Gas Prices are Crude

Aug 302005
Authors: Tim Waddingham

When I spend more money on a gallon of gas than I do on four beers at Sullivan's on Thursday nights, something is wrong.

According to American Automobile Association (AAA), the average price for a gallon of gas across America was $2.60 as of last Friday, which is a 38 percent increase in the past year and a 13.9 percent increase in the past month alone. For those of you who are unaware, Sullivan's bar offers four Coors Lights for $2.50 on Thursday nights.

This means that I can fill my body up with beer for cheaper than I can fill my car up with gas. Although I'm sure some people will find this extremely satisfying, the problem of gasoline prices remains.

What's worse is that the future of gasoline prices seems even more horrifying than the present. It's scary to think that in a few years we're going to miss the day that we spent only $2.60 per gallon. According to a CNBC report, Hurricane Katrina might send crude oil prices spiraling upward to over $70 a barrel because of the storm's location. The Gulf of Mexico, where Katrina stormed through, supplies about one quarter of the U.S. domestic oil and gas output and as of Saturday 563,000 barrels of crude oil were shut down in anticipation of the catastrophe (According to Reuters).

As of last Friday, crude oil stood at $66.13 per barrel. Assuming the price of crude oil jumps to exactly $70 a barrel (which is using conservative figures), we would see an immediate $.16 increase per gallon to the national average of $2.60. Without considering other increases, such as taxes, we are looking at about $2.76 a gallon for gasoline in the next few weeks, if not days. And this upcoming increase is solely because of a hurricane.

The fact of the matter is that gasoline prices will continue to climb for the foreseeable future. Inevitably we are going to have to think of alternative energy sources, or at the very least start buying more hybrid cars. Cars and SUV's that get 10-20 miles per gallon will be outdated in the not too distant future and smaller, more fuel-efficient cars will rule the roads. We are already beginning to see this, as huge SUV's such as Suburbans and Hummers are having trouble selling like they did five years ago.

Our dependence on Mid-East oil should be more than enough incentive to find other sources of energy and as gas prices continue to skyrocket it will only add to that incentive. The problem is that we do not have any reliable or practical energy source for our vehicles other than oil and it's not looking like we will anytime soon. Therefore, our only option for the next few years is to utilize more fuel-efficient cars such as hybrids.

Unfortunately, most hybrids lack creativity and are painful to look at. A perfect example is the Toyota Prius. Priuses get great gas mileage, but who really wants to drive a Prius? Have you ever seen a Prius? I think people would rather spend the additional money on gas so they can own a vehicle that actually looks like a modern car. The Prius, on the other hand looks like a life-sized hot-wheel, only lamer.

What we need is more fuel-efficient cars that get better gas mileage, or a whole new kind of energy source altogether. Even if the latter does not come about for years to come, we should at least begin the transformation from the useless, wasteful SUV's to the more fuel-efficient, albeit ugly, hybrids.

As I mentioned earlier, I think it is ridiculous that I can get four beers at a bar for cheaper than one gallon of gas. Although I do take some solace in this, I also realize that Americans do much more driving than they do drinking. Furthermore, beer is something Americans will never be dependent on others for, so I can sleep well knowing there won't be exponential increases in beer prices. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for oil.

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