Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Battle of the Eco-Snobs

Playing in the background: The soft gurgle of the kitty fountain
Meters swum yesterday: 1800 (whoo-hoo!)

They're at it again. As gas prices continue to creep upward, my North Texas denizens are writing letters to the paper, slamming each other for various driving habits. While I think it's true that the one sure way to bring gas prices down is to frick'n use less of the stuff, people seem to have endless ideas about the best way to do that and they all think they're right. Which means everybody else is wrong. Which means they're behaving just like church people, which, seeing as it's Sunday, is totally appropriate.

Quick disclaimer: I do drive to work, by myself, most days. Roughly two days a week, Joan and I drive together, which saves us about 32 miles, or maybe a gallon and a half vs. driving alone. I live about eight miles from my office. There is public transit and I do use it sometimes, but it's not terribly convenient from here and takes twice as long. Throw in going to the pool and I'm more or less forced to drive by myself. Joan is not terribly keen on getting up at 5 am and hanging out at a Starbucks for two hours, waiting for me to drive her the rest of the way to work.

We have a Saturn Vue, which gets like 20 mpg, and a Toyota Corolla, which gets 28. Most weeks we're going through about half a tank in the Vue and maybe a quarter tank in the Corolla, the "other car." Which doesn't seem like much. I'm always after new and exciting ways to use less, though. If not for two really nasty hills I could ride my bike to the pool, and Joan could pick me (and the bike) up in the Vue afterward. So yesterday I browsed around on the Internet for an electric bike, which has a small motor that can push you up hills. I found a couple of options, but they all cost around $1000. So much for that idea. It might be an option in the future, though.

Back to the paper. Some guy writes in about how gas-guzzling SUVs are feeding the terrorists. Then some lady writes in saying, "Hey, I have an SUV because I car pool all the kids in my neighborhood, and you're driving your Mini-Cooper 45 miles to work one way, and how is that saving any gas, you moron?" Then some other guy writes in and says that they're both idiots and the best way to save gas is to live downtown in a walk-up. Meanwhile, my cousin Kyle, who works for BP and should therefore be the Deciding Word, sends around an email saying by far the biggest problem we've got energy-wise is how we've built all these cities sprawled out for miles and miles, and that's not going to be fixed any time soon. He advocates all of the above; moving closer to work, driving a fuel-efficient car, ride sharing and so on.

I think Kyle has the right idea. I think everyone else, including me, is missing the basic point. One could argue the whole history of Western exploitation of Middle Eastern oil resources and the geopolitics of global warming, business interests, declining production and investment capital for several years, but let's just consider this for a second; we got into this mess by not thinking. Not thinking about the environment when we built the cities. Not thinking about the length of the commute to work when we bought a house. Not thinking about the budgetary consequences, or the effect on the ozone layer, of buying a Hummer. Not thinking about how our actions, both individual and as a society, effect other people, other countries, other climates and other beings. Maybe the guy with the mini-Cooper is smarter than the lady with the Hummer, but at least they're both thinking.

So there's the task, the mission for the millenium. THINK. Be mindful of how you affect other people and things. Be aware that your purchasing decisions do have consequences. Consider that you might not have all the answers and it wouldn't kill you to listen to other people every now and again. Do what you can to save gas, but don't beat up on other people just because they save gas in different ways. If you're not driving your Hummer 45 miles one way to work by yourself, you're doing something right. And if you are--well, why are you? Think about that. In any case, quit writing letters to the paper bashing other people for their choices. All that ink and paper being used up to make somebody else feel bad. Honestly. Cut it out.

So when are they gonna put me in charge?

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