"The Wondering Jew"
Jan. 21, 2007 - 18:33 MST
SUNDAY IS THE BEST
On Sunday's The Denver Post is when folks of "Writers On The Range" hold forth. They come up with different viewpoints or better ways of looking at things. Today is no exception, there's an article by Gail Binkly who is one of those "Writers On The Range." Her article quoted here in full:
LISTENING TO NPR AND DOING 80 MILES AN HOUR
"I'll always remember the evening a candidate for local political office, an environmentally minded and intelligent citizen whom I liked and admired, passed me on the highway between Cortez and Mancos. I was traveling somewhere between 60 and 65 mph, my usual cruising speed. He blew by me -- passing over a double yellow line -- as if I were a slug crawlilng along the asphalt."
" When I mentioned the incident to him later, he said, "I was tired and I wanted to get home."
"Not long ago, I listened to a woman active in a conservation group bragging about how many times she'd been stopped for speeding and laughing about how often she'd been able to talk her way out of a ticket."
"Every time I encounter someone like this, someone ostensibly "green" who takes great pride in driving like a crazed fugitive in an action movie, I have to smother the impulse to club him or her over the head with a rolled-up newspaper from my recycling bin."
"You're hurting the movement," I want to say. "you're hurting the earth. What are you thinking ?"
"A vehicle's most efficient speed varies a little according to what type of vehicle it is, of course, but everyone agrees that the further the needle on your dashboard leans past 60, the faster your fuel consumption rises, largely because of wind resistance. Driving 75 instead of 55 mph can cause you to burn as much as 45 percent more gasoline, depending on what you are driving, according to the Federal Trade commission. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that fuel efficiency drops 7 percent, on average, for each 5 mph by which you exceed 65."
"No matter the exact figure, it's clear that greater speed burns more gasoline and produces more climate-warming emissions. It also contributes to more car crashes and increases the severity of those crashes -- not to mention that it causes us to mow down more birds, butterflies, prairie dogs and any other form of wildlife that might step into our paths."
"There are many forms of enviromental hypocrisy, of course, and we're all guilty of a few. Maybe we take long, hot baths sometimes when we could get by with brief showers. Or we occasionally buy a bottle of water instead of remembering to carry some in a reusable container. Nobody's perfect, or even consistent."
"But our driving habits are among the simplest, easiest, most obvious things we could change in order to help the planet -- yet most of us simply won't do it."
"An ultra-conservative woman I know, once told me about a meeting of an environmental group that took place at a local community center. "After it was over," she chortled, "they all ran out to their SUVs and drove four blocks down the street to the brewpub."
"I don't doubt her tale, because I see similar examples all the time. A friend of mine who rescues abandoned animals and supports environmental causes once was ticketed for doing 90 mph near South Park. She then made a 200-mile round trip back there to fight the ticket in court on the theory that her appearance would lessen her fine, a theory that, sadly, proved untrue."
"Many people who bristle at the idea of new oil and gas wells or coal-fired power plants are far more likely to hop in their cars and drive to a meeting about the subject than they are to do something far simpler to reduce emissions: Slow down. NO, they'd rather boast about how fast they can drive, say, from Grand Junction to Moab, Utah."
"After the Arab oil embargo of 1973, the federal government ordered states to cut their speed limits to 55 mph. Partly as a result, the United States' consumption of gasoline stayed level for years. But in 1987, speed limits went up again, and so did gasoline consumption. Now, the idea of reinstating the 55 mph limit is considered outrageous."
"What prompts this posession with speed ? Is it a residual anti-authoriatarianism left from the '60s ? Does speeding make us feel like we're bucking the system somehow ? Maybe. But this willingness to toss aside our ethics when they become inconvenient just gives critics reason to doubt our sincerity on any environmental issue. Personally, I'd rather buck the system by buying fewer gallons of gasoline than by dodging deer at 80 mph while listening to NPR."
Speed, a disease that seems to be rampant in today's society, and often kills one way or another, physically for one thing. And my interest in what is being said by someone who insists on talking faster than any human can understand wanes in proportion to the speed they talk. Some of this I could guess comes from the bean counters who time every second of a customer service clerk per customer. Likewise on other jobs too.
The need of speed is perhaps greed, the ambition to do more, make more miles, handle more things and succed, win, succeed and come in first. But in retrospect, what have any of us gained by our greedy need for speed ? Usually we handle more things, items, customers but so much more clumsily and inefficiently. When I finally do get a live body on the telephone, they speak so fast that even though I repeatedly ask them to slow down, the reduction only lasts for a second or two and back to full speed ahead. Consequences are that I am angry at the company who employes them, angry at the one on the phone for not giving me the courtesy I ask for and over all, disgusted at the system that produces them.
Since I have retired, Heather and I take pleasure in going just a tad above the minimum speed limit and keep to the right hand lane, even pulling over for others to pass if the need arises.
I would not want to go back to the slow pace of life as it was during the horse and wagon days, much of which was because it was too difficult to make more speed with teams and wagons. But, having been in a roll-over accident at highway speeds, I know that even doing the speed limit can be fatal.
I do value the extra time to go through the paper and for that SUNDAY IS THE BEST . . . . . . . . . . .1 comments so far