It might not be pretty at first, but a price floor – a government-mandated minimum – on retail gas will buy us the time we need to wean us off the oil.
Oil's prognosis is grim for one reason: When prices are low, oil companies do not invest in new projects. That means we are draining global reserves without replacing spare capacity. From North Dakota to Kuwait, new projects that looked lucrative when every barrel fetched $147 got shelved when prices plunged. Many of these developments will resume when prices rebound but, because it takes years before oil from a new field reaches the market, it will be too late.
Cheap oil has been the engine driving US economic growth for decades; its evil twin is pricey oil and, given time, it will drive our economy over a cliff.
The effects of oil scarcity are by now well understood: soaring food prices, social unrest, geopolitical conflict – euphemisms for hunger, food riots, and war.
So, one supposes, we should accelerate the process now. Makes sense, right?