Consumer action needed to slow rising fuel prices

Sometimes I am disgusted by America's addiction to fossil fuels, especially at a time when rising fuel costs are beginning to make it too expensive for people to drive to work in their own vehicle or heat their home for six straight months of winter. Now I may not know all the reasons why the price of gasoline is over twice as much as it was three years ago or four times what it was 10 years ago. What I do know is that, in general, prices are dictated by supply and demand. It really is a matter of this most simple principle of economics. As long as you keep paying for it, why shouldnt fuel distributors continue to raise their prices? Even if gasoline was $10 per gallon, wouldnt you still fill up your tank? Global demand for oil is rising as more and more nations continue to develop industrially. Supply is closely controlled by the handful of countries with major oil reserves. So far, most of the government initiatives to keep the cost of fuel from rising too fast have been focused on the supply side, ignoring ways of possibly lowering demand. That needs to change. Though government intervention may be necessary to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, consumers must take the first step. It amazes me how American automakers still don't seem to bother making fuel-efficient vehicles, but if people are still buying big cars with big gas tanks, then why should they? If consumers arent showing interest, why should they consider using hybrid engines that conserve gasoline or using carbon composite instead of steel to make cars lighter and more efficient? Only with consumer activism will producers (and the government) reevaluate ways to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and make alternatives more available and cost-effective. Competition is the key to controlling prices. Though alternatives that reduce or eliminate use of fossil fuels may have high initial costs, many will end up saving you money in the long run. Before you complain about the cost of gasoline or fuel oil, try looking at ways to use less of it. You may be amazed at how many viable options there are. Matt Bosley is the editor for the Valley News and Tri-Lakes Today newspapers. He can be reached at 873-6368 x216 or matt@denpubs.com.

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