How Drivers Can Change Our Reliance on Foreign Oil

How Drivers Can Change Our Reliance on Foreign Oil

Ever since the oil shortages of the 1970s, foreign oil has been seen as a double-edged sword in America. On the one hand, it allows us to live our lives, drive our cars, and maintain the lifestyle we have become accustomed to. On the other hand, though, imported oil has to be transported to the U.S., it increases our reliance on outside markets, and worst of all, it takes away our freedom in important ways. If you need to get your prescription, and there's only one pharmacy in town that can fill your order, they have you by the short hairs.

But what if we could change our reliance on foreign oil? What if we could, by exercising our choice and changing our culture, close that tap so we no longer had to worry about oil prices hurting our economy, and impacting our lives?

How Drivers Can Change Our Reliance on Foreign Oil

Roughly 75 percent of the oil imported into the United States goes straight to the transportation sector. Also, about 65 percent of that goes to individual drivers, who are putting it in their gas tanks. While an individual driver uses only a tiny part of that reservoir, enough drivers acting in concert would make a significant impact on the amount of oil the U.S. would need to import.

According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, much of the world's petroleum reserves are located in politically unstable locations (South America, the Middle East, etc.). This is a major reason for price hikes, supply interruptions, and other problems drivers may face at the pumps. However, as the center points out, hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles are a growing response to what many see as an outdated form of transportation.

The benefits of hybrid vehicles are well-known. They have an unparalleled fuel economy, often reaching over 40 miles to the gallon, but they can still be fueled by the current infrastructure with no special considerations or changes. Additionally, because they've been on the market for so long, hybrid cars are now much less expensive than they once were. Of course, despite their benefits, hybrid cars do still use gasoline, which means they are still polluting, and they do still depend (at least partially) on foreign oil.

Electric cars, on the other hand, don't have that problem. Electric cars use no gasoline and produce no exhaust. And, thanks to many advances in technology, electric cars have a longer range than ever before. Drivers can go a few hundred miles on a charge, and there are more regions embracing the infrastructure electric cars need than ever before. Even better, though, is the fact that electric cars also increase the demand for green energy, since no one wants to get off of one fossil fuel (oil), just to use another (coal) to produce the electricity these cars need.

What Will The Roads of Tomorrow Look Like?

The internal combustion engine has been out of date for decades now, and the only reason it achieved dominance in the first place was that of the oil boom in Texas that first gave Americans access to large quantities of cheap gasoline. We had electric cars then, too, and if not for that oil boom, electric cars may have become the standard for American roads a century ago.

However, in addition to electric vehicles like those produced by Tesla and Nissan, among other car companies, there are dozens of concepts taking hold in the U.S., and around the world. Cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells once thought too energy-intensive are now becoming commonplace in Europe and Asia. Electric bikes that riders can charge by pedaling are now capable of long-distance travel, which could give city-dwellers a whole new way to get across town.

Every day makes it clearer and clearer that gasoline is the fuel of the past. The fuel of the future is something we can pull out of thin air... at least as long as there is the sun and the wind for us to harness.


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