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The Silver Lining on Gas Prices

2008 July 11
by Julie Clawson

Since my life is all things baby these days, for some reason I pulled out Emma’s baby book and flipped through it. In the section about “the world around me” there was a list of how much stuff cost when she was born. I had to laugh when I saw the entry for a gallon of gas – $1.89. That’s one of those things that I should be looking at twenty years later and laughing at – not three and a half years later. I hope I don’t look back three years from now at Aidan’s book and laugh at the $4.17 price that’s listed there.

What I have found pleasantly amusing are the articles in the newspaper that attempt to point out the silver lining to high fuel prices. Most mentions of the high prices are complaints with a few threats about how we are destroying the environment by using fuel thrown in. While I don’t deny the truth of that, it is refreshing to read an optimistic viewpoint on occasion.

So what good is there in high fuel prices? According to recent articles the good ranges from better communities to more comfortable outings. Apparently since people are driving less these days (because they just plain can’t afford to drive anywhere) they are instead doing things in their own communities. They are riding bikes, walking to the local ice cream shop, sitting on their front porch, and taking their kids to neighborhood parks. In essence, people are reverting to the good old days when neighborhoods were actually neighborhoods. So even though I haven’t actually seen this happen yet in my community (our local park is full of texting and smoking jr. highers who hog all the swings…), it is apparently happening somewhere (or at least one hopes).

What I have noticed is the another silver lining the papers mentioned – that due to high fuel costs restaurants and shops are restraining their air conditioning usage. So instead of walking in from a pleasant summer night (I grew up in Texas all nights in Illinois are pleasant) into a sub-zero restaurant that makes you wish you brought a parka, one is able to actually dine comfortably in (gasp) summer clothes. So while I am not one to disdain AC in general, I am liking this economically driven sanity in AC control I am experiencing these days.

So as crazy at it may seem even high gas prices have some sort of a silver lining. (or perhaps we are desperately grasping at straws and are too easily amused…)


4 Responses leave one →
  1. July 12, 2008

    My daughter had a soccer tournament in Massachusettes a few weekends ago, and we made a concsious decision to take my small car instead of my wife’s SUV. Probably the first time we ever made a car decision based on MPG.

  2. July 13, 2008

    Probably the first time we ever made a car decision based on MPG.

    Wow, really? The first? Maybe I just grew up in a frugal family, but it seems strange to me how many Americans only recently started caring about much gas their cars were guzzling. I paid attention to mpg even back when gas was under $2/gallon.

  3. July 14, 2008

    Well that was an unexpected twist on the positives of our gas prices. Actually now that you mentioned it, I have noticed that people in our neighborhood have become a little more friendly. There are more families spending time outside at home this summer. Of course I hope the gas issues help us focus on more environmentally friendly fuel sources.
    ~ Josie

  4. July 15, 2008

    Yes, definitely an interesting silver lining.

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