Quit crying about high gas prices–change or pay
Surveying the crowd
Trip chaining (DLSM) and less driving seem to be the primary changes in our driving behavior as gas prices have increased, according to a recent AAA survey sourced in an article titled “How high do gas prices have to get to trigger behavior change?“(Grist). In an additional poll, from Gallup, the article reports a per gallon price would have to hit $5.30 before Americans would “cut back on spending in other areas or make significant changes in the way they live their lives.”
In another Grist article from yesterday, David Roberts drew heavily from Senator Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat from New Mexico, about the myths surrounding the cost at the pump (Grist). Mainly, oil is a global commodity with costs linked to events beyond any one country’s control. Increasing domestic production in the U.S., which has occurred (Graphic), isn’t going to ease the cost at the pump unless the government
nationalizes socializes the industry and starts delivering barrels of oil to every household (or, something equal to $190-billion/year subsidy-(Atlantic)).
Hard to believe this is even a consideration considering we already subsidize an oil addiction and pay the least per gallon among the world’s rich nations–see graphic.
What’s slowly becoming clear, is that the one sure way to reduce the national, and any one individual’s, vulnerability to rising gas prices is to be less dependent on the need–thus changing behavior and priorities. As Sen. Bingaman summarized to his colleagues in Washington:
But what can Congress do to help ease the burden of high prices for U.S. consumers, when oil prices are determined mostly outside our borders? I think a realistic, responsible answer has to be focused on becoming less vulnerable to oil price changes over the medium and long-term. And we become less vulnerable by using less oil.
For most of us, the only real solutions within our immediate control are personal choices like all of the above changes in the AAA survey, in addition to walking further, biking more, and taking transit as much as possible. A couple of weeks ago, a guest contributor explained how she lives 30-miles from the City, but when she comes-in for work, meetings, and errands, she parks her car once and walks most of the rest of the day (MW). Or, as she discovered, she can find ways to ride the bus. That’s an example of an easy behavioral change that saves fuel, money, and opens someone up to new adventures.
Behavioral change is also the most prudent, conservative, and self-reliant adaptation. Way more effective than crying for government and industry to bail us out of our addiction to the refined black gold, which, to be honest, is getting a little old.
Are you noticing the rise in pump prices? What are your behavioral changes?
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* Post updated for clarity and typos at 10am. __