why i am glad gas is $4 per gallon

It seems like we don’t really care of the consequences of our actions, unless they have consequences for us. So we can know all the right things to do in life, but unless they have some personal consequence or benefit for us, we sometimes get lazy about doing them.

One great example? Driving. We all know we should carpool, combine errands, buy high mpg cars, and walk, bike, or take public transportation when possible. But we often don’t want to do it. Why? Because it is just easier to drive. The car sitting in our garage or on the street out front calls to us. “I can take you anywhere you want to go, just hop in, what’s it going to hurt?” Sure, the coffeeshop is only a 20 minute walk away, but I can get there in 5 by car. And I know that I can wait two days to stop by the bookstore on my way back from the grocery store, but I would really rather go there tonight. We give in- the car is oh so convenient and oh so comfortable.

So I am glad, very glad, that gas is $4 a gallon. Hopefully it will hit us where it hurts- in the pocketbook- and the personal consequence of high expenses at the pump will help curb our oil addiction. People have been complaining about it, starting facebook groups to protest it, and even lobbying congress to do something about it, but I just sit back and smile. We are finally being given personal reasons to curb our oil use, and it’s a beautiful thing.

I hope gas prices go higher. Maybe when it hits $6 or $8 per gallon we will beef up our public transportation systems, finally allow electric cars to go into market, and built bike lanes instead of roads. I’m looking forward to the day… and I think my bike is too.

In the mean time, I am aware of the devastating consequences that high gas prices can have on us. People are losing jobs as more company resources need to move into fuel prices. People are going hungry around the world as the US tries to produce ethanol substitutes to gas. And more US oil drilling will begin as more and more people protest the rising price at the pump and the government searches for solutions. I wish there was an easier way to stop our addiction to oil, but I’m guessing it is going to be a messy and painful withdrawal process, and I know a lot of people will get caught up in the mess (the poor and the oppressed) who don’t deserve too.

Maybe we should start thinking about how to end our oil addictions now, before we are forced to by the end of oil or by sky-high prices. Then maybe we can make it a smoother and less painful process, but, as I said earlier, I doubt we will really do anything until it really hurts our own finances.

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6 thoughts on “why i am glad gas is $4 per gallon

  1. Some of us don’t live in the city and need to drive some distant to our job. What should the solution be for this? You make many valid points and something MUST be done about these problems. Thank you for your post.

  2. Dorothy, to be completely honest… maybe we need to ask ourselves, why do we live so far from our places of work? Now I know no matter how much you want to live near your work, maybe economics, family situations, or other circumstances keep you from doing so. But I know a lot of people decide that they want a long commute so they can live in the exact neighborhood of their choice. Others can only find affordable housing in poor destitute neighborhoods, and have to travel out of them to find work. Both situations need creative ideas and hard work- one in sacrificing our dream home or neighborhood to live near work (or sacrificing our dream job for something closer to home) and the other situation calls for community outcries to revitalize neighborhoods to bring in jobs. I know that there are a long list of possible situations between these two examples, but I think high gas prices may lead us to ask “why do I live so far from home?” and if we find that we can not do anything about it, aski “why does this have to be like this?”

  3. looks like we need to look into what makes for city planning centered around a robust public transport system, what were the factors that led to the outstanding public transportation systems in New York, San Franciso…

    that said here in Chicago I do feel a certain sense of promise with creating new bus lanes and the express busses… at the sametime, citizens will be up in arms about losing valuable parking space…

    but there definately a delicate balance in rolling out policy like this… we have our work cut out before us too… just see the outrage here: http://www.topix.com/forum/chicago/T4HFDO5LS70ASMSCM

  4. Maria,

    Good post, and I’ve felt similar sentiments with the rising gas prices. But, I’ve also realized that the only reason I feel this way is because I am pretty privileged and wealthy. I live in a situation where we only need one car, and we only need to drive a minimal amount. If gas jumped up to $10 a gallon, it wouldn’t cripple our budget, because we don’t drive that much. Like you, I’m in a position to look to the long term benefits because the short term consequences are really just an inconvenience.

    But, a lot of people don’t have the luxury to feel this way. Rising gas prices means that they can’t afford to get to their job (or there second or third job) or don’t have money to put food on the table. Kids go hungry, can’t get to school, etc. For a lot of people, this will undoubtedly negatively affect their quality of life. It is much more than an inconvenience for this subsection of society.

    So, I agree with you to a point. For the average middle/upper class person who drives a gas guzzler and whines about gas prices, it will hopefully cause them to rethink what and how they drive – and hopefully the inconvenience will be great enough to cause some short and long term change. But for those in the lower class who struggle to make it as it is, and don’t have the luxuries and options that we have, this can be a crippling situation that endangers their well being. In this sense, rising gas prices really are a terrible thing.

    So, yes, hopefully rising gas prices will necessitate change. But I don’t know if it’s the kind of change that will help those that will actually suffer because of rising prices. I’d love to hear your thoughts and push back if you disagree!

  5. Dave- I of course agree, too. I wonder what is better, though, when we are dealing with a non-renewable resource. Steadily reduce or oil consumption as gas prices increase, or suddenly end our consumption when the oil is gone? And what is going to be worse for the poor in our country and around the world?

    My hope is that we can have compassionate city-planners and organizers that will seek to reduce the fuel and car dependence of the poorest of the poor, to increase jobs where affordable housing can also be found, to provide strong affordable public transportation… But I know there are a lot of people who fall outside of the help of even these ideas. Honestly, I only agree to myself to a point… and I don’t know how to balance our fuel consumption with the needs of the poor. But yes, rising gas prices that are crushing struggling families do not make me happy at all… and I know, I work with these families every day.

    Thanks Dave!

  6. I firmly believe that the steady increase in gas prices that we’re seeing right now is a really good thing. Looking back at history, it is quite obvious that we will not stop using a resource until it is ultimately depleted, on the very brink of depletion, or it becomes uneconomical to harvest it – oil is no exception. So, if we really want to take a chill from the oil binge – for the sake of global warming or prolonging the end of oil – increasing prices is the only thing that will help for now.

    Honestly, the end of oil is going to cause our economy to crash and burn sooner or later. I would rather that it burn slowly than all at once. With economic forces pushing us to ween ourselves from oil over time, at least we have a chance to change the way we build communities, change the way we think about where we live, and change the way we transport ourselves. This is a much prettier picture than a sudden end-of-oil scenario that leaves everyone screwed, save the farmers and gardeners who, with foresight, made a decision to install solar panels to pump water from the ground.

    Me, living in a large city with no ground to call my own, I would starve pretty quickly; the least we can do is be happy that rising gas prices might buy us more time to teach our kids how to grow tomatoes.

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