Yes, gas prices are much higher than they used to be.

And yes, the cost of fuel is impacting the cost of groceries and everything else we buy.

But maybe the news isn’t all that bad.

For starters, most of Europe has always paid WAY more than we do, even with the latest jump in U.S. gas prices.

For example, drivers in Paris pay $5.54 per gallon. In London it’s $5.79 per gallon. And in Amsterdam they pay a whopping $6.48 per gallon.

Which could explain why so many people ride bikes in Amsterdam.

Which brings me to my point: we’ve had it too easy for too long.

An unending supply of cheap gas is the reason we ripped up all of our efficient electric street cars and interurban railroads and replaced them with roads.

But it looks like the rising cost of fuel might actually help solve the mess of poorly planned and unsustainable suburban sprawl that resulted when we abandoned our urban public transport systems.

As Nick at BSB points out, higher gas prices seem to be the reason that recent USDOT stats show Americans are finally driving less and taking public transit more.

High gas prices have caused “the largest drop in miles driven by Americans ever in the 66 year history of [DOT records]” as well as “the highest usage of public transportation in 50 years”.

In addition, high fuel prices have driven investment in alternative energy companies and pushed lawmakers to offer big tax breaks for renewable energy.

Isn’t this what we’ve been working toward for years? Getting people to drive less and use more renewable energy?

It sounds to me like higher fuel prices might actually be the best thing to happen to the environment in a long, long time.

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  • dirtgirl

    The unfortunate irony is that our transit systems are hit equally hard by high fuel prices, and in the midst of increasing demand for mass transit, they are faced with the dilemma of either raising fares or decreasing service.

    Maybe it will stop people from paving over farmland and creating new housing/shopping destinations 30 miles outside the center cities. THAT would be a good thing.

  • J-Dog

    I’d like to know. Are gas prices rising elsewhere around the world, or just here? I hear nothing, one way or the other. If the prices aren’t going up by the equivalent of a couple bucks a gallon in London and Paris, then it is painfully obvious to me that we are being fed a line of crap. If so, then I am more willing to buy into the whole “global supply and demand” stuff. Of course, it would be great if we stopped using so much gas and oil in Iraq!!!

  • dirtgirl

    I don’t think prices are going up nearly as much in other countries, but have no data source to point to. I just remember doing the math (converting to dollars, then from liters to gallons) in Europe 8-10 years ago and the prices weren’t that far off from where they are today.

    I think the overblown effect in the US can be largely blamed on the weakening of the dollar.

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  • Actually, prices in Europe are going up too, though maybe not as much as they are in the U.S.

    According to MSNBC:

    “Record prices on the international oil markets have driven gas prices across Europe sky high, with a gallon of unleaded gas costing about $8.60 per gallon in Germany.”

  • J-Dog

    Okay, TIME Magazine says that Europe’s prices are skyrocketing too.

    Here’s the story URL:
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1809900,00.html

  • Yes. They are bitching about high gas prices here in Dusseldorf as well…

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