Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Selfish Americans

I wrote in an earlier post that if this country is to move forward with respect to being greener and more energy independent, we “must overcome two syndromes: the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome when it comes to wind and nuclear, and this unrealistic fear of nuclear power.”

Everybody wants cleaner air and cheaper gas, but nobody wants to make a sacrifice to get there. Instead we whine about the high cost of gas while continuing to buy SUVs and resist anything that might help the country at a whole but inconvenience us peresonally. I think the SUV is the symbol of American self-centeredness, with the Hummer the ultimate icon of ostentation. Why do I pick on the SUV?

(1) People buy them because “I can see so much better from up there.” Right, but what about the vehicles behind you? Unless you’re in an 18 wheeler, you can’t see anything but the tailgate of one of those monstrosities when you’re behind one.

(2) People buy them because “I feel so safe” surrounded by all that steel. Wonderful, but what if you hit a smaller vehicle with one of those behemoths? You’re safe (unless the thing rolls over, which they tend to do) but the people in the other vehicle are more likely to be severely injured.

(3) People buy them not caring that they are burning precious non-renewable resources, plus polluting the air more than a car burning a lot less per mile traveled. So much for caring about future generations and the quality of the air. Why somebody needs such an enormous vehicle to haul groceries is beyond me.

If we are reduced to a Third World country because of all the problems facing us, with the main risk being severe fuel shortages, then the SUV would be the symbol of our decline. When I see somebody gassing up their SUV to the tune of $80 or more, I really can’t work up any sympathy for them. Sorry, but it’s your own fault for buying one of those.

I am writing about this because I feel it is a moral issue in any number of ways. Right now, we are taking food and making fuel from it, causing price increases that hurt the poor, many of whom can barely afford to live even at a subsistence level. We are hurting ourselves and future generations by our profligate ways.

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