Thursday, July 21, 2005

 

Ecology and Moral Obligation

Following a recent interaction on another blog concerning the blogger criticizing President Bush for his relationship with the Saudis, I began thinking about enviromental, ecological, and energy concerns the USA faces. The challenges seem daunting. Observing the individual choices we make, we are not meeting these challenges.

The price of gasoline, diesel fuel and natural gas climbs nearly everyday. Finding new sources for these fuels appears to be a long shot. For most of my driving life I have driven/owned cars that got 30 mpg or better, not necessarily due to any altruisic reasons, but due to personal economics and hating to pay gas companies any more than I have to.

Currently in America, bigger houses are becoming more common. More people drive SUVs and light trucks than ever. Both of these facts lead to increased energy consumption which leads to increased dependence for foreign sources of sources of fuel plus the greater risk of major energy crises in the future.

Without getting into great detail, we seem to be on a path of self-destruction led by those who should be showing the way to greater ecological and energy concern. The larger homes and bigger cars are primarily affordable to the upper-middle class and higher economic classes, i.e. those who can afford to make a choice. The economic classes below these pretty much reside in and drive what they can afford.

The choices of the higher economic classes show an unwillingness to make personal sacrifices for the good of the environment or the future of our country. The blogger mentioned above had just completed a lengthy trip after which he mentioned in his blog that his SUV (that I could tell by his pictures) got 18 mpg. Rather pitiful. However, SUVs are very popular and the larger ones get even worse milage.

Commonly, people criticize automakers for not making enough fuel efficient vehicles. Automakers make what the public buys. To do otherwise would be corporate suicide. Yet, many of these same people buy vehicles that drink gas.

In much the same manner, larger houses consume more energy also. Since larger houses require more materials for construction, the increased energy use actually begins before construction starts. Regardless of how energy efficient the house, a smaller house using the same technology and construction will be more efficient, at least in any case I know.

Until enough individuals who actually have a choice are willing to buy energy efficient cars and homes, significant improvements in environment and energy costs will be slow, painful and probably government mandated, Very likely this means further erosion of our personal freedoms (because we didn't practice our freedom responsibly).

Some relevant links:
US vs European Vehicle Fuel Efficiency
Fuel Efficient Car Info
Blames government but interesting info
40 MPG SUV within easy reach!!??
Fuel Mileage Tables
DOE Home Info
Interesting comparisons
Contains some energy use/income comparisons
Home size and energy use trends

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