My car has 1/5 a tank of gas left and I'm getting jumpy. Gas prices here in LA are about $3.30 a tank and this is one dollar-store shopper who can't imagine a refill right now. I was out driving this morning and got a sick feeling of woe when I saw the sagging gas gauge. It's only a matter of days now when I too will have to spend close to $30 to refill my 8 gallon tank.
But I'm more excited than upset about high gas prices. I've been a big advocate of fuel efficient cars for a long time now but the stumbling block to any kind of change in this direction was the convenience of the gasoline economy in which we currently exist. Now that gas prices are actually becoming a deterrent to transportation, I am hoping for a leap in support of alternate fuel sources. Europe gives me hope. Most European households only own a single car (if any) and public transportation is widely used due to the high price of gas over there. They have a highly efficient rail system and dirt cheap plane tickets between countries. I hope Americans are truly humbled by these rising gas prices and forced to abandon our current, wasteful ways in favor of more environment friendly, society friendly alternatives.
My car is a 96 Toyota Tercel that gets about 35 miles to the gallon city and 40 highway. It's not as fuel efficient as I would like and I'm hoping someday to get a Prius but I don't feel immoral driving it across town for ice cream. One of my neighbors drives a huge truck which gets 7 miles to the gallon - and even worse in stop and go traffic. She doesn't use the truck bed - she just likes the look of the vehicle and cruises around town burning gas. Very bizarre. Of course I'm not implying that she is immoral, but she's got to have a loose screw in their somewhere to pay close to $80 to gas up that beast every week. I predict drastic changes to the car industry in the next two years. I know, Americans love their big, inefficient cars, but they love their gourmet coffee too and can't afford both. Since coffee is physically addicting, gas will have to go.
It completely irks me that fuel cell technology is the proven answer but because of convenience, it probably won't be fully implemented for another 20 to 30 years. Hydrogen fuel much safer than gasoline, 100% clean, 100% renewable and almost no energy is lost in its consumption. But the car industry will first have to slog through all kinds of "hybrid" cars and exhaust those resources before emerging into the bright light of fuel cells because of the difficulty in creating a infrastructure to support hydrogen fueling stations. I wrote a handful of papers about this in college so have much to say about the subject but will spare you further puffing. Suffice it to say, although the current high gas prices are difficult to finance, they are a much needed impetus for kicking our gas-guzzling habits and forcing us to be environmentally responsible. This is one tree-hugger who has just come out of the closet. Tread carefully.