Gas crises could be worse, drivers couldn’t

Recently there have been numerous articles in the Northern Star discussing the recent highs in gasoline prices and the subsequent demand for more fuel-efficient cars.

After reading one particular column, it became clear to me that the answer for solving this potential crisis is not as clear-cut as simply buying hybrid cars.

The increase in the price for petroleum is in direct relation to our lifestyle.

Granted, a part of it is people are buying sports utility vehicles and “light trucks” like the Excursion. Some of these people even have no need for such trucks, and for them it’s simply cosmetic.

Others prefer the oversized pickup trucks or the new Hummer, which only gets about three miles to the gallon in a city. Either way, the low gas mileage and large gas tanks of these vehicles are factors that contribute to the problem.

The second factor is that every driver now thinks the roadways are a NASCAR circuit. A Civic usually gets good mileage, but if the driver is at one red light and then approaches the next red light at forty-five miles per hour, the car is going to use up a lot more gas.

Further, more gas is being spent when people find it necessary to go 65 in a 45. We’re all guilty of it – I know I am. We have to be in class by 10 a.m. and we get up at 9 a.m. to leave the house at 9:30 a.m. when we know it’s a 45-minute commute. Perhaps better time management is necessary.

Now we can go out and buy a Prius or any other hybrid car that we desire. We can even discourage people from buying larger cars by imposing an extra fee or making them sign enlistment papers when they purchase a SUV, but if we decide that we’re Jeff Gordon when we get into the Prius, we should expect to be filling up a lot!

The final contributor to this potential crisis is simple dishonesty on the part of the consumer. It doesn’t matter what the gas price is, pump and run has been a problem for years.

The high prices could also very well be the petroleum companies compensating for their losses. Also, the very essence of a free market economy adds an extra burden.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once mentioned that in the 1970s, General Motors had the go-ahead to make an electric car but the oil companies paid General Motors more money to not produce it. Now, I think Robert Kennedy Jr. is a smart man, but General Motors actually did produce an electric car; it came out in the early 1990s. The problem with it was that no one wanted it; it only could travel 100 miles before dying. Consumer demand for more fuel-efficient cars are still low enough to make automobile companies timid about putting them on the market.

In précis, the solution to solving this problem is a lot more complex than we think. It involves changing a society’s attitude and lifestyle, which can be rather difficult.

Constantine J. Argiris

Senior Political Science/Public-Law

Letters reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.