Okay, I know it has no chance whatsoever of happening. That said, I’ve been thinking about what life would be like without gasoline, given today’s technology. With our current communications networks, manufacturing capacity, and alternative technologies, how would a moratorium on gasoline really affect our lives?
Let me set up some parameters. The US has three years’ notice before going cold turkey. Police and emergency vehicles have ten years to continue running on gasoline. Alternative fuels, such as propane and hydrogen and electricity, are completely legal. Local governments are encouraged to rezone and/or develop public transportation to make individual vehicles less necessary. Roads may be redivided to provide better access to bicycles, horses or (and I cringe at typing this) segways.
Please keep in mind that I’m not advocating this as a possible piece of legislation; it’s more of a thought experiment. I’m just fascinated by the thought of what might happen in these circumstances. For instance, what would the social consequences be, if it was a half a day’s journey to visit your family across town? Or a three-day trip across the state? What if business trips were suddenly weeks-long odysseys, and to be avoided at all costs? Would small town life revive, with each town becoming a concentrated source of all basic human needs, or would urban centers thrive? If telecommuting saved employees several hours of travel per day, would it become the norm? If shipping products became difficult and costly, would manufacturing of most products go local? Would ethanol simply stand in for gasoline, leaving things mostly unchanged, except for the growth of agricultural interests?
Extra points will be awarded for references to Red Barchetta.