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Friday, August 05, 2005

Smart-Energy Driving

No president has really been serious about conservation and renewable energy, but Jimmy Carter at least made a symbolic statement in the 1970s by having some solar panels installed on the White House roof. Shortly afterward, however, Ronald Reagan, backed by the oil boys, defeated Carter, and that was the end of that —one of Ronnie's first acts in office was to order that those damned solar panels be taken down and junked. Since then, every president has made the obligatory Earth Day nod to solar, wind, and other alternatives as a means of breaking America's self-destructive oil habit, but there's been miserly commitment behind their rhetoric. Using its political and lobbying clout, King Oil has been able to maintain its hegemony over energy policy, its stranglehold on the economy, its preeminence over the environment, and its priority call on military action.

In the quarter century since Carter tried to tell us something important with his solar gesture, every president has been in deliberate denial about where America is headed if we don't get off oil. And now, we're there:

•America's oil consumption has increased 25% since 1980—we're now chug-a-lugging 20 million barrels of oil every single day (up from 16 million in 1980).

•Global consumption is above 83 million barrels daily and rising rapidly.

•U.S. gasoline prices are approaching $3 a gallon.

•To keep the crude flowing, the U.S. is deploying its military all around the world at a staggering cost in money and lives.

•The chemical refuse of our gasoline addiction is fogging the globe with greenhouse gases that are altering our planet's climate,

The world's supply of recoverable oil is fast running out. An energy policy (or the lack of one) that leaves us with no alternative but swilling more oil is suicidally stupid. But where's the leadership? Neither the White House nor the Congress, neither the Republican nor the Democratic party, has a plan for coping with what is clearly a looming disaster. They're not even discussing it.

Cut the leash

If our leaders are too corrupted, too weak, and too unimaginative to cut America (and ultimately the world) free of our tether to Big Oil, then we must do it ourselves. A good place to begin is for us to start buying cars, trucks, and other vehicles that get 500 miles per gallon.

Village Energy has the lowdown on "gas-optional" or GO Cars here.

Source: The Hightower Lowdown - subscription required

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