Thursday, May 22, 2008

gas is cheap

I am probably one of just a few people here in the U.S. who are not too disturbed by the rising gas prices. I have been back to the U.S. for two months now and the gas price issue is everywhere. It is not such a big issue here in NYC since there's public transportation. But I am happy about every article in the news that suggests that people in developed countries have to reconsider their way of life. I was working on a blog entry in the last two days when I read THIS article. It makes excactly the point that I tried to make in my entry: Gas in the U.S. is NOT expansive. $ 6-8 a gallon are normal in other parts of the world.

When I first moved to the U.S. in 2002 I was convinced that people would only change their way of dealing with energy resources if they are forced to do so. I knew that the American government wouldn't do anything in this regard since that would be political suicide. My big hope was the market. Now the market did it and I urge everyone to look at the chances of high gas prices instead of complaining about them.

Just a little story: In 1999 everyone in Germany (including myself) was complaining because the government introduced something called the green-tax. The idea of the green tax was to tax the use of energy to "force" people to use energy wisely and more efficiently. The tax money than was used partly to support the social system but more importantly to invest in renewable energies. For me as a car owner that meant an ANUAL increase by 4 euro cents for every liter up to this day on top of the rising gas prices. I was not amused but now years later I see the value: it changed people's driving habits and the car manufacturing industry. It also changed the daily life since saving any kind of energy at home just meant paying a whole lot less money. On top of that the industry had to address the peoples need for energy efficient green technologies.

I always have to smile when Obama and Clinton are talking about investing in renewable energies. Renewable energy sources are needed now in a time of high gas prices and not in ten years from now. The renewable energy market is already booming in the U.S.. Guess where the green technology is coming from. It is coming from the struggling former East Germany where the government invested the green-tax money that I used to be so upset about (read more about it HERE).

I honestly hope that the gas price will reach a point where everyone here in the U.S. has to rethink daily life just a little bit like we in Europe had to do a while ago. It doesn't really hurt and there are already indicators for changing habits which I am very happy about. THIS article really contradicts the argument that I hear so often: "Oh, all this public transportation stuff doesn't work in the U.S. because the U.S. is so big and different anyway..." Other countries are big as well my friends. It is not about that. It is more about Mr. Huevos taking his car to the office when he's late when he could use a bike as well.

It's a long term process that will need a long time. In order to address the rising gas prices the U.S. will need new technologies, an improved infrastructure, new emission standards, new building standards and most importantly a new attitude of the people.

As long as I have to open the window in order to adjust the temperature in my room here in New York, because the heat is adjusted by the janitor and cannot be turned down in the room, there's a long way to go...


Blogger Huevos McGringo said...

ouch, kman. but fair. when they put in a train running the less than half a mile to my office, i'll be all over it.

the irony is that any global warming will only make me less likely to walk to work. i'm already half-drenched when i walk in the summertime.

5/23/2008 6:41 PM  
Blogger knasselhoff said...

one more article...

and a nytimes op-ed from today on the same topic...

the op-ed is arguing for a fixed gas price above the $4 level.

huevos, i don't think the train running from your house to your office is going to happen. however, if you would promise to use it every day, i'd get you a bike next time i'm in athens...half a mile, no hills, a nice brezze even in the summer time, no emissions...sounds perfect to me...

5/28/2008 11:45 AM  
Blogger Ahab said...

This guy points out all the boneheaded decisions the US has made about energy. He labels it the Costanza energy policy.

5/30/2008 12:41 PM  

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