10 benefits of a high fuel price

by EcoStreet on July 6, 2008

in Responsible Transport

gas-prices.jpgIt seems that the world is coming around to our way of thinking. Yes, even Time.com has conceded that a higher fuel price has its benefits. They’ve come up with 10 things to like about petrol (gas) going over $4 a gallon in the US, still bloody cheap by UK standards. Geez, you yanks just don’t know you’re born!

…it’s true that Americans are finding options where there seemed to be none. They’re ready to change — and waiting for their infrastructure to catch up. They are driving to commuter-rail lines only to find there are no parking spots left. They are running fewer errands and dumping their SUVs. Public-transit use is at a 50-year high. Gas purchases are down 2% to 3%. And all those changes bring secondary, hard-earned benefits. Here are Time.com’s 10 things, with my thoughts added.

1. Globalised jobs return home – Yes, it seems that the high fuel price will mean that local will once again be the most sensible option. Without cheap oil, the world is getting bigger again.

2. Sprawl stalls – It’s too expensive to schlep all the way from the country into the cities for work these days. People are moving back into the cities and taking the bus. Time to stop the plans for building all over our greenbelt land.

3. Four-day workweeks – These shortened work weeks are becoming popular in some part of the US, but I doubt whether the British boss would be able to stand it despite the benefits of energy saving and fewer employees off sick, they’re far too mean for all that.

4. Less pollution – Goes without saying.

5. More frugality – Truckers and the like are joining the ranks of the hyper-milers.

6. Fewer traffic deaths – Fewer cars on the road mean fewer accidents.

7. Cheaper insurance – Not sure whether this one would apply to UK insurers. Perhaps one of our readers could shed some light?

8. Less traffic – Yup!

9. More cops on the beat – A very American benefit that probably wouldn’t happen in the UK.

10. Less obesity – Walking is cheaper than driving, and with food prices on the up, less is more!

Read more at Time.com [10 Good Things About $4 Gas]

Photo credit: Glenn Batuyong

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

theCryptofishist July 7, 2008 at 4:46 am

I’m wondering about the actual end of the suburbs thing. At least those that are already built. It’s wasteful and not ecological to just let them rot. How do we use that land and those buildings? Can we move them closer in to the cities and return that land to farm or “nature”? And about those suvs. I think it’s 40% of the total wastefulness of a car is in the manufacturing. Is it wise to just scrap them? This is really asking the next question, not decrying these changes. As an American (with a sister in the Manchester area) I think it’s about time as well.


Bill Vincent July 7, 2008 at 4:56 am

In addition to all that, more pressure on the powers-that-be to offer us realistic alternative fuel transportation. Even most mass-trans here in the US is (coal-fired power) electric trains and woefully inefficient fuel-guzzling, black smoke-belching diesel buses, in addition to being largely useless (bad routes, irregular stops, etc)in many areas due to 30 years of failure to plan for the inevitability of high fuel prices. Thinking about it that way, I’d almost rather keep driving the Honda and carpooling.


Mike July 7, 2008 at 5:06 am

Very good article. I like that its presents a bright side to the energy crunch.


paul July 7, 2008 at 5:33 am

ok. but i don’t understand how higher gas prices mean MORE cops driving around in V8 Crown Vics ????


Cherie Hanson July 7, 2008 at 6:06 am


These are things that I have noticed as well in Kelowna, B.C., Canada. Cars are now parked along the roadside and highways with for sale signs. Electric bikes are emerging as a system of transport. Rapid (?) transit has risen in ridership. We even saw, glory of glories, an actual bus bench installed.
The benefits of having more bikes is that auto drivers are now having their consciousness raised. Instead of the appearance of a bicycle being a “surprise” the frequency makes auto drivers more alert and watchful. I have placed your list on my blog with the link as well.
Cherie Hanson


Alex July 7, 2008 at 7:19 am

I think this article is very naive. Do you really believe that high gas prices are lowering obesity by forcing people to walk?


Jaime July 7, 2008 at 7:43 am

To answer the insurance question – in America your insurance rate can go down when you drive less, so if you’re not driving to work anymore, your insurance may go down.

In response to Paul – My understanding of the article is that more cops on “the beat” rather than driving around. Less cars on the road…less cops needed, or at least that’s what I’ve noticed lately.


Mook July 16, 2008 at 11:22 pm

with the increase in telecommuting the claims of halting the urban sprawl and decreasing the working week seem a little optimistic. nice positive article though


Warren July 20, 2008 at 12:52 pm

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James - UK August 12, 2008 at 1:48 pm

stopping people driving and making them walk, will help in the fight against obesity, the fact that its so easy to drive nowadays is probably one of the biggest causes of obesity along with junk food being so easily readily available. Are you MAD?


hypermiler August 16, 2008 at 8:58 pm

Hypermiling absolutely works. Simple and safe driving techniques to improve your mpg. I usually walk everywhere, but when I need to drive I am a hypermiler.


TwilightEarth August 26, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Another great thing about high gas prices is that it finally makes people sit up and take notice. Unfortunately people wont do the right thing because its the right thing to so, or even out of consumer or environmental guilt. It’s a “me” society and they will only do the right thing when it hurts them.

Alter the Eco and keep up the good fight


Uncle B September 27, 2008 at 1:38 am

After the money printing jamboree to pay off the $700 Billion fiasco, we will be lucky to see gas at $12.00 Gallon, and the southwestern desert solar developments are not ready to supply the kind of juice we will want! The battery technologists are working day and night to catch up, but until the government releases depleted uranium research and its cold fusion potential and high charge battery potential to the public sector we will flounder in a myriad of under performing batteries and disappointing electric cars. It is time for the government to pull out all stops and let progress happen! Wake Up America – Last Call!


cherie hanson January 5, 2009 at 1:59 am

I was recently at a car auction in Kelowna. If one wants to actually SEE the impact of higher gas prices, a stalled economy and fear that the household cannot operate two vehicles with the cost of insurance, tires, etc. Go to an auction. (We can’t get winter tires here because of the short supply since they have been legislated in Quebec.Some vehicles were selling for as little as $300. Many unscathed vehicles with pristine interiors were unclaimed because the reserve price was above $2,000. Two pick up trucks went for the cost of the tires.
Value of anything is only in the eye of the consumer.
And yes, it does save money and trim the body. It is way harder to get heaps of impulse buying home on a bus or bundled onto the back of a bicyle…I know. My wallet is fatter, my thighs are slimmer.


Debbie Smith April 1, 2009 at 9:58 pm

What about smaller cars on the road? I hate not being able to see around an SUV. They are just super-glutinous if you ask me. Since this was obviously written before gas went down in price, some benefits have stayed, but some have not. Some people have bought smaller cars, hybrids, etc. and changed their habits, but of course there are the gluttons out there that are happy about it all and go out celebrating by driving all over, flying, etc. I am happy that the price is not as high but I am not driving more because of it. I hope people remain conscious that the price could rise again or maybe just help the planet!


barry August 29, 2010 at 3:40 am

what a load of green hog wash more dribble … what gives anyone the right to judge and force people to act in a way they see as right.
if someone wants to be fat an drive everywere so be it thats there right of choice ..
what the hell right have u got to say anyone should force them to change..
playing god now are we


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