Duke Universitybiochemistry professor Dr. William Schlesinger says significantly higher gas prices would force drivers to think twice about every trip.
"I believe that actually over the long term, high gasoline prices may create some rather healthy changes in society, in the way we go from one place to another," he says.
The result of higher gas prices, Schlesinger says: less pollution, less congestion and less demand for additional roads. Schelsinger thinks that would create compact cities, preserve open space and minimize urban sprawl.
The changes would come at a price.
"$4 or $5 -- maybe even $6 a gallon might institute these kinds of changes," he said.
Some drivers say they have mixed feelings about Schlesinger's ideas.
"Oh, no. I don't think high gas prices are a good thing," one driver says. Another driver suggests, "Maybe it will induce the customer to buy smaller car."
While the professor admits higher prices would be painful for drivers, he says gradual changes would ease the burden.
Schlesinger has lectured across the United States, Canada and Europe on his theories about societal changes resulting from expensive gasoline.