What will you do when gas hits $4 per gallon?
The image you're looking at is a classic VW ad from 1979, a response to the gas crisis at that time. I just filled up my tank, and 16 gallons of Plus Unleaded cost me over $52 here in Colorado. If you're in California, you're paying more. Use diesel? I already feel for you. So the big question is, what are you going to do when regular gas hits $4/gallon this summer?
It's not a case of if, but when. Oil refineries aren't going to appear out of nowhere, they take time to build. And as the summer months are just around the corner, so is the peak driving season. That's the time when the gas prices hit the roof, and talk of that $4/gallon price tag is already floating around the news desks and chat rooms of America.
Some people say we have it lucky; like my dad, who lives in the UK and pays around double that. But here's the big difference - in the UK and Europe, there are many more transportation options and cars are built to run more efficiently. When I lived in the UK I never drove a car. I actually got my license when I moved to America, because I soon discovered just how poor public transportation was. In Britain I could rely on regular underground trains, very regular buses and British Rail for longer journey. But that's not a great option here in the US. We simply cannoy give up our cars and expect the same quality of life. These days, suburbs are built a long way from the nearest grocery store. It may be walking distance, but who really wants to walk 45mins to the store, and back again with bags of heavy shopping?
I laugh when I hear people say "there's no way I'm paying $4/gallon" or "the American public just won't stand for it!" What else are they (you, us) going to do? Seriously? Gasoline should be treated like electricty, water and natural gas. It's a necessity of modern life. But, it's not. Gas companies can continue to charge whatever they want, and we will continue to pay it and make reductions elsewhere. We'll buy more store brands, eat out less, buy more fuel-efficient cars or, occasionally, walk somewhere or take a bus. But the daily commute will still be there, as will the weekly shop, and cars run on gas. If the price goes to $6/gallon, nothing will change. We'll still pay it because we have no viable alternative.
The net result of course is that gas companies can make more money by selling less product! Genius, really. Airlines are also feeling the pinch (two have gone under in the last week) and the ones that remain will pass on the price of fuel to you, the happy customer.
Maybe someone will invent an electric car. Oh hang on, they did. It was called the EV1 and it worked. Actually, it worked too well. The prospect of a car that ran entirely on electricty and required little-to-no maintenance was too much for the oil companies to bear. GM scrapped them all for "some reason." I think we all know why. If you haven't seen it yet, watch "Who Killed The Electric Car?" for more information.
Maybe some bright spark will invent a car that runs on water. Oh, well, that one's already in the works. If you didn't already know, Ohio inventor John Kanzius has invented a machine that can "burn" salt-water. The result is an engine that runs on the most abundant resource on the planet. See the video below .
Now, when large oil and gas companies learn about this invention, I can see one of two things happening. One, they will embrace the technology with open arms and help John develop a salt-water engine. Ha, sorry, my little joke. Or two, they'll buy up the patent and let the idea rot for about 50 years, then introduce some lame salt-water/gasoline hybrid. That's basically what they did to the electric car, which is why hybrid cars are now becoming all the rage...and these beauties still rely on all that lovely oil.
So other than growing wings or inventing a Star Trekkian molecular transportation beam, I would like to know, genuinely, what you plan to do when gas does hit that magic $4/gallon. Me, I'm going to do what almost everyone else in the country will do. Pay it, whine and moan, talk about it at work for about 2 hours a day with co-workers, and eat out less.