This is a very serious situation, and likely to become even more so, I'm afraid. Those in the UK and Europe have little sympathy for us (and that's understandable!)-- as they've been paying more than twice(even three times?) what we pay for fuel for YEARS--while those of us in the US(not sure about Canada, but I've had the impression that they are having issues similar to those of the US w/ fuel price run-up?)have for quite a while managed to 'sidestep' the bigger issues of fuel prices...?
To me, one of the BIGGEST problems is that as a nation, we are "spoiled". We are 'way too accustomed to things like: hopping into a motor vehicle ANYTIME we want, usually BY OURSELVES, to go and get ONE item at some store, every time the whim strikes; to WHIZZING along at speeds that 'gobble' fuel(and at ABOVE the already HIGH speed limits--we all know many do it, if not most), to chauffeuring children to activity after activity, even to living MILES from our work and driving LONG distances(again, usually ALONE in the car)to commute daily. Don't get me wrong--I understand that this is how our society has 'evolved'; also, we live in a BIG, spread-out country, so fuel usage is going to HAVE to be different from that of the countries that are all relatively small and/or packed together--BUT, I also feel strongly that it is going to be vital for people to CHANGE THEIR PERCEPTIONS of what they are 'entitled' to do, to put it plainly--and I see VERY little evidence that as a country, we are willing to do that?
One factor that we have no control over is the increasing demand, AND the increasing ability to afford to pay for, motor vehicle fuel AND other components of a more affluent populace, in several VERY large countries. This is NOT going to change; nor do we as North Americans have ANY control over the phenomenon--and this WILL change the 'picture',once and for all.
I clearly recall the 'gas crisis' in the early '70s, when gasoline prices went very high(for that time), and supplies were actually 'rationed'-i.e., gas stations CLOSED on Sundays. SPEED LIMITS on federal highways were dropped to 55 MPH(stated to be the most fuel-effiecient highway speed, even today). Know what? Most people cooperated in this effort! But nowadays?? I have driven to the city in recent months at around 55, w/ flashers on to let others know I was going slower than the posted speed limits(between here and the city, 75, then 65--and NO posted minimum speed, like I have seen in other places). It can get exciting-almost NO one besides me slows ONE BIT when the posted speed drops to 65; the flashers do help, though--and no one shot me!
I do feel badly for those who are 'locked into' a long commute from where they live, esp. when they chose their place to live BEFORE things 'went to H*ll in a handbasket', as my husband would have said I also know ONLY too well what it is to live 25-30 miles from the nearest city; I've BEEN living like that for the past nearly 28 years! I ALWAYS combined trips, etc---it's just part of my conservative nature---and believe me, I know all about belt-tightening, and you're darned right, it is NOT easy nor 'fun', but it IS DOABLE)...that said, a 'park and ride' service has been instituted out here(a largely 'bedroom community' of Albuquerque), and it gets almost NO ridership. We as a nation are largely UNWILLING to 'give up' much of ANYTHING that we have come to feel 'entitled to'--and I strongly feel that attitude is going to HAVE TO change in order for us to learn to cope with things as they are going--especially among those who 'have', and therefore, don't feel they should have to change ANYTHING about they way they live....again, that culture of entitlement. It will require people to think BEYOND themselves and their desires, and today, that is a rare ability, I fear.
Flames to Joe.