As I passed a number of gas stations on a short trip today, each with signs reading between $4.10 and $4.20, I began to wonder about reaching the $5 level. Is it inevitable? A year ago, gas in my area surpassed the $3.10 mark and many of the same discussions about fuel conservation and consumer prices were taking place.
Just one year saw an increase of a dollar per gallon. There has been relatively little done to considerably decrease consumption in the US or globally. There has been relatively little done to increase energy availability globally by building refineries or significantly investing in affordable alternative energy.
Part of this is American lifestyle that needs to be more influenced by global citizenship. Part of this is other countries with dramatically increasing needs for fuel. Then there’s the growing demand worldwide for petroleum-based raw materials in manufacturing – needed for everything from tires to toiletries, cleaning products to computer components, plastics to polyester. There’s also energy for processing and getting everything to market.
My unhappy guess is that without a significant change in the supply and use of petroleum, it will take less time to get to $5/gal. gasoline than it did to get to $4/gal. gasoline. I’m no expert, I just see a market out of control.
The fix isn’t simple,. This is a big, messy problem. I do think that doing my part to conserve and recycle is important, but it will only help if we all do it. I also think that something needs to happen to reign in the artificial manipulation of oil prices by the futures market – it’s like letting someone else gamble with my money and they get to keep all the winnings!
What do you think? Is $5/gal. gas going to take less than a year to reach? What action will you take?