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What exactly IS the price of gas, anyway?

Firstly, my heart goes out to the citizens of the Ukraine. In the past week I have read as much as I can without completely breaking down about their plight, but also their fight. Something deep inside me nods as we realize the inevitable manifestation of the growing empowerment of dictatorship, mis-information, and nationalist narrative rears its ugly head. And the unfortunate recipients of that manifestation are a proud people, working jobs and living in homes, apartments, condos, etc. just like us. The "sophistication" of social media and the internet is also offering us real time glimpses and vignettes of elderly men taking up arms, women fleeing with their children and families to border countries, and even retired US Veterans gathering their older gear, heading face first into a barbaric war spearheaded by a man vibrating at such a low frequency he is willing to take down entire nations instead of seeking therapy.


In the US, I have seen some bi-partisanship in our Congress and most agreeing about the terrible plight of the Ukrainians. But what has been sticking out very locally to me beyond spending time blaming this disaster on our current president vs. focusing on what action one can do to help, is the complaint of gas prices. I got to take an economics class at Bentley University, and an environmental resource economics class at UNH. To be honest, the concepts of supply and demand, capitalism vs. socialism, free market and tragedy of the commons make sense logically, but I remain skeptical when there is the possibility of 1% of the population pulling any strings to create any of these scenarios, along with the varying degrees of altruism in humans, whether by nature or nurture. One horror that I observed in the class at UNH, was a projected model of oil. As supply went down, prices went up, then sprinkle some oligarcy and the old white men who stand to benefit from a coal and oil based energy system and I could see this up and down and dependence could go on for a long time.


When I asked about inserting green energy into the market, my professor said that the ultimate driver for that would be running out of oil or at least the access we "enjoy" to extracting it today. This grossed me out, because I thought of all of the spills, unsustainable carbon load and it's impact to the climate, wildlife habitat lost, instead of a focus on perhaps less energy use, and renewables. When did the US stop being proud of innovation? Isn't that the proud driver of a free market economy, anyway?


One day I realized that fossil fuels are actually composed of ancient plant and animal remnants from millions of years ago and my mind was blown. I'm still not sure how I feel about that actually. And now, as the subsidized "price" of gas spikes from $2 to $4 and climbing, I hear from the large truck or even suburban/large SUV driving people on social media or through acquaintances in town complaints about the "high" cost of gas. Coupled with those complaints are arguments to vote down the school expansion and take from the Conservation Fund because of the cost of energy. My brain always starts to spin on this illogical reasoning as a 2 on the Enneagram with a very strong and rational 1 wing. Respectfully... what the fuck??


And here's where I just want to drop some facts. The cost of gas is nowhere near $2, $4, or even $1,000 per gallon. It is the cost of us empowering and enabling someone like Putin or Hussein to a point because we are addicted to the black liquid they can extract from their spot on the earth. It is the cost of all of the soldier's lives lost fighting to keep our access to oil, and those now losing their lives and fleeing their country. It is the cost of chipping away at our last untouched lands, full of the magic that vast unfragmented wilderness offers our spirit and actually fuels not only the very air that we breath but invisibly charges our own humanity. And it is the cost of people losing their homes, the $67 billion in FEMA relief funds that we paid into with our taxes to help repair infrastructure and families that were lost directly due to climate change's extreme weather patterns in the past decade.


And yet, the dudes with the Ford F350's are the ones complaining. Did you know that with the exception of NY and CA, the states that received the most funding in FEMA relief in the past decade, are also the ones that drive the least fuel efficient cars and have the least fuel efficient homes? Good ole' Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Missouri. Not surprising as these are the states that seem to be tightly under white man's dying grasp, continuing to attempt to chip away at women, the earth, people of color. But, that dying grasp may turn to a dying gasp if we continue this way. If we just paid directly at the pump instead of through our taxes to FEMA, environmental and thus human disasters, wars and in lives lost, we may have already switched to renewables, and the crusty old oil barren's rhetoric would fall on deaf ears. I guess I'll hold out hope that this truly is a free market economy, and the high cost of gas will spur incentivising and finally focusing on the renewable energy and technology that doesn't have the same cost to the environment and human lives. In the meantime, I'll be driving less.


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