I heard someone at school today complaining about "boo-hoo, gas costs too much."

I thought about this a little, and while it does cost more than it used to, I would have to say that it's more than worth it. Assume that one gallon of gas costs \$1.50 at the gas station down the street. In my piece of crap 1990 Ford Aerostar minivan, one gallon of gas will take me 12 miles- Yes, exactly. I counted. Most cars go further, but I'm just using this figure because frankly it's the only one I care about. 12 miles is 63360 feet. Most people take steps of about 3 feet or so. 63360/3=21120. \$1.50 will save you from having to take 21120 steps.

Jennifer claims that my health teacher is wrong- a claim that I'm inclined to believe, as would you if you knew her. I've reworked the math and put it after this crap. My health teacher claims that walking the length of a football field burns one kilocalorie in straight up muscle strength- that doesn't count the extra energy used by your heart, lungs, and other organs while under stress. 211 kcals, oddly enough, is very close to the amount in a pack of Tropical Skittles- 240. Assuming the 29 kcal difference is made up by increased heart rate, breathing rate, metabolism, and other stuff, and that Skittles cost \$.50, we've accounted for fuel. Walking 12 miles has saved you \$1.00 so far- and that's if it's only one person.

NEW MATH: walking 1 mile burns 280 kcals. 12*280=3360. 3360/240 (kcals in skittles)=14. That's 7 dollars to walk 12 miles... so the rest of this writeup is really pointless. Sorry for wasting y'alls time.

But that's not all.

A normal, healthy human can easily walk 12 miles- in 4 hours or so. In my van, I can easily go the same 12 miles in as many minutes. In town, it might take 20 minutes, assuming I hit all red lights. (Of course, that's a made up figure; Quincy, IL barely has 12 miles of road in it.) That's 12 times as fast. What's more, my van never has to stop to rest- I know that if I were walking 12 miles I'd have to stop for a rest more than once. Time is money, of course, but there's no exact exchange rate, so I'll just chalk this up as about 3¾ hours of saved time.

Driving also has an amount of fringe benefits. How many times during a day do your conversations center around driving? I counted- 8 conversations (conversation is defined here as an exchange lasting more than 5 minutes) during 24 hours were about something that happened while driving, something you saw while driving, or something that happened in your car. (Of course, the same things easily could happen while walking, but you'd be too out of breath to talk about them.) This doesn't count the exchanges while actually in a car. Clearly, conversations help cement friendships, and if friends aren't worth that extra \$1.00 per 12 miles to you then you shouldn't be allowed to drive in the first place. But just for aruement's sake let's continue.

While you're driving, you can basically get infinite electricity from the alternator. 12vDC is very useful these days, it can power anything from televisions to cd players to computers to basically anything electrical. However, I can't find any figures on what 12vDC costs in kilowatthours these days, so I'll leave it as another priceless aspect. However, remember the situation in California/India/Russia/anywhere that's having a power crisis right now- how much do you think that some of the people there would pay for even the tiniest, weakest flow of electrons?

Another point: Walking can be dangerous. It can increase your risk for heart disease, cause you to lose weight, lower your body's immune system response, cause overheating; all kinds of stuff that can cost a lot more in the long run than a measly dollar. Think of the dollar as an insurance policy.

If that's not enough, remember that I drive a van- a nine passenger minivan. For fuel costs alone multiplied by 9, that's \$3.50 saved over walking- not to mention the saved time, the free energy, the saved friendships, and the saved lives.

Of course, the whole theory collapses when you think about how much time is spent fussing with the vehicle, how much gas pollutes, how much energy it wastes, and how unhealthy it is to drive everywhere. Then you end up in the hole, money-wise. I can't wait for hyrdogen powered cars.

Gas is not cheap for reasons altogether different.

In order to properly consider the price of gasoline, you must not only consider its price at the pump. You must consider all of its collateral effects.

Its price in your taxes, for one.

The cost of gas is the cost of maintaining a delicate geopolitical situation. The face of the middle east today, and the plight of its people there, is bound intimately to its supply. Foreign aid to Israel alone totals over 3 billion dollars a year - that's just last I checked. But that's a drop in the bucket against our investment in military presence in the area, bases, foreign aid and loans, naval operations, air force, special trade considerations, and other political and economic concessions to the cartel which controls the oil supply.

The costs of gas includes a surcharge of tens of thousands of lives per year in military conflicts that arise over the world's crude oil supply. This includes the deaths and suffering inflicted by the Palestinians and the Israelis upon each other; biblical history aside, the reason for Israel's existence (and the west's tolerance of the way it operates) is its status as the only pro-Western country in the middle east - a place where America and the UK are both quite desperate to have a friendly port of call. (I know they're going to murder me for this one, but what do you want me to do, lie?)

There are environmental costs for our fixation on fossil fuels as well. Of course, people like to disagree about those. There's never enough scientific evidence for some people. We can certainly talk about crude oil spills due to pipeline mishaps and accidents in shipping, though. Or MBTE contamination incidents in various watersheds.

Then there's the ever-present Verrazano Narrows Bridge debate. People frequently ask: why is the toll \$7? That thieving government. They make \$200 million per year off that bridge. What a ripoff.

There is a reason why it costs \$7, though. To reduce traffic.

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