Thursday, August 7, 2008

Are You Driving a Pig!

Many of the vehicles driven today fall into one of four categories; van, car, pickup or an SUV. Very few of the American models get the mileage they should. Everyone is up in arms about mileage these days and here we are with an American automobile industry that is tooled up to manufacture vehicles that average 20 miles to the gallon(I'd say that estimate is being generous).

I couldn't figure out for sure what people were thinking when they would buy an over sized 4 wheel drive to get groceries and go to work. I live 20 miles from town in South Dakota and I never owned one myself. I couldn't justify one then and I darn sure can't justify it now.

I used to have a 1986 Pontiac with a 4 cylinder motor in it. This little car was every misers dream. The dang thing got 36 miles to the gallon on the interstate driving 70 mph. What happened to those cars anyway? Sheesh, if you were mad at it and drove it 75 or 80 it still got 28 mpg.

How fast do we have to get places anyway? My little Pontiac probably wouldn't do 60 mph between stop lights like cars made now but you could sure pass a lot of gas stations. Last year I had to go European to get a car that would get in excess of 30 mpg and still haul my family without stacking them in. German actually . . .first time I ever bought a vehicle that wasn't made in the USA; it bothered me too. . .not too bad though. I mean really; what options did Detroit leave a person that was concerned about fossil fuel consumption? None that I could see.

I read an article today published in the Topeka Kansas newspaper. It was written by a lady that claimed she was upside down on her SUV. She claimed not to be able to trade it even on a brand new economy car; the dealers won't take them. Now this is an intelligent person; educated and teaching at a mid-west college. What are people like this thinking of when they buy one of these 4 wheel drives? I don't think they are thinking. How can reasonably intelligent people quit thinking when they go buy a new vehicle? What really gets me is like most everyone; she justified her purchase by giving us the classic answer everyone gives when you ask them about there SUV.

"I'll be glad I have it when the snow comes and the roads get slippery."

Every time I hear this statement I want to scream! If I count the number of days of work I've missed in ten years because of the weather I can come up with about four . . . well maybe five days . . . in ten years. Now how can you justify the extra expense of fuel, maintenance and payments on an SUV for a measly four or five days in ten years. It is impossible.

I will get off my vehicle soap box now. I think everyone has the picture. I will not mention it again. It is a very sore subject now with many people. BTW, I sure like my Mercedes Benz I bought last year.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Local or Global or Locally Global!

I've spouted off about what the clever people and the people with money should do to save us from ourselves and our oil habit; now what can I do? Yup, me! What can I do in the mid-west to help alleviate the problems of global warming and consuming our depleting, nonrenewable natural resources?

There are many things I can do that cost nothing or actually save me money. Gardening can save me money in numerous ways.
1) I don't have to buy a certain amount of my food.
2) I don't have to travel to town after the food that grows right outside my door.
3) Because I am not consuming food grown by someone else I am saving fuel because the store does not have to truck in as much food.
4) I can sell or give away the excess food I don't need to others or barter for things they have I need. This cuts down on manufacturing costs.
5) If I barter for a ride to town I can save fuel that way plus cut down on my share of carbon emissions.
6) Growing green plants cleans the air naturally.

This may seem trivial to many and the old argument is that, "Oh, what can you actually save by doing any of those things."

This statement misses the point. Point being; if many of us do this we can save LOTS of nonrenewable natural resources and cut out a great deal of carbon emissions therefore downsizing our carbon footprint.

The UK has come up with an organization called the "Carbon Trust". This Trust will analyze the various stages that a product goes through from the beginning all the way through to the consumer and give the product a carbon footprint measured in grams. Thereby allowing one to know how large a carbon footprint one is leaving on the globe. If a person buys all the products they consume from eco-conscious companies that participate in this plan; one can feasibly keep track of ones own carbon footprint measured in grams.

St Paul Minnesota heats much of its downtown area with a clean burning incinerator, burning wood waste that otherwise would be thrown out. This runs the boiler system that runs under the streets to the individual buildings heating them during the long winter months up north. It has taken many years and a lot of effort but this process leaves an extra 6 million dollars a year in the city that would otherwise be paid out in fuel costs.

There are many other projects out there that are helping in other ways also. If we stick together we as a nation can lick this love affair we have with foreign oil.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Who Am I?

That is the million dollar question each one of us could be asking ourselves. I wonder every morning for about an hour!! I then get along about my day and realize all these things I do, ideals I entertain and people I interact with and . . .and . . .and STILL I wonder who I am.

That said; I am passionate about a lot of things. I am passionate about people, politics, the earth, my children, God as I do or do not understand Him . . .Me . . . I Am. . .We Are . . . and last but not least my wife of 16 years.

I started this blog because I need some ways to advertise a web site where I'll be selling goods to the world of a sustainable nature. There are many other things I'll need to do of course but I needed to start somewhere so here I am. I would dearly love to make enough from this venture to stay home and run the business. Currently I only make it home every two weeks to see my family; my occupation keeps me traveling constantly. Someday!!!

On the political front I don't see much happening. In one corner we have McCain accusing Obama of being Brittany Spears and in the other corner we have Barak saying no he isn't. In reality McCain's ideas on solutions for our energy crisis don't appear to be all that far removed from Bush's. I think that it is very hard to pigeon hole McCain in the same hole as Bush even if they are from the same party. Let me put it a different way; had McCain applied for a job with the federal judicial system under the rule of Bush, he would have been turned down. All in all McCain is an alright guy. I had breakfast at the same table with him while in Antarctica and he is probably the most genuine human being in politics I'll ever meet personally in my lifetime. He is a very unassuming man; a man that is where he is because he is trying to accomplish a task not make a name for himself.

Barak, on the other hand, stands for change; change that is long overdue. Bush has made such a mess out of things that ANYBODY would be a welcome change at this point. The trouble is; does Obama understand what he is getting into and what it will take to straighten out the mess we are in. The economy is way out of whack our deficit is quoted as anywhere from 3.5 triillion (from the conservative estimates) to 9.5 trillion (taking in consideration what is owed to Social Security and some other things). In any event it is a mess and Barak will need some talented help if he is going to get America back on track. I'm not sure he can put together the right team.

Personally I think the next superpower will be the European Union. There is no way around it. They have largely stood back while the U.S. has tried to bail itself out of George Bush's war and we have borrowed ourselves back into a corner. The E.U., excepting the British, have been wise in staying out of a situation that can only end in humiliation.

We, as a nation, have the opportunity right now to take back our place as the worlds superpower. All we need to do is expend more resources in the direction of sustainable energy. To build whatever it takes to power the world into the next millennium is the challenge we must accept. The American people have the knowledge and innovation to do exactly that; provided they can get the funding to do it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Oil Reserves

What makes Obama think selling oil reserves will solve any of the problems we have with oil today. Is it just a band-aid to lower prices temporarily? He can't be serious! It must be just a political ploy to get headlines. I thought he was an eloquent enough speaker to command headlines without pulling some lame stunt like that.

A couple of months ago, when Hillary thought we should shake loose of some reserves, Obama claimed it would do nothing for the prices or reserve stockpiles. Now he has taken an about face on the issue.

Come on Obama! What's with you anyway? How has our situation changed that we can now sell oil reserves and fix the oil problem. It hasn't! Your just looking for press!

It is a well known fact that oil prices today have a built in speculation cushion of about 30%. In other words, without speculators manipulating the prices they would be considerably lower. Even at that; how significant would it be. I say notta! At $2.80 per gallon; gas would still be to high. There just is not enough money in a consumers pocket to pay that price for gas continually. Add to it escalating prices at the grocery store and other places and it is clear; we need to do something drastic. Selling oil reserves is not it and neither is drilling off shore.

Drilling off shore will not fix the problem. We need drastic policy shifts of a green nature along with the incentives to draw serious investors out of the woodwork with enough capitol to dive into wind & solar power with the tenacity it takes to come out the other side with a workable solution that will at least LOOK like there may be some hope for a greener sustainable future.

If we end up taking a back seat on a global scale; it will only be the fault of the few holding the controlling interest in the oil supply in the USA. It doesn't have to be that way. We had what it took during the industrial revolution to see far enough to put us ahead of the curve far enough for it to last into this century. Now let's do it again. We are the free thinkers of the world. Come on; we can do it.