If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either. Joseph Wood Krutch

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Put on your walking shoes, get out your change

"I think a trading range between $80 and $120 a barrel this year is about right, but with the softness of the dollar, and the occasional interruptions that you have because of politics, I think we could see $120 oil.''  So says Peter Barker-Homek, head of the Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. in an interview with Bloomberg.com.(Bloomberg)

Wouldn't you know it, right after I started this post, in pops an article from the Seattle Times which begins


OPEC said today it will not put more oil on the global market despite record-high prices for crude, blaming the U.S. for economic "mismanagement" that it said was having a worldwide effect.


Oil soared past $104 for the first time after the OPEC announcement and the release of a government report showing a surprise drop in crude-oil stockpiles.


Light, sweet crude for April delivery jumped $5 to settle at a record $104.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after earlier rising to $104.64, a new trading record. Earlier this week, oil prices broke the previous inflation-adjusted price record of $103.76, set in 1980 during the Iran hostage crisis.


The U.S. dollar sunk to record lows today, with the euro fetching $1.53 for the first time ever in Europe.

So. let's see. The $100.00 per barrel oil we're seeing right now gives us a gas price at the pump of about $3.60 per gallon in my area. An increase of 20% would push it to about $4.32 per gallon at the pump. That's a pretty big jump.

It wasn't actually that many years ago I could fill my tank for about a buck a gallon. It cost me about $20.00 if the tank was nearly empty.  If gas jumps to $4.32 per gallon that same tank will cost me $86.40. For one tank!  Not that I am complaining mind you. I never complain about the price of gas because every dollar bump in the price is another "tax" imposed on frivolous driving and Hummers.  Take that Frieda! 

Eighty-six bucks will almost buy me a decent pair of boots or walking shoes unless I want some really nice ones then that might set me back two tankful's. I've never really personally kept track, but a good pair of hiking boots will probably get me a couple thousand miles or so before the Yellow Plug Vibrams wear out.  (I base this on the experience of those who have through-hiked the Appalachian Trail, which is 2200 miles long. A fresh pair of good boots usually wears out about the end of that hike. Cheap boots are a different story. Moral: Don't buy cheap boots. They're expensive.)

So let us say I spend $134.95 on my boots; Rocky Boots has a nice pair for that amount; and I walk two thousand-two-hundred miles in them. That equates to about six cents per mile. My car gets about eighteen miles to the gallon so if I multiply the per mile cost of the boots by eighteen and that will equate the cost of my boot soles to the price of fuel. Are you still with me here? The end result is this. One gallon of fuel will carry me eighteen miles for $4.32 (projected). The boot soles will cost me about $1.10 to travel the same distance, albeit much slower. (Hey, I figure if Frieda can liken light rail to freight trains, well I can pull a little latitude between boots and gas.) 

But wait, I can get a Tri-Met bus pass for just $76.00 and go anywhere I want in the entire Portland Metro area all month for less than the cost of just one tankful of gas. I even get there much quicker than I do with my boots. Although you still might consider wearing shoes when you get off the bus. It's just the polite thing to do unless you're at Collins Beach or something.  So anyhow back to the math.  If you travel 2200 miles on a bus in one month (could happen but probably not) it ends up costing  you only about three and half cents per mile.  So multiply that out by the eighteen mpg of my car and it costs only sixty cents to travel the same distance as my $4.32 did in the car.  A savings of about $3.72 cents.  

Ok, I know the math is a bit fuzzy and questionable but the point I make is this. Gas is no longer cheap, it probably won't be ever cheap again. That means a frivolous trip is no longer frivolous, it's downright expensive.  So, why not walk, or ride the bus, or take the train, or just play at the park instead of having to park.  If you can't bring yourself to do that to stay green, why not do it to save some green. It just adds up.  Oh, and Frieda, no offense...I was just having a little fun. Enjoy your Hummer. There may be more room on the road for you real soon.

No comments: