Does it really matter if indviduals conserve gasoline?

I have heard other people recently talk about conserving gas in terms of the greater good. Buying that Prius is a noble thing to do for the world. It sounds on Ok on the surface but I got to thinking about it. What if every American cut gas usage by 30%? That would drop the price of gasoline and spur more use of it in China, India, and elsewhere where usage is going up rapidly. Also, we are going to use all of the gas available anyway within our lifetimes (actually, that isn’t true because we have enough coal to make gasoline for a very long time but that complicates the issue somewhat). The pollution and other problems associated with gasoline use and production are going to released at some point in the near future whether we like it or not.

Is saving gas now really a good strategy or just a feel-good measure with minimal impact? I will preempt arguments at the extreme end and say that I am talking about modest to moderate savings in gasoline per person.

The only way gas conservation in the US would case more usage elsewhere is to the extent that it drove down the global price of oil. This would have a few benefits in its own right:

  1. It would squeeze the root funding source of Islamofascist terrorism, and squeeze the ability of extremist and/or reactionary Middle Eastern governments to maintain themselves.

  2. It would reduce the economic pressures generated by high fuel prices.

To be sure, increased usage elsewhere would tend to push the price of oil back upwards. However, it couldn’t push back up to the original price – if it did, it would drop demand in those other places back to where it is now, and thus cancel out the effect. The ultimate result would be a new equilibrium at a price lower than it is now, but not as low as if American conservation were the only changed variable in the equation.

Dream on. Oil producing nations were getting obscenely rich when oil was $10 a barrel only 8 short years ago.
If the price of oil dropped 30%, it would still be almost $50 a barrel. Not going to squeeze anybody.

The only difference it would make if the US posted a 30% reduction across the board is that the rest of the world would take up the slack and the onus would be off of us. It’s worth doing if only so the rest of the world can realize that the US is not the sole bearer of responsibility for all of the world’s problems.

It would be worth it if only just to knock the smug off of people’s faces.

I conserve gas because it saves me money. Seems like a pretty good reason to me. :slight_smile:

The various economic and social problems in these nations keep getting worse, and require even-increasing amounts of revenue to paper over. It’s kind of like being addicted to a drug.

See the Master’s discussion of the decline of Spain from its glory days for an illustrative parallel. Many of the Middle Eastern regimes are currently in the same situation of acquiring a lot more money, but not that much more wealth.

Then how would cutting the price of oil reduce their wealth, as opposed to money?