Gas prices have stabilized around $3.55 a gallon, up 70-cents from this time a year ago. That isn’t so bad compared to the rest of the world, and yet these relatively minor fluctuations hurt us more than Europe. Why?
Take a gander at this chart put together by Good.is and you’ll notice that, compared to the rest of the world, we pay a hell of a lot less for a gallon of gasoline. The Netherlands tops the chart at $8.83 for 3.78 liters, or one gallon, of fuel. That is 148% more than what we pay. So a lot of people get around by bicycle, and yet there are still constant traffic jams all across this low-lying country.
So why does an extra 70-cents per gallon feel like so much more? Simply put, we have no other choices, and thus we find ourselves slaves to the price of a gallon of gas. It isn’t just Europe either; China pays around $4.50 for a gallon of gas, and Israel pays around $6 for some sweet, sweet petrol.
Prices in Japan just hit $7.00 a gallon, the highest prices in the disaster-struck island since 2008. Imagine paying those prices? Well, those days are coming, probably sooner rather than later, which is why we need alternatives. All of these countries manage to get by using less gas, and either walking, biking or promoting public transportation, high speed trains, different kinds of fuels, etc. etc. We need some of that. Otherwise, every time gas goes up another quarter, we’re going to feel the squeeze a bit more and more. I’m not sure that by the time gas prices reach $5 a gallon, we’ll have enough super fuel efficient cars on the road to make a difference. Your average family sedan is going to cost between $75 and $100 to fill up. If you fill up once a week, that’s between $300 and $400 a month, or $3,600 and $4,800 a year. On gas. Yikes.
While Japan recovers from the tsunami/earthquake, gas prices may stay low for a few more weeks as the world’s third largest economy gets going again. But even if you’re an alternative fuels doubter, it’s time to step back and look at just how vulnerable we are to gas prices and natural disasters and the civil strife that is still spreading across the Middle East. What if Saudi Arabia gets pulled into this? Or what if Mexico, our second-largest supplier of oil, suddenly finds itself teetering on the brink of being a failed state? It’s not as unlikely as it sounds.
If you really like cheap gas though, maybe it’s time you consider moving to Iran, Iraq, or Venezuela. The first two countries are only paying around $1.50 for a gallon o’ gas, while Hugo Chavez’s puppet state only pays around $2.60 a gallon, and it’s just a few thousand mile drive from the U.S./Mexico border. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.