Gas prices have hit record highs. Even adjusted for inflation, the price-per-gallon of gasoline is higher than it was in the 1970s. These increases have affected everything from costs of travel to Wal-Mart discounts to agriculture prices. Our economy is deeply affected by the price of a barrel of oil, and peoples’ jobs are at stake. And the high cost of oil is the best thing that could happen to America.
We, as a nation, knew 30 years ago that we were vulnerable because of our dependence on imported oil. When we were embargoed in the 1970s by the Arabic oil-producing nations, gas prices soared, our economy soured, and people waited in line for hours just to get gas. When the crisis passed, what actions did the United States take to assure our future energy supply? We bought SUVs and Ram trucks with 8-cylinder engines, that bypassed laws on MPG ratings – just to take our kids to school or go to the shopping center. We shunned alternative energy sources, because the initial costs were more expensive than continuing to use oil. We built suburbs in Phoenix, Atlanta and Las Vegas, useful only with intensive vehicular travel. We demanded the cheapest electric sources NOW, regardless of other impacts. We let ourselves believe the North Sea and Mexican oil discoveries had saved us.
We have not demanded government investment in renewable domestic energy. We have not demanded that our country stop doing business with countries who fund terrorists. We have not availed ourselves of public transport systems. And today, we bitch about gas prices.
Because of cheap oil, we continued pouring money into nations who were, and are, funding our enemies. Osama Bin Laden would not have been a household name, if not for cheap oil. Hugo Chavez would be a name like Castro – disliked but easy to ignore, if not for cheap oil. We would not have a war in Iraq, if not for cheap oil. Iran’s nuclear ambitions would be moot, if not for cheap oil.
We brought it on ourselves. WE are to blame. WE bear some responsibility for September 11th, because of our love affair with SUVs. WE are the reason our economy is in trouble today. WE will have to bear the pain in order to save ourselves.
Had we worked on this issue 30 years ago, the pain would have been less, the transition easier. Now, however, we’ve proved that the only way we will act, is for oil to be expensive. We *still* think we can get our cheap oil back without pain. Groups, such as this blog one , delude themselves into thinking we can go on forever; just like the stock market of 1999, and the real estate market of 2005. We need to be familiar with terms such as “peak oil” and “the Hubbert curve”, if we think the party will just go on forever.
Expensive gas will make our country more secure, keep less of our dedicated armed forces from dying overseas, and maybe, just maybe, bring us to our senses.