National Public Radio has this excerpt from Christopher Steiner’s book, $20 Per Gallon, How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better.
The title already has me a little skeptical. It sounds overly optimistic right off the bat. That’s in stark contrast to the message that James Howard Kunstler seems to convey in his works. I’m not sure if $20 per gallon, which is roughly $5 per litre, would really be that good for us.
There is definitely the room for improvements during a period where we are forced to find alternatives to oil-based products, but how smooth that transition is going to be a big question mark during this time in history.
But there’s more to this than the price of our stuff. The mounting cost of gas will dictate cultural changes, housing changes, civic changes, education changes — it will leave nary a spot on the globe, or how we live, unchanged. There will be pain involved in our adaptations, yes, but not all of the change we face is gloomy. In fact, many people’s lives, including many Americans’ lives, will be improved across a panoply of facets. We will get more exercise, breathe fewer toxins, eat better food, and make a smaller impact on our earth. Giant businesses will rise as entrepreneurs’ intrepid minds elegantly solve our society’s mounting challenges. The world’s next Google or Microsoft, the next great disrupter and megacompany, could well be conceived in this saga. It could be a battery company, a breakthrough solar outfit, or a radically innovative vehicle manufacturer. This revolution will be so widespread and affect so many that it will evoke the Internet’s rise in the late 1990s.
Steiner paints a promising picture. We can only hope we reach that kind of level. He very briefly mentions the pain involved in our adaptations. That will be the key in how we reach this utopic view that Steiner provides. However, the thesis itself is interesting enough to ponder what a world with expensive oil would be like.