Thursday, June 19, 2008

Benefits of High Gas Prices

From Foreign Policy magazine today.

1. Mass transit is booming.
"Americans took nearly 85 million more (mass-transit) trips in the first three months of 2008 than they did in the same period in 2007."

2. Lower obesity rates...
"According to Charles Courtemanche of Washington University in St. Louis. His research found that, for every dollar increase in the average real price of gas, overweight and obesity levels in the United States would decline by 16 percent after seven years. His study also attributes the outward expansion of American waistlines between 1979 and 2004 in part to falling prices."

3. Fewer Accidents
Dramatically fewer accidents were reported over Memorial Day weekend in most states.
"Ian Parry, a Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future, an energy think tank, says that while the effect would be modest, some people 'will realize they can drive less aggressively' and conserve gas mileage. According to fueleconomy.gov, a U.S. government Web site, 'each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon.'"

4. Shorter commutes
"Worry about rising gas prices has encouraged workers to move closer to their jobs to cut costs and find alternate ways of traveling to work. And for many of those that still drive, less-packed roads are actually producing shorter commutes"

5. The biofuels craze
"More of the world’s fuel is coming from renewable energy sources instead of Middle East oil drums... Critics of biofuels point to studies indicating that the increasing diversion of cereal crops for biofuel production is driving up food prices around the world. Supporters counter that the answer isn’t to give up on alternatives to gasoline, but to develop 'next-generation' biofuels (think: switchgrass and algae) that don’t interfere with the food supply. And without biofuels, 'the [oil] prices today that we are experiencing could be much higher,” says Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency.'"

(HT: Greg Mankiw, of course).

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