Friday, August 24, 2007

Treehuggers step up, or rather let up on that gas pedal

A rebuttal column in today's News & Record cataloged evidence supporting global warming. The column set off the usual back and forth about whether the U.S. should or shouldn't do something about global warming. Absent from the column and subsequent commentary was any mention of what people--and in particular, those concerned with global warming--might actually do.

The U.S. Department of Energy offers several tips to improve gas mileage. Two of these stand out: driving sensibly by avoiding rapid starts and excessive braking and obeying the speed limit. The DOE estimates that sensible driving reduces gas consumption by 5-33 percent and that obeying the speed limit reduces consumption by 7-23 percent.

Treehuggers should put up or shut up. Anybody who thinks that global warming is a serious problem should gladly accept the small increase in travel time for the substantial reductions in gas consumption and environmental degradation. Treehuggers' reductions won't be enough to eliminate the anticipated effects of global warming. Nevertheless, they would make a substantial dent in the problem and can be accomplished without expensive or intrusive government programs--all treehuggers need to do is obey the law. This also provides a minimal, ready test of people's commitment to the global warming issue. Treehuggers should not hector others or advocate expensive government actions until they're willing to put their cruise controls where their mouths are. Are treehuggers ready to take this first simple step?

P.S. The U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that transportation accounts for two-thirds of the petroleum consumed in this country, or slightly more than all of the petroleum that we import. If everyone obeyed the existing traffic laws, oil imports would go down substantially. Stated another way, every extra mile over the speed limit and every jack-rabbit start effectively puts dollars in the hands of Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin, and the House of Saud. Before issuing any criticisms of their own, conservatives should carefully consider how their own behavior enriches tyrants and Islamic extremists.