Interesting story on ABC news from 8/1 about driving habits talks about the concept of demand destruction and energy demand. I’m not sure what to think about this. I mean I do really like the prospect that energy habits would truly be changing in the US, and I do realize we have driven several billion less miles in the last few months, but I still don’t think it will be a significant, lasting change. Btw, the billions less driving miles is a bit of a statistical trick. According to the FHA, we drove 250.2 billion miles in June 08 a decrease of 4.7% from June 2007 (11.76 bill less). There were 251 million passenger vehicles in 2006, so if we assume no growth in number of vehicles up to now, that means that in June 2008, each driver (technically vehicle) was responsible for driving 47 less miles than they did last year. It sure looks better in the news to report a ’12 billion mile decrease’ doesn’t it? Stupid news. The cumulative decrease in miles per vehicle for all of 2008 up to June compared to 2007 is only 160 miles btw, so we are not changing as much as the new would have you believe.
Here in Illinois I do indeed see many more people riding bicycles, and scooters (I see lots of those ‘new’ license plates). There are noticeablely more people on the bus than last year, and school has not even started back up. But there is another trend that worries me. The car dealerships are having such a hard time moving their stock, they are making drastic offers for large SUV. I have seen quite a few new ful sized SUVs as well. People can’t resist a good deal I guess. And I don’t blame them. I mean the deals are so good, that you would probably break even on the gas price differential over the first year, maybe even two. Given this, I am not so sure the concept of ‘demand destruction’ will hold true, at least for US energy consumption.
On another related note, I had a road rage incident yesterday. I have been in the field all week, and I drove yesterday in order to pick up some equipment. When I got back from the field, it was about time for Jordan to get off, so I went to pick her up. We were on our way home when we came to a 4-way stop on campus that is notoriously slow due to mass pedestrian movements. I was second in line to make a right turn. The car in front went. The car waiting on the left went as I pulled up, then it was my right of way, so I started into the intersection. All the sudden the car to my left guns it, honks, and the driver is literally screaming at the top of her lungs, “It is MY TURN, your cutting me off a$$hole!” among other niceties. I was already half way through the turn and for safety sake muscled the rest of the way in. Then I gladly went exactly the speed limit 25 🙂 We got the the next light, where I was turning left, she went straight. Which was long enough for her to honk again, pull up along side us, and continue to yell niceties at me. She was SO upset that I ‘took’ her turn through the intersection. I mean you should have seen her face. She was 1-2 bpm from having a massive aneurysm!
Jordan and I were not angry or riled up by this woman’s outburst, but I can almost guarantee she is probably still steaming about it this morning. yeesh. Really people, can’t we just get along? Wow.