07.30.08

What’s good about expensive gas?

Posted in Energy, Society at 14:48 by RjZ

Oil consuming nations failed to impress the Saudi king during a recent Global Summit on Oil in Jedda, Saudi Arabia. 

The consumers expressed that the current high price situation is unsustainable. That’s easy to see when you live in the United States and see the spread out development and    number enormous cars traveling from their homes in the distant suburbs to their jobs. High fuel prices increase the price of everything and leave less for the commuting masses to spend.

Meanwhile, the developing world is buying more cars. India’s Tata is releasing cute $2000 car for the masses (and we’re talking India here, so masses is a whole bunch). China and India don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t live like the rest of the developed world and who can blame them. I just wonder how they’re going to afford it.

Neither China nor India are fuel producing nations. As demand increases and supply doesn’t, gas isn’t getting any cheaper for them than it is in the United States. (Strictly speaking, Chinese gas prices are controlled by the Chinese government, but there’s a limit to how they can reasonably subsidize the price).

As the world races toward (or past) peak oil the pressure will grow to develop alternative forms of energy and transportation. Actually, we may already have a few practical choices, we just can’t afford them.  Standard of living improvement is strongly correlated to energy consumption. The better a society lives, the more energy it uses. There are nations that have a great way of life with less energy, and some, like the United States, that use more than seems to be necessary to support their lifestyle, but all of the rich nations are alike in that they are consumers of things like televisions and, now, cars, and they use more energy than those countries whose populace mostly lives by subsistence farming. 

What’s good about expensive gas? Not much. Putting the breaks on development will hurt these up-and-coming nations even more than Europe and the United States, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll have a chance to slow their development and make some better choices.

Leave a Comment