Saturday, February 11, 2006

Rattling around inside the car box

So I was listning to Ecotalk on Air America this afternoon, and they had a second segment with Peter Tertzakian, author of a new book about oil entitled 1000 barrels a second. Like last week's segment with Tertzakian, it was a very good conversation—the type of frank discussion we should be having about energy issues right now (and for the last 20 years.) I like the host, Betsy Rosenberg. She's a good journalist and a very sincere environmentalist. But she had to spoil the whole darn thing and make the same comment that I hear almost every environmentalist make when they talk about oil depletion:

[...] I drive a hybrid car, have solar panels, do all those eco-friendly things, I don't feel like I'm sacrificing. I feel smarter, I feel like I'm part of the solution [...]

It's sad, really, that it seems like it will take us forever to start thinking outside the car box. Even a smart person like Betsy Rosenberg needs help looking beyond the painfully obvious. It's not just the fuel economy of the car. It's the manufacturing of the car, the infrastructure required to support it, the way it influences land use patterns and all the other unspoken burdens that go with our dependance on the damn thing. She's fallen into the trap that many of us reflexively fall into, because the first thing many of us ask ourselves when we encounter a problem is not "how can I solve this problem," but "what can I buy to solve this problem?"

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