In today’s oil economy, gas prices seem to be rising by the hour. Over the span of just one day in North Carolina, prices rose three cents. According to an article in USA Today, these prices aren’t getting Americans down. In fact, February car sales are up 16 percent, with big trucks and SUV sales rising 15 percent, over 10 percent more than expected. Even with gas prices hitting 4 dollars in cities around the country, buyer choices have remained unchanged.
As seen in the graph below from the Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicle Data Center, since 1992 SUV sales have steadily gone up. It is feared that these higher prices will cripple the country’s struggling economy.
The United States uses 20 percent of the world’s oil while having only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, according to an article in the New York Times.
Elon students, however, are starting to feel it in their pockets. The grimaces at the pump have only gotten worse in the past months, and vehicle-owning students are looking for ways to avoid such large investments during this time of inflation.
Sophomore Catherine Brinkman has only had her Toyota Rav 4 at Elon for the past eight months. “I almost regret bringing my car here,” she admits, “it’s more convenient but it drains the money right out of me.”
Elon University’s campus does not have the handiness of a close downtown area. Having a car is necessary to get to the nearest outdoor mall or convenience stores like Walmart and Target, hot spots for college students everywhere.
Elon initiated the bio-bus transportation system in January 2007, made possible through a $1 million grant from U.S. Rep. Howard Coble. The fuel the buses use is made from 20 percent biofuel and 80 percent ultra low sulfur diesel. Biofuel is made of biomass or organic materials, such as plants, that can be turned directly into a burnable fuel. Low sulfur diesel contains 90 percent less sulfur than regular diesel fuel. Using this type of fuel is certainly more environmentally sustainable than traditional fuel, but overall Americans are still not using renewable energy sources.
83 percent of America’s energy comes from fossil fuels while only 8 percent comes from renewable sources, according to the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems.
Elon’s initiatives are a step in the right direction, though much of the United State’s renewable energy sources are not being tapped into.
Cars continue to be the biggest contributors of fossil fuels. Areas with good wind resources have the potential to supply 20 percent of the nation’s electricity. Solar panels operating at intermediate efficiency covering .4 percent of the United State’s land area could supply the entire country’s electricity.
With gas prices continuing to rise, it is becoming vital that we start relying on alternative fuel methods now rather than later.