In recent weeks, despite urgently needing to be working with an unfinished assignment due tomorrow, I have been fixated on the need for massively less cheap petrol and trying to justify in simple environmental terms the need for Australian petrol to be much less cheap than Europe or Asia.
Although veteran motorists say petrol was fifteen cents a gallon (3.3 cents per litre) in the early 1970s, one website talks about even lower petrol prices that are like being in the centre of the earth (a perfect metaphor given that such outrageously cheap petrol will warm Australia to a furnace like the centre of the earth):
0.32 cents per gallon, as someone had apparently reported from 1968, would adjusting for inflation be around one cent per litre in today's dollars. Given that at petrol prices twice as cheap as today's an enormous boom in ecologically destructive 4x4s occurred, it is easy to imagine that at a price like that described above Melbourne would today (rather than by 2020) have a climate like that of Coober Pedy and would sprawl out to Warragul across an unending desert clogged with enormous 4x4s from one end of the metropolis to the other.
I noticed, that like the errors making Australian petrol prices up to the level of ecological necessity I mentioned earlier, nobody seems to laugh for a moment at what seems like a serious error. I would be interesting to check whether petrol ever was three gallons a cent in the US. If it was, there's no wonder huge, wasteful (of space as well as petrol) cars were the only means of transport in the US of the 1960s!