I just read an interesting article about the oil economy on Kiro5hin. One of the insightful commentators said:

One in seven barrels of oil globally, almost 50% of America’s oil consumption, are used by American passenger vehicles, which travel 2.5 trillion miles per year. Today, the average passenger vehicle gets 23.9 mpg. If that number were 1984’s peak figure of 27.5 mpg, almost 350 million barrels of oil per year would be saved without a scrap of inconvenience. By driving more sensibly, and purchasing more responsible transportation instead of SUVs, muscle cars, and other ridiculously wasteful vehicles, Americans can save at least a billion barrels per year or more with minimal change in lifestyle.

That’s impressive. Although the writer doesn’t offer any evidence to back up these statements, I see no reason to doubt them. It jives with what I see when I drive along the highway and look at the gas-guzzling vehicles surrounding my little plastic Saturn.

It continues:

You can take these actions as individuals. Americans are victims not of governments and oil companies, but of their own addiction to the product. To make change, you don’t need the cooperation of corporations, you don’t need government regulation, and you don’t need new types of cars and energy sources to be designed. They are already available, and the more you buy, the greater the demand, and the more options that will appear. It’s an easy and fun cop-out to debate what others should do and speculate about big problems with big solutions that require retooling the nation. Skip it. Just do something yourself.

Amen! People often discuss alternative fuels (solar power, wind energy, biodiesel, nuclear plants) but all of them have an array of problems. Most notable is the fact that– like it or not– our society is powered by petroleum. It’s not something that’s going to change overnight, and it’s sure easy to say, “Well, when they come out with a hydrogen-powered car I’ll think about buying one after my current Ford Explursion loses its resale value.” It’s harder to look at our own consumer habits and determine how we can make a difference right now.

Go on, get yourself a nice plastic Saturn, work in your basement, and bike everywhere around town like me. You’ll feel better.