Images: A Siegel & Mykl Roventine, used under Creative Commons license.
I was checking BBC news on my phone yesterday and right under a story about the unrest in Libya was a post about pranksters who had modified a gas station price sign to read LOL. The story has since been picked up by sites across the Globe. The question is why? The joke itself is not new—and I am not sure it's THAT funny—nevertheless, the attention it has gotten is worth taking note of. Gas prices are big news once again.
Oil Prices are a Powerful Meme
With the world seemingly on the verge of a slow and uncertain economic recovery, it's understandable that the recent rise in oil prices and related commodities has many people nervous. Peak oil has already been implicated in the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East (although the toppling of dictators was, I thought, a good thing...), and high food prices have people taking to the streets from Egypt to Yemen.
So when pranksters changed the price sign at a UK gas station to read LOL, it was the kind of light-hearted take on current affairs that news programs love to disseminate. Never mind that a quick search of the internet shows a Missouri gas station doing this in 2008. (It's worth noting that some say that high energy prices at that time actually caused our recession...) And never mind that the joke really isn't THAT hillarious. The point is that people are thinking about gas prices—a lot—and they are worried.
Environmentalists Need to Ride the Zeitgeist
With oil prices on the rise once again, we—as people who believe there are solutions to our ridiculous addiction to oil—need to be ready to offer up and implement those solutions as opportunities arise. There will be plenty of loud voices dominating the debate—calling for tax cuts, subsidies, and more aggressive drilling of anywhere and everywhere. But the fact is oil has been so cheap for so long that we use it without thinking. And this means there is plenty of low hanging fruit for cutting gas consumption.
Last Oil Spike Produced Little Change
As Rob Hopkins of the Transition Movement tweeted yesterday: "Oil price hits $106, heading back into dangerous ground. 2&1/2 years since the last spike, in which time the world's done nowt to prepare..."
While the jokes may be the same as they were in 2008, it would be nice to hope that our response will be different.
More on Oil Prices, Gas Prices, Politics and Economics
Were Rising Energy Prices the True Cause of Recession?
Peak Oil & Poverty Contribute to Egypt Uprising
High Food Prices Create Protest from Egypt to Yemen
Could Rooftop Gardens Ease Unrest in Middle East?