Maybe high fuel pricing is the solution

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Don’t Drink And Write

gas pump fuel

I have a confession to make: I kind of like the fact that fuel prices have breached P60. Both gasoline and diesel are expensive, and car owners are starting to flinch. That’s good, I think. If only rising fuel costs didn’t have a ripple effect on the prices of basic commodities — a negative impact that would be mostly felt by carless households around the country — I would wish for them to stay at their current levels.

If gasoline and diesel prices only affected vehicle owners, I would pray to the heavens for their sustained increase. This way, we’d be truly mindful of how we use our mechanical horses. No more irresponsible driving to the convenience store that’s a mere two blocks away from our place. No more midnight joyrides with drinking buddies after an evening of carousing. And certainly no more traveling alone with four empty seats. These days, every meter counts. Because every drop of fuel is money.

I’m not sure if I’m imagining things, but I always seem to notice that traffic is lighter when fuel prices shoot up. Always. This tells me that car owners could afford to leave their vehicles at home if they wanted to. Sure, the commute to and from work would be harder, but still very much doable. Yet almost nobody is willing to make this sacrifice when conditions are ideal (or when fuel is affordable). We limit our car use not to help ease traffic congestion or to do our share in preserving the environment — we do so because we have no other choice. It’s an act of desperation (as opposed to being one of eagerness).

Now, before you pelt me with your fuel tank caps, let me clarify that I’m not rejoicing over everyone’s suffering. That would be schadenfreude, and I’m not fond of German words. I’m saying there’s a silver lining to all of this — that maybe we can apply the positive (if unintentional) consequences to our daily lives even when things (and prices) go back to normal.

Here, for example, are the few things I’ve done lately to ensure I don’t waste precious unleaded fuel: I walk to neighborhood restaurants now (even those that are quite a distance from me) and refuse to bring the car; I fight the urge to go to the mall or any other commercial establishment if I don’t have an important errand; I ride with colleagues (or offer them to ride with me) whenever possible and convenient; I’ve stopped going on leisurely drives late at night in search of tasty grub; and, perhaps most crucially, I’ve become more selective in attending industry events (I just skip those that I feel offer no substantial editorial value to my work).

Of course we all have different circumstances. I know that what works for me may not necessarily work for you. I get that. But I’m sure you can find small details in your daily routine that could be tweaked or adjusted so that your personal fuel consumption would become significantly less.

The ultimate goal here isn’t just to lower your gasoline expenses, but more importantly to cut your carbon footprint. Earlier this month, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report stating that our world is bound to meet its catastrophic end in our lifetime if we don’t do anything drastic to reverse global warming. Specifically, according to the report, we need to reduce our carbon-dioxide emissions by “45% from 2010 levels by 2030,” and then eventually bring said emissions to “net zero by 2050.” If we fail to do this, those apocalyptic Hollywood movies we love watching will come to pass.

To me, this IPCC report beats any concern related to rising fuel costs. This is no longer about making ends meet. This is no longer about solving our transport problems. This is already about the planet’s survival (as cheesy as it sounds).

Frankly, I have this secret wish for fuel prices to go even higher. This would force all of us to rethink the way we live and the manner in which we accomplish our tasks. Which would, in turn, benefit the environment. Less vehicle traffic would simply be a nice little bonus.