$20 Per Gallon

$20 Per Gallon

How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better

Book - 2009
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Baker & Taylor
Discusses the inevitable rise of gasoline prices and how it will affect everyday life, focusing on the positive aspects including less air pollution, fewer outsourced jobs, and an increase in local foods and produce.

Hachette Book Group
Imagine an everyday world in which the price of gasoline (and oil) continues to go up, and up, and up. Think about the immediate impact that would have on our lives.

Of course, everybody already knows how about gasoline has affected our driving habits. People can't wait to junk their gas-guzzling SUVs for a new Prius. But there are more, not-so-obvious changes on the horizon that Chris Steiner tracks brilliantly in this provocative work.

Consider the following societal changes: people who own homes in far-off suburbs will soon realize that there's no longer any market for their houses (reason: nobody wants to live too far away because it's too expensive to commute to work). Telecommuting will begin to expand rapidly. Trains will become the mode of national transportation (as it used to be) as the price of flying becomes prohibitive. Families will begin to migrate southward as the price of heating northern homes in the winter is too pricey. Cheap everyday items that are comprised of plastic will go away because of the rising price to produce them (plastic is derived from oil). And this is just the beginning of a huge and overwhelming domino effect that our way of life will undergo in the years to come.

Steiner, an engineer by training before turning to journalism, sees how this simple but constant rise in oil and gas prices will totally re-structure our lifestyle. But what may be surprising to readers is that all of these changes may not be negative - but actually will usher in some new and very promising aspects of our society.

Steiner will probe how the liberation of technology and innovation, triggered by climbing gas prices, will change our lives. The book may start as an alarmist's exercise.... but don't be misled. The future will be exhilarating.

Publisher: New York : Grand Central Pub., c2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780446549547
Characteristics: x, 275 p. ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Twenty dollars per gallon


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Jul 06, 2012

There are two problems with this book, in my opinion. The first, possibly minor, is that Steiner does not consider the introduction of autonomous vehicles and smart roads when discussing the future of cars. The second, larger problem is that oil producers can keep prices low until all the oil is gone; this will result in a price cliff, and the transition costs will be astronomical.

May 14, 2011

In this book the author who is a trained engineer predicts changes that will happen to our society and our way of life as the price of oil continues to climb.It is a very interesting account of how dependent we are on the oil industry and certainly leaves you with food for thought.

Jun 04, 2010

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Christopher Steiner, civil engineer and journalist, has written a thought provoking book about the end of the gasoline age and how it will change society, transportation and the economy. The chapter titles (e.g. Chapter $6, Society Change and the Dead SUV) representing levels at which various things become uneconomical or economical. As the price of gas goes up, air travel will become rare and expensive, WalMart will die, the off-shoring trend will reverse, food production will go back to being more local, etc. He discusses various other forms of energy production. There is a bibliography at the end and an index which could have used a bit more proof reading. I didn't check the whole index but it references a Volkswagen "Ketta" which is really a Jetta on the target page and there was at least one reference that was a page off. I realize this book is aimed at an American audience, but it would have been nice to have some reference to the metric system for the rest of us. For the record, $20 per gallon is $5.67 Canadian per litre.

Steiner's journalism background shows in his ability to write an accessible, clear and organized book, which was a pleasure to read. He highlights the opportunities that the end of affordable gasoline offers and the reader is left with a picture of a pretty attractive future - less pollution, people living closer together in more ecologically sustainable communities supported by local food production, the renaissance of small town centres (as long as the small towns in question are on rail lines and/or rivers). As the subtitle indicates, he's focusing on how the rise of gasoline will change our lives for the better.

As a place to start discussion, this book is great, but I finished it with many questions and a fear that the real future will be somewhat less rosy. What happens if (as seems to be the case where I live) governments and big business continue to pretend that everything is fine and there's unlimited gas left and don't start the preparations now for the end of the fossil fuel era? What if they keep bailing out uneconomical petroleum-based industries instead of supporting innovation and development of new technologies? Rail may be more economical when the cost of gas is $18 a gallon but it's a lot cheaper to build the rail network NOW, and the rail companies and the government have spent years ripping up track and selling off the rights-of-way. Remote and northern communities will die along with energy/water hogs like Las Vegas because they can't produce enough local food to support themselves, the transportation networks don't exist to supply them economically and how many small town jobs will pay enough to keep people above the poverty line? It's a thorny issue in far northern communities today - it will only get worse. I hope this book will open a few eyes and spark a few innovators to start taking matters into their own hands, because I don't see the government doing anything.


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