“The real problem with the attacks on [Barack Obama‘s] tire-gauge plan is that efforts to improve conservation and efficiency happen to be the best approaches to dealing with the energy crisis -- the cheapest, cleanest, quickest and easiest ways to ease our addiction to oil, reduce our pain at the pump and address global warming. It‘s a pretty simple concept: if our use of fossil fuels is increasing our reliance on Middle Eastern dictators while destroying the planet, maybe we ought to use less.” -Michael Grunwald, Time magazine
Whether you agree with the slant Time magazine brings to journalism or not, the recent article penned by Michael Grunwald about Senator Barack Obama‘s plan to beef up conservation efforts hits on many MANY tactics the trucking industry has championed for years to reduce petroleum consumption.
(Senator and Presidential Hopeful Barack Obama's fuel conservation pointers make plenty of sense.)
Grunwald‘s column - entitled “The Tire Gauge Solution: No Joke” - is illuminating not so much for the concept that properly inflated tires and regular, preventive maintenance both improve car and light truck fuel economy (some 3% to 4%, respectively) but that so many people blow this kind of stuff off as a worthless waste of time. Yes, since Obama is promoting it, it‘s going to get hammered in the political arena, but let‘s face it - these very concepts are promoted heavily in trucking (by the Technology & Maintenance Council no less) to achieve substantial fuel savings - and thus cut operating costs.
“The tire gauge is really a symbol of a very serious piece of good news: we can use significantly less energy without significantly changing our lifestyle,” Grunwald says in his article. “The energy guru Amory Lovins has shown that investment in ‘nega-watts‘ -- reduced electricity use through efficiency improvements -- is much more cost-effective than investment in new megawatts, and the same is clearly true of ‘nega-barrels.‘”
He adds that, while we‘re at it, we can cut down on idling, which can improve fuel economy another 5%, and cut down on speeding and unnecessary acceleration, which can increase mileage as much as 20%. Of course, Grunwald then starts melding these tips with larger policy and political issues - some that many won‘t agree with.
“That‘s just the low hanging fruit,” he says. “There are other ways to reduce demand for oil -- more public transportation, more carpooling, more telecommuting, more recycling, less exurban sprawl, fewer unnecessary car trips, buying less stuff and eating less meat.”
From there, he goes on to slam President Bush, Vice President Cheney, John McCain, the Republican Party as a whole ... you get the idea. It‘s personal opinion and he‘s certainly welcome to it, but no one must agree with him (that includes me.)
The important thing, though, is that it‘s the simple yet effective stuff that is finally - FINALLY!!! - getting some attention. I mean, for years, I‘ve watched cars in all states of disrepair passing me on the highway, many times spewing white smoke - a clear sign that engine oil is burning in the crankcase.
After the recent gasoline and diesel price spike, though, people are finally beginning to wise up. Let‘s hope that trend continues despite any continued slide in prices at the pump.