Google Gets Richer: And Other Strange Things That Happen When Oil Prices Rise

Lock up your fryer grease! When oil prices skyrocket, there are ripple effects that go far beyond the price of gas.

Grease the musical car

When oil prices skyrocket, there are ripple effects that go far beyond cutting into your spending money and making Las Vegas seem like a less attractive weekend getaway (for people who like that kind of thing). High prices at the pump can also make your fryolator a prime source of income, cause you to spend more time online, and make your motorcycle a target for thieves.


Expensive Grease

Expensive oil means processed fryer oil–also known as yellow grease–becomes an attractive source for biofuels, livestock feed, and more. In 2000, yellow grease traded for less than eight cents a pound. Now, it goes for 18 cents a pound when sold to recyclers, according to the Reuters. After it has been processed further, the grease goes for upwards of 42 cents a pound. And people are going prospecting for the stuff, breaking into restaurants and selling it on the black grease market.

Energy prices chart

Google Gets More Cash

Sometimes, it seems like Google wins no matter what happens in the world. And in fact, Google does make money from higher gas prices. A study from Marin Software found a strong correlation between gas prices and the number of paid search clicks on Google–when gas prices go up, so do clicks. And when clicks go up, Google hears ka-ching. This might be because online shopping increases as people become more reluctant to drive to the store, but no one really knows.

Higher energy prices in general don’t necessarily mean a net revenue increase for Google; this is because high prices also mean that Google has to spend more cash on running its energy-intensive data centers. But that may change as Google’s energy subsidiary expands.

Scooter Thefts Increase


Anecdotal reports tell us that increasing gas prices correlate with a rise in motorcycle and scooter thefts. One Nashville motorcycle and scooter vendor says that thefts and break-ins to his store have increased in tandem with gas prices. The owner of another Nashville scooter shop says that same thing–and police agree that high gas prices mean scooters are at risk. It makes sense; motorcycles and scooters get better mileage than most cars, and they have the added benefit of making riders look intimidating. Coming soon: a Prius-theft spree.

If gas prices keep rising, we can’t even imagine the kinds of weird things that will start happening. It’s all a reminder of how much oil is involved in our lives. Even just by eating a french fry, you’re somehow participating in the oil economy.

[Photo by Admiralspalast Berlin]

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

Read More: What The Markets Say About Bin Laden’s Death: Cheaper Gas And Fewer Crazies


About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more