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"Could $20/gallon make us happier?"

Posted by Anonymous Friday, July 17, 2009 Labels: , , ,

Chris Steiner, author of $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better, was interviewed on Talk of the Nation yesterday. Listen here. I really believe in what he has to say about the inevitable increase in gas prices, and how they would force us to live better lives (at least for those of us in urban areas--he admits that it would create significant and perhaps detrimental challenges for those in rural areas).

I remember last summer when gas got up to $4/gallon, and how just that slight increase (though it didn't seem slight at the time) was enough to get me to ride my bike and take the public bus far more often than I ever have in my life in Kansas City. And since gas went back down, I've been back to my car almost 100% of the time, which is tragic in a way. But my point is that--if just a $1-2 increase led me to start to change my transportation habits, how much more then would a $5-15 increase? We would probably all be better off, at least those of us whose lives function mostly within the boundaries of our own city. But for others, perhaps we would pick up and move, whether to a nearby city with better public transport, or to another country (honestly--if gas reached $20/gallon, I'd probably just pick up and move to East Africa!). But Steiner touches on many other points such as zoning laws and more condensed neighborhoods and more communal living. I'd like to read this book. And I think we should all begin to prepare our lives for the time when gas becomes unaffordable.