What would you do if gas was $20 a gallon?

Posted on September 21, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , |


Future Gas Prices?

Future Gas Prices?

Will gas prices ever reach $20 a gallon? If so, how would that alter the way we live? These questions were posed to authors Mark Millis and Matthew Steiner in a recent episode of NPR’s On Point, covered by the Clean Techies Blog

Steiner, who wrote the book $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better, envisions a world where $20/gallon gas is not only a possibility, but a state with many desirable outcomes. Clean Techies sum up his future vision of the world as one we might not recognize, but won’t necessarily hate:

“People will live and buy their locally-grown produce in mixed-use developments clustered around high-speed rail lines. In Steiner’s view, $6 a gallon is an inflection point that begins to redefine the way we live our lives.”

On Point details some of the specific changes that shape this new future:

“At $8 a gallon, the airlines close down. At $10 a gallon, Disney World goes dark. At $14 a gallon, Wal-Mart is done. It can’t afford to ship products” 

Whether or not the absence of Disney world, air travel as we know it, and Wal-Mart sounds like a good thing to you, Millis, co-author of The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy thinks you won’t have to worry about it. According to Millis, gas prices will never reach $20/gallon because innovation and government incentives will stand in the way. As conventional prices increase, new oil sources such as Canadian tar-sands will become economically viable. This new supply will also work to stabilize the oil price so that it will never remain high enough for the United States to be transformed into Steiner’s local produce eating, hightrain riding, mixed-use community vision. 

Clean Techies describe the case of Europe, where public policy has kept gas at $7 gallon:

“Those prices have not pushed leading oil concerns on the continent dramatically innovate in production or technology and they have triggered a very different lifestyle – including smaller, more efficient cars and much broader use of public transportation. 

So it seems that Europe is a limited example of Steiner’s theory- where the cost of gasoline has shaped the way people live and the way they build and connect their communities. However, it is also true that investors in new projects like the tar-sands make their decisions based on the price of oil– so when oil is expensive enough more of these projects will go forward.

That is of course, unless there is a price on carbon.





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One Response to “What would you do if gas was $20 a gallon?”

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Thank you for the great quality of your blog, each time i come here, i’m amazed.

black hattitude.

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