Thursday, August 25, 2005

Anti-SUV Bumper Sticker Slogans

I hate SUV's, think they're terribly wasteful, are economically detrimental to our country (do some research on the ridiculous tax breaks new SUV owners can receive), they excessively pollute our environment, and unecessarily endanger others on the road. I firmly believe that if we had less of them on our nation's highways (they're currently 54% of the vehicles on the road!) we would have been able to entirely avoid any extension of daylight savings time (more here). Finally, as gas approaches $3 per gallon sales are beginning to decline. But it's already too late; prices will never fall back to where they used to be even six months ago.

Last year, Gregg Easterbrook told us how incentives to move away from SUVs and toward hybrids could have a cumulatively important effect on our oil consumption:
A simple one-third increase in the mileage of new vehicles would have a remarkably beneficial impact on the United States-Persian Gulf relationship, and quickly.
Here's the math. About 17 million new cars and "light trucks" (SUVs, pickups, and minivans) are sold in the United States each year and driven, on average, about 12,000 miles annually. If the fuel efficiency of 17 million vehicles driven 12,000 miles annually rose by one-third, from a real-world 17 MPG to a real-world 23 MPG, that would save about 200 gallons of gasoline annually per vehicle, or about 3.4 billion gallons of gasoline. Since a barrel of petroleum yields 20 gallons of gasoline, about 170 million barrels of oil would be saved.
Perhaps you think, Aha! With U.S. petroleum demand at 20 million barrels daily, this MPG initiative has saved just about one week's worth of oil. Yes--in the first year, the MPG increase would have little effect, in much the same way that, in their first year, few investments yield much return. But remember the miracle of compounding! In the second year, with two model-years' worth of vehicles at the higher MPG, 340 million barrels of oil are saved. The next year, the savings is 510 million barrels, the next year 680 million, and so on. In just the fifth year of this initiative, we would need to purchase about 850 million fewer barrels of petroleum--approximately the amount the United States imports each year from the Persian Gulf states.
Fortunately, while Ford and GM stock plummets, they're still spending enough money on K Street to head off any significant measures in Congress that would force them to improve the fuel efficiency of their respective fleets. (Notice how there was no tightening of CAFE regulations in the recently-passed energy bill.)

Andrew Sullivan (from whom the last paragraph was lifted) has spent a good part of the last three days blogging about the issue, too (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII,). He was inspired by a great piece by Fareed Zakaria (I read the article when it was published in WaPo on Tuesday neglected to post it), and said that he's
well aware that the notion that the Bush administration has any interest in energy independence or taxing gas or deterring SUVs is about as likely as their demanding subsidies for sex-changes
but might as well vent. That said, he kicked off a contest for the best anti-SUV bumper sticker slogan beginning with "My car doesn't subsidize Saudi terror." Some other good
  • How many soldiers-per-gallon does your SUV get?
  • Osama Loves Your SUV.
  • U.S. troops died for your SUV -- Drive it proudly.
  • I'm funding terrorists, ask me how.


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