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The Rising Price of Oil… and Innovation

There’s a lot of concern about oil prices lately. Understandable, because it hits each of us in the wallet. Energy prices influence the cost of everything. Eight years ago, crude oil sold for roughly $30 a barrel. Now it’s over $130 a barrel. We are entering a sobering reality.

How does one deal with this?



For years we have been calling for alternative energy sources. We look more critically at our energy demands, measuring our energy footprints. We know we need to change our thinking, our habits, and our consumption. On a global scale. Fossil-based fuels are precious and dwindling resources. Yet worldwide demand is increasing. But what can we, as individuals do? Especially if you’re going to college? I was a freshman in Michigan in the 70’s when the oil embargo hit and gas prices soared. I lived 10 miles from campus, so driving to campus took a bite out of my wallet. My solution? I rode my bike, a Raleigh 10-speed. My only carbon footprint for the trip was the carbon dioxide I exhaled! When the weather dipped below 35, I carpooled with some friends—that meant I had to arrive at school early sometimes, and leave later than my class schedule, but this gave me time to hunker down in the library, or seek out my professors, or find other students to talk to. I learned a lot about psychology and philosophy from those conversations.


A year later, I moved closer to school. I took the bus and rode my bike and commandeered the city. I didn’t end up getting a car until I got married. Fast forward to five years ago. MIAD partnered with Harley-Davidson’s centennial celebration to create a multi-media exhibit of “The Ride Home.” Over 150,000 motorcycle enthusiasts fro across the world flowed into Milwaukee to share in the birthday bash. Milwaukee’s Third Ward and lakefront were flooded with chrome and leather! But for a week parking and navigating was impossible. How was I, or anyone else, to get to work?


The bus.

I hate to say it, but in thirty years time I had become wholly dependant on a car. If I couldn’t drive to work, I couldn’t get to work. Using the bus, returning to the bus seemed, well, painful. A drudgery. Almost embarrassing. As if I’d lost my freedom.