Friday night topic: The problem of rising gasoline prices


— 5:58 PM on April 1, 2011

Gasoline prices are on their way up again. While folks in North America still pay a lot less than others do at the pump, the pain is still palpable. Partisan bickering tends to place the blame on politicians, but that belies the cruel reality that oil is a finite resource whose extraction isn't getting any cheaper. Drill Baby Drill won't lower gas prices in the near term, and it may not provide relief over the long haul, either.

Alternative energy sources are available, of course, but they have their own problems when applied to automobiles. Batteries are heavy, charge relatively slowly, and have limited lifespans. Hybrids are popular with celebrities and seem to strike a reasonable balance between efficiency and practicality. However, they remain an expensive proposition if you're looking to save money. Then there are hydrogen fuel cells, which could be all kinds of awesome if only the infrastructure existed to support them.

To their credit, cars are getting lighter and more fuel-efficient. Any gains on those fronts seem likely to be negated by rising gas prices, though. So, what's the solution? Driving less? Hypermiling? Public transportation? Dusting off the old 10-speed in the garage? Or is everyone going to eventually trade in their gas-guzzling SUVs for a diesel Golf and suck up whatever penalty comes at the pump? Discuss.

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