The cost of oil has soared up to $100 per barrel. This is almost unheard of and suggests that things have either gone very wrong indeed, or finally supplies of a very limited, finite resource has begun to run out. We can only, after all, take so much from the planet before it has nothing left to give. Here in the UK, petrol prices have gone above £1 per litre – this is a frankly shocking situation and given we have some of the highest fuel prices in Europe (and probably the world) it’s quite distressing.
Here in the UK, there’s quite a feeling of discontent – not least from hauliers who face massive hikes in the prices they pay for fuel. This is evident even just from looking at the start of the year when petrol cost only (only, ha ha) 88.32p per litre. As mentioned however, the UK has some of the most expensive prices, as 70% of the cost of a litre of fuel simply goes into the pocket of the Treasury. We actually get charged VAT on the duty on the fuel, but that’s another story best left for another time…
Now the real point of this article is the whole issue surrounding the use of fossil fuels, and particular the use of said fuels as an agent to power vehicles. Oil is used in all sorts of things from making plastics, to agriculture, to powering factories and of course powering cars in a variety of forms. Engines now are far more efficient than they used to be – churning out far less evil fumes and far more power per litre than their older counterparts. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you’re driving a new V8 Mustang or a tiny Ford Fiesta – they are much more efficient than they used to be.
However, there are far more of them on the road in every country across the globe than ever, EVER before. We see more cars all over, whether it’s the country or the city. This has led to a variety of schemes in the UK, everything from congestion charges to toll roads. However, none of this is really going to take cars off the road – though it may penalise the poorest in society and deny them one of the best forms of transport in the world.
Another issue about the amount of fossil fuels we burn every day is that all around the world we have developing nations. Each one of them will go through a Second World stage – this means primarily that heavy industry is where a lot of investment will go. Heavy industry uses a lot of fuel in production and power. We have no right to deny any nation of this stage in their development – unless of course we can offer better and cheaper technology.
So going full circle, we return to cars. I have a personal dislike for vehicles such as the Toyota Prius – one of ‘apparently’ the most environmentally friendly and least polluting cars in the world. My dislike is for a few reasons (not least because I’m a sports car enthusiast) but my reasoning includes the fact that there’s a great myth going on. Surely, it doesn’t matter whether we run out of oil now or in ten years time. Even using the most modern technology of the Prius, we will still run out. Fuel will still be burned every day.
The point is, unless we start truly investing, and I mean with as much gusto as any human endeavour we’ve ever tackled together as a race, then we’re not going to progress any. It doesn’t matter whether cars become electric, gas or even if they start flying on hydrogen. Something must be done and the way forward is not a car that returns 10 extra MPG than my 03 reg sports hatchback.