Devin Leonard reviews Christopher Steiner’s new book about what will happen if oil prices go to the moon.
We can think of a bunch of things that are a lot more likely to happen than what Steiner imagines here–namely, that cars will get much more fuel efficient (and, therefore, affordable). But it’s still a worthwhile thought exercise.
Here are just a few [of Mr. Steiner’s predictions]: $8 gasoline will doom most United States airlines. When gas reaches $10 a gallon, Disney World will close. At $12, suburbanites will no longer be able to afford McMansions or their long commutes. And, at $14, it will be too expensive for Wal-Mart to gas up the truck fleet that moves goods around the country.
Mr. Steiner asserts that good would come from such a future. He writes that it would force us to upgrade our public transportation systems, renovate our cities, get around more on foot and eat more locally grown food. Someday, Mr. Steiner assures us, we might even enjoy the rarefied life of Bill, a fictitious 27-year-old whom he imagines as a beneficiary of this energy-market upheaval. Bill, who has what sounds like a fairly lucrative job at a company that designs tidal power stations, lives in a solar-paneled apartment building in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.
Bill hasn’t traveled by plane in years. Instead, he zips around on ultrafast trains. He can be in Montreal in two hours. He doesn’t even need an electric car — he travels by subway in New York.
Montreal in two hours? Would Mr. Steiner care to share what he’s smoking?
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