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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Higher fuel costs can be a good thing – in the long run

    Almost everyone I talk to back in Tucson informs me of two facts from home: It’s hot as hell and gas costs over $4 a gallon. While I offer my condolences regarding the heat, I have no sympathy for the current price of gas. In fact, I welcome it. Here in Europe, gas is bought by the liter. If gas cost $4 a gallon, that puts the price at about $1 per liter. In Italy, the current cost for a liter of gas is about ?1.50. That equals roughly ?6 a gallon, and with the current exchange rate, it puts a gallon of gas in Europe at more than $9.30 U.S. dollars.

    Europeans have consistently been paying more for gasoline and the result is a more energy-efficient continent. The vehicles here are tiny and particle. SUVs and muscle cars are rare. The most popular vehicles in Europe are the most fuel-efficient. Granted, some of it has to do with the size of ancient European streets, but if Americans paid what they pay for gas out here, I guarantee there would be a major shift in what we choose to drive. From Smart Cars to compact Fiats, the cost of fuel in Europe has forced the continent to be conscious of how they use their resources.

    America seems to be in a panic over the current situation, but a solution won’t come from off-shore drilling or a reversal in gasoline taxes; it will come from change and adaptation.

    What’s the fastest way to force Americans to change their gas-guzzling ways? Education? Information? Hardly. We need to be hit at what’s in the heart and soul of every red-blooded American: the almighty dollar.

    While traveling to Italy, I met some Brazilians at a French hostel. They told me that because of a 1970s gas crisis, the country was forced to adapt and produce ethanol fuel. There are now no longer any vehicles in Brazil that run completely on pure gasoline, but rather, they use a combination of gas and ethanol. It’s the law.

    America is behind much of the world in energy consensus. I haven’t seen a dryer since I arrived in Italy a month ago. To dry their laundry, Italians use – get this – the sun.

    Most lights in European hallways and bathrooms shut off automatically. It has caused me two stubbed toes and on one occasion, defecating in the dark, but it also makes me wonder why Americans are so far behind when it comes to conserving resources.

    Why do Italians go to these measures to save energy? The monetary cost. When it comes to the environment, we are all paying a price, larger than the dollar or euro or pound or yen. It is the universal cost of humankind’s effect on our world. We have damaged our home through pollution and greenhouse gases and if we don’t change our ways, we face paying prices far greater than $4 a gallon.

    In Europe and other areas of the world, the monetary cost of energy and gas has resulted in a more energy-efficient habitat. My hopes are that in America, with help from rising fuel costs, we will one day live the same.

    We are at a crossroad and the prices at the pumps prove it. We need to break free of our dependency of oil. Not from foreign oil, but oil altogether.

    Through the current cost of gas, God willing, we will be forced into change.

    – Evan Pellegrino is a journalism senior. He is studying abroad in Europe throughout the summer.

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