The Seattle Times reported yesterday that Americans have driven 29.8 Billion fewer miles for the six month period from November 2007 to April 2008 than they did for the same period in 2006/2007. The only way we can have any impact on oil prices in our opinion is to drive less, and it's beginning to look like that is starting happen. Also the article goes on to say that "commuters took 10.3 billion trips on public transportation last year, the most in 50 years." And AAA reports that the average family with two cars will spend $6,200 a year now for gas, that's huge. These trends suggest that we are reaching the point where we will be willing to give up the freedom of our cars and take public transportation. That's all good news but why are gas prices still going up?
If Americans are driving less and if public transportation is up, why then have gas prices gone up so much in the past 6 months? We all hear that it's basic economics 101, supply and demand. The demand is up but we are driving less, or are we? It's estimated that public transportation accounts for only about 1 percent of US travel. If public transportation increases by another 20 percent that will only be 1.2 percent of US travel. Has the US economic slow down had any impact on these numbers? With more people out of work they should logically be driving less. We are driving less, even thought we have to use our cars for our business. We take fewer trips to the store and we don't do some of things we used to because of the fuel costs. We were able to get a hybrid car and that car has cut our gas consumption in half. It's not enough however, Americans will need to cut their driving down by about 10 percent across the board to have a recognizable impact on oil prices. But we also think that oil prices are artificially high based on speculation by investors. Could have demand over the past 6 months really increased that much to drive up prices they way they have?
Oil prices may be one of biggest economic challenges we face over the next several years. We need to do something about it. Our government needs to do something about it. The new administration in 2009 needs to do something about it. As informed voters, we need to understand what each candidates plan is. We need to actually see a plan, not just a bunch of words, smiles, and non specifics. It's a very complicated problem however, but one that needs our full attention. As of right now, does anyone know what both sides even think about the problem and how to fix it? We do agree that we need to open up many domestic areas for oil exploration yet even if that happens immediately, it will take many years to produce oil. However, our need for oil will be around for many many years, and the US will depend on it for a long long time to come. Just saying that we need more fuel efficient cars will help some, but it's going to require a lot more than that. How many cars would we need to replace so that just 50 percent of the cars Americans drive (not to mention the rest of the world) were hybrid or cars using alternate fuel sources? We have no idea, but we bet it would be a long long time and a huge unmanageable expense for most Americans to replace even half of our cars.
We think we need to stop all the political positioning and arguing and deiced on a direction that will reduce our demand for foreign oil and at the same time put a full blown effort into developing alternative sources of energy like we did in the space race. We think we need to have a environmentally safe plan to tap all of our oil reserves. We can fix all this if we all work together to get it done and understand that there will have to be compromises on all sides.