I have finished reading the book “$20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better” (here) by Christopher Steiner. I don’t really agree that all the changes Steiner describes are inevitable. Possible, yes. Probable, many. All inevitable, no. Nor do I think my life will be better under most of his scenarios.
The chapters in his book progress in $2 increments in the price rise of gas from $4 to $20 per gallon. I am going to post quotes from his chapters. This is the first.
Prologue: $4: The Road to $20 and Civilization Renovation
But there’s more to this than the price of your, my, and Bill’s stuff. The mounting cost of gas will dictate cultural changes, housing changes, civic changes, educational changes – it will leave nary a spot on the globe, or how we live, unchanged. Not all of the change we face is gloomy. In fact, many people’s lives, including many Americans’ lives, will improve across a panoply of facets. We will get more exercise, breathe fewer toxins, eat better food, and make a smaller impact on our earth. Giant businesses will rise as entrepreneurs’ intrepid minds elegantly solve our society’s mounting challenges as gasoline prices inevitably rise, changing the world economy and out lives forever. The world’s next Google or Microsoft, the next great disrupter and megacompany, could well be conceived in this saga. It could be a battery company, a breakthrough solar outfit, or a radically innovative vehicle manufacturer. This revolution will be so widespread and affect so many that it will evoke the Internet’s rise in the late 1990s.
But this revolution will be even bigger than that. The Internet allowed us to buy a book online, to peruse information at will and with speed. The rising price of gasoline, however, will reshape your house, your car, your town, your store, your job, your life. America has never seen so great an innovation spur as escalating petroleum prices. This tale will bring with it all the global impact of a World War and its inherent technology revolutions – minus all the deaths. Some people even welcome oil’s coming paucity and expense as one of humankind’s grand experiment. And, in fact, it will be so. The future will be exhilarating.
…As the middle class continues to explode in China, India, and scores of other spots circling the earth, hundreds of millions of additional cars will hit the roads, giving rise to more demand for gasoline and other petroleum-based products. People want what Americans have had for decades: easy cars and an easy life. These people will get what they want, but in the process they will catalyze a global economic reformation on a scale never seen, changing our lives, changing their lives, changing the earth.