The Upside of High Gas Prices

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Christopher Steiner, senior staff reporter at Forbes Magazine and the author of $20 PER GALLON: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better, talks about how higher gas prices will lead to sweeping changes -- many positive -- in America.


Christopher Steiner

Comments [46]

but but but from

willie in fairness he said manhattan only

Jul. 10 2009 10:40 AM
Willie Mays

No obese people in NYC? Goddammit New York is not Manhattan below 96th street. There are high obesity rates in the outer boroughs and many minority neighborhoods, where access to fresh food is difficult, to say the least. Guess that's the sort of journalism Forbes engages in - sweeping generalizations that turn people off a worthwhile topic, marked by shoddy data and blithe misstatements.

Jul. 09 2009 04:32 PM
Dave from Miami, FL

Jay F,

You can tell GM what to do because they're bankrupt and because the government effectively owns them. Exxon? Not quite... Unless you want to pull some kind of Hugo Chavez stunt.

Jul. 09 2009 02:06 PM
Tony from San Jose, CA

I agree with the comments. Correlation does not imply causation and the response of the guest with a guy got a PhD for this is not good. Has he even read (and understood) the material. Why can't he argue so as to the reasons why there is a causation?

This seems like a case of "I am the smartest person in the room".

Forbes you said? Remind me never to read that magazine.

Jul. 09 2009 12:59 PM
Brick from NY

Wow. A lot of anger out there. I also don't understand hostility. Lisa- the recession will not last forever and these changes are down the road! Guest was saying that we will adapt... and we will! Welcome to human evolution.

Jul. 09 2009 12:16 PM
Lisa from CT

Your guess presumes that there are just jobs to be had everywhere... uh... recession... hellllooooo!
My husband works in Hartford, I work in NYC. We each have no choice but to commute over an hour in opposite directions because that's where the work is!

Jul. 09 2009 11:41 AM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

I don't understand the hostility towards this guest.

People left the cities in droves for suburbs and exurbs where they have to drive their gas-guzzling SUV for miles just to pick up a gallon of milk. If the price of gas continues to go up, living in those areas will no longer be viable and people will move back to the cities where there's public transportation and you have to walk more (and interact with different kinds of people--I've encountered a lot of racism in the suburbs).

Sure the MTA has its problems (just this morning, in fact) but it is still a great system--you can get pretty much anywhere at any time of day. It just needs to be repaired and updated (Europe and Japan update their systems every few years--it's been decades since the MTA took on any major projects, the 2nd ave subway nothwithstanding).

But I do agree with Danny #28--the pace of life in cities is pretty gruelling (especially as you get older), and I do wonder about the effects of high-stress levels on the health of urban dwellers...

For the record, I am not an anorexic Manhattanite.

Jul. 09 2009 11:41 AM
hjs from 11211

if 'they' did we would have to build bigger buildings

Jul. 09 2009 11:40 AM
Ed from East Village

If all of those "sprawl" people move back to the city, what happens to the price of housing close to the city? What happens to the little "affordable" housing in the city?

Jul. 09 2009 11:30 AM
Jay F. from manhattan

Q - How can you tell Exxon how to price their oil?

A - How do you tell GM or banks how to run their business?

Jul. 09 2009 11:28 AM

There's a huge movement on supporting locally grown food from small arms, haven't you noticed? How about the hundreds of new farms in the tri-state area - people are sick of food taht kills due to this system and market forces are definitely changing this. NYC has a great system suporting this and people have been subscribing to csas for decades

Jul. 09 2009 11:26 AM
hjs from 11211

this guy is a prophet, LISTEN UP!

Jul. 09 2009 11:25 AM
E.F. Slattery from Astoria

Ironically, the U.S. notion of expensive gas is laughable to Europeans, who pay roughly as much per liter as American do per gallon.

Jul. 09 2009 11:25 AM
Maria from Brooklyn

Who at WNYC decided this guest was a good use of the limited time of this show? Even if the issue is important, can we get someone with a reasonable amount of intelligence to discuss it? Whomever decided on this guy should be fired.

Jul. 09 2009 11:25 AM
Matt from UWS

Is Steiner familiar with Richard Florida's article "How the Crash Will Reshape America" (The Atlantic, March 2009)? Steiner sounds like a retreading of Florida.

Jul. 09 2009 11:25 AM
Eric from B'klyn

Brian... I urge you to think about your setting up the socially relevantand important discussion as an polarized 'either/or', 'good guy=bad-guy' issue rather than an occasion to educate people about the consequences of our founding our energy system on fossil fuels and why we need to accept the science on the impending changes.

Jul. 09 2009 11:24 AM
Cheryl from Louisa Street, between Story and Chester , Kensington Brooklyn

As an eating disorder therapist my understanding is that obesity can be tracked by zip code with poverty being the most important indicater of obesity. Kelley Brownwell of Yale has documented this correlation between obesity, zip code and poverty.

Jul. 09 2009 11:23 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

okay--it's context. if this man is from chicago, i completely understand his thoughts about public transportation being a solution to higher gas prices. no other u.s. city is more crowded with cars/gridlocked, and worse-served than chicago vis a vis public transportation.

Jul. 09 2009 11:23 AM
Danny from NY

What's interesting, is the places that have the population density to support large commuter systems, are also the places that have higher stress rates (partially induced by the "commuter shuffle"), and lower life expectancies. If you compare NYC to, say, a suburb in the South of the country, you may see more obesity in the South but life expectancy is also much higher.

So I'm not 100% sure that I agree that moving towards mass transit everywhere (while necessary for the environment and practical reasons) isn't the "healthiest" for individuals.

Jul. 09 2009 11:23 AM

Joe (21): I am talking about OBESE people dying earlier than people of normal weight, not merely the overweight.

Jul. 09 2009 11:23 AM
mozo from nyc

A lot of class warfare out there. City folk who don't have cars and suburbanites who can't live without them. Still doesn't change the fact that oil is finite and will run out.
Change will come, for better or worse.

Jul. 09 2009 11:23 AM
bint from manhattan

i liked what your guest said about "triggers" and how once the gas prices went over 4 dollars people freaked out. the subway is now getting a bit too high and for a while I've been considering how not to use it or to significantly cut the frequency in which i use ride the train/bus. i absolutely agree that people adapt to harsh situations a whole lot easier than one may think.

Jul. 09 2009 11:23 AM

I agree with everyone who says this is really not a great choice of guest.

Jul. 09 2009 11:22 AM
hjs from 11211

gas is being subsidized by the government why would that stop in the future.

Steiner is on the mark but americans are still delusional and not ready for his words.

read also James Kunstler

Jul. 09 2009 11:22 AM
sorry but from


Jul. 09 2009 11:21 AM
joe from Brooklyn

Wait wait... obese are not healthier BUT they do live longer.

"Studies are finding that people who are overweight tend to live longer than people who are underweight, normal weight, or obese."

Jul. 09 2009 11:19 AM
not named forbes from adsf

overpaid? Forbes? nobody makes a living wage there

Jul. 09 2009 11:17 AM
antonio from park slope

Yeah! bring back the regional transit systems that existed in much of america. My Grandmother-in law used recently told me about the great trolleys that existed in Cherry hill New Jersey that was destroyed by the oil/auto companies...

Jul. 09 2009 11:17 AM
hjs from 11211

NYC is better off than the sprawl any day of the week!!!

Jul. 09 2009 11:16 AM
fat suv owner from hour from work

i'm not listening i'm not listening i'm not listening i'm not listening

Jul. 09 2009 11:16 AM
Maggie from New York

Hey Brian, who's your next guest, Lucifer consoling us about the shortage of brimstone?

Jul. 09 2009 11:16 AM
Neal from Port Washington

I agree with the caller, these are just random links between statistics and events. We can make a case that as the Boston Red Sox improve their record global warming increases!

This is nonsense!

Jul. 09 2009 11:16 AM

HEY!!! You have no idea waht you are saying when you say we're OK after the demise of the family farm! You just lost your credibility with me!

Jul. 09 2009 11:16 AM
joe from Brooklyn

What study is Steiner citing? Looking that the study from Washington University linking gas prices to obesity, the author Charles Courtemanche, says that the rise in obesity since '79 is only 13% due to lower gas prices. The other 87% is due to factors like super-sized meals and a higher standard of living.

Jul. 09 2009 11:16 AM
Celia from Morristown

Of course if you drive less you're probably exercising more. But what about the '60's. Gas was dirt cheap and I don't remember any obesity problem!

Jul. 09 2009 11:16 AM
Josh from Astoria, NY

I disagree with the guest that all these people have seamlessly been absorbed by mass transit. I live in Astoria, and it is getting more and more crowded every year. I've lived in Astoria since 2001, and the infrastructure can't handle the influx of new people.

Jul. 09 2009 11:15 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

"There's this guy who based his dissertation on this and he's got a lot of proof." Is that what he said?

That's his argument? There's this guy (whose name he doesn't even mention) who has proof of something (but he doesn't say of what).

One of this show's all time low moments, sad to say. (How do I know that? Well, there's this guy...and he's got proof....)

Jul. 09 2009 11:15 AM
Nancy from Brooklyn

Is this pseudo-expert day on WNYC?

Jul. 09 2009 11:14 AM
Tom from DC

I'm glad someone is finally addressing the social cost of a car-only lifestyle. However, I don't think that it's just about oil, but it's about the car. If another form of cheap energy came around people would go back to a car-only lifestyle.

Jul. 09 2009 11:14 AM

There are plenty of people who are obese in NYC. Saying that high gas prices will make ppl happy because they won't drive and they'll have to walk everywhere and get skinny is ridiculous. Obviously the only answer is that it will help us by having a healthier environment. I can't wait until gas goes to 20 dollars a gallon and i drop down 10 dress sizes...

Jul. 09 2009 11:13 AM

What about the fact that obsese people tend to die earlier than people of healthy weights, which decreases their end-of-life health care? Doesn't this mean that more obese people mean lower health care costs overall?

Just playing devil's advocate here...

Jul. 09 2009 11:13 AM
frank from brooklyn

subway runs "beautifully" not this morning or any other morning...

Jul. 09 2009 11:13 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

Wow! What bad analysis.

1) Correlation is not causality.

2) The subway is why we have no obese people in NYC and people are moving to NYC in massive numbers? Why aren't obese people moving to NYC? He's explanations are not consistent with each other.

Jul. 09 2009 11:13 AM
Sheniqua from Bronx

Get this moron off the air. This is a ridiculous segment.

Jul. 09 2009 11:12 AM
Stephen O'Brien from Westchester

Gas prices, sure, but what about the cost of growing food which depends entirely on the price of oil and natural gas for fertilizer, pesticide, and transportation. The short spike in 2008 caused food riots around the world. And it's not going to take decades.

Jul. 09 2009 11:11 AM
Irvin Dawid from Palo Alto, CA

great topic - all too often, the "peak oilers" present this case as economic's nice to see someone realize that high oil prices also have their benefits as well!

Jul. 07 2009 05:47 PM

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