Do You Hate Gas Prices? Blame Yourself!

It seems that nothing can stop the galloping gas prices. Blame the stubborn Congress that refuses to allow the drilling in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Alaska. Blame the vicious Arabs who keep the price at an artificially high level by greedily stocking their resources in their own countries. But first and foremost blame yourself.

If we are to believe the latest news, Brazil may soon become one of the world leading oil exporters. In April, the Associated Press informed that researchers had found an underground deposit of some 33 billion barrels of oil, three times as much as the country had possessed until then. Only last year, a national company discovered some 8 billion barrels in another location hidden deeply under the seabed. Unlike Arab states, Brazil plans to export most of the oil in order to hold down the skyrocketing gas prices.

It would be a mistake, however, to hope that we will again pay $2 per gallon. Financial experts predict that unless the world major oil exporters significantly increase their production, gas prices will not tumble or even stabilize. Short-term solutions such as the proposed drilling in the Gulf of Alaska or the suspension of federal gas tax will not help. If anything, they could only enrage consumers when after several months of relative improvement at gas stations they will have to pay more when the additional resources have been digested.

The painful truth is that we, consumers, are to blame for the present $4 per gallon. We drive more than our grandparents and even if contemporary cars burn less gas than a couple of decades ago, the difference is still too thin to compensate the shortages of oil on the world market. Moreover, Americans now have to compete with consumers from China, India, and other fast developing countries that we could hardly find on the map twenty years ago. It is easy to imagine what may happen to the world market when one billion people in China scrap their primitive bicycles and roll into the narrow roads with their new, big cars.

Some thought that biofuels would save us from bankruptcy. Enriched with plant extracts, biofuels were to make cars not only environmentally friendly, but also cheaper in maintenance as more plants meant less oil. But what looked like a miraculous solution now turns into disaster with much of Africa and Asia starving. Farmers quickly smelled that growing biofuel plants was very profitable and soon large paddies of rice gave way to the fields of linen and algae. The fact that millions of people have nothing to eat derives from the green policies of the European Union and United States.

With all its political and military might, the United States seems hopeless when it comes to controlling gas prices. With most of its gas reserves used up, the world sole superpower depends heavily on such unpredictable countries as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Iran. The oil crisis from the late 1970s was a painful lesson but it hasn’t taught us anything. We are more oil hungry than ever.

Krzys Wasilewski, while living in Poland, completing his masters degree in International Relations, was seduced by English Literature.