I was a little bit disappointed to see gas prices starting to drop recently. The high prices were a somewhat of a double edged sword. I hate shelling out extra for fuel and really felt for those struggling. The thought of making the fat oil companies even more money was also abhorrent. It was also making liquid coal fuel and the extraction of oil from tar sands and shale a more lucrative prospect
But high gas prices also had a positive impact on the environment.
A recent MapQuest survey of 1001 Americans found that as a result of high gas prices:
– 82% were making an effort to drive less
– 57% are planning their trips more carefully to minimize mileage
And the most encouraging point – nearly a quarter were walking or biking more.
It’s a bit of a sad statement on our mindset though – the impassioned pleas coming from all sorts of sources about needing to cut gas consumption for the sake of the environment haven’t had the impact that a rise in gas prices has. This is what it takes to get people’s attention; hitting them in the wallet.
While gas prices are retreating somewhat now, people need to understand that the recent hikes were a tap on the shoulder; a perhaps final hint that we need to alter our lifestyles dramatically. Nature has a funny way of working – all things must be kept in balance and sometimes it will deliver a direct slap in the face, other times via other mediums.
The point is that all things are connected in Nature and for us to believe we have tamed it is a massive mistake. Whether through political unrest, peak oil or environmental disaster; the days of cheap fossil fuel are certainly numbered and that’s probably a good thing as otherwise we’d just choke on our own hyperconsumption.
In that aspect, we’re very much like children. Give a small child a bag of candy and tell them they can only have one piece a day, but it’s up to them to control their consumption – and watch what happens :). Nature is the parent, and like any good parent, it will monitor and discipline us – harshly if we don’t get the hint.