Calculated Risk is blogging today that the US Department of Transportation reports a 3.7% drop in the total number of miles traveled on the nation’s streets and highways. This is the kind of thing that, on a certain level, is actually a good thing. After all, if we’re to curb global warming, no single issue can be more important than increasing efficiency and decreasing travel on U.S. highways, given the fact that nearly two thirds of our oil consumption comes from cars and trucks.
But this isn’t a statistic that proves we care about the environment, though our new-found concern for the planet is reflected somewhat in those numbers. What it shows is that the economy – which is largely driven by gas sales, auto sales and related industries – is slowing down precipitously. The slacking of gas prices also displays this rather eloquently.
The thing is: our nation is largely as rich as it is because of an actively-pursued but rarely discussed oil hegemony. As much as OPEC likes to talk, the fact is – as illustrated above – we control prices as the Buyer in Chief of the oil industry. Which also means that big and potentially dangerous nations like Russia who are entirely dependent on oil sales for their wealth may well become a whole lot less stable than they are right now.
So, enjoy that cheap gas while ya got it.