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Might Higher Oil Prices Be a Good Thing?

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Over the weekend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned us that the price of oil could go as high as $200 per barrel if the U.S. attacks Iran.

Of course I don't want the U.S. to attack Iran, but for other reasons. I'm thinking that these rising oil prices are not necessarily a bad thing.

You see, Americans are slaves to their automobiles. They drive too much in their bloated gas-guzzling SUVs. In fact, U.S. gasoline consumption accounts for 11 percent of the world's oil production.

The world does not contain an infinite supply of oil. In fact, it's running out fast. But that's not enough to make the average American want to park the Suburban and walk instead.

And, of course, burning all that gasoline contributes to global warming. But, while many Americans say they care, they won't cut down on their gas consumption. Instead, they seem to believe that they're doing their part for the environment by simply recycling all their empty Aquafina bottles.

No, Americans won't voluntarily give up the comforts and conveniences they've become used to and think they're entitled to. That's where rising oil prices come in.

If the realities of climate change and peak oil production won't prompt Americans to reduce their oil consumption, maybe $5-per-gallon gasoline will do the trick.

If you can't appeal to the conscience, maybe you have to appeal to the wallet.

And, in this spoiled, car-crazy culture, that might be the best we can hope for.



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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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