The Rise and Fall of Gas

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A quick glance at your local gas station’s prices might suggest an end to the energy crisis that has plagued America for the past few decades. But before you go racing off to buy a gas-guzzling SUV, consider why fuel prices have plummeted. No titanic new oil fields have been discovered, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) hasn’t decided to play Santa, so why did the price of crude oil fall from $140 to $43 per barrel recently?

Though dictated greatly by global ­politics, the price of oil is also affected by supply and demand – that old term you may remember from history class. Because of the global economic recession, consumers have cut their spending on luxuries including gasoline. With plunging demand for petroleum, oil companies are ­taking it on the chin too. Whether it’s selling for $40 per barrel or $400, oil still costs a lot to produce. Oil ­companies are businesses, and they must make money.

It’s easy to observe when filling up your tank that there is cash left in your pocket, but is the 20 bucks you saved at the pump really something to celebrate? Even if it’s thanks to the unemployment of millions of Americans? Is $1.53 per gallon gasoline worth the largest economic decline in U.S. history since the Great Depression?

Oil is a nonrenewable natural resource, and we’re running out of it. The world’s ­dependence on oil has increased over the past century to a point where there simply isn’t enough to last. With every passing day, we grow closer to the future depicted in Mel Gibson’s “The Road Warrior,” where gas has gone from a fuel for transportation to a substance more precious than gold.

Don’t be fooled by downward trends in gas prices; nothing good comes cheap.





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