Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Every Little Bit...

I can't believe I'm doing this, but I'm responding to a political issue of sorts - not to directly support one presidential candidate or another, but to raise some questions on how we as Americans consider our position. First, I have to say that being away from radio and television for most of the summer has left me out of the news loop, so I'm responding to a piece of a conversation about whether Obama or McCain should become our next president based on their energy policy. In particular, to a comment that Obama should not become president if he thinks passing out tire pressure gauges is a way to start solving the energy crisis as opposed to McCain's desire to drill for oil in Alaska or off-shore Florida.
While large-scale, long-term solutions are necessary, I'm not sure I believe we should necessarily go drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas. If we are going to drill for oil, why not drill in the middle of cities or areas that are already highly concentrated in pollution and debris? This would make workers more readily available, putting thousands of unemployed people to work making good money rather than transporting and housing people many miles from their homes. It would be a way to revitalize a lot of cities, and oil rigs don't look that much different from the Eiffel Tower - architecturally appealing structures could actually enhance city skylines while providing jobs and boosting local economies. This would leave our wild areas still untouched for many more years to come.
Maximizing fuel efficiency by checking tire pressure is certainly a much smaller scale step in developing a strong energy policy, but one that can be employed by every single vehicle owner in the United States. Not only will it improve mpg, it shifts the mind-set from "What will the government do to fix this problem?" to "What else can I do to make a small difference that, with the efforts of others, will affect long term change?" Personally, I like the idea of people like you and me taking steps toward energy independence on foreign oil. I would love for there to be more alternatives available to the working middle class and the lower classes that were affordable and accessible. I would love for the upper class to take more advantage in securing alternative energies rather than buying bigger vehicles simply because they can afford to own them and operate them.
Maintaining optimal air pressure in tires is only one baby step, but add to that driving the speed limit, combining trips, carpooling, reducing consumption of disposable durables like electronics and plastic crap, buying locally produced goods, supporting community events that help families and neighbors have fun close to home, and many more things, these all add up to big changes for each of our households. Add each of these household's changes into groups and you have community changes and pretty soon the solutions show up regionally and nationally. Yeah, I think tire pressure gauges ARE the way to engage America, much more personally than having some nameless group of corporate sponsors blasting and drilling in areas in which we don't have to witness the devastation to our landscapes.
I admit that I am not up on all the political issues of the day, and I don't really know who I'll vote for. Tire pressure gauges without a more well-planned solution are no more good than defacing the environment behind the public's back... I hope there's a better solution that addresses both ends of the spectrum... large scale energy solutions that are considerate of the environment as well as small scale solutions that engage every American to make a more thoughtful choice today than they did yesterday in how they consume energy.
What do you think?

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