Another book to add to my ever-growing (and terrifyingly long) reading list.
I was reading a review by Joseph S. Nye, Jr., of “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” by Thomas L. Friedman. The review from The Washington Post Book World is posted at Powell’s Review-A-Day, please read at least that much. This ought to get a few folks out of their cars and onto a bike. Here’s an excerpt from the review:
Of course, rousing a full-bellied nation, groggy from decades of energy overconsumption, is no small task. As the current election debate reminds us, the United States has proven inept at developing a serious energy strategy. Our approach, says one expert quoted by Friedman, is “the sum of all lobbies”; we have energy politics rather than energy policy. In the aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush ignored calls by Friedman and others for a “USA Patriot Tax” of $1 per gallon on gasoline. Instead, the president offered tax cuts and urged us to shop. Rather than stimulating the economy to move toward fuel-efficient vehicles and renewable energy, we became more dependent on China to finance our deficit and Saudi Arabia to fill our gas tanks. Americans wound up paying even more for gas in 2008, but we enabled OPEC to be the tax collector instead of using the revenues ourselves. Friedman calls this a “No Mullah Left Behind” policy and quotes former CIA director Jim Woolsey: “We are funding the rope for the hanging of ourselves.”
You don’t need to start biking to work like I do (and I only do it a couple times a week, a little more than half the distance since I drive half, and bike the rest. This is the equivalent of not driving in one day a week). But for quick trips around town, from one to three miles during which your car is not operating at peak efficiency anyway (it takes that long and longer for the engine to really heat and up and operate efficiently) biking would be an excellent alternative. Get some fresh air, exercise, see things in your neighborhood you’ve never noticed before as you whizz by in your car, it’s all good. I read a comment against biking on someone’s blog, that all the tires cyclists go through end up in landfills… pretty weak. I’ll have my bike for 20 years and more. How many cars does the average American go through in that time? The energy and resources that go into the building of one car far exceeds a set of tires for a bicycle. Our fellow citizens of Planet Earth who reside in other countries are light-years ahead of us in using alternative transportation. You don’t have to become a ‘roadie’ decked out in spandex hunched over your handlebars, there are loads of different types of bikes that are perfect for riding in town for errands. Trek makes some, the Dutch have Work Cycles, Koga Miyata, and I don’t know what all else. Schwinn is still out there, Electra, there are tons of bicycle manufacturers, you’re sure to find one that will suit you. There are all kinds of fun accessories – lights, bells, baskets, panniers, etc. They really can be practical.
And doggone it, they’re just fun!