The cost of a gallon of gas has increased dramatically in many areas of the country. Regular grade has sits at around $3.70 per gallon in my area. That is easily an increase of at least $1.00 per gallon (or 37%) from a year ago. Even $3.70 per gallon is nothing compared to a gas station near the Orlando airport. CNN Money reported gas there was priced at a tourist-gouging $5.69 per gallon in April.
It’s easy to think that higher gas prices are a horrible thing for everyone. It’s natural to think that when you are taking a direct hit in your wallet. But it isn’t always a bad thing. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of higher gas prices:
Why Higher Gas Prices are a Good Thing
Yes, higher gas prices can be a good thing.
1. Alternative Energy
Having your breath taken away as the gas pump isn’t fun, but as these costs continue to rise alternative energy becomes a stronger option. Capital investment into large alternative energy projects requires a realistic expectation of investment return. With gas prices rising, demand will increase for alternative energy, potentially paving the way to a healthier planet and more energy options.
2. Alternative Transportation
How many times have you been stuck in rush hour traffic, looked around, and been completely surrounded by only one person in each vehicle? If you are boxed in by 8 cars with only 8 drivers and no passengers, that’s a lot of gas being wasted. You could fit 8 individuals into 2 normal sedans, and save 75% of the gasoline used on those commutes by carpooling.
As gas prices increase, demand for quality public transportation will increase. Major cities like New York have such excellent public transportation that many people never use a vehicle of their own. Cities with poor public transportation and infrastructure will be forced to invest in these areas to remain competitive over the long-run. Without public transportation options individuals can still resort to carpooling, buying vehicles with higher gas mileage, or purchasing alternative transportation such as a motorcycle or scooter.
3. Local Food
A large amount of the food in your grocery store is shipped from outside of your city or region. With transportation costs increasing the price of this imported food will increase as well. This promotes better use of local agriculture. Eventually items sourced locally will be cheaper than imported items simply because of the cost of transportation.
4. Less Emissions
With individuals and businesses taking a direct hit in the wallet, driving should decrease. Trips will become better planned out — instead of taking 2 trips to the grocery store in a single week, you’ll learn to plan out your shopping more efficiently and get everything on 1 trip. With fewer cars or more efficient trips, less emissions will be emitted in the atmosphere. Smog and related respiratory illnesses could decrease.
Why Higher Gas Prices are a Bad Thing
Of course, it isn’t all good…
1. Increasing Costs Everywhere
When gas goes up, everything else costs more. The cost of doing business — employees going to and from work, shipping of raw materials to a factory, shipping the finished product to a retailer — increases, and companies pass along those costs where they can. The cost is split amongst all the items shipped, but expect to see even basic items in your grocery store aisles go up.
2. Cutting Back to Buy Gas
When gas costs hit typical consumers that live paycheck to paycheck, something has to give. Even those that aren’t living paycheck to paycheck will adjust their lives to the higher costs. A bill has to be paid late, a service has to be canceled, or a luxury item is done without. This then impacts the revenues of all the businesses that no longer have you as their customer.
Of course the silver lining on this is that hopefully it is a wake up call to those paycheck to paycheck consumers. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll put together a budget, look at their expenses, and make some tough decisions that end up saving their financial futures.
3. Summer Trips
The cost of taking a summer trip just went up. Whether you are flying or driving, the increased cost of fuel will impact you. Automobile gasoline isn’t the only fuel that goes up.