Friday, June 27, 2008

A Deficit of Imagination

Lookit — there's a definite paucity of imagination among the political bloviators in this country.

The prevailing opinion in this country is that we have a supply problem with petroleum. If you believe that, if you truly do, then I have a bridge in the general vicinity of New York City in which you might be interested. I mean, there may be some short term speculation going on, but... c'mon.

Our problem is not a supply problem. It's a demand problem. More specifically, it's an efficiency problem (see the Einstein posting in this blog, which details the efficiency numbers). People in the media are wringing their hands, saying that any ameloriation of the current dire situation is "eighteen or more months away". Oh, please. Let's do something about petroleum demand beginning tomorrow. Heck, beginning RIGHT NOW:
  • If you live in a city with public transit, use it;
  • If you don't, use carpooling. You can use the online database at Ridesearch to match up with other interested carpoolers;
  • If you live 5 miles or less from where you work, ride a bike at least a couple of days a week;
  • If you drive, obey the speed limit and use your cruise control on the highway, and
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated and your car tuned;
You might say that this won't make a difference, but I must respond that if 25 - 50% of Americans began implementing the above remedies in their lives (and they could beginning, as I say, right now), they would not only be depressing the cost of gas (and disappointing the speculators, tsk tsk) but also they would begin immediately saving money.

Until we begin to change our demand profile, we can't begin to whittle away at this problem and buy ourselves the time to develop the highly efficient, non-petroleum economy that we need to be truly secure. Swallow hard and repeat after me: "High fuel prices are our friend, for two reasons: they depress demand, and they make alternatives viable."

Updated: Here's a post on CNN Money that says pretty much the same thing.


Ann said...

This past weekend, I attended an old friend's shower, to which I carpooled. A mutual friend picked me up on her way in from Austin, and we rode to Spring together. It gave us time to catch up, and it saved me gas and toll quarters. I highly recommend carpooling, especially during wedding season.

Willie said...

As a test of what is possible, on my recent family vacation, I drove a rental 2008 Chevy Impala, completely loaded with 4 passengers and a trunk full of luggage, from Freeport, ME to Bar Harbor and averaged 32.0 MPG over that drive. It was 2/3 turnpike driving and 1/3 two lane, and I did the usual things (drove 55-60, accelerated modestly, light foot, etc.) but not crazy hypermiler stunts (e.g. tailgate an 18-wheeler). This milage was per the onboard computer, so it was perhaps optimistic, but as the old saying goes, the most important nut in the car is the one holding the wheel. Anyway, this is a real world example of driving a very full car and exceeding the spec for MPG (which is 18/29, per Edmunds). Simple techniques can yield surprising results.