Linda works at one of the local convenience stores where I buy fuel. She told me early last week she heard a gallon of gas would rise to $3.75. Fortunately news broke of a better than expected supply of oil and the price actually retreated from $3.29/gallon.
I recall a Wired magazine article suggesting the price per barrel points at which the search for alternate fuel sources would accelerate. The article did not suggest what kind of consumer pressure would be brought to bear if the price per barrel remained low but supply pressures gave cause for increases at the pump.
We all witnessed the variations on alternate sources – wood chips, cooking oils and a greater percentage of ethanol mixed with traditional fuels among others. The matters are certainly complex.
Today I read a brief in The Christian Century. Our attempts to search for alternate fuel sources will invariably affect the poor. For example, in the short piece, "Cornucopia" a piece taken from Foreign Affiars May/June notes the rise in a bushel of corn from $2.80 to $4.20. The impact is felt in Mexico where corn flour is used for tortillas. It seems that in 2006 the price for this flour doubled. Here is the effect,
"Several studies have concluded that the caloric consumption of the world’s poorest people drops by half of 1 percent for every 1 percent increase in the price of major food staples."(Christian Century, May 29, 2007, p.6)