Cheap Oil is the Scourge of the Earth
By Tyler Rosenbaum
It was heartening to hear that Brown University has agreed to go green by cutting its carbon emissions significantly over the next decade. The authors of the emissions reduction recommendations touted the long-term cost effectiveness of their plan when presenting it to the Undergraduate Council of Students. Isn't that amazing? The relative affordability of using oil and natural gas as fuel sources has always been weighed against the litany of drawbacks to using them, but it seems that finally - finally! - this may no longer be the case. Nevertheless, it can't be expected that ordinary Americans and small businesses will be willing or able to commit the substantial initial investment that switching from fossil fuels will require. Many people, myself included, remain unconvinced that the market can provide the necessary momentum to overcome the inertia without a push.
Though the average gallon of gasoline throughout the United States has cost more than three dollars for quite some time now, when the price of a barrel of oil topped $100 on Jan. 2, a fresh sense of media-fueled hysteria gripped the country. Almost every American can remember the idyllic days of yore when gas cost a dollar per gallon and a Humvee or a gigantic pick-up truck could be driven from Los Angeles to New York for less than $300. Traveling that distance for the same price today would require a car that gets three times the gas mileage, and which would therefore be intrinsically uncool and vaguely European (read: anti-American).
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