I’ve seen and heard a few things on the news over the last few days about gas prices. Now before you start to mentally skip ahead, this isn’t another post from a Brit about how Americans don’t know the meaning of expensive gas, when I was a lad we had to dig for oil by hand, etc. Though we did, and pay the oilfield owner for the privilege.
No, this is an entirely different sanctimonious whine. I think I’m starting to hear the first murmurings of a new message in the current reports, which is simply ‘get used to it’. It’s not uncommon for that to be mentioned whenever prices go up, but in the past it has been a temporary measure, pending new refining capacity, or a change in formulation for the winter, or some other future relief. But this time, I think, some people are realizing that this is a long-term reality.
That doesn’t mean that we’re stuck with $3 per gallon for the next decade. Prices could be higher than that, or lower, and will surely fluctuate. But the seemingly hard-wired expectation of something in the low $1 range (which is what it was when we got here 6 years ago) seems to be a forlorn hope. For all the additional capacity that exists, however much that may be, there exists even more demand from China, and to a lesser extent India, that could in time dwarf the US’s consumption.
Anything could happen in the next decade, of course, from the arrival of the much-touted hydrogen economy to the discovery that oil is generated inside the earth magically and can never run out. But based on what we know, I’d rather be a Prius dealership than a Hummer one at the moment.