On gas prices

It’s the time of year when gas prices are making headlines again. Now they are starting to reach new record highs in America, and these prices are even starting to come close to what Europeans have been paying for gas for years. Those who want to blame Obama for all of America’s problems will be quick to blame him for these prices (and apparently Obama has raised gas prices in Ontario too, so his jurisdiction as raiser of gas prices is far reaching). Nearly everybody sees high gas prices as a problem, and I might make a few enemies saying this, but I don’t see it as a problem. Gas prices need to stay this high and they need to even go up more.

 

We are literally taking a resource which is finite, and we’re fucking burning it as fuel. I just tried to think of a clever analogy that would demonstrate how stupid this is, but I couldn’t think of anything stupider than using crude oil, a fascinating chemical with a myriad of uses which can be used as a component for a lot of amazing substances (like plastic), and just burning it like firewood.

 

It gets even more ridiculous. We are burning it and we have made it a cheap commodity! I’ve purchased gallons of milk which cost more than gasoline. And milk is a renewable resource. We complain that OPEC needs to “produce” more oil. There is no such thing as oil production! W are just taking it from the earth, and we WILL run out. The simple fact that oil is a finite resource should completely shoot down any claims that we need to approach the gas prices issue as a normal economic issue. It’s finite. That changes everything. At least it does when you’re using it as fuel for your car.

 

We will innovate ourselves out of our need for oil at some point. Wether that point is soon or some time after all the oil runs out depends on whether we take this issue seriously. The need to reduce our dependence on oil had our attention in 2008, but Americans quickly forgot about the issue once gas prices went back down.

 

Car companies are getting smarter. Hybrids are very common now, and plug in hybrids are starting to make their way into the mainstream. But we need to do more than change how we fuel our cars. Americans need to start demanding decent mass transit. They need to bite the bullet and acknowledge that although right now there are huge budget shortfalls, ignoring our dire need for better infrastructure is what will keep the US perpetually in the sorry economic state we are in.

 

So bring on the higher gas prices. People need to feel a squeeze that is tighter than “aww, it is painful to look at that number on the pump but i’ll keep driving to work every day anyway instead of taking the bus.” The prices will need to make people start doing without, or cutting down on driving. I would rather that we didn’t have to experience that, no doubt, but if we are the country that keeps forgetting about every gas crisis then we are going to have to feel more pain. We are the country that popularized the SUV just 20 years after the energy crisis, for fuck’s sake.

 

We need to reach the point where not a soul is complaining about the heavy costs of implementing high speed rail because the cost of a train ticket would be a great deal less than the cost of gas to drive 100 miles.

 

We’ll get there. The only question is when.

 

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