Save Gas, Conserve Your Attitude

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OK, another one of my attempts at a humorous title, but with gas prices between $3.00 and $4.00 per gallon and articles on reducing fuel consumption all the rage on blogs, websites, and in the traditional press, attitudes and tempers do sometimes get out of hand. The articles often include or take the form of lists of gas saving tips and because of different opinions on the effectiveness of many of the tips, these articles generate a lot of comment and feedback. I don’t have a problem with people discussing or even arguing about things like whether using the auto’s air conditioning really uses extra gas, or if using electrical devices that force the alternator to work harder, burns more fuel. What really heats me up are the flames some people direct at others who they feel don’t do enough to conserve.

If someone posts tips on ways they try to save fuel while driving their truck, they should be encouraged, not told they are destroying the planet because they don’t walk, ride a bike or drive a hybrid. On the other hand, the person who does live somewhere with a lifestyle that does allow them to walk or ride a bike almost everywhere, should not be called a Pollyannaish, naive, wacko. (These are my recollections of real exchanges.)

As I have written before, I really believe that we can make significant, positive, social and environmental progress by encouraging others to make small, sustainable changes in their lives. I sometimes get flames thrown at me in forums or comment threads by people that believe everyone has to make major changes to their energy, food, and material consumption or society is doomed. There seems to be widespread agreement that there are people who will choose to never make any changes at all and that there are others that are just so out of touch that they don’t ever think about the issues. I sometimes get in trouble by suggesting that we just need to accept these facts and get on with encouraging the people who are trying, even in small ways.

Am I wrong? Do people need to be forced to change attitudes and consumption in big ways in order to save our world? I don’t believe so. Maybe companies need to be encouraged, or even coerced, to make changes that benefit society, but business must also be allowed to provide the products consumers want. Someone does not drive a 9 passenger SUV because they like the 9 mpg it gets. They drive it because they feel they need the larger vehicle. If the SUV manufacturer can make the SUV get 19 mpg, then positive change happens. If someone tries to outlaw large vehicles, scratches the paint of a Hummer, or calls a SUV driver names in an online forum, nothing but ill will is generated and no positive change happens.

If I had a podium in front a world wide audience, I’d say…. Let’s be civil. Let’s keep it simple. Let’s use common sense and encouragement. Thank those that make large, positive changes in their lives and their communities. But also give thanks for the legions that make small changes, because those seemingly insignificant changes really do add up and make a difference. Common sense tells me it is so. Believe in those small changes, not just the big ones.

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Will Sig
1 chaosgone

A while ago at work, I was talking about how bad the millage was for SUVs, and and someone walked up to me, all mad, and said “Are you saying I should not drive my SUV?”

I replied “No, I don’t know why you drive one. We do not *all* have to do the same thing for the environment.”

We can all do something to save the environment, and/or gas. But, I will do my part, and you can do yours. 🙂

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2 Scott

Hey..

I’m feeling you one hundred percent on your theory of assisting people in small change that is managble is much better then telling someone they should walk, when most of the time the guy saying it is driving a F-250 too his job.

Seems if we all assisted each other with our knowledge then we would all have the ability too cut gas costs. Those that don’t simply don’t want too because there are many options out there.

Reply

3 Will

That’s right, Scott. But the thing to remember is that often the guy in the big pickup truck needs it for his job. Others, like me drive a pickup when we need it for specific trips, and have other fuel efficient cars to use at all other times. I think I put 2,000 miles tops on my truck last year. Sometimes the person you see who appears to be oblivious to how they are impacting the earth and their lives, may actually be more aware and responsible in their choices than we are. The point is don’t judge or assume. Encourage, educate, and make the best choices yourself. Of course some people are truly oblivious!

Water for gas – eh? I’ll have to read a bit about that before I judge or assume. 😉

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4 Ken

I believe the fact you do not have to give up purchasing a pickup truck or SUV or whatever you wish to purchase because you are a great lover of this world and you have to do everything possible to conserve fuel. I think people purchase larger vehicles because they need to. If there was a head on collision on the highway between a smart car and a full size SUV which would you rather be in. Just because your in the larger vehicle, it doesn’t mean you were at fault. Out of all the engineers and scientists out there, you mean that they can’t come up with a better engineered drive train that will double your fuel economy. Really, are all the true geniuses on coffee break? Can you imagine the difference if every larger vehicle in North America alone was getting twice the fuel mileage. You might think twice the fuel mileage is a lot, but these vehicles are getting terrible mileage right now.

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