Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tiptoeing toward disaster

The City of Springfield is repaving St. James Ave. near the Rt. 291 entrances. I was headed that way yesterday when I saw the signs: Bump and Grooved Surface. I reduced my speed a little but what astounded me was the way the sports utility vehicles around me were practically tiptoeing over the bump! What the hell good is having a "rugged, adventurous, pathfinding, exploring, blah, blah, blah" vehicle when you treat it like a baby carriage carrying a newborn? And as usual, nearly every SUV held one person only-- the driver.

Ethanols and other biofuels are coming under increased criticism for turning farmland into fuel land; biofuels are tagged as one of the more immediate causes of the current world food crisis. But all fuel usage has its cost. I wish there was a way gas pumps could give a precise calculation of these costs, something like: "Using this gallon of gas will remove blank number of grains of rice from a poor family's food bowl, contribute to blank number of new asthma cases, etc."

One thing of which I am pretty convinced is that for every mile you drive in an SUV, you lower your emotional and moral IQ by an unknown but commensurate degree, sorta like, the more TV you watch, the stupider you get. I saw an SUV advertised on TV the other day which has two separate DVD players, so your kids don't have to fight over what to watch. OMG, does anybody remember looking out the window, playing Twenty Questions, License Plate Bingo, or I'm thinking of a color?

I have a TV and I have a car and I use both nearly every day. My knees are too bad to ride a bike and I'd certainly miss discussing the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica with my sister, but I can't escape the growing unease of operating on borrowed time.

Cartoon: Chris Madden, The Beast That Ate the Earth

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