Yesterday I found out a couple of young people I know are somewhere in New Zealand. They haven't been heard from since the quake. They were supposed to be out hiking the day of the quake. If they got off on time, they are probably okay, just out of touch because they are off in the wilderness. There was some concern that their trip may have been delayed, stranding them in Christchurch. If so, their disappearance takes on a more ominous turn. Really hope they are fine.
We live in the middle of nowhere, far from big cities or any other place normally thought of as an International crossroad. In spite of that, we seem to know people in nearly every trouble spot of the world. Yesterday, I asked my wife if we knew anyone in Libya. We don't. It's a relief.
Cheap energy made it possible for normal working class people to travel. How many people fly for their job? It's a small world.
How much longer will it be a small world? My wife was going though the local history of our small village. It wasn't too long ago a eight mile trip to the next town was an all day adventure. Horses can only travel so far, so fast.
Liquid fuels are used for travel. We might be able to keep the lights on with domestic coal, hydro, and nuclear power, but those energy sources don't fuel our cars or planes. A significant amount of liquid fuels come from unstable far away places. What domestic production we have will be most likely be rationed for government use. If we are lucky, the ambulances, and firetrucks will be a priority. Personal travel will be a rarer, slower, and more expensive pursuit.
As energy prices rise, the world becomes a bigger place. The circle of people we know will shrink. Personal connections to distant places will diminish. Even though I worry about friends in far away places, at least they experience a wider world.