It seems like the price of a gallon of gas capriciously fluctuates, and that any excuse out there is a chance for the price to go up. Speculation, new battles in the Middle East, the time of year, anything can create that perfect storm that will make you pay more and more at the pump.
But many of the things we think go into the price of our gas are actually just in our heads. It’s not who is in charge, it’s not where we are fighting, it’s not even the need to break into our oil reserves. The Washington Post debunks all of those.
But the most important myth to break? The idea that we can’t break our dependency on cheap, plentiful gas.
Via The Washington Post:
Yes, Americans love to drive, and Americans love cheap gas. But across an ocean, there’s a continent filled with people a lot like us who’ve lived with high gas prices for years. They’re called Europeans.
While U.S. gasoline heads toward $4 per gallon, Europeans have been paying much higher prices for years because of high taxes on fuel. This month in Britain, gas hit 6 pounds, or about $9.76, per gallon. Because gas is so dear, Europe’s per capita energy use is half that of the United States, leaving Europe less vulnerable to oil price shocks yet not undermining its citizens’ standard of living.
The United States, built on cheap oil, is much less densely populated than the Old World, with more wide-open spaces to traverse. But that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace some of the things that have helped Europeans keep their gasoline bills down — such as high-speed rail, public transportation and green energy.
In fact, Americans have shown that they can adjust their behavior when faced with sticker shock at the pump. As gas prices rose from $2.31 per gallon in 2005 to $3.30 per gallon in 2008, sales of the Toyota Prius eclipsed those of the Ford Explorer, and public transit use reached a 50-year high. When it costs $30 to fill up a Geo Metro with regular, all options are on the table.
The price of gas depends on what we are willing to pay — and we pay with a lot more than money. Only once we change that will we be able to move away from gas.
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