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8 Reasons you'll rejoice when we hit $8 a gallon gasoline Answered

This article in MarketWatch written by Chris Pummer mostly matches my opinions. My favorite is #2

Here is the text:

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- For one of the nastiest substances on earth, crude oil has an amazing grip on the globe. We all know the stuff's poison, yet we're as dependent on it as our air and water supplies -- which, of course, is what oil is poisoning.

Shouldn't we be technologically advanced enough here in the 21st Century to quit siphoning off the pus of the Earth? Regardless whether you believe global warming is threatening the planet's future, you must admit crude is passé.

Americans should be celebrating rather than shuddering over the arrival of $4-a-gallon gasoline. We lived on cheap gas too long, failed to innovate and now face the consequences of competing for a finite resource amid fast-expanding global demand.

A further price rise as in Europe to $8 a gallon -- or $200 and more to fill a large SUV's tank -- would be a catalyst for economic, political and social change of profound national and global impact. We could face an economic squeeze, but it would be the pain before the gain.
The U.S. economy absorbed a tripling in gas prices in the last six years without falling into recession, at least through March. Ravenous demand from China and India could see prices further double in the next few years -- and jumpstart the overdue process of weaning ourselves off fossil fuels.

Consider the world of good that would come of pricing crude oil and gasoline at levels that would strain our finances as much as they're straining international relations and the planet's long-term health:

1. RIP for the internal-combustion engine

They may contain computer chips, but the power source for today's cars is little different than that which drove the first Model T 100 years ago. That we're still harnessed to this antiquated technology is testament to Big Oil's influence in Washington and success in squelching advances in fuel efficiency and alternative energy.

Given our achievement in getting a giant mainframe's computing power into a handheld device in just a few decades, we should be able to do likewise with these dirty, little rolling power plants that served us well but are overdue for the scrap heap of history.

2. Economic stimulus

Necessity being the mother of invention, $8 gas would trigger all manner of investment sure to lead to groundbreaking advances. Job creation wouldn't be limited to research labs; it would rapidly spill over into lucrative manufacturing jobs that could help restore America's industrial base and make us a world leader in a critical realm.

The most groundbreaking discoveries might still be 25 or more years off, but we won't see massive public and corporate funding of research initiatives until escalating oil costs threaten our national security and global stability -- a time that's fast approaching.

3. Wither the Middle East's clout

This region that's contributed little to modern civilization exercises inordinate sway over the world because of its one significant contribution -- crude extraction. Aside from ensuring Israel's security, the U.S. would have virtually no strategic or business interest in this volatile, desolate region were it not for oil -- and its radical element wouldn't be able to demonize us as the exploiters of its people.

In the near term, breaking our dependence on Middle Eastern oil may well require the acceptance of drilling in the Alaskan wilderness -- with the understanding that costly environmental protections could easily be built into the price of $8 gas.

4. Deflating oil potentates

On a similar note, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently gained a platform on the world stage because of their nations' sudden oil wealth. Without it, they would face the difficult task of building fair and just economies and societies on some other basis.

How far would their message resonate -- and how long would they even stay in power -- if they were unable to buy off the temporary allegiance of their people with vast oil revenues?

5. Mass-transit development

Anyone accustomed to taking mass transit to work knows the joy of a car-free commute. Yet there have been few major additions or improvements to our mass-transit systems in the last 30 years because cheap gas kept us in our cars.

Confronted with $8 gas, millions of Americans would board buses, trains, ferries and bicycles and minimize the pollution, congestion and anxiety spawned by rush-hour traffic jams. More convenient routes and scheduling would accomplish that.

6. An antidote to sprawl

The recent housing boom sparked further development of antiseptic, strip-mall communities in distant outlying areas. Making 100-mile-plus roundtrip commutes costlier will spur construction of more space-efficient housing closer to city centers, including cluster developments to accommodate the millions of baby boomers who will no longer need their big empty-nest suburban homes.

Sure, there's plenty of land left to develop across our fruited plains, but building more housing around city and town centers will enhance the sense of community lacking in cookie-cutter developments slapped up in the hinterlands.

7. Restoration of financial discipline

Far too many Americans live beyond their means and nowhere is that more apparent than with our car payments. Enabled by eager lenders, many middle-income families carry two monthly payments of $400 or more on $20,000-plus vehicles that consume upwards of $15,000 of their annual take-home pay factoring in insurance, maintenance and gas.

The sting of forking over $100 per fill-up would force all of us to look hard at how much of our precious income we blow on a transport vehicle that sits idle most of the time, and spur demand for the less-costly and more fuel-efficient small sedans and hatchbacks that Europeans have been driving for decades.

8. Easing global tensions

Unfortunately, we human beings aren't so far evolved that we won't resort to annihilating each other over energy resources. The existence of weapons of mass destruction aside, the present Iraq War could be the first of many sparked by competition for oil supplies.

Steep prices will not only chill demand in the U.S., they will more importantly slow China and India's headlong rush to make the same mistakes we did in rapidly industrializing -- like selling $2,500 Tata cars to countless millions of Indians with little concern for the environmental consequences. If we succeed in developing viable energy alternatives, they could be a key export in helping us improve our balance of trade with consumer-goods producers.

Additional considerations

Weaning ourselves off crude will hopefully be the crowning achievement that marks the progress of humankind in the 21st Century. With it may come development of oil-free products to replace the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, fertilizers and pesticides that now consume 16% of the world's crude-oil output and are likely culprits in fast-rising cancer rates.

By its very definition, oil is crude. It's time we develop more refined energy sources and that will not happen without a cost-driven shift in demand.


Oh, if only!

Petrol is already $10-$12 per gallon in the UK, diesel even more, but very little of that seems to be happening.

However, we seem to have more efficient cars over here already (I saw an advert pop up here claiming three cars from a range had mileages of over 30mpg - that's what I expect on a commuter-run on a bad day).

1. RIP for the internal-combustion engine
Maybe eventually, but electric cars are effectively non-existent over here.

2. Economic stimulus
No sign of that at all over here. There have been several very promising alternative systems for electricity generation, but all the government seem interested in is wind. The other ideas (Pelamis, Limpet) get sold abroad.

3. Wither the Middle East's clout
Ah, we're already slightly insulated from that (North Sea oil), but they're still richer that Creosote.

4. Deflating oil potentates
Not a hope - even if all IC engines came off the road today, oil is still a hugely important raw material.

5. Mass-transit development
A sore point over here. A trip to London (four in the car) costs me a full tank of petrol, about 50GBP, but the same trip by train costs upwards of 60GBP each, and we don't get to travel exactly when we want to.

6. An antidote to sprawl
We don't have such a problem over here, having a far higher population density than the USA, we're already running short of farmland and we have plenty of brownsites to build on now that our heavy industry is effectively dead.

7. Restoration of financial discipline
Possibly, but I doubt it - credit cards have never been so easy to get over here, most people owe thousands.

8. Easing global tensions
Not a hope - as fuel supplies dwindle we will have wars that are openly about oil. We are already seeing food riots around the world, and water will be a source of tension soon (Spain is currently buying tankerloads of water to ease its drought).

I'm not arguing, just being pessimistic. Have you ever tried to persuade young teens to save energy today so they have some tomorrow? I did today - as soon as we got to the bit about walking across the room to switch the power off instead of putting stuff on standby I lost them completely.

Hmmm Fuel price rises, happening, I suppose the truckers blocking the M2 where rejoicing about it then?

It's all very well blockading, but what did they achieve? Nothing.

Though the fact that taxes are up, companies are price fixing and oil prices are jumping up and down is a nuisance, basically it's hard to keep up with changes in pump prices...

Not originally, no. Pratchett must have named his character after the Lydian king.

You know, an oeuvre- they hatch into geas...

isn't that a mixed metaphor?

yes, but it is richer than Creosote right?

4. Deflating oil potentates Not a hope - even if all IC engines came off the road today, oil is still a hugely important raw material. Yeah, as nearly everything now is made from it. including medicines, plastics, many cloths, even auto parts, etc AND etc.

Crazy old man...didn't you ever thinking about having the old folks saving energy today, so us kids had some tomorrow? You've already used more than your fair share!


Actually, this article was meant for americans, if you go to the article itself, you'll see all this comes from what has been observed in Europe.

...as soon as we got to the bit about walking across the room to switch the power off instead of putting stuff on standby I lost them completely.


The Internal combustion engine will always be around, maybe not in the same shape and maybe not in the same majority but it's a fixture... I think the rise of steam powered engines is a possibility, take power plants, they could literally jump to using massive solar cookers to generate steam for their turbines... Electric cars are another story, it's not exactly practical or particularly efficient in some cases, using a coal power plant to fill up your car with juice doesn't solve the emmissions problem very well, it's more efficient but not much more eco friendly... I think we should be focusing on cleaner burning highly efficient gas engines now and working on long term solutions at the same time, it's not as easy as stopping plastic bags, which coincidentally isn't easy... People wont give up their cars that easily...

I feel very strongly that the IC engine will soon become obsolete. Like transistors taking the place of vacuum tubes, the IC engine will soon be old tech.

. I guess that depends on your definition of "soon." I doubt it will happen in my lifetime and probably not in your's (although you may see ICEs become a "minority" power source). In any case, I don't see it being the virtually overnight revolution that transistors were - if they quit making ICEs today, it would take decades to phase out the currently installed units. . In some applications (emergency and portable power generation come to mind), it's hard to beat an ICE, so these will probably be around until "personal fusion reactors" arrive. But these uses are an insignificant part of the problem compared to transportation.


10 years ago

  • We all know [crude oil is] poison
Is not. Or at least it's considerably less poison than its predecessors.

  • 1. RIP for the internal-combustion engine
Replaced by WHAT with similar capacity per volume? Forget cars here; tell me what's going to replace trucks! Or the "mass transit" mentioned below.

  • 2. Economic stimulus
Well, maybe. Too bad there won't be any money to spend. I suppose that the government could spend like it was wartime, only on domestic developments; A sad part about current spending is that we don't seem to get anything BACK for our investments.

  • 3. Wither the Middle East's clout
  • 4. Deflating oil potentates
Yeah. Put those third world nations back in the third world where they belong!

  • 5. Mass-transit development
I can take mass transit to work in only about 3x the time it takes to drive. And we all know how well local governments are at running mass transit systems.

  • 6. An antidote to sprawl
Cause people really hate being unable to live in overcrowded urban environments and only spread out because they LIKE driving long distances!

  • 7. Restoration of financial discipline
Yeah! Poor people back to being poor! Cars only for rich people! Hell, MOBILITY only for rich people. Rich people who meet HS's idea of politically correct, of course.

  • 8. Easing global tensions
Right. Count the wars and tell me how many are about oil? There's always something to fight about; most of the world is still fighting over things like mere survival...
  • 5. Mass-transit development

I can take mass transit to work in only about 3x the time it takes to drive. And we all know how well local governments are at running mass transit systems.

In Here, public transport is actually improving.

Buses - We have 2 kinds of Bus Companies

- One Big private company for the metropolitan area
- Smaller Private companies for the rest of the island

Recently, a train has been completed. It has succeeded expectations in terms of use.

Both of these public transports have seen some hefty increase in use. Um, right now, I don't have the percentage, I'll look for it.

I think when we hit $8 dollars a gallon, someone will say "Hey, maybe buying all this gas isn't worth it especially since it is cheaper to build and run an electric car in a year. Then we can all laugh as we see the oil tycoons loose their money in a stock market crash and hit the streets.


10 years ago

Points 3 and 4- xenophobic much? If we captured all the hot air that is expended talking about oil and not actually doing anything about it, we could run a 100MW turbine on it. i did the maths a while ago- the amount of energy allegedly wasted by appliances on standby would power a third of the UK's entire commuter mileage in contemporary electric vehicles. (That is DIYer lead-acid five-seater car conversions, not Sinclair C5s.)

The hypocrisy of claiming that expensive oil would reduce "tensions in the middle east" (read; terrism) astounds me. We're already having one war over oil and it looks like there's another brewing. Iraq are the US' bestest buddies now, it's all that nasty Iran's fault we aren't one big happy family.

When the US invades Iran do we get to shout "Monopoly!" and build hotels along Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan?

like selling $2,500 Tata cars to countless millions of Indians with little concern for the environmental consequences.


In case it doesn't show, this article makes me quite angry. If more expensive petrol makes a lazy consumer society used to having technology constantly improve quality of life suddenly start being more environmentally responsible at the cost of convenience, I'll buy a hat and eat it.

KK, none of this is aimed at you, rather at the author of this article.


Think of it this way: They get it out of the ground, collect it, refine it, run it over here, and basically put it into our gas stations for only 4 dollars a gallon! We're getting a good deal!