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Benefits of Higher Gas Prices: Why I Don't Mind Paying More at the Pump

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I am a writer, mom of two young children, and public health professional with over 15 years' experience.

Filling a gas tank can feel like pouring money down the tube. But high gas prices can actually do a lot of good for our planet.

Filling a gas tank can feel like pouring money down the tube. But high gas prices can actually do a lot of good for our planet.

4 Reasons to Pay More at the Pump

We all grumble these days as we’re filling our gas tanks. Gasoline prices have risen to around $5.00/gallon. And, yet, even as I’m shaking my fist at the gas pump, I can’t help but feel secretly happy that gas prices are rising. Sure, I’m not happy about some of the causes (e.g., the nuclear threat from Iran), and I certainly want something to be done for people for whom this poses a real economic hardship.

What Good Can Come of Rising Gas Prices?

However, rising gasoline prices have a host of potential short and long-term consequences that are good for our health and the environment. It may ultimately lead to more affordable and convenient forms of energy-efficient transportation for those who need it most. Here’s the breakdown of why I support higher gas prices.

1. Higher Gas Prices Encourage People to Walk or Bike

When gas prices go up, people often think twice about getting in their cars, especially for short trips. Biking or walking to work or running errands saves time and money, adds exercise to your daily routine, and helps reduce pollution. As the number of people who bike to work increases, city planners may see benefits to improving the bike-ability of their streets.

Public transportation options seem more alluring when gas prices climb.

Public transportation options seem more alluring when gas prices climb.

2. Higher Gas Prices Encourage People to Find Alternate Forms of Transportation

Another way people save money when gas prices are high is to form carpools or use public transportation. Indeed, rising gas prices are associated with greater use of trains and buses. Like biking or walking, public transportation is good for the environment, reducing gas consumption and pollution by decreasing the number of vehicles on the road. It also saves people money, reducing costs associated with buying, owning, and maintaining a car. Even if you already own a car, using it less will help reduce costs associated with wear and tear.

Finally, those using public transportation often also increase exercise by walking to and from the train/bus station. Placing an increased demand on public transportation services may also put pressure on public transportation agencies to increase their reach, making it more accessible to a greater range of people.

Greener, more fuel-efficient cars

Greener, more fuel-efficient cars

3. Higher Gas Prices Discourage the Purchase and Use of Gas-Guzzling Cars

As gas prices rise, consumers are likely to seek alternatives to large, low-mileage SUVs and trucks in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. While it may take time to see major shifts in this trend, people in the market for new cars will likely choose more fuel-efficient options. Alternatives such as electric and hybrid cars need this increased demand to accelerate production and take advantage of their own economies of scale.

4. Higher Gas Prices Encourage Renewable Energy Sourced Vehicles

Politicians will continue to argue about who is to blame for rising gasoline prices and what should be done about it. World events often beyond our control impact oil prices. It is clear that renewable forms of energy, such as wind, solar, and bio-diesel energy, would decrease our dependence on gasoline. Renewable energy sources are naturally replenished, will never run out, and have minimal impact on the environment.

Higher Gas Prices Lead to Long-Term Benefits

We can all agree that high gasoline prices are a drag. But, while It may take time, higher gas prices may ultimately help transform a society that is currently highly dependent on gasoline into one with a more far-reaching public transportation system, decreased pollution, increased individual health, and more self-reliance. These benefits may well be worth the pain at the pump.

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.