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$20 per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rising Cost of Gas Will Change Our Lives for the Better

$20 per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rising Cost of Gas Will Change Our Lives for the Better

3.8 15
by Christopher Steiner

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

According to Steiner, senior staff reporter at Forbes magazine, surging fuel prices will transform Americans' daily lives almost beyond recognition. With traditional energy sources disappearing and global demand soaring, the U.S. will confront gas prices rocketing to $6, $8, $14 and beyond-prices that will compel sweeping changes in everything from urban planning to food production. He reveals the consequences of each incremental hike in gas prices: at $8 per gallon, air travel will essentially vanish; at $14 a gallon, Wal-Mart stores will become empty "ghost boxes"; when gas hits $16 a gallon, sushi will become an extravagance only for the extremely wealthy. While many changes will come at tremendous social and economic cost, Steiner envisions a better future, where human ingenuity will spur greater efficiency and less waste. Although it's unlikely all the author's predictions will come true-he goes so far as to forecast the order in which airlines will go out of business-the surprising snapshots of the future (where rising gas prices might revitalize Detroit) make for vivid and compelling reading. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Steiner is a writer for Forbes magazine. Originally trained as a civil engineer at the University of Illinois, he is also a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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$20 per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rising Cost of Gas Will Change Our Lives for the Better 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Phil_H More than 1 year ago
$20 Per Gallon is a good read. It was also my first eBook, and I have been liberated from paper books for good. The author weaves an incredibly interesting and easy to follow story about how our lives will change as the price of our fuel steadily increases. The author interviewed experts and other people as he toured different parts of the country while conducting his research. He paints a bright picture for America's future, unlike other authors who predict calamity as the world's remaining fossil fuel sources are used up. He says our lives will be changed by the eventual $20 per gallon price of gasoline, but that through innovation and industriousness, we will adapt and carry on. I recommend this book for any person who is interested in energy issues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Focuses more on flowery prose than being informative. "Winged mavens of cheap oil capitalism"? Put down the Byron and thesaurus man. Read Yergin's "The Quest". Far better researched, written, and rewarding.
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Taff1001 More than 1 year ago
This is the second book I have read on the subject of oil and its decline in availability. The first book (Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin ) will tell you why we are going to run short on oil and will need to find alternatives. This book will tell you what to expect. The author has arranged the chapters so it starts out with the $4 per gallon Prologue just to remind us of where we were back in the summer of 08. The book them goes on to what we can expect at $6 per gallon, $8 per gallon and so on all the way up to $20 per gallon. While some of what you read is down right scary, there are also a lot of things to be excited about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
gl More than 1 year ago
Synopsis: Engineer Christopher Steiner argues that the petroleum will become more scarce in the future and that the price of gasoline and oil will similarly increase. He then proceeds to extrapolate how price increases will impact us individually, as a nation, and globally. The book is organized in a clever manner - each of the ten chapters describes a different scenario based upon the cost of gas. To sum up, here's the list of chapters: * $ 4 per gallon: The Road to $20 and Civilization Renovation * $6 per gallon: Society Change and the Dead SUV * $8 per gallon: The Skies Will Empty * $10 per gallon: The Car Diminished but Reborn * $12 per gallon: Urban Revolution and Suburban Decay * $14 per gallon: The Fate of Small Towns, U.S. Manufacturing Renaissance, and Our Material World * $ 16 per gallon: The Food Web Deconstructed * $18 per gallon: Renaissance of the Rails * $ 20 per gallon: The Future of Energy Each chapter describes in careful detail the repercussions of drastic increases in the cost of petroleum. Review: In $20 Per Gallon, Christopher Steiner makes a compelling argument for the careful management of our resources while describing dramatic changes in the near future. The detailed research behind his statements makes the book an interesting and worthwhile read, but it is his extrapolations that make the book stand out. Personally, while I was aware that petroleum is a limited resource, I enjoyed his analysis. For instance, he presents a coherent picture of how we can expect an increase in demand from different directions. Going beyond the usual list of how petroleum is used in many everyday products and the growing demand from China to meet its evergrowing production requirements, Steiner brings up technological and market innovations like $2,500 Nano by Tata Motors, increased prosperity in India and China, and increased petroleum consumption in the Middle East. Here are just a few more of the ideas that caught my attention: * At $8 per gallon, the cost of flying will be prohibitively high and airlines that have been under considerable financial stress will likely go under. The cost of flying will also decrease both domestic and international travel for business and tourism. Even college students may select schools closer to their homes and prefer local universities and colleges - which would have larger repercussions in the field of education. * At $10 per gallon, Steiner suggests that the production and use of biodegradable plastic will become more attractive. While I had heard about biodegradable plastic, I enjoyed learning about Dr. Oliver Peoples and his company Metabolix which produces biodegradable plastic that is being used to package products with limited shelf life. * Steiner described the current planning and construction of a new and technologically smart South Korean city of Songdo. 1,500 acres of reclaimed land, will be completely new and is being touted as the most energy and resource efficient city in the world. Water conservation will be critical and graywater will be installed on a citywide basis. Sustainable design will be apparent and has influenced so many different aspects of the construction from the elevators and concrete to the green roofs and solar cells. As the above shows, Steiner has painted scenarios that likely to trigger interesting and important discussions. I believe most of us would benefit from reading this.
Torsten_Adair More than 1 year ago
This book is well-organized, provides some interesting hypothesis, but the thesis is tilted towards an optimistic utopia, ignoring or not considering other outcomes or possibilities. The author gives no mention of E85 gasoline (gasoline which contains 85% ethanol), flex fuel motors, and the genetic modification of plants to produce more ethanol. What of agricultural plants which recycle animal waste and methane to fuel factories? The author suggests that Walt Disney World will cease to be as airlines fuel costs make air travel expensive, although he does foresee high-speed trains and electric cars. (How many people live within a four-hour drive of Disneyland and DisneyWorld?) Wal*Mart will disappear in a puff of smoke as shipping costs will reduce cheap imports, although domestic production will replace foreign goods, people will still drive locally with electric cars, freight trains will continue to move goods, and trucks will either use clean diesel fuel or compressed air. As energy costs rise, the author suggests that outlying suburbs will wither and vanish, replaced by local produce farms. Won't the affluent voters in these suburbs convince government to extend public transit to their neighborhoods, just as trains and trolleys connected Westchester County to Manhattan in the early 1900s? (Curiously, the author does not refer to the abandoned houses of Detroit as an example or urban retro-fication.) The biggest hypothetical which the author fails to analyze is inflation and the economy. As fuel costs rise, how will it affect the economy? Where will funding for high-speed rail, public transit, and energy infrastructure come from if the economy is stagnant due to increased costs of living and production? This book does offer some interesting insights, and would probably make a good Reading Club selection. However, there is much more which should have been in this book (for example, a comparison to society before the Ford Model T changed us into a gasoline-combustion economy) but isn't. After reading this, one should search out books on how petroleum affects our current economy, as oil is ubiquitous in our society.
EmilyBC More than 1 year ago
First off, the structure of the chapters in this book is just wonderful. They're numbered according to gas price, so Chapter $8 describes the effects of gas prices at that particular price and Chapter $14 describes the effects at that price. Steiner focuses on a few specific things in each chapter and generally doesn't revisit them, which keeps the book compelling, fast and fresh. For instance, Chapter $8 details how many of the airlines will disappear at that price and how the remaining ones will reorder themselves. In Chapter $10 (one of my favorites) he spotlights a turning point of critical mass for electric vehicles -- part of the chapter details a day he spent working on an electric UPS delivery truck in Manhattan. Who knew? Chapter $16 may be the best chapter, however, but that's because I'm a foodie. Steiner illustrates how cheap gasoline has connected salmon from Norway to fish gutters in China to grocery stores back in Europe and the U.S. In a future of higher gas prices, he reasons, this kind of globe-trotting won't be done by our food. We'll eat locally, and as a by-product of that, more healthily. He goes on to explain that most of our fertilizer is made with fossil fuels so that, basically, when sit down to eat anything, be it corn or beef, we're sitting down to eat oil. But oil, Steiner says, is just the latest in a long string of fertilizers that we have exhausted. Perhaps most interestingly (I did not know this), America pillaged parts of globe for their guano (bird poop) for much of the 19th century. Giant guano deposits actually ignited a war between Chile and Bolivia and that's why Bolivia is landlocked to this day (Chile won). And Chapter $14 is outstanding, too, with it's focus on the death of Wal-Mart. Not sure I see that happening, but it's certainly interesting to ponder. Bottom line: I blew through this book in four days -- not normal for me and non-fiction!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
$25 just for a 288 page hardback book? You've got to be kidding me, this book just a rip off, and gas was already $4 last summer. And didn't even get to $3 this summer. But I do agree that gas guzzlers need to be get rid of. I dont think that many people carpool in the U.S. anyways, a lot more people do in China and Japan though.