are SUVs unpatriotic? national geographic cover end of cheap oil

The June 2004 issue of National Geographic has an interesting read about oil. Its pretty good pulp for an evening in the roof top tent with a full mattress (much nicer than sleeping in bivy) miles and miles away from any paved road. With the recent run up in gas prices it takes about a hundred bucks for my tank (my series 80 has a larger than stock tank). Basically I don't mind the high price of gas because it serves as a reality check. Oil after all is a limited resource and nowhere in the constitution does it say there a god given right that we Americans should have cheap gas. Besides foreign dependence on oil when ya think about it is valid national security issue....

Anyway, at one stop on highway 66 on the way back home, ran into a family and the husband just mentioned that he was appalled at the price of gas. When I said I didn't mind the high price, he mentioned "this is something I have to hear." I basically said I think too many people drive SUVs in SoCal as daily drivers and we only have ourselves to blame for high gas prices cause we cause high demand (actually not only here in the USA but there is rising demand in China).

are SUVs unpatriotic? national geographic cover end of cheap oil

Most economists expect prices to stay high in the near future, as demand from expanding economies, like China, devours a stretched supply.

Turned out he, his wife and daughter just drove cross country in an SUV and were going back to California. He said he found gas prices much lower in the midwest (he didn't realize that there are 18 different blends of gas, for example in california to lessen pollution the government mandates oxygenated fuels which raises the price). Don't know if I offended or shocked the guy with my rants about what I thought of most SUVs, but oh well...

A few days earlier (memorial day weekend) I was at Supai, AZ (never been there before and didn't realize ya needed reservations). Since I solo and back packing in and out all my own stuff, one of the Havasupai indians at the trail head said just go for it, so I did. The reason reservations are required is because it seems 90% of the people ride in or take a helicopter. The hike in and out really isn't that bad even with a full back pack and enuf food to last a few days (ya just have to take it easy).

At the Havasu falls camp ground over the Memorial day weekend it was a zoo so I only stayed one night before hiking out and checking out other parts of the reservation (camping permits FYI run about ten bucks a day and there are places I found where there ain't no tourists or other back packers). I kind of had to laugh when I saw wall to wall people all about the Havasu falls camp with all kind of excess shit (lawn furniture, huge ice chests, BBQ's, etc.), and was just kind of sad when I saw all kind of TP on the ground in some areas (guess some people did not know about the old rule "take only pictures leave only foot prints").

I noted at the Havasu Canyon trail head, which is an easy drive (the road is paved) there were lots of SUVs, seems like 70% of the cars up there were inefficient SUVs (including mine - but at least I use the damn thing for what it was designed for, and its not my daily driver). When I was down at the camp ground there was some eye candy, but many of the people down there were damn overweight, and I would assume many of those hefty people drove there share of SUVs I had seen at the trail head. The fact that there were many SUVs and many hefty people does not surprize me anymore, it just confirmed my suspicion that there are lots of fat people who feel the need to drive SUVs (what other conclusion is there to draw?). BTW these trends (unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyles and effects of pollution) kill more Americans per day than the terrorists managed to do on 9/11...

conserving gas is patriotic

conserving gas is patriotic

These World War II posters appealed to the American public to save gas for the allies war effort of world war II. If it was considered patriotic to save gas back then, isn't it our patriotic duty to save gas now?

So the big question is should an individual who drives big old SUVs in an urban area be charged with sabotage by the office of homeland security? Seriously though why do so many people feel the need to buy an SUV given that the USA is oil dependence (I have read if we raise fuel efficiency standards in American cars by 7.6 mpg, we eliminate one-hundred percent of our gulf oil imports into this country, FYI "in the US 90% of commuting involves a single occupant and 77% of all trips are with one or two aboard" (Motor Trend August 2004, p. 43) and "Government studies have shown that nearly 75 percent of trips could be taken in a neighborhood electric vehicle such as a GEM (Motor Trend Oct 2004, page 60).

Why don't SUVs abide by the same rules as ordinary cars if that is typically how they are being used? According to the summer 2004 issue of "Inside, published by consumers union"

With vehicle rollover deaths at an all-time high - more than 10,000 annually the issue of vehicle roof crush is starting to get the attention it deserves. The government's current roof-crush standard is woefully out of date, the last time it was upgraded was 1971, before higher-stance, less stable vehicles such as SUVs which are more prone to rollovers.

Compounding the problem, vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight), such as the Ford Expedition, the Chevy Suburban and Trailblazer EXT, and Toyota Sequoia - are exempt from any roof strength regulation. If the current standard were more rigorous and applied to heavier vehicles, it's estimated that as many as 1,400 deaths and 2,300 serious injuries could be prevented each year.

Manufactures have said that people would not die because of roof crush if they wore seat belts, But NHTSA (National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration) estimates that each year about 1,300 people wearing seat belts are killed in rollover accidents because of roof crush.

And how come SUVs are gas hogs, but are tax lean? Right now, big-SUV drivers have it both ways: they use their trucklike status when it benefits them (to avoid taxes, among these the "gas guzzler tax") but they ignore the more onerous restrictions that "real" truck drivers face like getting a truck drivers licence which is suppose to make sure people know how to drive large vehicle.

55 MPH
“a quick way to really save gas, SLOW DOWN”

Flying and physics taught the only way you can extend the range of an airplane is to slow down! This is because drag is an inverse square law, in practical terms this means when double your speed from 100 MPH to 200 MPH ya create four times the drag. In a pilots operating hand book there are a number of tables that show fuel consumption vs air speed, bottom line the slower ya go the farther you can fly (which is really important if ya have a long over water flight)

In everyday life, I try an apply these same ideas to driving. In my land cruiser for example I try and drive a steady 2000 RPM, which translates to just about 55 MPH on road trips up to the sierras, down in baja, etc. and over the years I have averaged 16 MPG, which is better than EPA estimates.

I also drive my BMW 540 around 2000 RPM which translates to about 65 MPH on the freeway and average 24 MPG. These mileage figures might seem low compared to a Toyota Prius hybrid..... BUT doing the math, I figured with “product life cycle costs” I am actually saving money, and doing less environmental damage buying a used sports sedan with a V8 instead of a brand new hybrid. (I plan on only driving it about 3000 to 4000 miles a year, which is much lower than the national average). The reason I claim its the best economic and environmental decision is it takes a lot more energy and materials, plus infrastructure costs to make a new car, compared to buying an older car.

America is addicted to oil...
President Bush 2006 state of the union, “Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil.” Now that we have the president saying we have a problem, are people willing to meet the challenge head on?

The biggest obstacle, to slowing down which is a method of saving fuel, money and the environment is the mental self discipline required to keep going at a nice even pace. There have been times over the years that I've been given the bird for being in the way of some people trying to rush some place, but when that happens I just blow people a kiss which for some reason seems to frustrate them a bit more.

Seriously though, I really wonder if people have the guts and are willing to set aside the strong desire to drive everywhere in a hurry, in order to save some money, the environment and lessen this nations dependence on oil.

Have your own take on the subject? Then use the graffiti wall to post it!


 
 
 
 
 
 

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