Life’s a Gas

Oil is so sweet. There’s that certain smell that weaves its way in through the windows of the car as someone’s pumping gas that gets me every time. It’s more nostalgia than anything, being old enough for that smell to bring back memories of sitting in the back seat of my mom’s Volkswagen Golf as she stood outside by the pump. Then there are always the not-so-fond memories, the ones of the straps on my car seat rubbing against my neck so much that it chaffed, sitting in the very same back seat and sniffing all that gas.

I don’t remember the chaffing so much anymore, though back then I’m sure it occupied my mind more than the gas.

And that seems to be the rub. We take the good with the bad and the good usually makes the bad seem a little less so. Gas prices are bad but cars are good so we drive anyway.

Looking at gas prices as they shoot up seemingly by the hour – sometimes in the middle of a fill-up – it’s hard to see how anyone would pay so much money, multiple times a week, for the convenience of driving a car.

But a car is more than a convenience. For many people it’s a necessity, and that’s part of the problem. Especially when just over the border in New York gas prices were over $3.00 a gallon last week.

High gas prices are probably one of the better things that have happened in the last ten years.

Global warming has become a very real threat, no longer something being predicted for the future, but something already here. The last few years have all been the warmest in this country’s history and this year looks to be no different. Scientists are predicting in the very near future that our winters will be like those of states much farther south like Virginia.

Countries like Brazil are already close to eliminating their dependence on oil. Why can’t we do the same?

Our oil reserves are low and countries where oil is still flowing are trying to hold on to it because it will run out. Our government is talking about alternative sources of energy and weaning ourselves slowly away from our dependence on oil but nothing gets done by either party.

It’s because of the steady rise of gas prices and newly heightened concern for the environment that a surge of hybrid vehicles and energy-conscious methods of travel are slowly working their way into the nation’s conscience.

Also, people are routinely thinking of things to do closer to home. Instead of taking the drive down to Boston for the weekend, families stay in Burlington or other places in the state, potentially bringing back the close-knit communities that were pronounced dead at the beginning of the Internet age.

Even here on campus the move towards hybrid vehicles has begun, with President Wolk recently receiving his own hybrid vehicle and a plan to buy new hybrid vehicles for the college well underway.

Even better plans are under development by students Kristopher Setchfield and Seth Frank to move the college towards vehicles and a generator fueled by recycled vegetable oil they’ve concocted in a campus lab. If this proves feasible, it’s just one more progressive step towards a cleaner campus and state.

And all of this is spurred on by high gas prices.

If the only way to get people to start paying attention to the very serious environmental problems we’ll come to face in the coming years is to hit hard at their wallet, then kudos to the oil companies.

While it may mean that other kids won’t ever have the scent-induced memories that pop up every time I fill up, it’s better than not having any kids around to have memories at all.

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