My husband pointed out last week when I started talking about overconsumption that I’d missed something else on the list: alternative transportation of the bike kind. Actually, I hadn’t missed it – I just hadn’t gotten to it yet.
I’m getting to it now. No doubt, if you drive, you’ve noticed the price of gas fluctuating a lot over the past two weeks. I don’t keep up with the news very well, so when this happens, I always have to ask my husband what’s going on in the world. This time, the gas prices are apparently related to someone miscalculating the amount of oil in reserve here in the US, so prices increased dramatically.
We rely too much on oil. I think we forget, as more oil fields are found, that oil isn’t a renewable resource, which causes us to go through it as if it is. It’s not just in our cars, but in our homes and offices. The price of oil or gas is figured into everything we buy or sell, so it’s difficult to get away from consuming it.
I grew up surrounded by corn and soybean fields, and still live in farm country. I’m ALL for lessening our reliance on fossil fuels and increasing our use of alternative fuels, like those made from vegetation or solar, wind, or electric power. It seems logical to me that we would want to find alternatives to oil for our fuel sources, and the sources listed above are renewable (and can be sustainable). So why not use them more?
When I talk to people about this, there are usually two problems mentioned. The first is money. I know *I* don’t have the money to put solar panels or cells on my roof or a windmill in my backyard (oh, I’d love to have a windmill!). I’m not alone – converting to renewable energy is costly, and many people don’t have that kind of money. If more people could convert their energy sources, the prices would come down, but because we are used to using gas and it’s cheap, we don’t want to spend the extra money. The other part of this is that larger corporations aren’t encouraging it in their own practices. Yes, I know, there are some fantastic hybrid vehicles out there, and it’s great that we have this choice, but people are still more willing to spend money on SUVs than take a chance on the hybrid because it costs more than a regular gas guzzling car. Yet the price of filling the tank of an SUV is atrocious AND the mpg’s usually run around a whopping 14.
The other problem people mention is that the factories which make the alternative fuels still use gas to run – so what’s the point?
This seems to have turned into a full on rant, and in a way, it is. Everything starts out expensive; new ideas are costly. When personal computers came out in the late 70s/early 80s, they were very expensive. By the late 90s, when everyone HAD to have a computer in their house, the prices were down. Now you can buy a good computer for not a lot of money, and I can name several households which have two or three (or more). Over time, prices for most things decrease as more manufacturers start producing the product in question; if more consumers demanded alternative fuel sources, more manufacturers would produce them, and the competition would help lower prices. And yes, factories which make these products still use gas – but some of them are converting to other forms of energy, and by making products which use renewable fuel sources, they are still helping in the move to lower consumption of oil.
OK, so what can we do to help lower our consumption of fossil fuels? If you’re in the market for a new car, get a hybrid. The city mpgs have really improved in the new generations of the hybrids. Or, if you have the money, you could buy the Tesla, an all electric car (this is what *I* want) which relies on a rechargeable battery as its fuel source. Buy local products so the use of fuel for transporting the product to you is low; this is an especially good idea for buying food, as locally produced food is usually raised in a more environmentally friendly way and tastes better to boot. Convert what you can to alternative fuels. If you have a car with a diesel engine, consider converting it so it can use biodiesel (which includes using grease from the deep fryer at McDonald’s), or check the information on a non-diesel vehicle to see if it can use higher percentage ethanol gasoline. If you can afford a windmill or solar panels, go for it.
And as my husband says, when possible, ride your bike to work.