Peak & Prairie
June / July 1999
Gas Too Pricey? Don’t Drive!
Reprinted from the Clarion, April 22, 1999 (University of Denver paper)
by Anna Brower, Clarion Editorials Editor
It’s time we did something about these gas prices, ever spiraling out of control. If we refused to pay these exorbitant prices for just one day, we could show those oil cartels that we won’t stand idly by and have our freedom to drive without financial duress snatched away from us. What about a Gas Out, a special day set aside for making a statement about economic strangulation?
Give me a break.
The proposed “Gas Out” on April 30 has meant a flood of rhetoric such as that above. Auto-loving Americans are fed up with paying upwards of a single dollar and a few odd cents per precious gallon. I have a better idea. Don’t “Gas Out,” gas off.
The price of gasoline in the U.S. is ridiculously low by world standards. In some European countries, drivers are forking over $3 or $4 a gallon—and that’s to say nothing of countries where only 5 percent of the population can even afford an automobile. What is the result of these “insultingly high” prices in Europe? Better public transportation. More individuals walking, biking and car-pooling. Better public health, thanks to casual exercise and reduced emissions.
Low gas prices support higher gas consumption, and in the U.S., people consume far too much gas already. Despite oil crises such as that of the 1970s, Americans refuse to remedy—and in many cases, even recognize—their ever-increasing dependence on personal automobiles. Half-baked protests such as this Gas Out only feed the perception that citizens of the U.S. have some inalienable right to create massive, confusing highway systems; level neighborhoods and parks to make room for parking lots; and crowd pedestrians and cyclists off roads that they, too, are forced to subsidize.
High gas prices are not an affront. They are a God send. Perhaps they will force those who drive without conscience to take note of the hidden costs of high gas consumption, costs not reflected in the U.S.’s disappointingly low gas prices. We pay, financially and environmentally, for fiascoes such as the Exxon Valdez and the New Carissa oil spills. We pay for urban sprawl, which both accommodates and justifies over-use of automobiles. We pay with our health when those disgusting brown clouds settle over our cities in the winter. We’re already paying too much for all that gas, and the answer isn’t lower prices at the pump.
Concerned about high gas prices? Stop driving so much! Take the bus or ride a bike. These options are more economically and environmentally sound. Those of you out there who are able to spend an entire afternoon complaining about gas prices, then—without irony—hop into an offensively over-consumptive sport utility vehicle to dash the three blocks to Starbucks for a $5 mocha, I’m begging you: Stop global whining. Leave the Explorer home and walk to [work] every once in a while.
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