Experts are beginning to mutter about $100 per barrel oil, and one former oil industry executive, John Hofmeister of Shell Oil, is predicting $5 per gallon gasoline prices in the U.S. in 2012.
Meanwhile, CNN reports that gasoline prices have been steadily rising in the U.S. Last week, gas prices crossed the $3 mark for the first time since October 2008. According to AAA figures, prices are up four percent from a month ago and 16 percent from the $2.585 average a year ago.
A study from the Oil Price Information Service estimates U.S. drivers will spend $305 on gasoline in December. According to the study – cited by CNN, fuel prices in the U.S. are up 13.6 percent from last December and are 76 percent higher than in December 2008.
Oil supply finite We all know oil is a finite resource and it would be nice to think that most of us want to conserve oil for the future so that, for instance, the cost of air travel does not jet out of the reach of average people in industrialized countries like the U.S., Germany and Japan (unfortunately, air travel is already too expensive for a large portion of the world population).
More than a few of us are also aware of the link between oil prices and global economic stability: Spikes in oil prices have historically proceeded major national, regional and global recessions, including the last one that began in 2008.
Sales of light duty trucks are up 18 percent over the 2009 figures. Meanwhile, car sales are up just 5.4 percent. The biggest growth sector in the auto sub-segments: “Midsize SUVs”, which have seen a 41 percent jump over 2009 sales.
And yet, in the U.S., extreme short-term thinking — if you can even call it “thinking” — continues to dominate.
How else can you explain the fact that at the same time we have rumblings of a coming spike in oil prices, Americans are buying more gas-sucking pick-up trucks and SUVs than any other type of vehicle?
According to The Wall Street Journal, national sales of light duty trucks totaled 467,024 in November. Meanwhile, 406,299 cars were sold in the U.S. last month. To be fair, the totals for all of 2010 still have cars in a slight lead over light duty trucks at 5,246,824 vs. 5,197,220.
Light truck sales surge But the revealing statistics are the growth percentages. Sales of light duty trucks are up 18 percent over the 2009 figures. Meanwhile, car sales are up just 5.4 percent. The biggest growth sector in the auto sub-segments: “Midsize SUVs”, which have seen a 41 percent jump over 2009 sales.
Okay, some folks buying light-duty trucks and SUVs do need them. But we’ve got to wonder if for every person who buys a light-duty truck to haul stuff for their farm or business or an SUV to be used 90 percent of the time with a full load of people, there are seven or eight who use light trucks almost exclusively as single-occupant commuter vehicles.
We’re not sure if there are statistics out there on this, though we would certainly be interested in seeing these if they exist.
In the meantime, it really seems as if a lot of Americans just don’t seem to get it: Oil is a finite resource that’s sure to rise in price – perhaps quite quickly. One of the most effective ways to protect oneself, and society, against a possible future oil catastrophe is for all of us to use as little oil as possible.
Given that transportation consumes 70 percent of the oil used in the U.S., driving a more fuel efficient car, or, better yet, an electric car, would seem like a great place to start in terms of getting the U.S. on the crucial path toward global oil conservation.
If only we could figure out a way to get more Americans onto this path.
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