Monday, June 21, 2010

On Gas Prices

Everyone in the livable streets blogosphere has known for a long time that gasoline is far, far too cheap. Ezra Klein, in the Washington Post, makes that same point again for the general public, and he does so well. He cites figures that suggest that a gallon of gasoline should cost a minimum of $4.37, and that's before you get to all of those unquantifiable costs- like security policy and habitat loss during oil spills. All of this is a well-deserved wake-up call to the car-addicted nation, but while his point is solid, his conclusion is disheartening.

Increasing the cost of oil could make other energy sources cheaper in comparison, and if the mechanism were a tax that would fund development of alternatives, that would hasten our transition. But it is the speed with which we can discover and refine those alternatives, more than the price of oil, that will decide our energy future.

The question, in other words, isn't just what a gallon of gas costs. It's what a gallon of anything that can replace gas costs. Maybe that's what we should start asking politicians.

As I've posted here before, there is no future in alternative fuels. I support sustainable fuel for the motoring that we'll have to do in the future- and make no bones about it, we will have to do some motoring. Utility workers, for example, require the convenience of some form of motorized transport. However, we also need to be drastically reducing the amount of driving we do, and in most cases entirely eliminating our reliance on automobiles. We don't need to "discover" or "refine" alternatives- they are running around the streets and subways of our cities every single day, in the form of bicycles, electric trains and trolleybuses, and electric commuter trains. We don't need to put something else in our cars, we need to get rid of them entirely, and this is something that the overwhelming majority of posts on the BP oil disaster miss by a mile.


pinkboi said...

People like you are going to make it a lot more fun to drive. The roads are too crowded right now.

JN said...

Hey, there's a big difference between driving for fun (which even I'm known to do on occasion) and HAVING to drive everywhere for survival. I bet even the most ardent gearhead doesn't want to drive to work in city traffic every day.

See my post on the subject here: