The Upside of High Gas Prices

Don’t get me wrong. I cringe every time we fill up and I know that the extra expenses brought on by high fuel prices are uncomfortable and even crippling for some tight budgets. 

So is there an upside?  Actually I think there are several. 

We are being forced to consider fuel efficient vehicles:  I like making the choice to drive less and walk more, but now I’m finding all sorts of creative ways to get even more out of our gas dollars.  Many families are taking on slightly higher car payments as they dump their SUV’s for more fuel efficient vehicles, knowing the gas savings will make a huge difference in the long run.  We finally sold the SUV we were using and I feel that a huge (carbon) weight has been lifted off our shoulders!

We are being forced to move more: More than sixty percent of American adults and over thirty percent of American children are obese.  The last decade of office inactivity and video games have contributed to the rapid spike in our weight issues as a nation. Now people have extra motivation to ride bikes to work or walk to the bus stop. Every extra step we take helps us with global warming and our American obesity epidemic.

Buying local is becoming cheaper: As fuel costs go up, so does the price of mangos grown in Central America or kiwifruit from New Zealand.  Since the local food movement has been rapidly expanding over the last few years, high fuel prices may just boost it to a whole new level. 

It’s changing the way we think: In Europe, where fuel prices have always been high, people have been willing to invest in public transport and focus on urban density.  Since we haven’t had the price pressure in America, we haven’t been forced to be as proactive.  Now building eco-friendly communities, buying local, and limiting our fuel consumption becomes more appealing to consumers wanting to conserve their budgets as well as the environment. 

What are your thoughts on this recent surge in gas prices?  How is it affecting your family and how are you managing to deal with higher prices?  Do you see any upsides (or downsides) that we haven’t mentioned yet?  Thanks for enriching this post with your input. 


  1. I agree with all of this. It’s actually the one thing that I agree with George Bush on – his refusal to lessen the gas tax. No way, I look forward to paying $10 a gallon. I mean, it IS very difficult since I commute to work and have a very tight budget, but it has forced me to be accountable for my car use and it makes it much easier to deal with people who say, “why bother”. I can find people willing to carpool now! I have actually been saying that gas prices should be higher for a very long time – I remember in high school when we paid about a dollar a gallon, thinking that we should be paying $4 a gallon and thinking that sounded SO high. Well now we ARE paying $4 a gallon and we are just starting to see some significant changes. Think of the difference if we paid $10.

  2. As your post points out, it’s interesting to see how higher gas prices affect so many areas of our lives. Higher food prices are just one example. Years ago, it just didn’t occur to me that buying local apples was eco-friendlier than purchasing bananas that needed to be flown around the world. The high prices of faraway foods is going to be particularly difficult for people who live in regions that don’t have much local agriculture.

  3. I agree with your points on the upside. We sold our mini van and bought a used sedan car a year ago. Before the high gas price started to rise up. And I think it’s good that it will force both government and people to rethink about how they use their energy. Someone once said that we are addicted to the energy consumption. I totally agree.

    I save from other area and we also rethink how we drive and try to combine trip.

  4. I totally agree with you about there being some upsides. I feel very bad about the rising cost of all things shipped, but it has caused me to think twice about driving places, buying second hand, local etc… In the long run higher prices might put a damper on the huge consumerism that is America. I would like to see less is more becoming a larger part of the culture. I would also like to see LA really look at mass transit!

  5. I agree with everybody’s comments. It’s sad that it has to hit most people in the wallet though before even small changes start to happen. If we had thought about making some of these changes sooner, we might not be in such a tough spot right now.

    Politicians keep talking about drilling for more oil, building more refineries, and other such options to bring some temporary relief at the pump while they search for long term solutions. It worries me though for many reasons, one of which is that if prices start to come down again there won’t be that urgency to come up with smart long term solutions. When prices go down, everybody seems to return to their old habits. Let’s focus our energy on coming up with those smart solutions NOW!!

  6. I totally agree with you and wrote a similar post on my blog (with a humerous spin) on Friday. Higher gas prices will ultimately drive us to better transportation technologies.

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