Wednesday, October 17, 2007

$3.49 per gallon

That's the price I saw this morning for regular unleaded at the Shell gas station on Alma Street in Palo Alto, CA. Granted, that's always the most expensive station in town, but it's still a dramatic jump from the $3.20 or so they had last week. Near my home, the nearest gas stations were at $3.19/gallon last night.

Although the current U.S. administration is still in denial and refuses to do anything useful about it, the world is in fact running out of cheap oil. Investors have even woken up to this fact.

Locally, I see more bike commuters than ever although the weather has chilled, the days are shorter, and the California rainy season has started. Many are people I've never seen before on shiny new bikes, and the ones I talk with tell me they've only recently started bike commuting. They started because of high gas prices, but they continue because they discover they actually enjoy riding in to work.

Increased bicycle use for transportation is great to see, but high gas prices are still a concern for me. Higher gas prices mean I pay more for everything. Economic growth comes from growth in energy use. I'm not too hopeful that we'll effectively transfer our energy use from transportation to other, more constructive purposes. Our transition to a low energy economy will be very painful for everybody. We're already seeing pain in Africa and some Pacific Rim countries, where gasoline that once was used to run irrigation pumps, farm tractors, fishing boats and village generators is now shipped to the United States because we're able to pay the higher price for the fuel. Even North Dakota's wheat harvest was threatened because of diesel shortages there.

Many of my anti-car friends rejoice at the prospect of high gasoline prices, but I see pain in all of our futures. I know the readers of Cyclelicious are doing your parts to forestall and maybe even ease that pain. You're doing the right thing by riding your bikes and encouraging others by your example.


Donna T. said...

I, too, have seen more people cycling to work and even, in some cases, walking, even though fall has arrived. I think we are all feeling the pinch at the pump.

SueJ said...

Pinches are no fun, period :( And when people start thinking they don't have enough... if there's a little leadership people can get together and work through and have team spirit and all the good things... or people get scared and isolated and swipe from each other and get more scared... like the man said, we have nothing to fear but fear itself... so I'm a little worried. Trying to figure out a way to create the illusion of leadership :)

Anonymous said...

You pay more for things, especially for distant things. This has two positive effects: it makes local production more attractive, and it raises the cost to the buyer of polluting the environment by shipping, i.e. you don't get as much of a free ride on pollution as you might have before. So while it sucks, at least there are positives.

Fritz said...

I'm hoping for the "We're in this together; let's all pull together" too. Agreed that more expensive energy will make destructive/wasteful practices too expensive to be viable.

Donna, it looks like weather in your area is still somewhat pleasant. It'll be interesting to see what happens after the snow starts falling.

glenj241 said...

The price of gas must stay low if we want the economy to continue to do well. Beware of the party that clams to want to help the poor but keeps coming up with new tax ideas to hurt them. The latest Clinton idea would add $0.50 a gallon to the price of gas. Making it harder for the poor to get to work and buy food and other things that would increase with transportation cost.