Robin on the Road in Trerice Cornwall, UK

Robin on the Road in Trerice Cornwall, UK
Robin on the Road in Trerice Cornwall, UK

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The High Cost of Cheap Gas

The High Cost of Cheap Gas

I recently saw a post on FB about a planned national gas strike in Australia. People are angry about the high price of petrol. Apparently, a new federal tax scheme would lead to an increase of the price of petrol at the pump.

Given the cost of living in Australia, it could cause significant hardship to middle and working class Australians. To be fair, wages in Australia are more in line with or are commensurate with the living costs. More or less. Although, banks are more than happy to extend lines of credit. But we all saw where that led in the last economic downturn. Or crash as it were.

This is in no way an indictment of the good, hardworking people of Australia, New Zealand or other Australasian countries. The standard of living in these countries is some of the highest in the world. Clean water, relatively clean air, access to health care and a decent distribution of fresh produce and low population densities lead one to a sense of overall wellbeing. It’s a nice place to live. According to the World Health Organization as of 2015 Australians of European descent can expect a life span of about 82 years. Of course this figure is lower, much lower for Aboriginal Australians. That is another topic though I do not dismiss the significance lightly. The majority of Canadians, US citizens and Europeans also enjoy this standard of living. By some measuring tools the US is behind in providing basic health services. But I digress.

I bring your attention to other parts of the world. The places where much of that raw petroleum comes from. Places like Nigeria, Venezuela, the Arab states.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), life expectancy in Nigeria is 53-55 years. It is even lower in the Niger Delta where averages are around 40 years. This is due to lifetime exposure to contaminated air, water sources, soil and sediment. Nigeria has earned as much as Thirty Billion Dollars in recent years from the oil industry. Where is all that money? Here is a link to an Oxfam blog if you really want to know:

While cycling along the south coast of Western Australia I experienced some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the world. Some of the cleanest water supporting incredible diversity in marine life. I also learned there was a push for oil exploration and extraction in the waters around the Bight. Fortunately, at least for the moment, it’s been put on hold because of opposition and danger to the health of the marine eco-systems that would be gravely endangered. A short, easy search on the internet will reveal a million web sites regarding the oil industry and marine eco-systems. Here’s one referring to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:

The thousands of fisheries and were lost due to the ecological disaster this caused is immeasurable.

My point in all of this is, there is no such thing as “cheap gas”. Or whatever one wants to call it in the common vernacular.

So, Australians, Americans, Canadians, Europeans are not entitled to low cost petroleum. You can strike at the pumps and demand lower prices but we will all pay in the end. The solutions are NOT in government subsidies to prop up profits in the bizarre and macabre trickledown theory of global economics.

If you are not satisfied with the prices at the pump there are other much more efficient solutions. Public transportation in places like Australia and the US is ridiculous! Attempts to improve have been thwarted at every turn by Big Oil in it’s strangle hold on local government. Auto manufacturers are not much better. Here is a great article on the history of Los Angeles and the suburban disaster it was to become:

Before you get to whine and kick up about the high price of gas, look at where you live, what you drive and alternatives. If you are unwilling to advocate for mass transit or simply get out of your car and walk, ride the bus or your bike FIRST then your strike at the pump will be a childish, petulant and ineffective tantrum.  

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