While I might not go so far as to say that the recent rise in gas prices is a good thing, I do think there might be a silver lining.
If ‘peak oil’ is true, and we are on the downward slide of oil supplies and therefore our entire oil-based economy, then change is coming, and the recent rise in price is just the tip of the iceberg.
With Libya in turmoil and unrest spreading through the MIddle East, the environmental cost of what oil remains in more so-called ‘friendly’ places is becoming higher and higher.
In Canada, the tar sands are using up large amounts of fresh water (every day enough water is taken from the Athabaskan River to service a city of one million people), they have been blamed for toxins leeching into the Athabaskan River, and result in vast expanses of denuded boreal forest and toxic tailings ponds.
And yet we are still not truly engaging in efforts to come up with viable alternatives.
According to budget previews, the Harper government is even cutting the funding for alternative energies and other environmental initiatives, yet continuing tar sands subsidies. Guess those poor oil companies need our help.
While high oil prices might help the oilmen in Calgary, perhaps they will also encourage Canadian citizens to slow down and take stock while they stand at the pump, watching the numbers spin by.
Maybe people will begin to ask why the Harper government chooses not to act aggressively in searching for alternative energy programs which will help transition our society from oil-dependency into energy independence.
It has certainly given me a change in perspective.
When I was hired, I was told I might be better off to live in Vanderhoof, to avoid the isolation that might come with starting a new job in the Fort without any support from the office based in Vanderhoof.
But the costs of the extensive commute involved in driving to and from Vanderhoof two to three times a week ad up quickly.
Yet I was content to wait and see, I took the time to learn the job with the support of the office staff and figured I would make the move when I found something appropriate.
I’ve been slowly asking around, and have even looked at a couple of places, but without any sense of urgency, anything suitable was snatched up before I even thought twice.
The price of gas has changed that attitude for me.
Besides the fact the commute itself is wearing on me, as a person who is used to living in town and commutes via bike normally, the price of gas is killing me.
With what was once an absorbable loss turning into an increasing and expense, I won’t even be able to afford to keep this job if I can’t find somewhere to live in the Fort so I can reduce my driving costs.
Now, while that might sound incredibly negative, it shows how the price of gas is going to change at least one person in town’s behaviour to reduce my oil needs to a much more manageable level.
Perhaps there will be other drivers and businesses making similar adjustments, and there will be fewer diesel pickups idling empty outside the Red Fox in the morning when I stop in for breakfast.
Beneficial for the air shed and our wallets, especially now that the new anti-idling bylaw could wind up costing that driver twice.