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Wake up and smell the gasoline April 24, 2008

Filed under: environmentalism,gas prices,oil,sustainablility — onarete @ 4:50 pm

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If America can go to the moon, then in the decades to come we should not ever have to have young Americans sent to any part of the world to defend and die for America’s gluttony on fossil fuel.” -Senator John Kerry

With gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon here in Seattle, the state of oil consumption in the United States has been forefront in my mind.  I don’t understand why people aren’t outraged.  Get pissed!  Oil companies are making record profits, food prices are sky rocketing, and most of us still don’t have many good alternatives for getting around without using gasoline.

I for one dont think cheap gasoline and driving huge pickup trucks are God given rights.  I would be entirely happy to sell my car tommorrow and use public transportation for the rest of my life.  But unless you live in New York City, that isn’t so easy, especially in the West.  For Americans traveling to work, only 9% use mass transit; in contrast, 39% of Europeans use mass transit to get to their jobs.  Bicycling as a means of transport is also significantly lower in the US.  Only 0.6% of all trips are made by bicycle in the US compared with a whopping 26% in the Netherlands.  This really isnt that suprising considering we have a Secretary of Transportation who has said that projects like bike paths and trails, “are not really transportation.”  The truth is, in many places, riding your bike or walking is just not safe or easy. 

With it difficult to use public transportation or to travel by human-power, a nice alternative would be fuel efficient vehicles.  Unfortunately, theseare limited in the United States.  Only two cars with fuel efficiency of 40mpg or greater are available in the US — the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius Hybrid.  And the trend isn’t a positive one.  In 2005, there were five available in the US market.  Overseas, there are 113 vehicles on the market that get more the 40mpg.  As a MSN blogger chimed, “Adding insult to injury is the fact that nearly two-thirds of the 113 highly fuel-efficient models that are unavailable to American consumers are either made by U.S.-based automobile manufacturers or by foreign manufacturers with substantial U.S. sales operations, such as Nissan and Toyota.”

Clearly, American citizens are the losers here; but who are the winners?  Oil companies.  The oil industry continues to make record profits; Exon alone had profits of $40.7 billion last year, while the five leading oil companies had a combined profit of $123 billion.   Do you think these huge power players might have an incentive to keep us in gas-guzzling vehicles?

Get angry!  Ride your bike.  Demand alternatives with your pocketbook.  Pay attention.


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