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$20 Per Gallon: How the Rise in Price of Gas Will Change Our Lives for the Better
Old 09-22-2011, 09:16 AM   #1
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$20 Per Gallon: How the Rise in Price of Gas Will Change Our Lives for the Better

The author doesn't speculate on when gas will reach $20 per gallon, he knows that would be foolish/impossible. And I am sure he doesn't literally mean cars, planes, trains, re-urbanization, food or energy will coincide directly with the stepwise rate of each chapter's $2 increase. I am sure it will all happen gradually.

But we've seen the modest beginnings of this, and IMO there will be dramatic changes. We can argue when gas will become scarcer/more expensive (10 ys, 100 yrs, sooner or later) - but I don't think there's any argument if it will happen, only when. Some of what the author discusses have occurred to all of us I suspect, but there were other outcomes in this book that I hadn't stop to think of.

It's by no means all bad news, in fact the author concludes that while the transition may be painful, we'll all be better off in the end.

For those interested in this sort of thing (admittedly me), I thought it was an interesting thought provoking read, irrespective of whether you agree with the author. It is not a hand-wringing negative scare book.

The $64,000 question for our generation is whether we should be planning for some of this, or won't live to see any of it, I'm inclined to plan for it to some extent. If I'm wrong, at least maybe we've tried to leave the world a slightly better place...

Table of Contents
$4 Prologue: The Road to $20 and Civilization 1
Chapter $6 Society Change and the Dead SUV 17
Chapter $8 The Skies Will Empty 52
Chapter $10 The Car Diminished but Reborn 81
Chapter $12 Urban Revolution and Suburban Decay 113
Chapter $14 The Fate of Small Towns, U.S. Manufacturing Renaissance, and Our Material World 141
Chapter $16 The Food Web Deconstructed 170
Chapter $18 Renaissance of the Rails 198
Chapter $20 The Future of Energy 224
$20 Epilogue 247
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File Type: jpg 20+Per+Gallon.jpg (30.5 KB, 4 views)
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:31 AM   #2
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I read that book last year. It is thought-provoking. At $20/gallon filling the tank on my pickup truck is $500. China's model of being "manufacturer to the world" doesn't work because of shipping costs, and a lot of other changes.

I don't know if I'll ever see $20/gallon but $10/gallon might happen. Twenty years ago who foresaw $5/gallon as has already happened in some places?

That's one of the reasons I'll probably never buy another full-size pickup truck again.
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:41 AM   #3
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I listened to it on audiobook. What with return of manufacturing to US as transport costs make Chinese imports more expensive, high-speed rail between cities, more local food production and the like, the book makes rising oil costs almost palatable.
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:43 AM   #4
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Old 09-22-2011, 11:37 AM   #5
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I had to laugh a little when I went to amazon.com to check out this book. I can buy the paperback for $6 and get free shipping to me (in the back of a petrol powered truck and/or plane). Or I can spend $10 and get it delivered electronically in bits and bytes. Guess we still haven't quite hit $20 per gallon yet with these pricing disparities.

Or I can get it free from the library and walk up to the library to save the 1 mile drive.
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Old 09-22-2011, 11:56 AM   #6
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The table of contents looks intriguing. I might buy the book.

Gasoline will reach $20/gal. When, I do not know. We might see $15 Big Macs at the same time, as energy costs are built into everything. At my age, it should not happen in my lifetime.

Ten years ago, I bought into the peak oil calendar, but now the dates may have shifted into the future, IMHO.

I agree that higher oil prices may have certain positive effects on American society. It certainly will have positive effects for me! (Until I retire.) By happy accident, I work for the oil industry these days. (If I have to work, I want to be paid well. So far, so good.)
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Old 09-22-2011, 12:19 PM   #7
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I could go about 250 miles on my moped with one gallon of gas for just $20. Still a good deal!
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Old 09-22-2011, 12:53 PM   #8
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In my opinion it will take a complete revision in policing and the provision of security before much urbanisation can take place in the US.

Most people rate staying alive and relatively free from attacks on their persons higher than ease and budget considerations.

Many rich people already live in attractive safe upscale neighborhoods near the districts where they work, or actually in high rises downtown.

That is not going to work for the rank and file, it is just too expensive, and it is particularly expensive as a place to raise children under today's social conditions.

I saw something new when I was downtown yesterday. A doubledecker bus heading to Lynwood Park and Ride, a middle market older mixed use community maybe 20 miles north of Seattle on I5. Eventually these busses and the articulated busses might easily be run on natural gas.

Also, large dense apartment and condo developments and shopping/service developments are showing up very near to heavily bus served nodes, and also near to stops on the light rail line that runs from downtown to the airport.

It would take huge social and political change to make many middle class, middle income people able to move into the city. Unfortunately, many of the light rail stops are in the Rainier Valley, which is probably the most crime rich area of Seattle.

Ha
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Old 09-22-2011, 01:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by haha
In my opinion it will take a complete revision in policing and the provision of security before much urbanisation can take place in the US.

Most people rate staying alive and relatively free from attacks on their persons higher than ease and budget considerations.

Many rich people already live in attractive safe upscale neighborhoods near the districts where they work, or actually in high rises downtown.

That is not going to work for the rank and file, it is just too expensive, and it is particularly expensive as a place to raise children under today's social conditions.

I saw something new when I was downtown yesterday. A doubledecker bus heading to Lynwood Park and Ride, a middle market older mixed use community maybe 20 miles north of Seattle on I5. Eventually these busses and the articulated busses might easily be run on natural gas.

Also, large dense apartment and condo developments and shopping/service developments are showing up very near to heavily bus served nodes, and also near to stops on the light rail line that runs from downtown to the airport.

It would take huge social and political change to make many middle class, middle income people able to move into the city. Unfortunately, many of the light rail stops are in the Rainier Valley, which is probably the most crime rich area of Seattle.

Ha
As a person who lives in a small town who has a near temper tantrum because occasionally I have to wait for 3-4 cars to go by before I pull onto a major road in town, I don't think I would like living in a densely population environment. Since there is no perceived satisfaction in buying gasoline, people (including me) are going to complain about any uptick in costs. Gas in relation to inflation is about the same as it was in the early 1920's and the early 80's. In fact in relation to inflation from a historical perspective, 1990's and early 2000's appear to be abnormally low periods in price of gas.

http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/i...tion_chart.htm
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Old 09-22-2011, 01:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by haha View Post
In my opinion it will take a complete revision in policing and the provision of security before much urbanisation can take place in the US.

Most people rate staying alive and relatively free from attacks on their persons higher than ease and budget considerations.

Many rich people already live in attractive safe upscale neighborhoods near the districts where they work, or actually in high rises downtown.

That is not going to work for the rank and file, it is just too expensive, and it is particularly expensive as a place to raise children under today's social conditions.

Ha
The book explains all this, but no one said this is going to be painless or without (much) higher costs. It won't be a choice between equal $ options. I have no idea where the $ tipping point is, but at some point it will be an economic necessity and the middle class will indeed have no choice - no policy change will be needed. At $20/gal, the middle class won't be able to afford to live an hour away from work. And though living in the city will be expensive, living in an exurb will be even more expensive.

And public transportation is not going to go to remote locations at high fuel costs either.

You only need to look to Europe to see how high fuel costs drive urbanization of all classes, US style suburbs are comparatively non-existent there. And you need only look at the population density of our older cities to see that we can definitely live in smaller space. There are many cities in the US where downtown is very inexpensive still, once people are forced to move back to city cores, crime will, schools, etc. will have to be dealt with (again, they weren't always unsafe). Even in NYC, not everyone is rich and living in Manhattan.

There are examples of what's to come here all over the world. But the transition is probably not going to be pretty, I am going to plan for some of this in advance...the downside is minimal now, may not be for those who wait.
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Old 09-22-2011, 01:40 PM   #11
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If I were the Boss, gas would already be $20 because of increased taxes. The government needs the money, and we need to accelerate the development of alternate energy sources, preferably without the government's trying to pick winners instead of leaving it to the market. Increasing taxes on gas is the best solution.
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Old 09-22-2011, 01:59 PM   #12
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If I were the Boss, gas would already be $20 because of increased taxes. The government needs the money, and we need to accelerate the development of alternate energy sources, preferably without the government's trying to pick winners instead of leaving it to the market. Increasing taxes on gas is the best solution.
Greg, assuming gas stays in the under $5 range, you would really advocate a tax of that magnitude? That would be a massive tax on the poor and middle class in relation to their income would it not? It wouldn't just hurt them at the pump, as all products purchased would be affected. As far as when, or if gas reaches $20 a gallon, the petroleum industry like it or not somehow manages to increase production through discoveries and better technology. I remember the scare back in the 70's and 80's when projections of running out of oil were right about the time we live in now. I'm not advocating or necessarily a fan of "Big Oil" but it keeps moving on and very profitably at that.
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Old 09-22-2011, 02:25 PM   #13
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... you would really advocate a tax of that magnitude?
Not really. I wasn't serious about that exact figure of $20. Just enough to get people to be willing to pay for alternative transportation that uses less gas/oil. Additional taxes would obviously be painful and unpopular -- taxes always are.
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Old 09-22-2011, 02:38 PM   #14
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Not really. I wasn't serious about that exact figure of $20. Just enough to get people to be willing to pay for alternative transportation that uses less gas/oil. Additional taxes would obviously be painful and unpopular -- taxes always are.
But it should have started ramping up after the oil crisis of the 70s. Had we taxed it then we would be in much better shape now.

The book sounds interesting. I put a hold on an ebook at the library. I think a rise in prices is inevitable (and overdue) but whether it will get close to $20 (in 2011 dollars) before we find alternatives, who knows?
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Old 09-22-2011, 02:45 PM   #15
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Not really. I wasn't serious about that exact figure of $20. Just enough to get people to be willing to pay for alternative transportation that uses less gas/oil. Additional taxes would obviously be painful and unpopular -- taxes always are.
Right or wrong, that's what most of Europe and Canada have already done...
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Old 09-22-2011, 02:56 PM   #16
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A general rule is that a democracy will not solve problems until the problem pretty much blows them up. I don't expect much different here.

I am watching Herman Wouk's Winds of War. Before it has become clear even to the German staff that Germany will attack Poland, a German general says- "its all the same, democracies, dictatorships, the need is to please the mob."

Ha
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Old 09-22-2011, 03:11 PM   #17
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I don't know if I'll ever see $20/gallon but $10/gallon might happen. Twenty years ago who foresaw $5/gallon as has already happened in some places?

.
It's happening now. I was in Rarotonga, Cook Islands in January and gas was $2.34 a liter. That's getting close to the half way mark!

I guess I picked the wrong time to buy an RV.
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Old 09-22-2011, 03:17 PM   #18
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But it should have started ramping up after the oil crisis of the 70s. Had we taxed it then we would be in much better shape now.
Naw, we'd have just spent it like we've done for the SS surplus...
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Old 09-22-2011, 03:23 PM   #19
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The tipping point for oil shale development is already met at $85 oil. The US has enough oil shale for 500 years at current consumption rates. So alternatives will happen but very slowly. Everyone wants electric cars but they fail to remember that most of that electricity comes from coal or nuclear and we don't seem to be building any new ones and they cause there own environmental problems. And then the issue of lead acid battery disposal which is already a significant environmental issue. 3 million golf carts remove 6 or 8 lead cell batteries every 3 years. And who knows how many electric cars are going to have the same issue very soon. Wind, tides, solar and a few other sources will never close the gap.
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Old 09-22-2011, 03:34 PM   #20
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Naw, we'd have just spent it like we've done for the SS surplus...
To some, reducing our oil/gas consumption is desirable not so much because we're worried about running out of oil or trying to get more in taxes for government to spend, as it is avoiding having our foreign policy jerked around by petty dictators who happen to be sitting on oil fields, no longer feeling the need to go kill large numbers of Arabs from time to time to secure our oil supply, having fewer large scale ecological disasters caused by spills, and reducing atmospheric pollution.
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