02 June 2008

"Petrol is Blood!" - "The Battle of the Bulge"

When it comes to energy solutions, it seems even the slightest hindrance renders the whole concept unworkable.
I was watching a news segment the other night about truckers slowing down to 55 mph to cope with the price of fuel. This raised the concept of lowering speed limits on Minnesota’s highways, to which Rep. Amy Klobuchar responded with a comment to the effect that people weren’t ready to have the speed limit drop from 65 to 60 mph.
If this is true, then we are doomed. The problem facing requires drastic action, not piecemeal commitment from lawmakers seeking re-election and therefore not wanting to rock the boat or cause people to frown on them in any way (this is a blanket statement; I’m not sure what Klobuchar’s plans are in the future).
I would love to see a politician come out and talk about real solutions – not begging the Saudis for more gas, not promising corporate innovation, and not promising some miracle of bio-fuel science that’s going to let us keep driving with the windows down, A/C cranked, at 70 mph. For a moment, I’ll pretend to be that politician.
“My fellow Americans,” I would deeply intone, “the free ride is over. We’re at a tipping point in a petroleum-based world. The rising gas prices you see are not going down anytime soon. If you have memories of driving a muscle car on gas that cost less than a quarter a gallon, do your best to remember them. That situation will never be repeated. We face stark choices ahead – we can either act proactively, or we can bury our heads in the sand.
“This isn’t a problem that can be solved from some miracle on high. The truth seems to be that there aren’t any knights in shining armor on the hill. Biofuels take more energy to produce than they contribute, and seem to be having an effect on the world food supply. In short, even if it were a perfect solution, it would not slake our thirst for consumption. Guess what, America? We’ve got a problem. We’ve built a house of straw. Our entire world runs off a product that, at best, is becoming prohibitively expensive, and at worst is in danger of being exhausted. I have several solutions I think might help to adapt to our present situation.
“First, slow down. There is no good reason anyone needs to go 65 mph, unless you are an ambulance or a fire truck. So, from now on, the speed limit is going back to 55 mph. Second, I’m going to tax the hell out of gas-guzzling cars. If you want to drive the Hummer in this situation, it’s going to cost you. The taxes will go to a special fund that will build solar panels and wind turbines across the county to somehow make up for the power that’s currently being shot out of your tailpipe. Third, car companies? Wake up. Stop making the Escalade, and start making the Geo Metro again. Fourth, gasoline will be rationed. I know this will be deeply unpopular, but let’s face it – the planet is a bit more important than running your boat to go fishing or traveling to the cabin for a long weekend.
“I don’t want to watch the world fall apart any quicker than it has to.
Have you seen the movie ‘The Road Warrior?’ Well, on a bad day, that’s where I think we’re headed. Anything we can do to make our supplies last longer is to our benefit.
“How else will this affect us? Well, if it becomes more expensive to ship groceries to market, we can kiss cheap produce goodbye. So, to ensure that families can at least get proper fruits and vegetables, I encourage people around the nation to plant gardens. We did it in World War II, and we can do it again.”
Of course, I would be immediately dragged from the podium and impeached for having the wherewithal to suggest that the world might be to blame for building a house of straw. That’s probably the reason that Klobuchar hesitated to suggest that reducing the speed limit (surely one of the simplest ways to save fuel) might be a good idea. She’s got a career to look after, and frankly, any politician with sanity would have done the same thing.
Still, it would be nice to see one of these people suggest anything resembling sacrifice for a greater good. As small as it might be, it would at least give me the sense that someone out there is trying to allow us to have a tiny amount of control over our petro-based future.

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