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He gives a whole new meaning to the word
May 1, 2001 8:54 AM   Subscribe

He gives a whole new meaning to the word "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." NY Times
posted by crunchland (138 comments total)

 
"Raising average fuel use by cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2010 would result in oil savings of 1.5 million barrels a day by that time, the report says. The United States Geological Survey estimates that the Alaskan refuge would probably produce 580,000 barrels a day later this decade."

Mr. Cheney did not discuss the merits of raising government-mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards in his address today. But he strongly defended the administration's proposal to allow drilling for oil and gas in the Alaskan refuge.


Meanwhile, gas prices are predicted to rise to $3.00 a gallon by the end of the summer. At that rate, the Ford Expedition, which gets a whopping 15mpg with it's 44 gallon gas tank will cost $132.00 every time you fill it up.
posted by crunchland at 8:58 AM on May 1, 2001


He said people who sought to phase out [the use of coal], largely because they considered it a major source of air pollution, "deny reality."

bastard.
posted by jpoulos at 9:08 AM on May 1, 2001


As gas prices rise, so does Cheney's retirement pile. I don't know why anyone would have expected any more of him.
posted by owen at 9:14 AM on May 1, 2001


This story should have appeared in the Times' Science section, not its Politics pages. Essentially, this man has laid out plans to systematically poison, if not outright destroy, large portions of this country's air, water and land.

Either that, or we should have read it in the Crime section, especially when you consider how much money he stands to personally gain from the policies he hopes to enact. This administration is dirtier than Reagan's and Nixon's combined. Mark my words: sooner or later, the truth will out.
posted by jpoulos at 9:15 AM on May 1, 2001


"large portions of this country's air, water and land."

Excuse me... this country's air and water?
posted by CrayDrygu at 9:20 AM on May 1, 2001


It's unbelievable this is being said in the year 2001.

Look. We have a dim electorate which recklessly drives moronic large vehicles, and leaders to match. America: lose some weight; do some stretching, buy a responsible-sized car, buy a bicycle, stop feeding your kids fruit juice...
posted by ParisParamus at 9:30 AM on May 1, 2001


stop feeding your kids fruit juice...? Whoa, went random there at the end. It's like BrandoFilter all of a sudden.
posted by anildash at 9:34 AM on May 1, 2001


No, it's like if you want to get your kid fat and up his chances of becoming a diabetic, feed'm fruit juice.: WAY more sugar than humans should be ingesting...
posted by ParisParamus at 9:38 AM on May 1, 2001


Let me ask all of you here: how many of you purchased your car with fuel efficiency and conservation as a major selling point? How many of you have limited your car use in exchange of biking to work or using public transportation, if possible? (or moved closer to your work in order to make it possible?)

The bottom line is that people will not rearrange their lives just because it may be an environmentally friendly thing to do. People are more concerned about their families, their lives, their jobs and so on. Environmentalism just doesn't rank that high on their priority lists, and when it does, it doesn't mean much because most people don't act on it. Maybe, just maybe, Chaney is being realistic.

And you wouldn't have 3/gal gas/energy if environmentalists wouldn't block new refinery construction, new power plant construction and so on.
posted by Witold at 9:40 AM on May 1, 2001


My problem with Mr. Cheney's position is that he addresses the one side of the issue--we don't have enough energy resources available for our growing needs--but does not want to recognize how gluttonous and self serving we have become in how we spend our resources without constraints.
I can appreciate that a conservative might not want government to impose standards (example how many mile sper gallon a vehicle must be able to get), but when we begin to close down as a nation for lack of needed resources, then we begin to deal with what might well be perceived as a national security issue that needs government to help out.
posted by Postroad at 9:42 AM on May 1, 2001


Maybe if Cheney was speaking loudly for both intelligent conservation/efficiency measures and increases in supply he would at have some credibility.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:44 AM on May 1, 2001


The concept that people won't "rearrange their lives" for the environment only illustrates America's seemingly incessant ignorance. The fact that one of the nation's leaders is, in essence, saying it's okay to go ahead and burn fossil fuels and drive like there's no tomorrow, is disturbing and saddening.

Clearly, someone needs to buy Cheney a clue. Oh, wait, the oil companies already bought him - oops!

And you wouldn't have 3/gal gas/energy if environmentalists wouldn't block new refinery construction, new power plant construction and so on.

Uhm, what's wrong with that? The price we pay for these utilities is nowhere near the real cost of them. If people are complaining about energy prices - and make no mistake about it, they are - why doesn't anyone actively seek out alternative energy sources? Because the government is far too intertwined with these fossil resources, that's why. That's why our cars have deplorable gas mileage, that's why solar and wind power aren't more actively advocated, and that's why we're looking to dig up our freaking national forests for oil!

Cheney is a puppet, and this only proves it.
posted by hijinx at 9:46 AM on May 1, 2001


"They worked, we whined, they won." (James Carville).

The primary campaigns--especially voter registration activity--begin in earnest in 7 months or less.

There are at least ten things you can do to change the composition of the next Congress.
posted by steve_high at 9:49 AM on May 1, 2001


hijinx, so you got yourself a bike or drive a little box-car that gets 35mpg? Whatever works for you, but don't expect everyone act the way you want them to.

The real cost? What are you talking about? If the govt didn't tack on high taxes on gasoline and prevented new plants/refineries from being built we would have much cheaper gas and energy.

The bottom line is that wind and solar energy is not cheaper than conventional energy. There is no big conspiracy to stop those energy sources. There's no need: they fail on their own.
posted by Witold at 9:57 AM on May 1, 2001


Thank God! Except for a few comments, this thread has restored my faith in MeFi veterans. Tell it like it is!!! Dick is indeed a dick...and a dangerous one.
posted by mapalm at 10:00 AM on May 1, 2001


Witold, actually, were it not for the taxes, there would be less roads, less moronic drivers, less moronic suburbs and ex-urbs...
posted by ParisParamus at 10:03 AM on May 1, 2001


taxes on energy should be higher to pay for their costs to the environment and human health.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:05 AM on May 1, 2001


If you had Dick Cheney's cardiovascular system, you'd probably be doing everything like there's no tomorrow.
posted by xiffix at 10:06 AM on May 1, 2001


Witold, you couldn't be more wrong. Alternative energy sources are not as cheap as you would like them to be because existing power suppliers like it that way. They, like other corporate interests, steer our country's priorities and research. Solar energy will be taken seriously the day a corporation figures out how to patent the sun and license sunshine.
posted by fleener at 10:06 AM on May 1, 2001


Whatever works for you, but don't expect everyone act the way you want them to.

Oh, I'm not saying I drive a car that gets 35mpg (yet). And I'm also not saying that people should live the way I suggest. But it's going to get to a point where people will have to live that way, if we just continue to burn through what we've got.

The real cost? What are you talking about?

Energy costs are massively subsidized, and are often adjusted to meet "market expectations". If consumers got the real costs for electricity, natural gas, and gasoline, trust me, we'd be entirely off of those sources. [ref] [ref 2] [ref 3]

The bottom line is that wind and solar energy is not cheaper than conventional energy.

That statement is only correct when you take the massive subsidies into consideration. Without them, they're on the same level.

There is no big conspiracy to stop those energy sources. There's no need: they fail on their own.

Again: ignorance.
posted by hijinx at 10:07 AM on May 1, 2001


The press conference with its comments has left me confused. They are talking about building a large number of new coal fired power plants. The whole time I was growing up all I can remember was hearing how the country was to move away from coal fired plants due to acid rain etc..... While I agree that conservation alone won't prevent future problems it should not be tossed to the side with such disregard.

So far the Bush/Cheney team have really done a first rate job of doing all they can for big business. This coming from a registered independent. As each day goes by I fear the remaining years of this administration more and more.
posted by a3matrix at 10:08 AM on May 1, 2001


a3matrix: Coal plants kill people, and here's a more comprehensive read.
posted by hijinx at 10:14 AM on May 1, 2001


Witold, Solar energy is a relatively new (30 yrs) energy technology. You have to start somewhere. How about a significant tax break for any homeowner who installs a few solar panels on their roof. Pump enough money into the industry and some real progress will be made. I've seen solar panels improve two fold in the last ten years alone.
posted by keithl at 10:18 AM on May 1, 2001


hijinx: Let me make quick comments regarding referances 2 and 3, where cost estimates are given:
Ref2:
-They cite maintaining an army as one of the costs for oil in the Middle East? How do they do that? Would those countries not have an army otherwise? They attribte all of the 280B army costs for oil protection? That doesn't make sense to me. Every country has something to protect, including their sovereignty, and most keep armies. Yes, you can move out to the desert where there's nothing to protect and you wouldn't need an army but does that make sense? In other words, Middle East countries do not keep armies just to protect their oil. (Soudi Arabia had a pathetic little force untill the Golf War)
-Same point applises to the 3rd cost (health care). Where does an estimate of 1 trillion come from. Is obesity that closely tied to our energy sources? (keep in mind, it's also easily preventable via proper diet)
-In other words, they conclude that costs are astronomical, but no details are given. It's all "estimates" but they don't even say how they came about these estimates.

Regarding ref3:
The piece sites the danger of oil drilling, strip mines, and then procedes to propose that nuclear power should be stopped completely? AFAIK, nuclear power is ultra clean with the drawback of having to store nuclear waster afterwards (that will remain hazardous for 100s of years afterwards). Is it not possible to keep this waste contained? Or find a chemical process that converts the waster to a less toxic substance? France gets the majority of their electricity from nuclear power and they seem to be doing fine in this respect...

Anyway, my point is: pure windmill/solar cell approach is not sensible policy. It's on the other extreme. As for me, I do use a bike for transportation and commuting to work, but it's a hassle if you want to get out of town, so it looks like I'll be getting a car soon.
posted by Witold at 10:33 AM on May 1, 2001


keithl: I agree with you there. That would be a great way to promote this technology.

On a sidenote: my parents are building a house and I was looking into solar energy systems as a means of reducing energy bills. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough, but none made financial sense--which is something they will have to demonstrate to gain wide acceptibility. Giving big tax brakes may be a good way to make the technology more financially realistic and I'm all for that.
posted by Witold at 10:40 AM on May 1, 2001


Witold: I really can't believe you call storing nuclear waste merely a "drawback". Goodness gracious. Also, uhm, Chernobyl? Three Mile Island? If those don't prove that nuclear power can be deadly, I don't know what does.

it's a hassle if you want to get out of town, so it looks like I'll be getting a car soon.

That spills over to an inherent problem in the way this nation has been built: far, far too dependent upon cars and roads.

Tax breaks for alternative energy sources, though, would be a nice way to get things going - that I'm in agreement with. Again, they don't make financial sense when viewed against the incredibly underpriced fossil fuel sources out there now.

Is obesity that closely tied to our energy sources? (keep in mind, it's also easily preventable via proper diet)

Wow, what'd I say about ignorance? Sheesh, man, yup, right, uh-huh, yeah. (Please redirect that tangent's replies elsewhere....)
posted by hijinx at 10:47 AM on May 1, 2001


I thank the effigy of Wild Bill which I keep in my closet.Yesterdays announcement spoke volumes on the state of our economy, the sit-rep on enviromental out-look for at least 4 years.THE MACHINE NEEDS MORE WATTS KIDS. Xiffix is close . The VEEP was looking trim. HeY Kids, its gas and oil time. What about enviromental technology applied to plants such as coal, even a praetor knows those things are like a pack of luckies to a ten year old. No nuclear plants in 20 years? WHY>>>Fear? Did people fear Ike, Harry, HARDING? Spence, are you there...
what will it be: rolling blackouts in 4-9 years or upgrade and use existing power infrastructure which can be built QUICK. or shall we RIGHT this off as some neo-malthusian way to reopen coal mines in west virginia and build nuclear plants.Must we go faster? Is this the criteria we must use, a two way argument. this would be a good metamoment to dazzle with statisical posting. numbers, facts. make a tired un beliver happy today. I need it.
posted by clavdivs at 10:48 AM on May 1, 2001


Giving big tax brakes may be a good way to make the technology more financially realistic and I'm all for that.

But the guy you're defending (Cheney) isn't at all for that. He wants to go back to using coal ferchrissakes.
posted by jpoulos at 10:54 AM on May 1, 2001


Unfortunately, the people in this country simply do not know how well they have it. With all the uproar over $3/gallon gas prices, you'd never guess that most of the other major economies in the world have been paying that and more for the luxury of driving.

The point is this: maybe, just maybe higher prices for gas and oil will actually get people to consider the environment, if only through their wallets. That means not driving SUVs and investing a lot more in gas-electric hybrids (which are finally commercially available in the US) and cars that do not get less than 25, or 30, or even 35 mpg. I don't think the average European is any more environmentally conscious than the average American. But they drive fuel-efficient cars because, well, they can't afford not to.

I don't think it would be a bad thing for the same thing to happen in the US.
posted by dogmatic at 10:56 AM on May 1, 2001


It's interesting that Cheney, like Bush's other advisors living back in the Cold War world of the 1950's, is saying we can't return to 1970s-era thinking.

His regressive dead-end ideas, even if most of them are for his own financial gain, make him a true "fossil" in the world of fossil fuels.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:09 AM on May 1, 2001


Let me ask all of you here: how many of you purchased your car with fuel efficiency and conservation as a major selling point? How many of you have limited your car use in exchange of biking to work or using public transportation, if possible? (or moved closer to your work in order to make it possible?)

I'll raise my hand. I bought a Honda Civic specifically because I didn't want to pay twice the monthly payments to simply fuel the vehicle. People who don't are simply throwing their money away, and are interested in a vehicle for something other than getting from point A to point B. Don't even get me started on the idiots with small peckers who need to feel big about themselves by buying a car bigger than some people's houses/

What scares me is how freakin' short the American public's memory is that they don't remember the energy shortages of the 70s when people lined up for miles to buy gas (if there was any left) and could only buy gas every other day depending on their license plate number.

Cheney is about eligible to become a fuel of his own. The fossil. This is the same guy who last week said that the only way to fight global warming is to embrace nuclear energy. This from a man who doesn't think there is such a thing as global warming. And this morning as he explained the administrations energy policies he says that conservation isn't part of the plan. Instead he simply wants more power plants built. Sounds like the administrations crime policy: "We don't need to worry about crime prevention. We only need to build more prisons to house them all." *sigh*
posted by terrapin at 11:37 AM on May 1, 2001


How about a significant tax break for any homeowner who installs a few solar panels on their roof.

The neat thing about this idea is that many people who end up using solar energy also end up *profiting* from it because they make more energy than they use and so they can sell it to the local power companies.
posted by terrapin at 11:44 AM on May 1, 2001


It *MAY* be that DICK is trying to frame the parameters of the debate here. I mean, he CAN'T be that stupid to not even give lip service to conservation and efficiency. (eg. Increasing the MPG of SUVs by just 3 MPG would save enough oil in a year to fill the Alaska Wildlife Refuge reserves.) By starting with such a lopsided position, DICK can 'compromise' and not really give up all that much in real terms.
posted by dragline at 12:41 PM on May 1, 2001


It's interesting that Cheney, like Bush's other advisors living back in the Cold War world of the 1950's, is saying we can't return to 1970s-era thinking.

His regressive dead-end ideas, even if most of them are for his own financial gain, make him a true "fossil" in the world of fossil fuels.


If Cheney were solely interested in financial gain, he never would have run for office. He took a huge pay cut to take the job of VP.

All of this "Big Oil" conspiracy talk is really amusing.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:06 PM on May 1, 2001


Here's a question: why do oil profits of American companies go up when OPEC raises prices? In competitive industries, profit margins would go down when that happens.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:09 PM on May 1, 2001


The thing that bothers me is the President - oops - I mean Vice President doesn't even address conservation and alternative energy ideas except to say they won't solve the whole problem. Isn't it rational to consider a combined approach? Dogmatic is right, look at Europe - how many Americans have ever even seen a convection oven ? And if gasoline prices were $5 or $6 a gallon, you bet people would consider fuel efficiency. I wonder how much energy is wasted every day in the U.S. because builders installed electric water heaters instead of gas? Wind power is taking off in a big way in West Texas. I hope at least the economics, if not the ethics, of alternative sources and conservation make people start to realize that they must use their brain a bit rather than just expect eternal cheap and plentiful sources of energy.
(his old house is for sale down the street from me. I'm half-tempted to make an appointment to view it and check out how energy-efficeient is is.)
posted by sixdifferentways at 1:22 PM on May 1, 2001


If Cheney were solely interested in financial gain, he never would have run for office. He took a huge pay cut to take the job of VP.

Amusing indeed. Here's something from Dick himself. . .if you really think he's taking a paycut. If you think that any politician takes paycuts you ain't been paying attention.
posted by crasspastor at 1:24 PM on May 1, 2001


jpoulos: My point about Chaney is that it's not as clear and dry as the article makes it. Public policy never is. This is form the bush/chaney site:

To Protect the Environment and Develop Alternative Energy Sources, Governor Bush will:

-Propose legislation requiring electric utilities to reduce harmful emissions; in contrast, Vice President Gore has advocated only a voluntary program.
-Create the “Royalties Conservation Fund” by earmarking potentially billions in royalties from new oil and gas exploration in ANWR to fund conservation efforts.
-Earmark an estimated $1.2 billion of bid bonuses from opening up ANWR for funding research into alternative energy resources.
-Support tax credits for electricity produced from renewable and alternative fuels at a cost of $1.4 billion over ten years.

And so on. The link above has interesting info. Basically, they want to address the issue on several fronts, and using ANWR reserves makes sense to alleviate the demand now. Certainly, it's not a magic solution to all of our problems, it's simply a tiny part of the overall solution.
posted by Witold at 1:27 PM on May 1, 2001


-Earmark an estimated $1.2 billion of bid bonuses from opening up ANWR for funding research into alternative energy resources.

If Bush/Cheney were so into alternative energy resources, why did they cut funding for alternative energy research programs? This looks like a ploy to make the make the destruction of the Alaskan reserve more palatable. I don't know how anyone can think this administration cares one bit about the environment, given their record.
posted by owen at 1:36 PM on May 1, 2001


-Earmark an estimated $1.2 billion of bid bonuses from opening up ANWR for funding research into alternative energy resources.

Look at that, "alternative energy resources". . .well placed use of "alternative". Everybody's into alternatives. It's doublespeak.

And then as it begins on the next line, "Support tax credits. . .". There's a vast difference between earmarking and supporting. "Supporting" alternative fuels is mere lipservice, something to garner more votes. "Earmarking" money to drill oil is money in certain people's, ahh yes, Cheney's pockets.

This stuff from Bush's website is nothing but empty rhetoric used in a "failed" campaign.
posted by crasspastor at 1:39 PM on May 1, 2001


Amusing indeed. Here's something from Dick himself. . .if you really think he's taking a paycut. If you think that any politician takes paycuts you ain't been paying attention.

Ooohh. He owns some stock - woop de doo. He still took a huge pay cut by resigning as chair of Haliburton to run for VP.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:58 PM on May 1, 2001


This stuff from Bush's website is nothing but empty rhetoric used in a "failed" campaign.

Failed? Last time I checked Bush was president.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:59 PM on May 1, 2001


If Bush/Cheney were so into alternative energy resources, why did they cut funding for alternative energy research programs? This looks like a ploy to make the make the destruction of the Alaskan reserve more palatable. I don't know how anyone can think this administration cares one bit about the environment, given their record

Maybe they cut the funding because the federal budget is ridiculously large and everything could use cuts? Destruction of the reserve? Drilling = destruction? That's propaganda, not facts. Just because this adminsitration doesn't share your views on environmental solutions doesn't automatically mean that they don't care about the environment.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:01 PM on May 1, 2001


Failed? Last time I checked Bush was president.

Notice the use of quotation marks. Go back a few months and read the news. Or research the definition of facetiousness.
posted by crasspastor at 2:04 PM on May 1, 2001


About Chaney's stock:
He is apparently selling it. At current market prices, he'll get 7.8 million. He's giving away all 7.8 million:

-40% to University of Wyoming,
-40% to GW Medical Faculty Associates to create the Richard B. Cheney Cardiovascular Institute
-20% to Capital Partners for Education, which provides educational assistance to low-income high school children in the D.C

More info .
posted by Witold at 2:29 PM on May 1, 2001


But we're making dramatic progress in reducing polluting power plant emissions, but we just might need more CO2 to prevent another ice age... We have reserves totalling over 1,089 billion tons of coal - enough to last another 200 years... and besides, nuclear power is safe and economical...
posted by techgnollogic at 2:33 PM on May 1, 2001


Witold:
Let me ask all of you here: how many of you purchased your car with fuel efficiency and conservation as a major selling point? How many of you have limited your car use in exchange of biking to work or using public transportation, if possible? (or moved closer to your work in order to make it possible?)

Actually, I did both of those things. It's a rare month when I use my car more than once a week. It's been over two months since I last visited a gas station.

Of course, this proves nothing.

Some of the things I did to live a more environmentally responsible life turned out to make life less stressful and more satisfying. I find it hard to understand how people can spend an hour, maybe two, in their car dealing with traffic every day just getting to and from work and think that's okay. I mean, really - is there anyone who enjoys commuting? What a waste of one's life! Imagine how much happier people could be if they never had to worry about that.

The bottom line is that people will not rearrange their lives just because it may be an environmentally friendly thing to do.

Then let's come up with some other incentives. Eliminating subsidies on gasoline and suburban development would go a long way toward encouraging people to rearrange their lives in an environmentally friendly fashion without forcing them to think in terms of anything but self-interest. It has to happen sometime: the question is, are we going to do it now, by choice, or will we wait until we've trashed the planet so thoroughly that there is no alternative?

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:43 PM on May 1, 2001


Ooohh. He owns some stock - woop de doo. He still took a huge pay cut by resigning as chair of Haliburton to run for VP.

Following that logic, Bill Clinton must be destitute in lieu of his legal debt. Yet, as we know he's not. How's that possible if he only recieved his presidential paycheck lo those eight years?
posted by crasspastor at 2:49 PM on May 1, 2001


terrapin: Don't even get me started on the idiots with small peckers who need to feel big about themselves by buying a car bigger than some people's houses

Don't even get ME started about morons who bitch & whine about responsible people who purchase a decent-sized SUV for their spouse to be able to drive many children around to school, parties, games, and outings, while at the same time being way more protected & safe from idiot drivers than if she were squeezed into a more fuel-efficient Toyota Echo or Dodge Neon. Also, being able to pick up furniture, bikes, and other large items to help friends who are moving is quite rewarding.

I have no qualms about the size of the vehicle, the less-than-stellar mileage, etc. My family is safer. Period.
posted by davidmsc at 3:02 PM on May 1, 2001


He's giving away all 7.8 million
Yeah, right. Remind me, how much of a tax credit does he get for this?? How much of this 'gift' is actually a compulsory donation [a tax, in reality] on the part of the US taxpayer??
posted by theparanoidandroid at 3:06 PM on May 1, 2001


Following that logic, Bill Clinton must be destitute in lieu of his legal debt. Yet, as we know he's not. How's that possible if he only recieved his presidential paycheck lo those eight years?

The sleazy things Clinton did to make a buck in office are well documented, as are the contributions he took from wealthy friends for his legal defense.
posted by ljromanoff at 3:09 PM on May 1, 2001


theparanoidandroid: judging by your comment, it seems to me that no matter what good Chaney did you would still criticise it and find ulterior motives for his actions. Come on man, he's not that evil! Give the guy some credit.
posted by Witold at 3:13 PM on May 1, 2001


"My family is safer. Period."

And if you ever hit me in my little car that I haven't bought yet but I will this month (I need to get off my rear and start looking...I guarantee it'll be something small, though), then when I wake up from my coma in the hospital, I will be able to sleep in peace knowing that your family is safe.

(For those who are going to jump on me instead of reading between the lines, read this instead: "Yes, your family is safer, and I can see how that's a priority for you. However that safety comes at the cost of making everyone on the road with you less safe. I hope you drive accordingly.")
posted by CrayDrygu at 3:13 PM on May 1, 2001


Uh oh time to start sleaze flame war. . .

Cheney on the other hand isn't sleazy. . .all because Clinton took contributions from wealthy friends. Following more of your logic romanoff, either Cheney has no friends, has no wealthy friends or doesn't take campaign contributions from anybody. I'm not following and I'm not going to participate further in a flame battle.

Just got a timely email from Michael Moore. . .speaking of sleaze and who's doing it.
posted by crasspastor at 3:18 PM on May 1, 2001


This is not a thread about the former-President but about the current Fossil fuel-loving current one. Please
posted by ParisParamus at 3:19 PM on May 1, 2001


Let me ask all of you here: how many of you purchased your car with fuel efficiency and conservation as a major selling point? How many of you have limited your car use in exchange of biking to work or using public transportation, if possible? (or moved closer to your work in order to make it possible?)

For the most part I walk wherever I need to go, and try to limit use of public transit to longer-distance travel. Owning a car is not something I'd even consider, on moral grounds.

Regarding corporate welfare, the number I have is $20 billion annually in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
posted by johnb at 3:28 PM on May 1, 2001


"My family is safer. Period."

I fail to see how this would work. Not only are bigger vehicles less maneuverable, but as soon as everyone has followed your line of thought, the safety advantage (assuming it exists) is negated. So an arms race which also ruins our air....
posted by ParisParamus at 3:31 PM on May 1, 2001


Don't even get ME started about morons who bitch & whine about responsible people who purchase a decent-sized SUV for their spouse to be able to drive many children around to school, parties, games, and outings, while at the same time being way more protected & safe from idiot drivers than if she were squeezed into a more fuel-efficient Toyota Echo or Dodge Neon.

Yeah. So we should all be driving Hummers. Heaven forbid that the health of the planet and the safety of the people who live on it should override your need to entertain your children.

While you're being so responsible, you might want to note your increased risk of rollover, increased braking distance, poorer handling, and pathetic acceleration. Nice safe car you've got there.

Also, being able to pick up furniture, bikes, and other large items to help friends who are moving is quite rewarding.

Rent a bleeding uhaul. It's twenty bucks. Get over it.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:55 PM on May 1, 2001


decent sized SUV == Hummer ?????
posted by jbelshaw at 4:19 PM on May 1, 2001


I dunno, Mars, I'd personally burn down acres of woods if it would help my friends move furniture. And don't even ask me what I'd do to help move bikes.
posted by Doug at 4:44 PM on May 1, 2001


Very humorous replies to my sincere post. Fear not - we are extremely cautious & responsible drivers. (And it is not for my children's "entertainment," although if it were, nuts to you and so what?) Sorry, but my kids entertainment ranks a lot higher on my list of priorities than the ozone level, and I don't worry that I will cause the destruction of the planet, the rain forest, or the ozone.
You know, this is very similar to the "god" string yesterday - both sides believe that they are correct, both sides have "evidence" (some suspect, some bizarre), and neither side will likely convince the other of it's position. Let's let this string go gently into the night and instead talk about important stuff.
posted by davidmsc at 6:06 PM on May 1, 2001


Actually, just the opposite. Unlike theology, degradation of the environment and your illusions of safety are amenable to scientific analysis.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:12 PM on May 1, 2001


Sorry, but my kids entertainment ranks a lot higher on my list of priorities than the ozone level, and I don't worry that I will cause the destruction of the planet, the rain forest, or the ozone.

Wow. Now there's an epitaph.
posted by rodii at 6:22 PM on May 1, 2001


"and I don't worry that I will cause the destruction of the planet, the rain forest, or the ozone"

And when your children grow up to be in an environment with hazardous pollution, holes in the ozone layer, $12/gallon gasoline... are you going to tell them who to thank?

Bet you're not.

You should have stopped while you were ahead. I was willing to believe you needed an SUV until you spouted your "the environment isn't my problem" crap. Here's the deal: the air you pollute is breathed by 6 billion people, give or take, including your children. If you still don't care...eh, I give up. It's not worth it.
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:49 PM on May 1, 2001


Someone said:

(For those who are going to jump on me instead of reading between the lines, read this instead: "Yes, your family is safer, and I can see how that's a priority for you. However that safety comes at the cost of making everyone on the road with you less safe. I hope you drive accordingly.")

I sez:

Earlier in the thread, there was some talk of the "true costs" of this and that, which got me thinking about the economic concept of cost externalization. Now, my understanding is that cost externalization occurs when someone (or some legal entity) is able to shift the costs involved in an activity or product off of itself and onto someone (or something) else.

For example, some years back there were some toxic waste disposal companies that were controlled by the mafia (shocking, but true). Instead of complying with the complex and expensive federal regulations for properly disposing of toxic waste, they just dumped the shit in the nearest ditch and pocketed the difference. In other words, they externalized the costs associated with legally disposing of the waste by placing them on the citizens of the US. Another example, in my mind, is that the gas retailers externalize the costs associated with internal combustion byproducts (e.g. , medical costs of air pollution, cleaning up oil and gas spillage at sea and land, Americans' increasingly fat asses caused by driving .3 miles to get a six pack instead of walking to the store, etc.) by selling gas at such cheap prices (and if you think that even $3.00 isn't cheap, take a look at prices in other nations).

Now, why shouldn't this concept be applied to those who buy SUVs for "safety" reasons. Sure, their families _may_ be "safer" (other than pesky little problems associated with tires, loss of control, and similar factors), but they may be effectively shifting liability for injuries that wouldn't occur if they drove other vehicles onto the public at large.

Of course, this kind of analysis is inconsequential compared to the marketing and lobbying funds of the automobile manufactures, energy industry, and other interested parties (e.g. , AAA), so I'm gonna get out of here and do something productive like rearrange my sock drawer.
posted by estopped at 8:34 PM on May 1, 2001


Hmm, let me first defend myself from what I'm about to say by telling you this: I don't like SUVs. At all.

Ok, now, I don't want to sound naive or ignorant here, but somehow I don't feel worried about the energy situation in this world. People always shout statistics like "if we keep going at the same rate, we'll run out of resources in 100 years!", and to that I say blah. Maybe it's a little cocky of me, but I expect that we will find some kind of solution before we ever run out of resources. I'm generalizing a bit here, but we, the human race, have never failed in something like this. I know the world has a lot of problems, but eventually we'll pull through, like we did after wars, disasters, everything in history. I don't see why fighting this battle of resources will be any different. I think whatever does happen, it will work out in the end... Endless arguing between pro and anti environmentalists isn't gonna convince either side, like davidmsc said.
posted by swank6 at 8:52 PM on May 1, 2001


The only current I see running through this thread is that almost no one wants to take any kind of personal responsibility for the environment. Not an SUV driver, not the vice president, not joe schmoe who travels two hours in traffic every day. Someone will find an answer. We always did. It's not my planet; I just live here.

Guess what? Continue to put ridiculous things like your children's freaking entertainment above the environment, and see how the quality of life continues to deteriorate. (Shouldn't one care more about the future of one's children, versus pacifying them for 60 minutes in traffic?) Some auto manufacturers are pushing living rooms on wheels, and certainly that's where we're headed.

I'm not certain we should rely on the idea that a solution will magically fall from the sky (IT?) Why set ourselves up for ever needing that solution in the first place?
posted by hijinx at 8:58 PM on May 1, 2001


Swank, the problem is that we have found solutions to the energy crisis. One solution involves conservation. Another involves alternative energy sources.

If there is debate it is not because a solution can't be found. It is simply because some of us wish to start implementing that solution with large-scale government-supported conservation efforts and public funding for alternative energy sources. Meanwhile, others like Mr Cheney wish to continue a model that we know will result in the further plundering of our natural resources.

So yes, if we continue going at our current rate, we will run out of fossil fuels, and probably within my children's lifetime, if not my own. The point is to not continue what we're doing. However, not only does Cheney wish to continue the status quo, he wants to step it up a bit. That is why people like me have a problem with his energy policies.
posted by dogmatic at 9:13 PM on May 1, 2001


People always shout statistics like "if we keep going at the same rate, we'll run out of resources in 100 years!", and to that I say blah. Maybe it's a little cocky of me, but I expect that we will find some kind of solution before we ever run out of resources.

Right. But you must remember that the rate of consumption is not constant; it is increasing. Developing countries need more energy per capita as they develop. So however long the current rate of consumption will take to deplete our reserves entirely, it`s more time that we actually have. Even if we found a way to turn, say, housecats, into a 100% clean and efficient source of energy, we`d run out of cats long before we ran out of need for energy.

So part of the problem is that the current adminstration is advocating reckless consumption of finite resources. Another problem is that these finite resources are needed for things besides fuel. So if we burn off all of our oil racing our suburban assault vehilces to the local stop-n-rob to pick up a case of beer (or burn the same going down to the local organic grocery in a Civic), it becomes much harder to create the plastics that house our computers and makes our cars lighter and therefore more fuel efficient. And then you consider that using these sources of energy makes the air less, uh, fun to breathe. Spend two days in LA in the summer and then go up into the surrounding mountains and compare the relatively clear blue skies of the mountains with the layer or brown that hangs over the city. Then see how you feel about breathing that stuff when you go back under the smog.

This is fine and good if we`re working on a way to keep our kids safe and entertained and to live places that are better than the ones close to work without making the air around unbreathable. We have even started to find ways to do this, but new forms of energy, or acceptance and use of old, non-fossil-fuel energy is being opposed by the current VP. To frame it in terms of swank6`s comment, the guys-in-power are telling us not to look for "some kind of solution" until it is essentially too late. And making the transition then would be much more difficult than making a planned transition. Plus the air would be cleaner and we`d still get to have the other cool stuff that comes from oil.

(Sorry, these things look smaller in the writing window.)
posted by chiheisen at 10:30 PM on May 1, 2001


Even if we found a way to turn, say, housecats, into a 100% clean and efficient source of energy

I'd say nuclear fusion would be a good bet.
posted by kindall at 11:13 PM on May 1, 2001


100% clean and efficient source of energy
Not in *this* universe, I don't think.
posted by darukaru at 12:02 AM on May 2, 2001


chilheisen. someone should give you an award, well crafted, timely and true. bravo.
posted by clavdivs at 6:48 AM on May 2, 2001


From the self-linking department: 42 ways to get electric power from hamsters.
posted by Aaaugh! at 7:20 AM on May 2, 2001


look at an email I recieved today...


Austin Utilities gives you the option of purchasing your energy from a green choice such as solar or wind. It doesn't matter if you live in a house, condo, or apartment. Since alternative energy is regulated, you are guaranteed a fixed rate for 10 years. According to the City of Austin
Utilities, the average Austin residence will pay only $1.68 more per month when using a green choice (versus fossil fuels). Thus, there are two good arguments for switching:

1) It's good for the environment. While none of us is an active environmentalist, switching over only takes about 2 minutes. You don't have to do anything more than making a phone call or filling out an online form.

2) With oil and gas prices rising, you are protected against higher energy costs. This is especially true if natural gas is prevalent in your home.


"protected against higher energy costs." Certainly sounds subsidised to me.

What irritates me most is extremist environmentalists who somehow think that the human race is going to destroy the planet. Guess what, that isn't going to happen, short of blowing it up with nukes. Oh sure, we will kill off the human race, but not the planet. I wish more people would just face the facts, currently most of the alternative energy sources aren't cost effective or practical. This is not to say that there shouldn't be any research into it, and the existing alternative sources should definately be promoted to reduce strain on other sources.

Oh, and I will be switching my power like in the email. Check with your power companies, maybe they also have this option.
posted by jbelshaw at 9:17 AM on May 2, 2001


Oh, well we're only going to kill off the human race, I'll go out and buy myself a Humvee.
posted by dogmatic at 9:29 AM on May 2, 2001


"Oh, well we're only going to kill off the human race, I'll go out and buy myself a Humvee."

i don't recall saying anything about owning Humvees. That is exactly what i'm talking about. Is there no middle ground. I say SUV and you think Humvee. Thats just not realistic. There needs to be some middle ground we can get to. Because if not, environmentalists can just keep protesting or whatnot, because the majority does not give any credit to extremists. People are only going to give up so much. Its my belief that the best way to help the environment is to keep the firey rhetoric to yourself, and try to reach a common goal with the average person.
posted by jbelshaw at 9:41 AM on May 2, 2001


"protected against higher energy costs." Certainly sounds subsidised to me.

If I invent a car that runs on upsidasium, people who drive my spiffy new car are protected against higher gasoline costs. (Contrawise, they're exposed to higher upsidasium costs.) If I buy my power from a company that uses, say, hydroelectric and wind power as a major component of its power generation, I'm protected against higher fossil fuel costs impacting my electric bill. Government subsidies, dandy as they would be in this particular instance (to encourage the public good of less-sulphurous air), don't come into it at all.
posted by snarkout at 9:55 AM on May 2, 2001


Get a horse!
posted by crunchland at 10:03 AM on May 2, 2001


snarkout: heehee! I love obscure references.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:05 AM on May 2, 2001


I, too, call for a more balanced debate here.

Regarding SUVs, I understand the desire to be safe on the road, and in some ways SUVs provide this. People give many reasons for their use of SUVs, from the small Honda CRVs, which are decidedly less dangerous to others on the road that the big ones, to the Ford Excursion, a gas-sucking monstrosity with little justification. What they leave out is that many of them have been sold on an idea put forth by the most saavy marketers at Ford, GM, et. al.

Look at how SUVs are marketed. Driving through the open wilderness in your big, looming vehicle! You can conquer! In reality, few people ever take their SUVs off-road, and many are not even built for such terrain. Ironically, the pollution cause by SUVs' poor fuel economy creates the opposite of a prisitine wilderness.

Few will admit they purchased their SUV because it "looks cool" or because it is a status symbol. And noone wants to admit that they fell for a saavy marketer's pitch and now they can't afford the payments or the the gasoline it guzzles.

Possible solution? If either the government raises the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, or if industry voluntarily makes more efficent (fat chance), less hulking vehicles, they can try to market these as well as the SUVs they sold throughout the 90s.

A final thought: most people seem generally uninterested in making personal change in favor of the environment. Hell, some people get mad when you tell them to turn off lights in rooms noone is occupying. This view will be no doubt unpopular, but I believe the government should slowly and gently start pushing people to do right by the environment. That means favoring solar, wind, recycling, biomass, and all the other environmentally friendly technologies that environmentalists have been talking about for decades. Besides this nudging, though, I think a general shift in collective consciousness is required for long-term change. People just don't want to change.

Energy Efficient Home
Hypercar
RealGoods Alternative Building Sourcebook
posted by 4midori at 10:27 AM on May 2, 2001


In last week's New Yorker, the was this utterly stupid, utterly offensive multi-paged ad for the new Mercury (Ford) whatever SUV, showing the thing in Manhattan at various locales. Made me ill and reminded me why I decided not to go into advertsing. Why must so many Americans be so f'ing stupid and selfish?! In addition to subsidizing alternative energy sources, how about subsidizing psychotherapy for these SUV people...
posted by ParisParamus at 10:39 AM on May 2, 2001


Well said, 4midori. I'd like to add that many people are unable to change. Some people can afford to buy solar panels to put on their house. Other can't. Some people can afford to move to a neighborhood where they can walk to work. Others can't. That's why we need the will and resources of the government to help us do the things we can't do on our own. It seems like that sums up what government is for.
posted by owen at 10:41 AM on May 2, 2001


My family is similar (although I don't agree with them). Mom just bought a new Explorer (she uses it to transport items to a studio--she's a photostylist), and gave her OLD Explorer to my brother, "because it's safer." Subnote: My brother is an awful driver.

Y'gotta love Ford, though. Did anyone see that special edition Time Magazine about 6 months ago all about the environment? Ford basically paid for every other page of ads with how it's improving its environmental impact. Ford even has their own "Heroes For the Planet" website, which shared the same name as the Time leading story.

Just went to Ford's website, where they talk about how they're committed to the environment. I understand that to stay in the business, which employs a lot of people, they've got to slowly change their plans, and move toward environmentally-friendly vehicles, like they say. But I swear I heard about Ford's environmental initiatives several YEARS before they put out the Expedition.

Ford claims that "all Ford SUVs (and F-series pickup trucks and minivans) sold in the U.S. and Canada are certified as Low Emission Vehicles (LEV), years ahead of any regulatory requirement to do so - a commitment still not matched by the competition. " Anyone know *how* this can be true when a 4x4 Expedition gets 14mpg city? Is there a loophole in the LEV standard? Am I missing something? I couldn't find the official LEV bill, but it seems fishy to me...
posted by gramcracker at 10:48 AM on May 2, 2001


jbelshaw, my point was not that SUV = Humvee.

My point was that if we're going to destroy the human race, which you seem to be advocating, we might as well do it in style.
posted by dogmatic at 11:09 AM on May 2, 2001


I do believe that LEV standards are based on a formula including mpg and weight and size of the vehicle. By that standard, the massive Excursion may well classify.

In any case, as one of those evil, wretched SUV drivers, I'm continually amazed by the number of people who refuse to even begin to think that there may be very legitimate reasons for owning and driving such a vehicle, or simply just don't give a good damn. You can generalise all that you want, you can suppose all that you want, but the basic tar and feather fingerpointing act is getting very old, folks. Drive what suits you, and leave the rest of us to do the same.
posted by Dreama at 11:16 AM on May 2, 2001


Dreama: Since the average family has gotten smaller in the last 25 years and America less rural, what percentage of SUV drivers do you think have them as anything more than a decadent luxe?
posted by ParisParamus at 11:26 AM on May 2, 2001


Dreama: Since the average family has gotten smaller in the last 25 years and America less rural, what percentage of SUV drivers do you think have them as anything more than a decadent luxe?


And who exactly are you to judge why any SUV owner owns his car?
posted by ljromanoff at 11:57 AM on May 2, 2001


As ljromanoff just eluded to, I don't know, and I don't think that it's any of my damned business why anyone chooses to drive anything. My only interest is in encouraging the manufacturers to create the safest, most efficient vehicles that they can when all factors (including marketability) are considered.

I prefer to save my ruminations on other people's motivations for issues that really matter; and unlike some people, I don't feel myself worthy to judge people based on their motivations or their mode of transportation.
posted by Dreama at 12:03 PM on May 2, 2001


Since it's disingenuous to pretend that we don't judge other people, what exact criteria should we use if not motivations and behavior? Their shoes?

I guess some people actually do this.

I feel worthy to judge people if I feel that my informed opinion about their motivations and behavior justify criticism. "Live and let live" makes a fine philosophy only if you live in Utopia.
posted by Skot at 12:13 PM on May 2, 2001


"Live and let live" makes a fine philosophy only if you live in Utopia.

I'd say it gets us closer to a Utopia than any other philosophy.
posted by ljromanoff at 12:16 PM on May 2, 2001


[Dreama] Drive what suits you, and leave the rest of us to do the same.

Sounds reasonable. What if I wanted to drive a car with spinning saw-blades protruding five feet from either side and ten-foot spikes on the front and back? Is that okay? I mean, it suits me. And don't start telling me you don't see the benefits. I have my own reasons, which I cannot be expected to justify to you.

It's just a matter of degree.

[Dreama] I don't feel myself worthy to judge people based on their motivations or their mode of transportation.

It's not about judging the people. Or it shouldn't be. It's about judging the decision on the basis of priorities. People who buy large, inefficient SUVs may be making the best decision for their family's immediate personal bodily safety whilst they are travelling the endless roads they are required to travel to get around this country (although the bonus there over other vehicles is really only marginal), and certainly the best decision for their personal comfort and pride. But they aren't making the best decision for the environment, for their cities, or (possibly) for their pocketbooks. The real argument is about which priorities are most important. The people who suggest buying an SUV is a poor decision obviously prioritize environmental well-being over personal pride. But it's all a matter of priorities.

I'd like to thank hijinx for representing a point-of-view similar to my own in this thread (since I missed most of the action).

Witold, yes I did get rid of my car and try to ride my bike to work every day. Usually I wimp out (or run out of time) and take the bus instead, but I'm trying.
posted by daveadams at 12:27 PM on May 2, 2001


And who exactly are you to judge why any SUV owner owns his car?

Me is person who needs clean air to be happy, and doesn't want to tax-subsidize roads on which you drive if you do so recklessly (recklessly = destroy the air and other aspects of the environment; make me physically ill; f' up my Saturday bicycle ride.)
posted by ParisParamus at 12:28 PM on May 2, 2001


Live and Let Live is an effective policy with regards to some behaviors. This may be less than effective, however, when the behavior in question affects the society at large. Driving a gas-guzzling vehicle certainly affects people besides the driver.

I agree that judging someone solely by their vehicle is a pretty narrow judgement. But the vehicle one uses is a willful choice, and is fair game for negative judgements when it harms others.

"Leave me alone so I can do whatever I want without regards for others" is not the most enlightened concept.
posted by 4midori at 12:31 PM on May 2, 2001


Cue history: repeat yourself.
posted by hijinx at 12:31 PM on May 2, 2001


Me is person who needs clean air to be happy, and doesn't want to tax-subsidize roads on which you drive if you do so recklessly (recklessly = destroy the air and other aspects of the environment; make me physically ill; f' up my Saturday bicycle ride.)

Fine. So when the cops are out there checking for speeders they can check for emissions violators and ticket them, whether or not they're driving an SUV. Most likely they wouldn't be, as most high emission vehicles are in fact older vehicles that haven't been properly serviced, rather that the SUVs you irrationally loathe.
posted by ljromanoff at 12:33 PM on May 2, 2001


>>Live and let live" makes a fine philosophy only if you live in Utopia.
>I'd say it gets us closer to a Utopia than any other philosophy.


I agree with the second statement. Of course, blowing toxic fumes in my face is not "letting me live" anymore than slitting my throat is.

I'm not suggesting cars should be banned altogether -- merely that, if you own a car, you should only be allowed to drive it indoors, or within an enclosed space that you personally own. Anything beyond that constitutes an unprovoked physical assault on my person -- and therefore, an initiation of force that violates the letter and spirit of laissez faire.

Confine your toxic emissions within you own private space and I don't have a problem with you. That's the libertarian way.
posted by johnb at 12:33 PM on May 2, 2001


"Leave me alone so I can do whatever I want without regards for others" is not the most enlightened concept.

Neither is: "I'll let you do what you want as long as it fits into my narrow view of acceptable behavior."
posted by ljromanoff at 12:35 PM on May 2, 2001


I'm not suggesting cars should be banned altogether -- merely that, if you own a car, you should only be allowed to drive it indoors, or within an enclosed space that you personally own. Anything beyond that constitutes an unprovoked physical assault on my person -- and therefore, an initiation of force that violates the letter and spirit of laissez faire.

Suggesting that the mere presence of a molucule or two of any substance that might not be there if not for autos is in fact a physical assault is a pretty ridiculous viewpoint, but you're entitled to it if you want.
posted by ljromanoff at 12:39 PM on May 2, 2001


ljromanoff: are you joking? Human-caused climate change will result in the involuntary displacement of billions of people around the world, according the IPCC. The vast majority of climate scientists agree with this assessment. It's pretty ridiculous for a nonspecialist to deny reality as defined by the scientific consensus, but you're entitled to do so if you want.
posted by johnb at 12:49 PM on May 2, 2001


"I'm not suggesting cars should be banned altogether -- merely that, if you own a car, you should only be allowed to drive it indoors, or within an enclosed space that you personally own."

This is the type of crap that makes me laugh. Guess what. Protest all you want, this isn't going to happen.
posted by jbelshaw at 1:17 PM on May 2, 2001


jbelshaw: you can pretty much say that about anything. For example, "homocide and rape are going to be with us for a long time, so I hope you like it!"
posted by johnb at 1:23 PM on May 2, 2001


Human-caused climate change will result in the involuntary displacement of billions of people around the world, according the IPCC. The vast majority of climate scientists agree with this assessment.

Yeah, OK. And 25 years ago they were all up in arms about the "new ice age". All the facts are not in evidence here.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:26 PM on May 2, 2001


jbelshaw: another example -- The sentence "The holocaust was a bad thing" is not semantically equivalent to the sentence "Nothing like the holocaust will ever happen again". The first sentence is true or false independently of whether or not the second sentence is true.
posted by johnb at 1:32 PM on May 2, 2001


ljromanoff: yeah, and scientists were wrong about the "luminous aether" too. That doesn't entail that, say, quarks don't exist. The fact that scientists have been wrong in the past does not logically entail that all of science is fiction.
posted by johnb at 1:34 PM on May 2, 2001


It's not just about temperature; it's about pollution.

I think anyone who smokes cigarettes should recuse themselves from this debate.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:34 PM on May 2, 2001


um...themself.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:38 PM on May 2, 2001




Apart from MPG, are SUVs subject to the same emissions requirements?
posted by ParisParamus at 1:43 PM on May 2, 2001


Folks, even if global warming is a left-wing scam to get us all riding cruiser-style bicycles to work through a mystical golden forest, there remain the problems of pollution and finite energy resources. Pollution in L.A. or Mexico City is as obvious as breathing.

And at the moment, according to our vice-president, future energy shortages are coming. So could we acknowledge, at least, that change must occur. And could we say that a sensible energy policy will require more than just building more power plants? And people may (gasp) be forced to save energy! Oh no! Rampant SUV use is just a symptom a larger problem.
posted by 4midori at 2:04 PM on May 2, 2001


johnb, my point wasn't that you should get used to it or that you should like it. To say that all people should only drive inside, is ludicrous. That isn't going to happen anytime soon. Someone taking my motorcycle is going to be similar to someone taking a NRA lifetime members guns.

I'm not saying that 400 years from now, we will still be driving cars, etc... But its not going to happen anytime soon. And for you to compare driving to murder, rape and genocide is disgusting.
posted by jbelshaw at 2:10 PM on May 2, 2001


johnb, my point wasn't that you should get used to it or that you should like it. To say that all people should only drive inside, is ludicrous. That isn't going to happen anytime soon. Someone taking my motorcycle is going to be similar to someone taking a NRA lifetime members guns.

I'm not saying that 400 years from now, we will still be driving cars, etc... But its not going to happen anytime soon. And for you to compare driving to murder, rape and genocide is disgusting.
posted by jbelshaw at 2:11 PM on May 2, 2001


>>And for you to compare driving to murder, rape and genocide is disgusting.

I would say the comparison is more illuminating than disgusting. Personally, if I were to be killed or maimed, I wouldn't particularly care whether the killing/maiming is the assailant's primary concern, rather than being simply a predictable consequence of the assailant's other goal-directed actions. The fact remains that he knew his actions would result in injury, but acted anyway. At the end of the day, people need to take personal responsiblity for all the predictable consequences of their actions.

I would say that not only is ecocide ethically far worse than genocide alone (because the former includes the latter), but it is also more worthy of moral attention because it is something we all take part in.
posted by johnb at 2:39 PM on May 2, 2001


Um, Johnb, it's posts like yours that push those on the environmentalist fence right over to the other side. The average person is never going to believe that driving an SUV is contributing to "ecocide," and it's the thought that environmentalists want people to give up every amenity of modern life that makes environmentalists look like "wackos."
posted by Doug at 2:46 PM on May 2, 2001


>>I'm not saying that 400 years from now, we will still be driving cars, etc... But its not going to happen anytime soon.

I made absolutely no claims in my post regarding the time scale of technological change. This is an irrelevancy that you injected into the conversation all by yourself.
posted by johnb at 2:49 PM on May 2, 2001


johnb: its idiots like these guys that detract from your goals. Its things like this that make me think, 'stupid f&*king hippie', and completely invalidates (in the publics view) more moderate environmentalists arguments.

The thing you don't seem to realize is that I agree with you to an extent. But, i'm not just going to completely give up all of the things that I enjoy or make my life a bit easier. Some, but I will only go so far.
posted by jbelshaw at 2:51 PM on May 2, 2001


the thought that environmentalists want people to give up every amenity of modern life that makes environmentalists look like "wackos."

Quit offering Rush Limbaugh straw men. No one proposed even giving up one modern life amenity; just some enlightened controls on pollution; awareness of the macro effects of indifference; promotion of alternative energy, and not having policy skewed by politicians with obvious connections to the oil industry.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:55 PM on May 2, 2001


the thought that environmentalists want people to give up every amenity of modern life that makes environmentalists look like "wackos."

Quit offering Rush Limbaugh straw men. No one proposed even giving up one modern life amenity; just some enlightened controls on pollution; awareness of the macro effects of indifference; promotion of alternative energy, and not having policy skewed by politicians with obvious connections to the oil industry.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:57 PM on May 2, 2001


And at the moment, according to our vice-president, future energy shortages are coming. So could we acknowledge, at least, that change must occur. And could we say that a sensible energy policy will require more than just building more power plants?

Which brings this entire conversation full circle. Cheney stated that conservation alone would not solve the problem, and we would need to increase supply. Which brought out an army of Malthusian SUV-haters.
posted by ljromanoff at 3:02 PM on May 2, 2001


technological change won't get rid of the internal combustion engine either. To a lot of people cars aren't just transportation to get from point a to point b. They are a hobby they are part of them. A lot of people just don't get this.

You can have the coolest 2045 Harley Davidson FLSTC Solar Powered motorcycle in the world, but i'm still gonna have the big V-Twin in the garage, and i'm going to ride it now and again.
posted by jbelshaw at 3:05 PM on May 2, 2001


Hey. I pretty much loath cars, too. At least in cities.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:06 PM on May 2, 2001


Doug: unfortunately a lot of rational people are considered "wackos" in this country: atheists, people who don't believe in UFOs, people who thought the dotcom phenomenon was a "bubble", evolutionists, and so on. Popularity is not highly correlated with truth, alas.

I trully hate to be rude, but global warming really is happening. And, yes, we are causing it. And, yes, adapting to a ten degree rise in global temperatures isn't going to be a day at the beach, so to speak, for the inhibitants of this planet.

The truth hurts, I know. But ultimately the truth is the only thing that counts. You can only deny reality with infinite price/earnings ratios for so long, as it were.

As for public relations, I never claimed to be a spokesman for "the environmental movement". That's Leonardo DiCaprio's job

;)
posted by johnb at 3:12 PM on May 2, 2001


johnb: its idiots like these guys that detract from your goals. Its things like this that make me think, 'stupid f&*king hippie', and completely invalidates (in the publics view) more moderate environmentalists arguments.

Except that environmental radicals haven't completely invalidated those arguments in the court of public opinion. Or even mostly invalidated them. 67% -- the number of Americans who "say that protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth" is a big chunk of the American public. Cheney and his friends at the Greening Earth Society are in the minority on this one; more to the point, while there's certainly some truth to the general arguemnt Cheney is making -- the U.S. needs to upgrade its power generation infrastructure, and at the moment, fossil fuel plants are the way that has to happen -- the devil is in the details (the big push for relaxed regulation of coal-burning plants coming from the Bush Administration).
posted by snarkout at 3:14 PM on May 2, 2001


Which brings this entire conversation full circle. Cheney stated that conservation alone would not solve the problem, and we would need to increase supply. Which brought out an army of Malthusian SUV-haters.

But Cheney did not offer any credence to conservation or alternative sources of energy at all.

It would be one thing if he were offering both sides of the coin, and proposing that the US combat an impending energy crisis by stepping up production (short term) and passing legislation for conservation and alternative energy (long term). However, Cheney is not even acknowledging the need for fuel alternatives.

No one denies that it will take years to implement these changes. But would you rather have an energy policy that looks back fifty years, ignoring the very real depletion of fossil fuels that we've come to depend on heavily, or would you rather look forward to finding other ways to live our lives when those fossil fuels run out? We're getting to a point where saying "We'll do something about it later" just isn't gonna cut it.

It doesn't matter how many oil wells or production plants we have. When the fossil fuels dry out, we'll be running on empty, literally. No cars, no electric, no heat. And then what are we to do? Curse 200 years of ecological indifference? Why should we do that when there are possible solutions ready and waiting?
posted by dogmatic at 3:25 PM on May 2, 2001


No one proposed even giving up one modern life amenity

Paris, I'd say the banning of cars counts as a modern life amenity. I have to agree with jbelshaw here. Suggesting things like getting rid of all cars except in your own closed private property is not going to help anything. It's just too extreme. johnb, yes, the truth can hurt, and the truth is that cars are going to stay for the foreseeable future. I think you failed to see what he meant by the term "wackos", as the connection you made to other "wackos" doesn't really work. It's not about popularity, it's more about extremity. Atheism, UFOs, etc. (let's not get into religion) are matters of personal opinion, whereas saying cars should be banned is simply an impossibility.
posted by swank6 at 3:51 PM on May 2, 2001


Johnb, the thing is, I kind of agree with you. I agree that global warming is occuring. I agree that we have to take measures to protect our environment. I was mearly pointing out that your statement might be pretty off-putting to people who don't exactly agree with you. There are those in this thread who think that carting furniture for their friends is worth the environmental costs of an SUV. The only way to win these people over to the correct way of thinking is through facts, and not hyperbole.
And I know you aren't a spokesperson of any kind, but you seem very knowledgable on this topic, so I'd much rather have you speaking for these things than Leo.
posted by Doug at 4:37 PM on May 2, 2001


swank6 - I never suggested that a law banning use of cars in public space had a realistic chance of being passed. Rather, I was articulating the libertarian point of view (properly construed) on the subject.

It's the difference between "ought" and "is". If I say "according to libertarianism, drugs should be legalized", I am in no way implying that drugs will be legalized by this time next week. Only a very confused mind would draw that implication.

If I say "people will always commit murder", does that entail that murder is morally acceptable? If not, then by modus tollens, the wrongness of murder does not entail its nonexistence. In general, an objection to the statement "X is bad" on the grounds that "X happens" is irrelevant and without merit.

But I covered all of this in my first two replies to jbelshaw. Again, if I had wanted to say "I predict that Congress will ban cars by this time next week", then I would have said "I predict that Congress will ban cars by this time next week."
Honest!

Finally, I must disagree with your contention that creationism and belief in UFOs are merely "matters of opinion". Both amount to sets of statements that are true or false depending on how the world is -- and these particular sets of statements do not, as it happens, correspond to empirical reality. Mystical belief in the inevitability of human progress is likewise not on good terms with reality, and should be treated like any other superstition.
posted by johnb at 4:42 PM on May 2, 2001


I am not saying that because cars exist, they are therefore morally acceptable. But the fact that people will commit murder is also a truth, and saying something like "all murders will end now" is similar to asking everyone to give up cars. I'm not saying that "X is good" because "X happens", but when X does happen, the way to stop is not to force the exact opposite to happen. Change takes time and steps.

When you say something ought to be, and I say it's not going to happen, I'm not accusing you of being stupid enough to think it could actually pass. I'm merely saying that the "ought" is just way too extreme, and we need to look for more moderate ways to begin change. There's no point in dwelling on something that has no chance of happening.

Creationism and UFOs: I don't think we would get anywhere arguing whether evolution exists or not, because it will just be religious vs. non-religious. Some people claim to have seen UFOs, some say they don't exist. I for one am an atheist, but I'm not going to try and convince hardcore believers in God that evolution exists. I guess calling them opinions is a bad way to say it, because as you say both are either true or false, but it is unrealistic to try and determine which it is (at least for now). As for my "mystical belief in the inevitability of human progress", I think of it more as confidence in the ability of the human race as a whole. Our track record is pretty good, so this confidence has at least some grounds.
posted by swank6 at 5:54 PM on May 2, 2001


On the subject of SUVs being safer for families than small cars...

This isn't necessarily the case, smaller cars have extremely high safety standards they have to live up to. In addition smaller cars are easier to handle in most situations, easier to drive downtown, safer for the environment, less likely to rollover, and frankly you don't hear about tire blowouts on SUVs.

If you need to buy something to transport your family, why not get a Minivan? They're large enough to fit the whole family, and aren't that much bigger than cars, so it's easy to find parking for them. They're more fuel efficient than SUV's and as safe, if not safer.
posted by drezdn at 11:00 AM on May 4, 2001


Because the don't adequately compensate for the driver's inadequacies....
posted by ParisParamus at 11:03 AM on May 4, 2001


Here here. I am all for minivans as opposed to SUVs. They just seem imminently more practical, especially if the seats remove easily and you can haul things in the back. I just don't get people that drive trucks and waste all that bed space most of the time. On the other end of the spectrum, of course, is Corbin Motors who make a cool little one-person electric that looks much safer than a motorcycle. I want one.
(of course, this thread seems to have died, so nobody will read this, he wrote, dropping some bait for a followup comment)
posted by mecran01 at 10:29 AM on May 7, 2001


If you have a huge family, a minivan can be immensely impractical. They have absolutely no payload when the vehicle is full of passengers. I can take my whole family on vacation in the Silhouette minivan that I used to own (one of the largest on the market) and we'd all get there just fine. But in my Durango we get there just fine and we'd get to bring along our luggage.
posted by Dreama at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2001


How many people are in your family?
posted by mecran01 at 8:13 AM on May 10, 2001


Holy crap, Dreama, a Durango? I thought you were trucking around in, you know, an Excursion or the like. After all, a Durango seats seven but is really designed for six while a Grand Caravan seats... seven. Look at those specs. Everything is well within the ballpark on both vehicles - the differences in cargo space and interior space are minor.

Anyway, the reason I point this out is not because I care what you drive - I don't. But I do care about the impact your vehicle makes on the environment versus a comparable one that does the same things you need it to, more efficiently. It might be a matter of your wanting the Durango over a mini, which is out of the argument. You seem to imply that you need an SUV. I don't think you dido, given what you've presented here and in other threads.
posted by hijinx at 8:27 AM on May 10, 2001


oh.

I don't think you dido

I promise to use spell check from here on out even though it doesn't work in Opera - darn Opera. Scout's honor.
posted by hijinx at 8:33 AM on May 10, 2001


Well, hijinx, let's examine my needs, since you're so all-fire interested: 5 kids, 2 adults and 2 dogs (and all of their stuff) who spend a considerable portion of each year -- including (and especially) the winter months -- at a home in the mountains, with a 1/4 mile, unpaved, steeply graded driveway and 7 miles of unpaved, unserviced (no plows, no salt, no nothing) approach road, neither of which are passable in anything that isn't 4x4 with substantial tires.

Yes, I do need my SUV. No, a minivan won't suffice, I know because I used to drive one. And now that I've justified my personal choices to you, if you'll excuse me, I have to go get said SUV inspected and emissions tested, and I plan to query the technician heavily as to whether or not said SUV is allowed to put out a higher level of emissions than a passenger car and still get the little state mandated sticker. But I bet that I already know the answer to that question.
posted by Dreama at 8:36 AM on May 10, 2001


...neither of which are passable in anything that isn't 4x4 with substantial tires.

Thank you! Finally, you've demonstrated a legit need for an SUV, at least in my eyes. Every post you've had up until this point has simply said that you need an SUV for passenger capacity, but that's an arguable need. If you are doing things that require a higher ground clearance and 4WD, then I give you credit. So, here it is.
posted by hijinx at 9:03 AM on May 10, 2001


You must visibly wither under the dreaded Dreama sarcasm, hijinx. "Credit" is not enough.
posted by rodii at 11:32 AM on May 10, 2001


How about a set of running boards? They aid in step-in height for most vehicles.
posted by hijinx at 11:35 AM on May 10, 2001


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