New York City Diary

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Friday, April 22, 2005

Sad Earth Day 2005

When I wrote my earlier post I had completely forgotten that today is Earth Day. Happy Earth Day 2005.

It's little surprise that nobody's making much of a big deal about it. It's a pretty sad day for environmentalists, of course, because responsible stewardship of our natural environment is such a low priority for our government these days.

I'm not going to launch into a rant about the unbelievable hypocrisy of Bush's "Healthy Forests" and "Clear Skies" initiatives, which are designed to produce the exact opposite of what those names suggest, nor am I going to opine on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.

The one point I would like to make is on the general philosophy of conservation. I think that's Bush's greatest environmental failing. Our reliance on foreign oil is the cause of some of our nation's greatest problems. We're fighting a war over oil in which more than 1,500 Americans have already lost their lives, and yet Bush has never once made the suggestion that it would be in our national interest to conserve oil. Not one word, ever.

Why not? Because Bush is in the pocket of the oil industry. He does their bidding. He allows them to write our nation's energy policy. I think this is wrong.

Instead of encouraging conservation, tax breaks are given to purchasers of Hummers, the most fuel-inefficient vehicle ever marketed in America (until the next one). This is what Americans are fighting and dying for?

The idea of fuel efficiency is not even ignored, it's ridiculed. Vehicle fuel efficiency standards are being loosened, not tightened. American cars are less fuel efficient than they've been in years. Shouldn't the trend be toward improving efficiency? Shouldn't some of our best and brightest engineering minds be encouraged to work toward improving efficiency in vehicles? How can we be going backwards on these issues? I don't know, but we are.

Environmentalists are portrayed as nut-jobs, out of touch with mainstream American values. They'd rather protect a snowy egret than a timber worker's job. Well, I believe we can do both, but not without real leadership from the White House, which we will never get from this administration.

I come from a family where conservation was a common value throughout my childhood. We always owned fuel-efficient vehicles, even when the American land-yacht was the norm in the 1970's. We conserved fuel just because it made sense, both for the family's finances and for the environment.

And think about the word conserve. Shouldn't conservatives pay more than hypocritical lip-service to conservation? No, the new breed of conservatives encourage reckless consumption. The idea of fuel efficiency and alternative power sources is instead ridiculed.

All I'm asking is that people make an effort. You don't have to dump your car and live in a cave. Just make an effort to consume less, conserve more, and leave the earth and society in a healthier place. That's all. Happy Earth Day.


Blogger Jenn said...

Sound, and practical, advice. Wish more people took it.
While it's encouraging that the Prius is actually selling (and there are engineers at GM working on--relatively--fuel efficient varieties), hybrids still make up less than HALF a percent of the U.S. auto market. I'm gonna bet there are more Americans driving Hummers (and enjoying those rebates). And all of them voted for Bush.

4:38 PM  

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