14 March 2011
(For this article I will use the term petrol to describe fuel used in cars).
Petrol is a finite substance and internationally humans are using it at an increasing rate. If things continue as they are, demand will cause shortage and that will put pressure on prices. We can do nothing about the reserves of petroleum, but a little about how much we need.
Personally, I drive a vehicle with low fuel consumption, go by push bike whenever I can and only drive when it is necessary. If everyone in the world took a view that petrol is a precious resource and modified driving habits accordingly, then consumption would drop. This would relieve pressure on production, prices would reduce and petrol will be around longer.
Is that realistic? Not really. In the US, when petrol prices go up, people buy more fuel efficient cars, the price goes down and they return to larger vehicles. In other words, most consumers only seem to react to price, not to any need to conserve. However, in one forum I visited, people talked of using false number plates on their cars and driving off without paying, if prices go much higher. Others thought rioting and vandalism would force the government to lower tax on fuel. I guess they would accept higher tax elsewhere to compensate. Yeah, right.
Petrol is running out. Prices will rise. The luxury of jumping in a car and driving around without much cost are numbered. We love personal transport, but it will surely be more costly and also less convenient to use cars in the future.