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Gas Price Venting (again) and Feasible, Sustainable Solutions

At a quarter 'til 1pm today, this was the result of a poll posted on msnbc.com, titled: How high will gas prices get?

"As the Memorial Day holiday approaches, the nationwide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is edging toward $4. How much higher do you think gas prices will go this summer?" (13937 responses)

A little higher, maybe $4.50 a gallon
30%

Perhaps above $5 a gallon
45%

Much higher -- definitely above $6 a gallon
25%
---
"Who do you blame for record oil and gas prices?" (13885 responses)

The U.S. government
36%

The U.S. consumer
14%

Big oil companies
35%

OPEC
15%
---
"Will gas prices force you to change your driving habits?" (13893 responses)

Yes
82%

No
9.4%

I'm not sure
8.6%

I drive a 2001 Nissan Sentra, with an eight gallon tank. For me to fill up, at $3.89/gallon, it costs me $31.12 (for a tiny little economy passenger car, that is ridiculous. But, I stopped my belly-aching when i heard a fellow customer at Snappy's vent to the cashier about putting $80 in his work truck - this guy to me was clearly just a working middle class dude just trying to gt to what appeared to me, a blue-collar job. These people are getting hit real hard, because these people don't ahve a choice right now - they can't use a Prius as a work truck, and if there was a well-performing hybrid truck out there, the small business owner couldn't afford to buy a whole fleet of them for his guys).

I really don't know how much more of this we can take - I can't even afford to fill up at any one time, I only put in about three to four gallons at a time. If gas prices hit $5.00 a gallon by the end of summer, which I am afraid they might, I will be paying insurance and parking for a car that's just sitting there! I'll probably just use the car for weekly errands (I can walk to work), and that's it! I'll probably even change my coverage to liability too.

The thing is, people say that rising gas prices wil change their driving behavior - I don't think that in the end, that's the case. Construction workers, etc. still have to drive their work trucks (the small business owner of a carpentry business still has to pay his guys' purchases at the pump). This is not sustainable.

As for myself, I won't be taking the vacations I thought I was going to this summer - trip down to the Keys? That's not happening. It's too expensive. Even a [short] road trip anywhere - that's still up in the air.

What people need to start doing is just take the bus or buy a Prius - a used one isn't that bad to purchase. Do that. We can't bitch about gas prices effectively when we're still buying SUVs and trucks. You don't need a car that big to haul your ass around, and if you do, you need to start walking anyway.

Or another thing is, we could just give the whole public transportation system a much needed makeover - make the system so effective and reliable that it becomes silly to own a car. I was thinking the other day, [and State College is getting close, it is a highly walkable community], what if there were more buses, so we wouldn't have to schedule our lives around a bus-once-a-hour schedule, and what if taking the bus to go to the grocery store was actually covenient? Hell, I'd do it.

Trains. I just took one from Paoli to Phil to Ashland VA, and I'm thinking trains need a comeback, the whole trip was $80. What if trains and train stations were everywhere? Would you take a train?

The technology is out there for electric train systems, right? (Or is that subways that run on electricity?) Either way, it is feasible, right? The BEST way to hurt these oil companies, to make the car companies produce better products, is to stop paying for gas at the pump, and to stop driving their cars. (Hell, it would hurt the car insurance companies too, and anyone who knows me knows I'd like to set any one of those company headquarters on fire).

I know a lot of people out there love their cars. I can sympathize with that sentiment, but when I think about a world in which I'm not responsible for paying for parking for a year ($635), for gas ($X,XXX), for car maintenance ($X,XXX), for insurance (over $2,000 for my stupid driving) - giving up all those responsibilities for public transportation, a year bus ticket is what, $200, and for train rides, go figure, it depends - but all those thousands of dollars per year you'd spend on the car, you could save up, and after two years, have a pretty healthy looking savings account, bustin at the seems with something in the order of $10,000, just from not having a car.

Looking kinda nice now, doesn't it?

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Months and months before the price started to go into the sky

Months ago I was writing here about peak oil theory and asking if there was a plan for expensive gasoline for the centre county area. (Oil was at $60 to $70 a barrel then, gasoline at $2.40, and the "experts were all saying "Don't worry, the price will drop soon, the oil from Iraq will save us all.".)

Of course, nobody knew about such a plan. Not surprizingly, because it probably didn't exist. And nobody wanted to think about things like depletion (a word that means how quickly the known oil fields are being used up, and therefore dropping in output), or oil quality (people tend to think all oil is the same - the opposite is true - there is good oil, medium quality oil (like in alaska) and bad, bad oil - and we've used up almost all of the good oil, and raely discover new good oil.

There is very good reason to believe gasoline will be $5 by the fall - and $7 by next spring. And home heating oil will be as expensive as diesel (basically what it is) - which is already $4.50 - and may cost $6 a gallon this winter.

Because, there is no way that the small progress in bringing new oil to market can happen fast enough to save us from an expensive winter.

It will take many years to build the new electric train systems we desperately need - think 10 to 20 - at least that and probably more to bring a train system to state college.

Smart people who should have known better ignored the science, ignored the numbers, and decided that they should wait untill the emergncy was actually happening before preparing for the inevitable coming of expensive oil and petroleum fuels.

So prepare to suffer.

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