The Huge Benefit of $200 a Barrel Oil

15 Jul 2008 The Huge Benefit of $200 a Barrel Oil

high gasoline prices

Did my title catch your eye? A few years ago it wouldn’t have, because we weren’t all that aware of the going price of crude oil. Didn’t matter much. But today, it matters a lot, and we know it. And therein lies the huge benefit of astronomically high energy costs.

Public awareness.

Apathy is the enemy of democracy. For decades, we’ve allowed our political leaders to hold absurd, grandstanding positions on crucial environmental issues rather than roll up their sleeves and hammer out an actual energy strategy. We can blame our political leaders for shortsighted and misguided policies, but our own ignorance has made it possible.

But I’m optimistic. As the public comes to understand the issues, we will nudge, push, or shove our government in the right direction. It’s already happening. No matter what you think about offshore drilling, today’s debate on the issue is more informed than it was yesterday. Campaign speeches laced with platitudes and factual errors will no longer be blithely accepted.

In the future, we’re going to see better policies, much more innovation in the private sector with regard to new energy sources, and more sensible environmental habits put into practice by all Americans. What choice do we have?

In terms of sustainable packaging, we’ve seen the effects of public awareness at work for quite some time. In years gone by, we would beat the sustainable drum and be met with blank stares, apathy. In more recent years, business warmed up to the concept of sustainable packaging, mainly out of a genuine concern to protect the environment and a desire to appeal to its customer base. But today, with input and transportation costs of packaging materials skyrocketing, sustainable packaging has become a pocketbook issue for corporations. Yesterday, reducing the size of a high volume corrugated box was a nice thing to do. Today it is a necessity.

I don’t know where the growing debate will lead. But it’s going to lead somewhere, and don’t you think that’s a vast improvement over nowhere?

(Photo — Oh Thank Heaven! on Flickr by misterfreak)