Friday, May 16, 2008

Stop whining about gas prices -- get to work!

So, with the gasoline prices approaching $4.00 a gallon, ordinary Americans, when interviewed, say they feel like grounded kids. They can’t go where they want when they want. It’s getting difficult. And it could be like this forever.

But we had these scares in the 1970s, with the Arab oil embargo, even-odd rationing, and gasoline station closures on Sundays, a 50 mph national speed limit for a while. There was talk of restricting driving further with the possibility of World War II ration stamps. That didn’t happen, and the crisis that started in the fall of 1973 lifted in the spring of 1974, with prices much higher. We saw a repeat of it in 1979.

This time, the culprit seems to be exponentially increasing demand from the developing world, especially China and India, at a time when we may be tapping out on oil discovery and future production, and when our whole culture is vulnerable to religious and external international "political" pressures that are well known. As a CNN documentary says, "We were warned."

Will we adjust again? I don’t know, but this time I wonder why Detroit doesn’t get busy making hybrid cars and figuring out how to make them affordable. The Toyota Prius seems to be the main opportunity so far. As noted on this blog some days ago, some young men in Illinois have re-engineered the Prius to get 100 miles per gallon with an electric plug in for recharging.

What needs to happen is that American manufacturers need to start providing these cars.

As for renewable electric power, the most practical opportunity in many areas, subject to cold fronts (or strong Santa Anna winds) will be the wind turbines. There should be many more of them in the DC area, and on the Blue Ridge behind us.

Saudi Arabia has said this week that it will not increase oil production, because it believes demand is going down. Actually, that's not true; Saudi Arabia is worried that it oil supplies will get tapped out by exploding third world demand, and the falling dollar exacerbates oil prices in the U.S. Later news stories contradicted the refusal to raise production, and reported that Saudi Arabia had agreed to a miniscule increase in production, and that The Kingdom was doing the best it could.

Stop whining. Get to work. Of course, it's so easy to talk about "they." This time, there is no "they."

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