To quote an spunky politician who recently garnered 14:59 of fame, "You betcha!"
In my previous post, I noted how low gas prices have gone. I suggested that one way of spurring the economy would be to find a way to keep those prices low. It has certainly cut my commuting costs, which puts real money in my pocket...money I can spend on other things besides gasoline.
As I predicted, gas prices have continued to fall. This is what I saw today. Even premium is under $2.00 per gallon!
So Matthew commented:
"...Striving for cheap gas prices is horribly short-sighted -- ignoring issues and challenges like environmental damage, community health, urban planning, technological innovation and alternative energy, and the long-term prospects of our reliance on what really is a horrible source of energy."
For starters, I do not agree that petroleum is a horrible source of energy. Of all the things that cars, buses and aeroplanes could have been powered by (e.g. coal, wood, hydrogen, etc.) petroleum is a wonderfully efficient source of energy. In over 100 years, we have not found anything as good. Now, if Matthew wants to take the Al Gore view that the internal-combustion engine and everything it powers (including our personal vehicles and how we use them) is "evil" or something, well, he is entitled to his opinion. It is one I do not share.
Cars of today are amazingly "clean" in terms of the amount of pollution they produce. But yes, of course we need to find an alternative - if you believe we are "running out" of oil, that is.
I flew an "oil guy" recently. Admittedly, he is no more of an expert on oil than anyone else on the planet, but he is in the business (president of a small oil company), which is more than I can say. I asked him about this peak oil theory. He waved his hand dismissively. "Oh, there may very well be more peaks in the future."
This was news to me. Like a lot of people, I thought that oil was the byproduct of dead dinosaurs or something, and that all the oil that's ever been made is all the oil that's ever going to be made. Finite resource, in other words.
Turns out that oil has been discovered in places that were thought to be nearly depleted, like certain Gulf of Mexico oil fields (see this article). The theory is that the planet is continuing to make oil.
Also, as seismic technology improves, we'll be able to find more oil that was heretofore undetected. Finally, as drilling and production technology improves, we'll be able to extract oil from areas that were previously thought to be uneconomically feasible.
So. Do I think that oil is going to "run out?" No.
But more than that, technology will advance; it does not stand still. I do not believe that everything that's going to be invented already has been invented. In time, some other power source for personal transportation devices will be found and developed. Or maybe we'll find a way of burning salt water like inventor John Kanzius is trying to do.
In the meantime, we're stuck with cars and airplanes (and helicopters) powered by fossil fueled, internal-combustion engines. There in no mass-transit in Smalltown, America. My job is such that I cannot car-pool to work. This is not our fault - meaning you and me, the general public. I don't think it's fair that we should be penalized for it. This is what we've been given to work with. Having said that, I'd like gasoline to be as cheap as possible for as long as possible. I don't care about other nations where consumers pay exhorbitant gasoline prices. Apples to apples, please.
Short-term, getting the U.S. economy to recover will depend a lot on those of us who still have jobs spending and investing the money we earn. My boss asked the other day if I felt confident enough to buy a new car right now? I said, "Sure! It just wouldn't be a Chrysler, Ford or GM vehicle...and even if it were I sure wouldn't spring for the factory extended warranty."
But I'm not in the market for a new car; the old Grand Cherokee soldiers on acceptably well, carrying everything I need either inside or on the roof or behind in a trailer. (Try that in your Prius or Yarus or Honda Fit!) And the VW Camper will soon get its new engine. And next summer, if gasoline is still under $2.00 per gallon, I may take off and do some of those trips I've been planning since I was a kid.
Am I happy? Oh hell yeah!