Lately I've been overwhelmed with the price of gasoline. It's risen so dramatically, so quickly....and it seems there isn't much we can do except devote a higher percentage of our monthly budget to the Fossil Fuel Gods.
It's a scary beginning to summer. Now, to a lesser extent in past years we've witnessed the same phenomenon, right? During peak demand periods, i.e. holidays or the long summer vacation period, gas prices rise - if not as steeply. And typically it's blamed on short supply because some refineries shut down for maintenence, or something. There's always some excuse and we, as consumers, haven't caught on to the game.
Let me offer some confirmed methods of helping oil prices in general and gasoline prices in particular come down a bit. Recognize first that there currently isn't a scarcity issue. Specific goals are met by the producers of the commodity in order to preserve or escalate their pricing. Add to that commodity speculators jumping in and driving the raw material price to previously unseen territory. How would you feel if you could bust a commodity market apart? Here's the plan:
Walk more. My wife and I have taken to walking all over our city of residence, Livermore, CA. The walk to our favorite outdoors store is just about 1.5 miles. Down the street is a movie multiplex, a big variety of restaurants and a supermarket - all within 2 miles of home. We've left the car home and walked / rolled. Both of us feel better when we do this, we have time to talk, and we can shop several times a week in order to get more exercise. Suburban hiking, you might call it. What better way to get out with your family? It's becoming routine now for us.
Drive less. That may seem too obvious, but consider all the car trips you make each day. The school's less than a mile away - can't the kids walk? Do you really need to devote a trip to the movie rental store when you can order on - line? How about that drive to go through a fast food place? Can you eat better at home, or walk to the fast food place to mitigate the damage? There are as many ideas as there are car trips...
Vacationing? Go with a friend. Or join a hiking / backpacking club. Car pool to your destination. I never understand how we seem so bent (myself included here) on meeting others at a certain location, and finding excuses to all drive alone. I can take 1 or 2 others in my Corolla. Three in the SUV. Hell, we're going to be outside with each other very soon, laughing over a campfire or a hike - why not enjoy each other's company on the way there?
Use Public Transit! Here in the SF Bay Area, we're blessed with all manner of public transit resources. While it may seem inconvenient or even extreme to some, limiting one's car trips and learning to read a bus or train schedule can be cheaper and even fun! We look forward to our BART ride for a date in San Francisco. No gas, no bridge toll, no parking - just stay sober enough to find the BART station on the way back! For all the European things we Americans seem so eager to adopt, why has public transport escaped our scrutiny?
After all is said and done this summer, if you learn to change some habits and try a new way of living you might find you'll use the car less even if gas drops back to a lower price point. Oh, yes...the Big Bonus - despite speculators and restricted output, if demand for the resource drops, so will the price. I took at least that much from my high school Econ. class. Scarcity raises prices, oversupply drops them. Simple.
I hope many of you can take advantage of some of my suggestions. Maybe we'll see each other out in the neighborhood, walking downtown for ice cream and a movie.....