Oil Prices Hit New High at Over $88/Barrel

Written by Andrew Morrison

Planet earth in oilI want to live in a country that supports green construction and healthy living. I want to see more people building green homes and driving efficient vehicles. I want to see the health and strength of my community grow. That is going to take action, not just desire.

Today, the price of oil went up by more than $2 per barrel at its peak. I remember when oil prices were approaching $60 and I thought that was high. Today the price landed at a new high of $88.20 per barrel before retreating a little. As I watched the financial report about this upward trend, I was saddened by the reporter’s comments about the average American consumer and our impact on the entire planet.

According to the reporter, Americans have not made any significant adjustments in their lifestyles as a result of a devastating war, rising fuel costs, a sagging economy, and weakening consumer confidence. What does this mean? To me it means the pain is not big enough for most Americans yet which ultimately means things will get worse before they get better. I am not sure our planet can handle things getting worse.

I am worried about the state of the world. How can we continue to waste water, perhaps our most valuable asset, in huge simulated rain showers? How can we continue to make and buy vehicles that get such bad fuel economy. Check out the table below for details of what I mean by bad fuel economy. When averaged together, the total fuel economy for all the top cars in their class averages out at 31 city/35 highway. That is not acceptable. We have technology in action today that gives cars fuel economies of 60/51 (Toyota Prius). Why then are we as a country or as a planet not putting more attention to creating such vehicles. We may all know the answer already.

Finally, how can we continue to build leaky, inefficient houses at such an alarming rate? There is no excuse for this type of waste. We have the ability to build efficient, healthy homes. We can build efficient vehicles. We can lower our footprint on the planet. Are you willing to take steps towards that? If not you, then who? I can tell you that I make those steps everyday. The simple things like turning off lights after I leave a room, or using efficient CF or LED light bulbs.

How about building a super efficient straw bale home? I drive a car that gets 40+ mpg and runs on biodiesel. All of these things have a huge impact on the World. Consider scale for just a moment. When United Airlines was in a financial bind a few years ago, they stopped serving their first class passengers drinks with two olives. The management opted to offer only one olive in those drinks. That saved the company over $1 million that fiscal year! All from removing one olive in a first class passenger’s drink.

The small acts, when added together, can and will change the world. Please step up with me and make a change. I don’ think we have much time left to waste thinking about it. It is time to act.

EPA Class Vehicle

Two-Seater Cars Mazda MX-5 (manual)
25 city/30 hwy
Mini-compact Cars Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible
22 city/30 hwy
Subcompact Cars Toyota Yaris (manual)
34 city/40 hwy
Compact Cars Honda Civic Hybrid
49 city/51 hwy
Midsize Cars Toyota Prius (hybrid)
60 city/51 hwy
Large Cars Hyundai Sonata (manual)
24 city/34 hwy
Small Station Wagons Honda Fit
33 city/38 hwy
Midsize Station Wagons Ford Focus Wagon (manual)
27 city/37 hwy
Sport-Utility Vehicles Ford Escape Hybrid FWD
36 city/31 hwy
Minivans Dodge Caravan 2WD
20 city/26 hwy
Pickup Trucks (tie) Ford Ranger 2WD (manual)
Mazda B2300 (manual)
24 city/29 hwy
Van (Cargo & Passenger) Chevrolet Express 2WD, and others
15 city/20 hwy

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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9 Responses

  1. Thank you for speaking this so plainly. I am sickened by the waste we Americans live in. I have long lived a life of simplicity and I hope others can join in. I built my straw bale home last year with the help of your DVDs and your coaching. Thank you for making my “footprint” as you call it, that much smaller. I love my house and I love having a zero energy bill each month even more!

  2. Thanks for this Andrew. I just bought a Prius last month and I love it. It is a bit weird when I stop and the sound stops too. I still forget the car is running some times when I stop to chat with friends. I do a lot of city driving, so my mileage is even better than the best highway mileage of any car I have ever owned. I hope to continue to do my part. The Prius is the first step. I have been talking about building a bale home for years. Thanks for your encouragement. I am going to try and get into a workshop or volunteer with some one building near me if possible. Thanks again for the challenge.

  3. I hope that this sinks in. It is time we all cut back a little and make a difference. Thank you for voicing this important reality: we have to do something now, before it is too late!

  4. Good points Andrew. There’s so much that can be done. As our country angers the rest of the world and endangers our own natural wild areas – all in the name of securing future oil reserves – we could actually use LESS of those resources to begin with. Wouldn’t that be a lot easier?

  5. That is often the case: cars get “up to” a certain mpg but in real life use often do not achieve the top mileage. It depends a lot on driving conditions and style as well as the general maintenance of the car from tires to oil changes and air filters. That said, they are certainly considerably better than most cars on the road when it comes to mpg.

  6. There are two enviromental factors that a Prius fights — one of them is C02 emmissions, by virtue of higher mpg (and a savings at the pump), the other is that is often ignored (especially by those that say ‘my diesel x gets better mileage) it is a SULEV — super-ultra low emmissions vehicle.

    High mpg diesel cars are a good start, but diesel is a more energy-dense fuel, therefore releasing more CO2 per gallon burned (approximately 19.4 pounds per gallon for gas, 22.2 diesel, http://epa.gov/otaq/climate/420f05001.htm).

    Today’s diesel fuel, while burning cleaner than in the past, is still much higher than a Prius in NOx and other particulate emissions.

    Electric cars (or plug-in biodiesel hybrids with significant in-town range) are a much better answer, especially when fueled by CO2 sequestering power plants such as Futuregen, co-fired with a biomass fuel such as Miscanthus, which extracts atmospheric CO2 and uses it to build it’s biomass — essentially scrubbing the CO2 from the atmosphere, having the potential to reverse global warming.

  7. Matt,
    What about biodiesel vehicles? I have a Jetta that gets about 40 mpg and we run BioDiesel in it (B-99). My fear of buying a hybrid car or any other car that uses gasoline is that if things really go bad, I will be stuck. At least this way, I can always run bio fuels in my car, no matter what, and can even make that fuel myself!

  8. I should probably note that yesterday, no three months after this post was originally written, oil topped $100 per barrel. At this rate, we all need to think about different options for transportation!

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