Cutting gas consumption isn't as easy as it sounds...

An Insight Now discussion on the spike in gas prices shows the limits Americans have to change fuel consumption.

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  1. When we talk about dependence on oil and gas consumption, how often do we hear that responsible people are those who choose to live near their work. Or those who choose to use mass transit.

    But what if you can't choose a job near your home. Listen to how the Insight Now community member who goes by Khatti explains it:
  2. I live halfway between Mankato and Marshall. I live twenty two miles from other property that I own. If I'm going to have any kind of life at all I'm going to spend a fair amount of time behind the wheel. My relatives in Sweden could probably take a tram to many of the places I have to drive, but I don't have that option. I like much about my life, I have no desire to give it up. Is this a vice on my part? Perhaps.
  3. The sentiment was echoed by Alison, a long-time Insight Now commentator. 
  4. There certainly are people who have chosen to live far from their jobs so as not to live in the city. However, I think there are a number of factors that fight against living near your place of work other than a desire to live in the country. 1. The instability of jobs these days days. Many people no longer stay with a single employer all their lives, and often that happens through layoffs. You don't get up and move near a new job right away when you just got burned at your last one.
  5. Others in our conversation looked at using mass transit. The commentator who goes by Shorelines wrote that it's easy to wag a finger at those who don't use buses. But...
  6. We already struggle with work/life/family balance in this country. Americans already work more hours on average than our peers in other wealthy countries. Will the American work-week shrink (without loss in pay) to make up for the time spent waiting on buses that stop at each end of every block on their routes - but rarely have routes that takes us closer than a mile from home? How can we spend even more time getting to and from work while effectively and meaningfully participating in the lives
  7. Sure, Shorelines says, we can act as individuals. "But the reality is without public investment and a realistic plan, nothing will change."

    And that gets to the bigger problem: Changing our gas consumption poses great challenges... but doing nothing also brings risk. A newer Insight Now member, Riordan Frost, referenced a blog post he made as a research associate for MN2020
  8. it is bigger than our attitudes about energy and moving to efficient fuels and cars. We need to live closer to where we work, shop, and enjoy leisure time. Instead of looking at getting a hybrid to lessen gas consumption, we should be looking not driving so much, period. There was a recent study showing that no matter how energy efficient you make a typical suburban home and the transportation that household uses, it still uses more energy overall than a comparable home in an area by transit.
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