Thursday, March 20, 2008

Like Big Trucks? Don't Like Big Gas Prices?

News coverage is full of people complaining about gas prices and complaining about the fact that no one is doing anything to make it easier on them to drive their duallies and SUV's. It seems that the high gas prices are hitting people pretty hard. There are things that can be done about it to somewhat soften the blow, but it requires tough consumer decisions that may impact how "cool" you are. It seems that saving money, especially if you have a family, is more important than perceived status and coolness. Sell your SUV and get a smaller car. Unless you own a ranch, farm or other business that requires the use of a truck. If you own a truck and drive to a job where you just park your truck while you work, chances are you really don't need a truck.

Too often you hear guys saying something like "A Prius is for sissy's." It is this mentality that is driving people and our economy into a rut and causing us to run out of gas. This is a common complaint, but still; how many times do you see a mom drop her kid off at school in a Suburban, or some other overgrown vehicle, and then drive herself to work miles and miles away? Beside her and all around on the highway are similar vehicles sucking gas away from the rest of us and wasting our future.

Our vehicles in America have become our coffins. We spend hours on end in them. The average U.S. driver spends over 80 minutes a day in the car, stopping and going in a long line of large vehicles streaming along and spewing out deadly pollutants. The majority of these vehicles could transport four or more people, but often they only transport one. The average American owned vehicle gets roughly 23mpg...some "shade tree" mechanics have hacked their Prius' to get over 110 miles to the gallon. A standard Honda Civic Hybrid gets roughly 45 miles to the gallon.

Sixty percent of the city landscape is taken up and designed specifically for the car. Never ending roads twisting through and separating green space and seas of bare concrete parking lots generating heat scar our cities. American's love their cars, and years ago we scrapped the train for the freedom of the open road and in many cities we neglected mass transit infrastructure.

No where is the lack of mass transit more apparent than in New Orleans and Houston when hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped through the region destroying lives and homes. The endless lines of cars flowing from Houston and the rush to try to get buses to New Orleans made apparent that a train system could have been utilized to more efficiently move these people out of harms way.

Consumers and the 'American Dream' have put us at great risk. We want to have the best at the detriment to our families. We put immediate status above our futures. We have become short sighted and shallow. Excessive use of fuel should no longer be seen as a luxury...it should be seen as a sin. When you feel the pain at the pump as you spend a hundred dollars for a few days worth of travel, think about the "freedom" and status your vehicle has given you. Is it freedom, or are you really chained to the reality that you can not afford to drive to work and pay your bills and daily needs with the paltry remains of your pay check? Have you ever thought that maybe it would be better to have a more fuel efficient vehicle?

Gas prices are not going to drop, they are going to continue the trend of rising. The oil is running out at a time when countries like China and India are starting to consume more of it. There's not enough to go around. We all need to wake up and quickly make the drastic changes to come out of this as unscathed as possible.

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