$50

Is what it cost today to fill my car, a 2003 Corolla. In the big scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like much, a extra $10 here or there. My car has a 40 litre tank and its gas mileage is quite good. I also have slightly less than average driving habits. I’ve owned my car for six years and have yet to surpass the 100K mark on the odometre. Besides, one of the reasons we moved from Nun’s Island (aside from hating that sterile, snooty place) was to shorten my commute to work. It takes 20 minutes by car, or 45 minutes if I walk to the bus station at the Dorval Circle where I can catch an employee shuttle to the office. And everyday, the missus takes the bus to work. In a way, we sort of anticipated rising fuel costs and adjusted the lifestyle accordingly.

All of this, of course, would be great if the only thing I was paying extra for was a little bit of gas. But it’s not. The price of oil affects everything in our lives and I worry about how this is going to play out during this current recession.

In a way, however, I’m glad oil has hit the prices it has. Mind you, I’m not smugly predicting, or wishing for, secular Armageddon here but it seems to me that, if nothing else, it will teach people to be more like our relatives who lived through the Great Depression. When we talk about reducing our carbon footprint, my grandmother would have just said, “stop being so wasteful.” She used to save the aluminium foil on the tops of TV dinners, “just in case.”

If people don’t want to change their lifestyles one bit for environmental reasons, and our current government trying to please their friends in the petroleum industry, then maybe a massive hit to the wallet will be what it takes. If you can’t appeal to people’s community-mindedness, you often have better luck with their greed.

It took a gas crisis in the 1970’s to introduce cars with better gas mileage and more public transit. I think the price of oil (and the peak of its supply which may have already happened) is turning out to be a bigger crisis. Maybe this is what we need to move away from a car-centred culture and toward healthier societies.

Or we could be all screwed and there’s nothing to be done but I prefer to think positively.

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