decisions of poorer people coming home to roost, but the heart of the matter is that large groups of people are going to be taken out of the consumer market, making for less demand and higher costs. These 2 work hand in hand and if allowed by the producer to continue, by holding or raising prices, they will finally spiral out of control and devour the producer. $10 a gallon gas doesn’t hurt those who live near work and drive little, but not everybody lives, or can afford to live, that close to work.

  • Jason April 16, 2012, 10:30 pm

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

    Gas prices in Italy for example varies from $6-$7 per gallon yet, people have figured out how to get from point A to point B in similar work environments. As stated prior, the advantage is understanding how much can be extracted for the consumer before they break.

    Last summer in my area threats of gas hitting $5 per gallon put a strain on this local economy. Prices shot up to $4.75, consumption reduced & that coming trend (if continued) was proving less profit overall. Solution? Ratchet back to a “reasonable” rate like $4.15 per gallon & monitor. All seems well and now 30 cents higher than the previous year.

    My point is, it is completely profit driven. It is foolish to price people out of the market because it is counter-productive.

  • Bill April 17, 2012, 3:07 pm

    Everyone seems to be forgetting that we are part of a global economy. gasoline usage has declined in the U.S. for the past 3 years, but in 2011 gasoline actually became the number 1 U.S. export. You read that correctly. The United States exported more gasoline (dollar wise) than any other commodity.

    It is obvious that oil companies are in business to make money. Just like any other person on the planet, they want to sell thier product at the highest price possible.

    When gas prices rose 3 or 4 years ago, we all knew that prices could rise dramatically in a very short time. Some people took notice and made preparations for the eventuality (near certainty) that gas would go up again.

    I find it interesting that people on this site are surprised about this. We all need to pay attention to the economies of the world. Economics 101 will tell you that when money supplies increase, inflation will take effect. Virtually every country in the world has fired up the printing presses and virtually flooded the market with currency. Inflation is currently being held low on purpose, but it will inevitably climb.

    Gasoline prices are a little more volatile, than many things, but everything will follow. Many of the forms of inflation are still flying below the radar. In the last year I have seen inflation take the form of smaller packages, or even the more devious practice of fewer items in the same size package.

    Be aware, that the other effect of the “threat” of inflation is purchasing (The idea of buying something before the price goes up). Purchasing, or consumerism, fuels economic growth which is something the government desperately needs right now.

    Profit is a powerful motivator.


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