Sunday, January 16, 2011

You'll need some more Fuelperks for this price

A few weeks ago, I lamented about the serious lack of discussion in this country and mass transit (in general) and high-speed rail (in particular). A week and a half ago, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had an article about an author named Christopher Steiner and his wordily titled book "$20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives For the Better".

As you can see from the title, Mr. Steiner is actually HOPING that gasoline climbs higher and higher so that society will be spurred on to innovation in technologies, a return to simpler lives, and a re-examination on mass transit. Each chapter is titled "Chapter $5" or "Chapter $8" detailing what will happen when gas reaches that specific price per gallon.

For instance, in Chapter $6, Mr. Steiner says the SUV will disappear from usage. Chapter $10 will bring the electric car into discussion prominently along with other cutting-edge vehicle types such as compressed air. Chapter $20 brings about the death of Wal-Mart (too much money in shipping costs), the triumph of downtowns over the suburbs and full high-speed rail usage in this country.

It's an interesting concept of a book and one that I may pick up to read, but ultimately it is unrealistic. The "hidden forces" that moderate the world's economy will simply not allow oil prices to climb that sharply in a short period of time. The interconnected web of our geo-economy is tied to shipping costs and platforms (air, land, sea) that run on oil.

I'm all for a national network of high-speed rail and even more developed local forms of mass transit, but it is inconcievable that the world's leaders would stand by without somehow artificially controlling the growth in price of oil.

Oil and gas companies are exploring every square inch of the globe for heretofore unknown or otherwise difficult-to-reach pockets of oil and natural gas. In fact, whether this makes me a hypocrite or not, I'm banking on just such a company striking oil off the coast of Guinea later this year.

The car and mass transit can co-exist peacefully. Not everything in our world needs to be This or That.

1 comment:

  1. High speed rail won't work unless it's a commuter type system. The ticket prices will be too high to get people to start using. Plus how will you get all the electricity for the high speed rail without major fossil fuel consumption.