$20 Per Gallon | Christopher Steiner

Summary of: $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better
By: Christopher Steiner


In the book ‘$20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better’, Christopher Steiner argues that the growing global demand for oil and the depleting supply will lead to a seismic shift in how society functions. The book explores the impact of rising gasoline prices on various aspects of life, such as transportation, infrastructure, agriculture, and cities. By examining the various stages of price increases, Steiner delves into the potential positive and negative consequences that will arise from a world in which the price of gas reaches $20 per gallon.

The Impact of Oil Prices on Modern Life

Oil and its derivative gasoline are integral to American life and the global economy, used for everything from fuel to cosmetics. However, as oil supplies become harder to find, demand increases, and infrastructure ages, the price of oil will continue to rise. This will have significant implications for the way society produces and consumes goods and services. As gas prices move towards $20 per gallon and beyond, the world is at the cusp of a significant transformation. The big multinationals invested more in buying back their shares than exploring new oil, and even with the US drilling more oil wells, production has remained stagnant. Furthermore, the majority of the world’s oil infrastructure is outdated and corroding, which will require massive spending to replace. As gasoline costs increase, the prices of other energy sources will also surge, affecting the economy on a global scale. It is inevitable that the rising cost of oil will transform life in ways we cannot yet predict.

The Future Impact of High Gas Prices

When gas prices hit $6 per gallon, some automakers will fail while more US drivers will shift to diesel-powered cars. Higher fuel costs will also mean Americans drive less, lowering auto accidents and improving air quality to reduce lung-related deaths. However, less driving will lead to lower federal fuel tax revenues, funding fewer bridge and road repairs. Gas hikes will boost private toll road usage, reducing school bus transportation, and increasing foot patrols for police officers. For every $1 jump in gas prices, the US’s obesity rate could decline by 10%.

The Impact of Rising Fuel Prices on the Aviation Industry

The aviation industry faces a daunting challenge as fuel expenses account for 60% of operating costs, with jet fuel costing $8 per gallon. Higher fuel prices will bankrupt many carriers and lead to a significant increase in ticket prices. If fuel costs reach this level, the sector will lose 200,000 jobs and $67 billion in revenues. The most vulnerable airlines are US Airways, United, Delta, and American, while Southwest Airlines and JetBlue will emerge as the strongest competitors due to their more fuel-efficient fleets. Additionally, rising fuel prices will fundamentally alter almost every aspect of our lives, with the domestic air network contracting to 50% of its current size, and small regional airlines becoming obsolete. The cost of international airfares will become prohibitive, and cities with multiple airports will consolidate them. The price of planes, ground crews, pilots, insurance, and maintenance all contribute to almost half of the airlines’ costs. However, the industry’s future looks optimistic as Boeing is building its new fleet of 787 jumbo jets from carbon laminate, burning 20% less fuel than traditional aircraft. Airlines worldwide have already ordered 900 of these planes, costing $150 million each.

The Future of Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles may currently be limited in availability, but as gas prices are predicted to skyrocket to $10 per gallon and beyond, they will become increasingly valuable and widespread. Even now, companies such as UPS have taken the initiative to use alternate-fuel vehicles, and as demand increases, prices for electric trucks are expected to drop. While hybrids are currently expensive and difficult to justify when gas costs are low, they will become more popular as gas prices rise. Other alternatives such as hydraulic hybrid drivetrains and compressed air-powered vehicles are also being developed. With the inevitability of rising gas prices and an increasing interest in eco-friendly transportation, electric vehicles are set to become a prominent mode of transportation in the near future.

The Future of Cities

As gas prices soar to $12 per gallon, more people will move into cities, giving rise to higher population densities. This will lead to greater mass transit use and the revitalization of neglected city centers such as Detroit, St. Louis, and Cleveland. To pay for these updates, local taxes will increase. As a result, fewer Americans will want to purchase large suburban homes far from necessary amenities and commute long distances, and their average house size will decrease. The increased demand for housing in the city will increase real estate prices, while the opposite will happen in remote suburbs. South Korea’s innovative green technologies will soon bring New Songdo City, which is situated outside of Seoul, to life. The city will feature computer-controlled buildings and elevators, recycling grey water to irrigate plants and flush toilets, and real-time transit and traffic information, making it the world’s most energy- and resource-efficient city. The project’s total value is estimated to be between $40 and $60 billion.

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