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How are you coping with the high price of gas?
Are you driving less, taking mass transit or carpooling, consdering moving closer to your job? Well you aren’t alone. Americans drove 11 billion miles less this past March than in the previous March, the sharpest yearly drop on record. St. Louisans are following suit. Metro is reporting double-digit increases in bus and train ridership; and RideFinders program says a record 8,000 commuters are sharing the ride to work.
How about your car? A Midwest AAA poll found nearly a third of members are thinking of buying a more fuel-efficient car. Automakers bear this out – sales of SUVs, light trucks and other guzzlers are plunging, while small cars sales are way up.
It’s tempting to think this is just a passing fad, that we’ll go back to “business as usual” when gas prices stabilize. Well I hate to be a killjoy, but the days of cheap energy are receding in the rear-view mirror. Experts say the combination of a surging world demand for oil (led by India and China) and dwindling supplies of petroleum mean the price of a barrel of oil won’t be going down. If anything, it will go up.
So what are we to do? Continue to live the way we did before, and just spend more of our incomes on gas? Or learn to do things a smarter way – and use the gas we buy more thoughtfully, more judiciously. I say we start planning for the fact that expensive energy is here to stay. The more efficiently we use it the better off we’ll be.
Efficiency may not be a sexy part of a national energy policy, but it’s a vital part. And it starts with you and me.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Liz Forrestal is Executive Director for Missouri Votes Conservation, a non-profit that advocates for pro-environmental legislation in Missouri. She also participates in a number of community environmental groups, and is a board member of Audubon Missouri.