Save gas: how to help Ukraine win and the world go through the energy crisis

Save gas: how to help Ukraine win and the world go through the energy crisis

26 May 2022

Saving oil will lower world prices, help the EU introduce the embargo and lower russa’s oil revenues. Each of us can do their part.

I’m not Ukrainian, or of Ukrainian descent. I’ve lived in New Jersey my whole life. But I care about Ukraine. I care because I want to live in a world where war crimes are punished, where democracies don’t think they have to spend trillions of dollars on arms, and where countries don’t use nuclear weapons to extort their neighbors.

Caring about something means you’re willing to make sacrifices to achieve it. Otherwise, your caring is just empty talk. So anyone who says they care about Ukraine should be willing to make sacrifices. We shouldn’t just sit back and let the Ukrainians do all the work to achieve the world we want to live in. 

Another way to look at it: the Russian military has shown itself to be third-rate, and so if the U.S. and its allies intervened in a robust way, we would likely succeed and the Ukrainians would be spared a great deal of harm. But our leaders have decided not to do this. Why? To protect you and me. They fear that Putin would retaliate with nuclear weapons. 

I support their decision–but it puts us in an uncomfortable position morally. For our safety, Russia is being allowed to destroy as much of Ukraine as it can. Ukrainian blood isn’t directly on our hands, but the pain Ukrainians are bearing to keep us safe obliges us to do as much as we can to help them.

We’re already helping. All of us will eventually pay more in taxes, and a lot of us have sent money and supplies. But many of us can and should do more. And we can do it on our own, without any government actions.

The key is oil. Russia is financing its war from oil revenue. Every barrel of oil that Russia can’t sell, and every dollar less it gets for every barrel it does sell, means less resources for Russia’s atrocities. That’s where we come in. Oil can be moved around the world and many traders in oil are acute and active. As a result, it doesn’t matter whether the gas you burn in your car comes from Texas or Russia. If you burn a gallon less of Texas gas, the oil wells in Texas won’t cut production by a full gallon. A lot of that gallon will be available for other people to buy instead of Russian oil, and some of it will show up in lower prices. In either case, by using less oil you’re helping Ukraine.

I’m not asking for huge sacrifices. Do whatever you can.

Many of us (though not all) have some leeway, and we should exercise it. Even if you have a job you have to drive to and you need to be there on time, you can leave for work a little earlier and drive a little slower, which will burn a little less gas. Maybe you can ask your boss to work from home one more day every week or two. A little Zoom doesn’t kill productivity. 

Buy stuff online if you can. Delivery trucks are public transit for packages, and so they save gas. If you must go to stores, consolidate your trips. It takes some planning. Walk instead of driving whenever you can, and on trips that are too long for walking, why not stop a few blocks away and walk the last bit? 

You can arrange your recreation to help Ukraine, too. If you have a jet-ski, you can take a weekend off every month and go out in a kayak instead. Saving oil will lower world prices, help the EU introduce the embargo and lower russa’s oil revenues. Each of us can do their part.You’ll get a better workout, and you’ll see and hear nature in a new way. 

Try to make your vacation save gas, too. Why not stay close to home? As a Jersey guy, for instance, I can go to the Delaware River valley, to Liberty State Park or Branch Brook Park, or take the train to Manhattan or Philadelphia and act like a tourist. Yes, you ought to see New Zealand sometime—just not this year when Ukraine needs you. There are lots more ways you can save oil. You may even end up healthier and stronger. You don’t have to endure any hardships or do anything heroic—people in Ukraine are doing that for all of us.



The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations