Sunday, May 11, 2008

Greed is a form of terrorism

I'll preface this by stating that I am a gearhead. I've been raised with a love/hate relationship with the automobile. I've ridden bicycles for as long as I can remember. There were always pedals under my feet as a child, but my family was not one of active athletes. They are a family of gearheads and farmers. Do-it-yourself-er work-a-holics.
I resisted the thought of driving till highschool, really wasn't interested. My first vehicle was a 1966 microbus with a 30hp 1200cc motor that got 25mpg and topped out at about 50mph in 30seconds from a dead stop. From there was a 1600cc 90hp 1986 Jetta turbodiesel that gets 45mpg and tops out at 70mph in 20seconds. Then a 1979 VW combi van that was slightly faster after fighting months of repair to the fuel injection and then sold. A 1989 VW Fox that bought for $100 and completely rebuilt for 50 times the purchase price, for 35mpg at 135hp in a car I truely don't fit in. And then a 2002 Subaru WRX wagon that gets up to 30mpg at 225hp and has nearly cost me my license three times now.

I still own all these cars minus the 79 van, plus I have a 74 VW 411, an 89 VW Syncro van that are not yet running, and a shed with enough parts to assemble at least five VW Beetles. I have rebuilt and modified every one of my cars at one point or another. A couple of them multiple times. I used to have VW parts numbers memorized. I could tell the year and model of the car by reading its serial number, and tell you about all of its various versions and options.
I drive on average 50,000miles a year between my 60mile round trip commute to 5days a week to work, 90mile round trip twice weekly for training, and 300-15,000 mile round trips to various bicycle race venues. I enjoy driving fast and have become a reasonably competent driver, if not for the speeding violations. But, at the same time I hate it. I spend a third of my time and annual income driving. The most dangerous part of my life is the drowsey morning commute. My driving is contributing to the destruction of the planet and something has to change, not only for my sake, but for everyones.

Think about it. How much fuel do you burn every year? How much do you spend on the automotive experience annually? That includes: cost of fuel, insurance, tax/title/license, maintainance/repair, accessories, parking, toll fees, and the cost of purchasing the car for the duration you own it. What percentage of you annual income does that come out to be? Do you buy new? Why? Do you drive an SUV or truck? Why? Do you drive distances less than 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles? Why? More than 100miles? Why? Are there alternatives?

Now think of that car's carbon footprint and the environmental poisons that make up a car. Antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, AC freon, gasoline, battery, tires, pounds of glass, pounds of rubber, pounds of plastic, pounds of foam, pounds of steel, pounds of copper wiring, pounds computer chips, gallons of paint.

Think of the efficiency of your car. How often do you drive alone? How many horsepower does your car have? Why? What percentage of your car's weight is powering it's occupants weight vs powering its own weight? Do you think todays cars are more efficient than the cars built 10 years ago? 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70years ago? More reliable?

Fuel is close to $4.00/gallon. If the price of gas doubled would you keep driving? It already has. More than once. Are you still driving? Did you buy a hybrid? How does the carbon footprint of that hybrid compare to the carbon footprint of keeping your old car and doing maintainance?

How fast do you drive on the highways? Do you drive over the posted speed limit? How much more energy do you think it takes to go 70mph instead of 65mph? How much more energy does it take to from 0-60 in 7seconds compared to 12seconds? How much more wear on the car and all it's parts? How much more oil is burnt?

Where are the cars that get over 100mpg? How do they do that? Do you really need a car? Is there public transportation? Could you walk it? Bike it? Why not? Time? Money? Would you have more money if you didn't drive? Would you have more time if you didn't have to work more so you could afford to drive? Would you have to work if you didn't drive? Well, maybe so. Or not.

Possessions, wealth, work, why? Does it bring you happiness? Think about it. Would you be happier with more time or more money? What would you do with more time? Do you have a plan for retirement? Do you think you'll make it? Will you perish on your drive to work? Will your health hold out? Do you think the government will take care of you?

You drive to work for your Kids? Kids need toys right? What do they like better, the toy or the box it came in? Do you let them outside? Which is better TV or a book? Do you have time to read them a book or take them outside, or are you busy at work making money to pay for toys, TV, and the babysitter?

Food. We have to drive to work so we can feed ourselves. But you're too busy with work so you eat fast food. Are you concerned about what you're eating? Do you know what you're eating? Really? Even if you get it from the supermarket, do you know what you're really eating? Do you buy organic? Are you sure? Pay a premium for organic, so you have to work more. Could you grow organic yourself if you had more time? Would you rather have the knowledge of how to grow food and provide for yourself, or know the profit margine of the company you work for, what so-and-so did last night, the schedule of the TV guide, and the score of the football game? Would you like to have the knowledge of how to fix your food, plumbing, furnace, transportation, house? Build your own house or transportation. Do you have the time to learn? Would more money help? Does driving help?

Think global warming was a fad in the late 80's and early 90's? Have you seen An Inconvenient Truth? Everyone should. Think he's lying? Really? Al's a hypocrit? What are you doing to change? He who throws the first stone....

Well, I've got to go to work now.



Buckshot77 said...

Damn you know how to poke holes in a perfectly good morning. Remember, we're not supposed to ask questions like these, we're supposed to shut up and drnik the kool-aid like everyone else.

Fxdwhl said...

good post. our own self destruction is so easliy ignored by most. thining like this really bums me out though since you realize no matter how 'eco' you are you're still dependent on the system that is slowly failing.

Anonymous said...

I will now go out and hook my Monkey up to the planter. Fixed, not free.


Paul said...

Have a nice drive to work! %^)

sydney_b said...

Good write-up. Glad I rode my bike to work. ;) Easy for me though. It's only a few easy miles away.

airing out said...

Excellent write up. Even though I ride to work, try to make art from trash, and eat mostly organic during the summer I still am still just a cog the system in many different ways.

I have to go pour some tea and ponder before I walk over to the farmers market.

1973 Chevrolet Shop Manuals said...

I like the picture, especially the the mini copper ticketing, very cute, and the dog too was also creepy...nice post, keep it up...

1973 Chevrolet Shop Manuals

randy said...

Hi Dennis,

I like the new direction your blog is taking. One thing that pumps my nads more than racing on a bike is using it to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. The beauty of it is that it's so enjoyable and satisfying. The earth-friendliness aspect of it is icing on the cake.

Like you, I had a long commute (over 700 miles per week) but I solved that problem by quitting my job. That simplified my life a great deal and I continue to simplify it further as well as becoming more self-sufficient, including a dependence on money. Doing so is an enjoyable sport in itself.

My motivation is not noble (like Al Gore's) though, everything I do is selfish and intended to maximize my freedom. I can live with that, though, as I believe most "environmentalists" are self-serving hypocrites anyway (don't mean to sound like an ass, just trying to start a philosophical debate).

Like me, it looks like you have a lot of room to make sacrafice for the cause.


Ari said...

Ari here. Found a link to your blog through Cornbread. I have been doing a 100 mile commute twice a week on the bike. Long distance commuting is great and I really like the fact of staying out of the car. Great riding with you at Trans Iowa. That was the best group of cylists I have been with.
Stay in touch.

keith said...

during the week i drive back and forth to work 8 miles total. i used to drive a cool vw fox that was lowered, clean AND fuel efficient...till someone driving a much bigger car slamed into the back of me while looking at a rainbow,(ironic, i thought those were lucky). now i drive my 4 banger 86 S-10 pickup. i have a 94 S-10 w/ a v6 but i don't drive that much, killing me in gas...... in a few weeks i see myself on a bike going to work. small cars are the best.... maybe now more people will realize that. i like watching the truck/suv commercials...they seem so needy and out dated.
thanx for the post. diggin' the mini!

Neve_r_est said...

Randy: Yep.


Neve_r_est said...
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