I'm so tired of the constant media coverage of "high" gas prices. Yes, it feels expensive because it was cheap for so long, but according to CNN Money, out of 155 developed countries, 110 of them have more expensive gas than we do in the US. (Source)
We should be thankful that we had a free-ride for such a long time. The price of gas has gone up slowly...too slowly in fact. In 1918, the price of gas was about $.25 per gallon. Inflation adjusted, that brings it to $3.50 in today's dollars. Pretty much where prices stand now. Source
In the last 90 years, supply surged faster than demand and the price decreased (I'm over simplifying a bit here, but for the most part this is correct). Now, with India and China growing at staggering rates, the demand is catching back up with supply. I ran some quick calculations based on the oil consumption data from the CIA factbook.
Oil consumption per day
US: 20.8 million barrels/day
India: 2.438 million barrels/day
China: 6.93 million barrels/day
US: 304 million
India: 1.13 billion
China: 1.32 billion
Oil consumption per person per year:
US: 24.97 barrels per person per year
India: 0.78 barrels per person per year
China: 1.91 barrels per person per year
So as you see in the numbers above, we are consuming roughly 10-20 times the amount of oil per person than our counterparts in India and China. So just imagine what happens when China and India catch up to us! How expensive do you think gasoline will be?
We better start looking for better and more viable fuel sources quick...or $4 gasoline will be just a fond memory we tell our children!