Today’s buzz: Rising oil prices. A barrel of crude climbed to nearly $40 yesterday, which means more money at the pump. And according to the Seattle P-I, drivers here in Washington pay even more than most Americans.

As Paul Krugman points out in the New York Times, oil prices will keep rising in the future (though just how far, how fast, and when is up for debate). Worse, there’s no easy way to avoid the high prices because oil is a finite resource and demand keeps growing.

But maybe the issue was best framed last week in the Washington Post by energy industry insider Michael D. Tusiani:

In one way or another, consumption is going to stop growing. The only thing we can control is how hard we hit the supply barrier. We can strike it head-on or at an angle. An early warning could allow people of moderate means to buy efficient vehicles instead of gas guzzlers in time to make a difference in their mobility and personal finances. Whether they have to pay $3 per gallon or carry their ration books to the filling station, they’ll thank whoever gave them timely advice.

To borrow Tusiani’s metaphor, to avoid a head-on collision with high oil prices we’ll have to start weaning ourselves off the gooey black stuff. And it’s not impossible: person for person, residents of Western Europe and Japan use roughly two-fifths as much transportation fuel as do northwesterners.