So, I put gas in my car last night. This happens about every 3-4 weeks for me, so each time I fill up it's almost unexpected when I see my total. I remember filling up for about $13 when I got my first car, pre-Bush era, but now it's closer to $50 per tank. While filling up last night, I started talking to the guy filling up next to me. He told me he avoids driving by walking, riding a bike, or taking the bus. He said he heard gas prices are so high due to overspeculation, but thought it would go down soon. I'm not that optimistic. Not only that, but after doing life cycle analysis on algae for biodiesel, and talking with classmates about life cycle assessments for other fuels, I don't think we're soon going to find any comparable replacement for our consumer society.
Although it may be easy for many of us to find alternative means of transportation around campus, it is not representative of our suburban counterparts. My parents live in San Antonio, a city that is growing dramatically in size due to urban sprawl. My mom told me my parents now spend over $400 a month on gas, mostly to commute to and from work. Yikes! During our conversation, I asked her about alternative transportation options. Her solution to the problem, rather than conservation, trip consolidation, or taking the extra time to ride the bus, is to buy a new house in neighborhood closer to their jobs. This sounded ridiculous to me, and after reading Linda Passaniti's blog "Conserve More Consume Less," it really struck me that buying a new house to save money on gas is not only illogical, but ultimately is more harmful than beneficial on a larger scale.
For me, I become more unsatisfied the more I learn about energy. Not just policy, but mostly public opinion and use. Hopefully I'll be less pessimistic next time it's time to hit the pumps.