Just When You Thought it Was Safe to go Back to the Gas Station

As the hurricane season is nearly gone the after effects are still very much evident. Santa Monica College students and staff routinely enter and exit gas stations with nothing more to complain about than the seemingly high prices that we've nearly grown accustomed to. Just weeks ago residents in many major metropolises in the southern United States saw their day-to-day life change dramatically with a significant gas shortage that caused major adjustments and a major headache for locals.

As if Hurricane Ike didn't cause enough devastation already, one of its lingering after-effects was the destruction done to the large concentration of oil refineries in the southern region, mainly in Texas.

This severely decreased the production and circulation of gasoline in the region, reminiscent of the gas shortage in the 1970s, a time when gasoline was so scarce that it had to be rationed out. At one point in late September, up to 75 percent of gas stations in certain areas of the southern region were out of operation with pipelines bringing in gasoline at only 20 percent of its full capacity. Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville were just a few of the major cities that felt the effects.

In some areas the situation was so serious that offices began closing and some colleges cancelled classes as a result. In addition, it has created hostile environment for customers trying to purchase gas as there were numerous reports of robberies and shootings stemming from disputes over gas. To help quell the situation until supply returned to normal, gasoline was sent to the region from other areas with abundance.

Officials asked locals to help the situation through conservation by only buying gas when it was absolutely necessary. However, the panic and uncertainty over supply was the main cause for people to buy gas at a higher rate than they normally which only exacerbated the problem.

Gasoline plays such a huge role in the everyday lives of everyone that it's alarming to imagine the same type of scenario taking place in Los Angeles. The city is much too wide and spaced out to make easy accommodations should that happen. If that were to occur, everyone's first thought would be to turn to carpooling or public transportation, but should a shortage affect the MTA which is the nation's largest transit system, and in the event that the MTA would be affected by the shortage, there would be little to no options remaining.

Until we as a society are done being at the mercy of oil, there is no place in our nation that is invulnerable from experiencing what the south has gone through. Because of that, procedures should be implemented to help prepare for similar situations until our society is transitioned to alternative forms of energy and not completely dependent on foreign and domestic oil.

Californians as well as the rest of the nation should immediately see this as a wake up call to practice conservation as well as alternative methods of transportation to help prepare for the future as well as the unforeseen.