Tuesday, November 17, 2009

$20 Per Gallon by Christopher Steiner

$20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change our Lives for the Better by Christopher Steiner
Copyright 2009
Grand Central Publishing - NF/Energy/Business
288 pages

I finished $20 Per Gallon last week or the week before (eeks) and have managed to misplace my copy, so I won't be able to share any quotes, doggone it. There were quite a few post-its in this one.

The subtitle gives you a good hint that $20 Per Gallon is not a doom and gloom book; it's about how the rising price of fossil fuels will eventually change our lives for the better, forcing us to do more walking or biking, to use cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, to lower our pollution output and make us healthier people in the long run.

Changing over from gas to other energy sources won't be an easy process, according to Steiner. Some of us will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a world that offers us a bit less freedom of mobility as plane tickets and prices at the pump will skyrocket. Houses will be more expensive to heat and cool, of course. The so-called "McMansion" will become a thing of the past -- for the most part. The author doesn't deny that there will always be wealthy people who live better than most.

Some of the changes he expects to take place in the United States are movement into big cities, the collapse of the majority of airline companies, purchase of smaller automobiles (electric in particular) and homes, and the building of a nationwide high-speed train system.

4/5 - A fascinating look at a possible future world. I don't doubt his predictions, although there were a few areas I thought he glossed over and there were times the author, who is an engineer, wrote like an engineer in that the writing was just a tiny bit rough. Not to pick on engineers; I'm married to one, after all.

Many thanks to Booksie for my copy, which I won in a drawing at her blog.


  1. This sounds really interesting. Although I cannot imagine how much our lives would change as a result of $20 per gallon gas, it would be almost like reading science fiction based on scientific hypothesis.

    In the event of such prices, it would be good to live in a place with easy access to grocery stores and medical care!

    Thanks for the review, Nancy. This book interests me.

    Suburban living would not be the way to go in such a world, would it? There is a program on NPR about cities that I've listened to, but can't remember the name. A couple of years ago they did a program that has stayed with me about people moving back to cities to avoid long commutes

  2. Jenclair,

    So funny that you should mention the sci-fi feel of this book since I used the description of Songdo, a high-tech city being built in Korea (South Korea, I think), as the basis for my fictional city. Yes, it does read a little like sci-fi. A little sci-fi, a little business.

    Suburban life, he says, will be pretty much passe. People will move inward, to big cities, to avoid commuting. And, small towns will still exist but there are ways in which small-town life will have to change in order for residents to adapt to the higher cost of living. I couldn't help but think, "Bike paths, bike paths." We really need those, anyway. I don't know about your area, but Vicksburg is extremely bike- and walker-unfriendly. If a higher cost of living helps us get more exercise, I think that's great. Some towns are already getting a jump on things, preparing by going ahead with the building of bike paths.

    I don't listen to the radio, for some reason, but I love NPR. Come back and tell me if you remember the name of that show. I do think you'd enjoy this book!

  3. I would love to see the US build a commuter train system. They could start here in CA, land of the cars. After I spent 6 months in Europe in college, that was the hardest adjustment when I came home...the need to drive everywhere.

  4. Softdrink,

    I've wished we had decent public transportation for as long as I can remember. Same thing -- went to Europe (but only for 3 weeks), came home perplexed and wishful.

  5. I feel fortunate that both my husband and I have very short commutes to work. I drive less than five miles (and can ride my bike when the weather cooperates) and my husband's office is about the same distance - for now. They're about to relocate -- down the street from us!! He can walk to work!! It's really just around the block. We are to the point where we really don't need to cars. Since both are paid for and mine is pretty economical (MiniCooper), we'll hang on to the second car (1969 VW bug convertible). He can use it on the cold, snowy days when the sidewalks are too icy. ;)

  6. Les,

    By car, huz's commute used to take exactly 6 minutes until 9/11 led to the closing of back gates where he works. Now, it's more like 10 minutes. Not bad, really. Vburg is very bike- and walker-unfriendly -- lots of twisty, two-lane back roads with no shoulders (and the loose dogs, of course, are a problem), otherwise he probably would have biked to work years ago. Disappointing. Very cool about your easy commutes!


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