Monday, October 10, 2005

In Defense of the SUV

I went to the dentist this weekend (yes, I am fortunate to have a dentist who is open on Saturday. If I have to marry her to make sure this doesn't change, I swear I will do it).

As with all medical offices, you can choose between a three month old People Magazine, a six month old Time, and a magazine you've never seen before. I chose the one I'd never seen, and flipped through to an article penned by an environmentalist explaining why we were all going to die as a result of global warming. At the top of the list of proposed remedies was removing the SUV from American Roads.

Oh, bite me.

Don't get me wrong - I realize the environment is in a bad way. If the environment were my sister's boyfriend, I would be suggesting she consider treating him better. Appreciate him more. Buy him little gifts. I also realize that as a collective species, we humans are highly dependent on fossil fuel. Fossil fuel that is supposed to be oiling the inner workings of a planet which is constantly in motion. Fossil fuel that emits all sorts of worrisome gases when burned/consumed by engines (which should probably be a hint to us to stop consuming it in engines because of the whole planet lubricant thing, but I digress).

I am not blind to environmental woes, nor do I believe we should continue going on as before, hoping it will all just fix itself. What I take issue with are people who blame the state of the environment on things - and only those things - which happen to be products affluent people buy.

Case in point: if the SUV is a demonic creation certain to melt the glaciers and alter the climate for centuries, why is the minivan not? Or the Ford F-series? Or that van your cable guy arrives in? The plane you took to the environmental convention? Are these things not as in love with guzzling gas as the Ford Explorer, if not more?

I think the problem is reverse-elitism. If the rich have it, then it must be wrong (and no, I am not an SUV owner, lessee, driver or other). It is not really politically correct to be wealthy. And certainly not environmentally sound.

Let's call a spade a spade. Every time we walk into a grocery store and purchase a Washington Apple instead of going to the farmer's stand nearby for fruit, we are telling the grocery store to please continue to purchase goods which require shipping via train, truck and plane. All of which run on dinosaur bones. We all contribute to a colossal problem which is going to end in one of two ways: either we'll eventually run out of dino bones to burn, or we'll end up with some really nasty weather for a few thousand years (yes, when I say 'our', I mean our great-great-great grandchildren).

Yes, we need to make changes, and while I know the changes need to include the cessation of our fossil fuel dependence, I strongly believe they need to start with the cessation of finger pointing first.

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