Spring is almost here and with it brings the almost predictable increase in gas prices and the dire warnings about how high gas prices will go.  This time the reason given is the turmoil in Libya but it seems that every serious world event or disaster is accompanied by high gas prices.

There are the fearful warnings from experts about how high gas prices will be by summer – $1.50 a litre; $2 or more – better get used to it!  I recall the same analysts saying the same thing 2 years ago.

High Gas Prices Outraging Consumers?

Reporters interview people at the pumps who can’t believe how much they’re paying to fill up.  How dare those greedy oil companies gouge us this way when they earn all those billions in profits!  But, will they be changing their driving habits or purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle, or will they just complain?  I live in Alberta where it seems like every 3rd vehicle is a big honkin’ truck or SUV so I guess they can afford it.

Back in the early 80’s the price of oil doubled (to $35 a barrel!) due to war between Iran and Iraq and the Arab oil embargo.  At that time everyone drove big boats like Buicks and Oldsmobiles or muscle cars like Cameros and Chargers with their gas guzzling V-8 engines.  In the US there were actually riots at the pumps.

Here in Canada, the metric system had just been introduced and since gasoline was now sold in litres instead of gallons, we didn’t know what the heck we were paying.  We just saw that the price at the pump was less, but what we were actually paying was considerably more.

This was when Toyota and Honda entered the market with their cute (and at the time, inexpensive) fuel-efficient compact and sub-compact vehicles that got 100km/litre (or whatever the claim was) and people rushed to buy them.  The big American car companies had to do major revamps to their product line-up to compete or be left in the dust.

Consumer Complacency

Now we seem to be in the same type of situation – problems in the Middle East and an increase in gas prices.  What is the solution this time around?  There have been some inroads with the manufacturing of electric and hydrogen vehicles but we are woefully behind in pursuing the new technologies that make our dependence on oil and gas a thing of the past.

Are we just going to complain as we pull out our wallets at the gas station with a sigh and shake of the head?  Or will we use those same wallets to urge the further development and improvement of fuel-efficient and cost effective new vehicles instead?  Are high gas prices here to stay?


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