$20 PER GALLON: INCREMENTAL ADAPTATIONS TO BASICS
By Frosty Wooldridge
September 21, 2009
Part 2: A book review
Chris Steiner’s book, $20 PER GALLON, methodically illustrates how American society, in fact, world societies will change as the price of gasoline inevitably rises to $20 a gallon. Many may scream, “What about the 100 years of reserves in the Bakken Fields, or the ocean floor off of Alaska and more fields in the Gulf of Mexico?”
Again, emotions and sheer hearsay drive such hopeful myths. You may call the author a cretin, but the coming rises in the price of a gallon of gas cannot and will not be mitigated by hysteria. Again, as a teenager, I once bought gasoline at 19 cents a gallon in a gas war! If the Bakken fields held such vast quantities of oil as purported—you would see 19 cents a gallon again! Not!
With clever ingenuity, Steiner titles his chapters from Chapter $5 all the way to Chapter $20. He methodically illustrates how each of us will be affected by the costs of a gallon of gas. He advances some positive aspects of bettering humanity as prices rise.
“Oil prices enabled the SUV to thrive, but they will ultimately bury the SUV in its grave,” Steiner said. “Americans will, at long last, embrace diesel when gas reaches $6 a gallon. At the same time, $6 a gallon will mean fewer lives lost to crumpled steel and unyielding pavement.”
Steiner states that people will drive less, slower, smarter and wiser. Already in 2008 with $4.50 a gallon, Americans drove 100 billion less miles than they drove in 2007.
“Assuming the prices are sustained for a year at $4.00 a gallon, that would save 1,000 lives every month,” Steiner said. “That’s 12,000 people annually, almost a third of those killed on U.S. roads every year. At $6 a gallon, 15,600 lives will be saved and at $7 a gallon, 20,000 lives will be saved.” Currently, 44,000 Americans lose their lives on our highways annually.
When it comes to good health, Steiner said that rising prices will mean a trimmer America. Fat people, and America owns the record for obesity at 150 million plus, will walk or ride a bike. Obesity costs Americans $117 billion annually in early mortality and medical expenses.
“High gas prices will clean up our skies, clear our vistas and scrub our lungs,” Steiner said. “$6 gas will spark an infrastructure revolution and the era of widespread tolling. The yellow school bus will disappear from America’s roads. High prices will temper the major league travelling in youth sports. Police will patrol on foot.”
But hang onto your hats! At $8 a gallon, air travel will become quite constricted. In fact, Steiner said, “The skies will empty. When gas inevitably climbs to $8 a gallon, the airline carnage will be vast and it will come swiftly. When gas prices reach $8, airline carries will be throwing down 60 percent of their operating costs to fuel. That cannot be sustained. The ultimate contraction awaits. The airline dinosaurs will meet their asteroid deaths.”
Once the airlines cannot service Las Vegas, Vail, Aspen and Jackson Hole ski areas—as well as many other pricy resorts in the Caribbean—we will see major changes in the economy. When you cannot pay air fare to Disneyworld, those attractions will become extinct. Most college bound teens will see their school choices shrink drastically.
“Gas prices of $10 a gallon may seem far away, but if you look at the fundamentals of the world’s supplies, and the certainty of rising demands, it’s a number we will almost definitely see within the next 10 years,” Steiner said. “At the same time, plug-in hybrids will form the bridge we need to an electric car world.”
A man named Shai Agassi heads up Better Place, a company he founded to solve the logistical riddles facing electric cars in a world and infrastructure built for gasoline. “We don’t have a choice,” he said. “We either do this, or we suffer the catastrophic failures of economic ruin and global climate change.”
Steiner said, “Converting our personal transportation platform from one based on gasoline to one powered by electricity is one of the most imperative measures we will take in shaping a sustainable future for our country and for the global civilization as a whole. This will not be an easy transition. Car ownership will plummet at $10 a gallon. People will end up forfeiting their cars altogether. Traffic flows on major arteries will ebb and the side effects that began to take hold at $6 gas—fewer crash deaths, less pollution, less obesity—will be firing in full force at $10 gas.”
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With rising gas prices, Steiner says we will face another big change: plastics! That pesky invention created the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, trash all over the planet and more gadgets than humans can handle.
Part 3: Finding out what will happen when gas rises from $12 to $20 a gallon. Back to basics for food, for water for living.
Listen to Frosty Wooldridge on Wednesdays as he interviews top national leaders on his radio show "Connecting the Dots" at www.themicroeffect.com at 6:00 PM Mountain Time. Adjust tuning in to your time zone.
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