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Benefits of Higher Gas Prices: Why I Don't Mind Paying More at the Pump (Hubnugget Contest Winner)
What good can come of rising gas prices?
We all grumble these days as we’re filling our gas tanks, with gasoline prices rising to almost $4.00/gallon. And, yet, even as I’m shaking my fist at the gas pump, I can’t help but feel secretly happy that gas prices are rising. Sure, I’m not happy about some of the causes (e.g., nuclear threat from Iran) and I certainly want something to be done for people for whom this poses a real economic hardship.
However, rising gasoline prices has a host of potential short and long-term consequences that are good for people’s and the environment’s health, and may ultimately lead to more affordable and convenient forms of energy-efficient transportation for those who need it most.
Here’s the breakdown of why I support higher gas prices.
(1) Higher gas prices encourage people to walk or bike
When gas prices go up, people often think twice about getting in their cars, especially for short trips. Biking or walking to work or to run errands saves time and money, adds exercise into your daily routine, and helps reduce pollution. See Top Reasons to Bike to Work for more information.
As the number of people who bike commute increases, city planners may see benefits to improving the bikeability of their streets.
Get $20/month for commuting to work!
- The Bicycle Commuter Act
The National Center for Bicycling and Walking , Bicycle Federation of America, walking and biking, pedestrian safety, physical activity, active living, smart growth in communities
(2) Higher gas prices encourage people to find alternate forms of transportation
Another way people save money when gas prices are high is to form carpools or use public transportation. Indeed, rising gas prices are associated with greater use of trains and buses. Like biking or walking, public transportation is good for the environment, reducing gas consumption and pollution by decreasing the number of vehicles on the road. It also saves people money, reducing costs associated with buying, owning, and maintaining a car. Even if you already own a car, using it less will help reduce costs associated with wear and tear. Finally, those using public transportation often also increase exercise by walking to and from the train/bus station.
Placing an increased demand on public transportation services may also put pressure on public transportation agencies to increase their reach, making it more accessible to a greater range of people.
(3) Higher gas prices discourage the purchase and use of gas-guzzling cars
As gas prices rise, consumers are likely to seek alternatives to large, low-mileage SUVs and trucks in favor or smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. While it may take time to see major shifts in this trend, people on the market for new cars will likely choose more fuel-efficient options. Alternatives such as electric and hybrid cars need precisely this increased demand to accelerate production and take advantage of their own economies of scale.
(4) Higher gas prices encourage the development of vehicles fueled by renewable energy sources
Politicians will continue to argue about who is to blame for rising gasoline prices and what should be done about it. World events often beyond our control impact oil prices. It is clear that renewable forms of energy, such as wind, solar, and bio-diesel energy, would decrease our dependence on gasoline. Renewable energy sources are naturally replenished, will never run out, and have minimal impact on the environment.
Higher Gas Prices Leads to Long-Term Benefits
We can all agree that high gasoline prices are a drag. But, while It may take time, higher gas prices may ultimately help transform a society that is currently highly depending on gasoline into one with a more far-reaching public transportation system, decreased pollution, increased individual health, and more self-reliance. These benefits may well be worth the pain at the pump.
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