Addressing the demand side of the energy equation

Ever since the first oil embargo of the early seventies, there has been a direct correlation between the price of gasoline and sales of more efficient vehicles. When prices go up people stop buying gas guzzlers, it's simply a matter of self-preservation. In general people will buy the biggest most powerful vehicle they can afford. Regardless of what is built, drivers will buy what they want. There have been plenty of fuel efficient vehicles in the last two decades most of which have sold in relatively small numbers when gas was cheap. If we mandate higher fuel economy and the price of fuel drops people will migrate back to bigger vehicles if someone decides to step up and build them.

There are those among us who don't believe climate change is real and we shouldn't be doing anything about efficiency. Even if you disregard the environmental argument there is an eminently logical and perhaps even more important reason for us to use less oil: national security. By being so overwhelmingly dependent on a finite natural resource that we don't control, we are placing ourselves unnecessarily at risk. The United States spends an inordinate amount of our GDP on the military, a large proportion of which is devoted to maintaining a ready supply of petroleum. If we were not so dependent on oil we could greatly reduce our military expenditures to maintain that supply. Fossil fuels need to be more heavily taxed as a means of showing Americans the true cost of the fuel they use and enhancing our national security. Washington Post writer Warren Johnson has his own take on this issue that also supports the idea of fuel taxes.

[Source: Detroit News]

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