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Fuel Prices

The other day I was having a conversation with someone about the recent rise in gasoline prices. At some point, they made a comment to me that went something like... "you probably don't even know or care about how much gasoline costs since you bike everywhere." The statement is untrue for a number of reasons.

(from chego101 on Flickr)

Believe it or not, I do drive, occasionally. Surely my Zipcar rates will go up if the price of fueling the cars keeps going up. But I also care for other reasons that don't have to do with driving cars. I fly on airplanes quite regularly, which operate on jet fuel. And the truck that docks at my local supermarket runs on expensive diesel fuel. When I order things online, it doesn't just magically appear on my doorstep. I could go on, but the point is, just because I don't drive a car every day doesn't mean energy inflation has no impact on my life.

Every time I see a story about gasoline prices on local news, it always offers some "tips" for dealing with the situation, and one of the tip always suggests switching to a more fuel efficient car. It's a quick fix that might work in the short-term, but it ignores the fact that we live in a culture where driving everywhere is just assumed. It ignores the reality that developing countries are trying to copy this culture, to what is sure to be a disaster on many fronts.

I've written a lot here about the personal choices we make. We can choose where to live and how we get around. We can choose how often we travel long-distances. But we don't have direct control over how the Chinese or the Indians live as they become wealthier. We have no individual ability to change how our food system operates. So yes, people who don't drive cars should still care about this stuff, and they should understand that driving different types of cars isn't really going to matter.

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