Saturday, August 1, 2009

What will the world look like when a gallon of gasoline is $8 or $18?

One on my favorite pop economic books is freakonomics.

I have the NYT Freakonomics blog on my google reader. Often times they put some interesting free market based transportation related inquiries and posts on their blog.

I came across one of those this morning, which is well worth a read. It is an interview with the author new book called, "$20 per gallon; How the inevitable rise in the price of gasoline will change our lives for the better".

The Author, Chris Steiner looks at how the reality of paying $8-$18 dollars per gallon of gasoline in the next 8-25 years will drastically change our every day lives. He looks at the everything from the food at resturants, how kids get to school, and the types of cars we will drive (or won't drive) in this new financial reality.

Here is the full post. It is WELL worth the quick read.

A couple of parts I thought were the most interesting:

How will kids get to school now?

By the time gas has reached $18, most people will live in places where density dictates that schools be grouped closer together, putting them within an easy walk or a brief bike ride.

What car’s in my driveway now?

At $18, you won’t have a driveway. There will be a whole generation of Americans growing up without cars at this point. They’ll live close to schools, close to new train lines, and close to places like restaurants and grocery stores. Electric cars will make an impact, but they won’t come in with the pricing power nor the volume to prevent massive changes in where we live and how we live.

What’ll be the new hot job field?

At $18 per gallon, a new way of efficient living will have settled in across much of the developed world. What we’ll still need, however, is what we always need, in fact: civil engineers. As our world transforms from one built around the car to one again built around the person and forms of mass transit, civil engineers will reshape society and the way we move and the way we live.

I might have to go out and buy the book. One thing I question is how $20 per gallon gas will dictate new technologies for buses? What will happen to many of our transit systems that still rely on diesel buses to more the vast majority of people (I think today hybrid buses only get 6-7 miles per hour)?

I guess the moral of the story is buy houses/condos in compact urban areas, enjoy your dream cross country road trip while you still can, become a civil engineer, and eat some delicous sushi now because soon it will be a thing of the past. Oh yeah... and buy your kids good road bikes instead of new cars in order to prepare them for the future.

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