As noted by Duncan who blogged on the topic in May, the New York Times ran an interesting piece this weekend about Energy Policy in the United States. It gives a good overview about the inaction that we have seen in the decades since the first oil crisis, and how America has been voting themselves better jobs building bigger cars, and then buying and driving those cars on relatively cheap gas. An interesting read whether you live in the States or not.
As in every situation with political implications (and which situation doesn’t?), discussions about the rising gas prices tend to quickly degenerate into an ugly partisan mudslinging contest. Suddenly it’s not about the price of filling up, but about jobs in Michigan vs. drilling for oil off the California coast (which was outlawed by an executive order of Bush senior) and if you’re not toeing one party line, you must be for the other guy.
However, it’s about more than that. Perhaps the shift in the market caused by the high gas prices will cause someone to start innovating again. Stop whining about how the auto industry is going down the tubes making cars that no one wants to buy, but come up with a something that makes this entire problem go away. This is America for goodness sake, we’re supposed to be smart. Is it electric cars that drink from the wall outlet? Can we engineer sufficiently efficient batteries that make them go as far as we need them to? Or will they get their power from hydrogen fuel cells and have we figured out yet how to store hydrogen without letting too many of those tiny molecules escape?
In any case, we have to stop putting gas in our cars. The dinosaurs are dead, they are not making any more oil. That stuff is too precious to keep setting on fire.