The New York Times today has an op/ed piece on the lessons of Prudhoe Bay – in it is a very well-stated paragraph:
Until we have marketable alternatives to oil, the only thing that will truly reduce Americans’ vulnerability to oil shocks is reduced demand. According to the nonprofit National Environmental Trust, if Americans had started a 10-year phase-in of 40-mile-a-gallon driving standards in 2001, they would already be saving 267 million barrels of oil a year. That’s nearly twice the amount produced annually at the Prudhoe Bay field. [ed.: emphasis added]
— “Lessons from Prudhoe Bay”, New York Times, August 9, 2006
Despite this, another New York Times article reports:
Yet Americans’ overall gasoline appetite has barely budged. Total use this year is up about one-half percent to 1 percent compared with 2005, according to federal figures — a slower rate of growth than in the past, but hardly the mark of a nation with its foot fully on the brake.
— “Gas Prices Alter Habits of Many, but Far From All”, New York Times, August 9, 2006
Will it take prices rising to $4/gallon or more in order to make us wake up and see the problem? If it does, it does – I can only hope that prices rise sooner rather than later.