Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What should we really do about the oil crisis...

After listening to politicians and pundits suggest gas tax holidays, bio fuel initiatives, and more efficient cars (read "SUV's") as ways to counteract rising gas prices, I have decided that they are all missing the point. Why don't we, meaning our government, take steps to decrease our need for oil all together?

Don't answer that. I think I already know the rea$on why the government doesn't want our consumption to actually decrease. I'm talking hypothetically here. Why do we need so much oil? I have few ideas on how we can reduce our consumption of the black gold, Texas tea, nasty dead dinosaur sludge.

Instead of lowering the taxes on gas, let's raise them. That's right. Raise the gas tax. The only way to get Americans to stop doing something is to raise the cost. Then, take that income and put it into public transportation. Not only do we reduce the number of cars on the road burning up the petrol, but we could improve public transportation for all citizens.

What? You say that your city's public transportation system is ill-equipped to handle such an influx. We're in a recession and people are losing jobs with respectable pay, decent benefits, and union representation. Well, throw a bunch of tax money at a public service like, say, a bus or train system and voila! You have good jobs that provide a needed service to the community.

We won't need a tax holiday when families can opt to take a train to see Grandma. Those struggling just to get by won't have to worry about how they'll make their next insurance payment or fill their gas tank when they can board the bus for a fraction of the price. Additionally, as the demand for gasoline goes down, so do the prices.

And all those new hybrids/electric cars/flex fuel the automakers are frantically trying to sell us will become unnecessary. The "Big Three" will be forced to reinvent themselves. They'll have to convert their once-empty plants to bus, monorail, and train production centers, giving new life to the industrial laborers of this country.

I realize that higher fuel taxes would mean a rise in food prices. The result of this would be a greater need for more locally grown produce and meat. The government could put their farmer subsidies to good use by encouraging farmers to grow more diverse types of food, ridding us of the industrial farming scourge from which we now suffer.

Then there's the biofuel craze. We are the only country that grows food just to make fuel instead of using food waste or garbage to fuel our cars and heat our homes
(don't check that on Wikipedia, I'm using hyperbole as a rhetorical device). The result is a bunch of corn that's inedible. We are having food shortages at Cosco, but we're growing food for our cars. This is just plain stupid.

Besides the waste of resources, biofuels are actually quite harmful to the environment. The problem is not how they burn in comparison to more traditional fuels. Biofuels are extremely toxic to create, negating their environmental benefits.

So, what should we do for a fuel alternative? Well, let's do what people in Brazil or hippies with bio-diesel Volvos do. They use the leftover cooking oil from deep fryers to motor their way across country. What would be a better way to take advantage of our fast food addiction than to use the oil to cook our French fries to power our Hummers and Escalades? Maybe we could actually grow corn for, I don't know, food.

Of course, oil is not just used for fuel. It is also used to make plastic. While we worry and fuss over our gasoline consumption, industry continues to spit out more products that simply disposable pieces of plastic. Let's put programs in place to cut back on our plastic like we're trying to do to cut back on gas usage. That means no more plastic cups at this weekend's kegger. Don't buy that bottle of Evian (naive spelled backwards) on your next trip to the Quick Stop. And absolutely no more wearing of the Crocs will be permitted. Cut back on the plastic and we cut back on the need for oil.

I realize why many of these ideas are pipe dreams with all of Washington in the pockets of automakers and the oil industry, but they could fix the problem. I am open to any other ideas that are better. I'm also open to anyone with clear reason why these things would not work...besides arguments like "Shut up you stupid hippie!" or "Take that commie-pinko crap and shove it where the sun don't shine!" Those are just ignorant arguments. I really am interested why these things would or would not work.


Kate said...

Ride your bike! You can stay healthy and save money. I would think in a town like Colombia it'd be a lot easier than here. I wish I didn't get bottles thrown at me when I rode. I'm going to try to ride more from now on, though (as soon as it's back from the shop) and just try to dodge the bottles.

comoprozac said...

I have to drive over 80 miles round trip this morning. A bike won't work. Bottles?

Kate said...

Ok, well, I knew you traveled for you job but how about around town? I attached a nifty (easily detachable!) basket to the front of my bike that I can fit a nice load of groceries in...perfect for the farmers' market, no? And these kids were just having fun and thought, "hey, let's throw a bottle at that girl riding her bike down Indianola". It didn't hit me but broke on the ground and scared the bejesus out of me.

I just think public transportation is a hard sell but maybe that's just because of being in Columbus too long...people are selfish, you know, and I would say that that's the basic problem here.

comoprozac said...

Yeah, the bike thing sounds nice. However, right now it's sort of hard to get R on a bike...with the fetus and all.

I still think people would turn to public transportation before they bike it if gas prices continue to rise.