At least, when it comes to the environment and America’s legendary wastefulness.
We’re not a country of people who like to be told what to do. Janet Jackson railed against her parents “Control,” Madonna pleaded with her papa not to preach – she’s keeping her baby. I’m dating myself. Wait – I know Sum 41 doesn’t fall in line and become a victim of conformity. Shit, they’re Canadian.
ANYWAY. As Robert Reich said in The Work of Nations (if I remember correctly from college and i may not. the year i smoked the most weed, i made the dean’s list.), wealth is a relative term determined by what your neighbor either has or doesn’t. And Americans want to be wealthy. We want cavernous houses with rolling yards that require us to live far out of town.
Last August, the Gallup Poll reported the average American commuted 46 minutes on their way to work. Eighty-five percent of those polled said they drive themselves. For our commute, we choose Yahoes (Yukons or Tahoes), Hummers, and – here in Texas – massive trucks that don’t even fit in the average parking space, forcing the driver to slant their truck across two spots, giving me a crisis of conscience every time I feel an almost-unstoppable desire to key the offending truck. For Father’s Day, Nissan has been playing an ad in the DFW area, calling the Armada “Dad Big.” WTF??
We want to buy cheap products from China who use their low-cost labor, lack of consumer watch-dog, and terrible environmental standards to stock Wal-Mart’s shelves with every product imaginable and pollute more than many developed countries combined. Our celebrity royalty with their private jets have left carbon tread marks in the skies between L.A. and N.Y. Yet even the rich live paycheck to paycheck, relying on credit for the mini-mansions and gas-guzzlers, voting Republican and denying the existence of global warming (which is akin to, I don’t know…denying evolution, which even our glorious president does). We all know the song (shout out, neil diamond).
And as out-of-control gas prices portend a coming credit crisis, cause consumer goods to cost most families their first-born and lead to an increase in the foul language used at gas pumps across the nation – there is a reason to celebrate.
The Department of Transportation said yesterday Americans drove 30 billion – that’s BILLION – less miles between Nov. ’07 and April ’08 than during the same period the previous year. SUV sales were down 38 percent this May over last year (disclaimer: I say this while planning an SUV as my next vehicle purchase. However, it takes me, like, a whole year to drive 3,000 miles.) The media has ubiquitous reports of Pruises selling like hotcakes and the American Public Transportation Association reported June 2 that Americans took 85 million more trips on public transportation during the first quarter of ’08 than during the same time the previous year.
Perhaps these high gas prices will continue to decrease our wasteful use of hydrocarbons and encourage us to live closer to work – even if in smaller houses – and drive less. I have to say the most annoying, yet beneficial idea that has emerged out of this crisis is the “staycation” which Urban Dictionary defines as: A vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer or a vacation close to home. As a lake girl, I’ve long been a practitioner of such local enjoyment. Texas has the best lakes – nice and warm and perfect with a cooler full of beer floating beside you. This year, we only plan on traveling to Vegas – and that’s to tie the knot, which I think justifies expanding our carbon footprint out of state. God, I love Vegas.
In the meantime, whenever I spot a Smart Car, I’ll give a silent hoorah to the driver.
And I’ll think “Holy Crap, that Commuter Car is crazy awesome!” Seriously – go to the website, the photos are insane.
Personal Note: You guys at FireSociety Forum who started Carbon Belch Day are going to hell. I mean, I know I’m going to hell – but for other reasons, like if “Carbon Belch Day” had been a joke, I’d think it was hysterical. But, from what I can tell, you guys are for real. Even if you don’t believe in global warming (and, not to be judgmental, but that means you’re an unresearched, closed-minded schmo of ridonkulous proportions), it still makes sense to operate as environmentally-friendly as possible simply to cut down on waste and smog. You must be poor decision-makers and it is well known that poor decision-makers tend to have shitty lives and either end up in prison (in which your carbon footprint would be reduced anyway) or on Judge Judy. Either way, I’ll see you in eternal damnation, biotches (the use of that word dates me as well, doesn’t it?).