Black Gold

Kenworth PilgrimageI wish people would stop whining about the cost of gasoline. Instead of complaining, we should stop buying gas-guzzling SUVs and other tank-like monstrosities, use public transportation more, and put pressure on auto manufacturers to make more fuel-efficient cars. The current price spike is very different from the 70s crisis. Back then, Americans used innovation – gasohol and fuel-efficient compacts – to break OPEC’s spirit. Today, people are buying SUVs and the like at high rates. It’s obvious that the high prices haven’t really hit people where it hurts. When people start trading in gas-guzzlers for efficient vehicles, I’ll believe that prices are high enough to worry about. Even then I’ll have little sympathy for drivers until they start pressuring Detroit to produce more efficient cars. So long as there’s demand for inefficient vehicles, auto makers will keep supplying them. Innovation is expensive and it won’t happen if there’s no demand for its fruits.

Comments 11

  1. Steve N wrote:

    Amen, Funky. And while we’re at it (i.e., not buying humongoid gas-guzzling tanks), we can also start making other life decisions that minimize energy consumption like living near to where we work and shop… a side benefit being that we’ll start caring more about our communities because they’ll be real communities and not just places we lay our head and watch the boob tube. I’m personally rooting for gas to reach $5/gallon.


    Posted 05 Apr 2005 at 3:06 pm
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    Aye, that you have. 🙂

    Posted 11 Apr 2005 at 5:02 am
  3. terry george wrote:

    can it be? Have I finally found some serious Catholics who are also serious about their environment?! Praise God!

    couldn’t help myself

    Terry >

    Posted 11 Apr 2005 at 4:47 am
  4. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Having a wife with a 1.5-hr. commute, I do not join Steve’s wish for 5 dollars of gasoline, but I would like to see the SUV sunk.

    The NY Times did note that SUV sales were dropping off, however, in part due to how expensive they are to sell.

    Hummer fans need not fear, however, as they are coming out with the fuel-efficient H3, which I hear gets 20 mpg on the highway. (Downhill. With the wind behind it.)

    Posted 05 Apr 2005 at 3:12 pm
  5. EmilyE wrote:

    I am happy to say that I own a Chevy Prizm (31 city / 34.5 highway).

    But I would like to see more public transportation available outside of major cities. In my city in NE Ohio, I can’t go to the places I need to go without a car. That’s a Catch-22 that our consumeristic culture created:
    1) There is no public transportation. So one is forced to buy a car.
    2) Because everyone has a car, there is no public transportation.

    The bus and rail network in Russia is better than in the United States. That’s rather pathetic, if you ask me.

    I don’t think I’d mind if gas hit $5 a gallon — provided that the spike in prices motivated officials to develop widespread, reliable public transportation systems.

    Posted 05 Apr 2005 at 10:45 pm
  6. Jerry Nora wrote:

    I hope to post in the next day or so about some innovations within the private sector and also by private individuals on the energy front. Interesting stuff. More government help couldn’t hurt, but I like seeing real people taking the initiative as well, even if D.C. drags its sorry tail.

    Posted 06 Apr 2005 at 1:17 pm
  7. Tom Smith wrote:

    I wouldn’t tend to consider a car at 22/30 to be a gas guzzler. What do you guys think the standard for “gaz guzzler” status should be?

    Posted 05 Apr 2005 at 6:48 pm
  8. Andrea wrote:

    In defense of my gas guzzler (22 city/30 hwy), the reason it’s so gas hungry is that it weighs a lot which is because it has AWD, which is a safety feature in this part of the country. (And no, it’s not an SUV, it’s a compact wagon)

    I am however not really bitching about the price of gas, because as Eric said – it’s hasn’t hit where it hurts.

    Posted 05 Apr 2005 at 4:57 pm
  9. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Steve, what about farmers and so forth? They feed us, so what about their paying 5 dollars a gallon? Commentators on this blog are pretty big about social justice, so what about the rural folk and working poor? It takes a while to build new mass transit insfrastructure, even after all the planning phases (assuming they ever truly end!), so what would that do to the people?

    I’m for gradual change, as frustrating as it is; yeah, I’m anti-car, and want to move into a more sustainable situation for my own family as well as the rest of the country, but too many people are trapped through no fault of their own with commuting, and five dollars a gallon would be a recipe for a nasty recession or even depression (which, again, would often pinch hardest the most vulnerable in our society–heaven knows what would become of more vulnerable cities like Youngstown or the Monongahela Valley communities near Pittsburgh).

    Posted 05 Apr 2005 at 11:18 pm
  10. Steve N wrote:

    We need food more than we need gas… Farmers (like all producers) would merely have to pass increased energy costs onto consumers. It would result in inflation… and probably economic catastrophe… but interest rates would rise to combat this, encouraging folks to trim down and save as much as possible. The free market’s a bitch. At any rate, it’s going to get increasingly expensive to mine fossil fuels… eventually (not if, but when) this will be naturally reflected in costs to the economy…

    But has the free market really been at work in creating the mess we’re in? Not entirely on its own, IMO. Gov’t policy since the 50s has been to create over sized roads for travel/commuting… when the roads become insufficient, gov’t policy makes them wider or makes more. Local gov’ts are to blame for zoning laws that ultimately force a separation of homes from places of business… and thus we have unbridled development of both in increasingly different and isolated circles. And local gov’ts are falling over themselves thru-out the nation to welcome with open arms companies like Walmart, only one of which is necessary to put completely out of business the center of a small town. So you can’t walk to the local h/w store, electronics/book/record/clothing shop, anymore… Just hafta drive out to the Walmart. Well, there’s plenty of parking.

    The lesson is to act locally, and look beyond the extra low prices to the kind of lives you’d like your grandchildren to be able to live…

    OK off my soapbox.

    Posted 06 Apr 2005 at 3:57 am
  11. Steve N wrote:

    Yeah, I wouldn’t think of 22/30 being a gas guzzler, per se’. Under 17 comes to mind as a kinda threshold. Our ’95 Taurus wagon probably only gets around 21… but we’re carting a family of 7 in it, so in passenger miles/gal, we’re kicking butt! I think it would be best to define gas-guzzling as more than you need…

    Jerry, I’m sure that your circumstances are the best you can do in the current situation, but I hope you all’ll be able to live closer to work, eventually. For that amount of commute, even a Civic hybrid would guzzle quite a bit of gas…

    I’m feeling rather smug as I leave work to bike (~5 mi) home from work…


    Posted 05 Apr 2005 at 11:11 pm

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