America's Gas Feeding Frenzy

June 15, 2007 Topic: EnergySecurity Region: Americas Tags: Energy PolicyNuclear Power

America's Gas Feeding Frenzy

America’s energy feeding frenzy has been mortgaging the planet’s future for decades and now it faces its moment of truth.


Meanwhile, Detroit's Japanese counterparts, though also cashing in on the SUV hysteria, were smarter and developed the hybrid motor. The Big Three remained convinced, (and did a lot of convincing themselves) that Americans wanted monster cars. That these vehicles beggared the world's oil supplies, drove up the U.S. trade deficit and gravely endangered the energy security of the United States was of no apparent concern to Detroit's executives.

The inevitable American divorce from its historical romance with the automobile will need to be handled very delicately in order to avoid any major dislocations. Public transportation systems, the inter-state railroad system and other forms of mass transportation will require huge investments if the breakup is to be amicable.


Cars will most likely never cease being a major form of transportation in the United States, but they will need to be rediscovered and redesigned for a new age.

Consider air conditioning in cars. About 5.5 percent of the 7 billion gallons of gasoline burned annually by America's cars and light trucks goes towards running air-conditioners. That's equivalent to more then twice the gasoline consumption of Indonesia, a petroleum-rich country of comparable population size.

Lawmakers can, and should, order the Big Three auto makers to get their acts together and begin producing cars which get sixty or more miles to a gallon-not by 2015 or some other distant date, but in two-three years. A small car powered by gasoline mixed with ethanol with an electric hybrid motor to boot would go a long way towards easing the pain imposed upon Americans by a recklessly profit fixated Detroit.

America's energy feeding frenzy has been mortgaging the planet's future for decades and now it faces its moment of truth. The United States can either rearrange its priorities and help lead the world out of the impending energy and global warming crisis or remain caught up in a bacchanalia of SUVs, air conditioners, garden tractors and similar toys.

It's a difficult choice considering that these items are often touted as proof of the superiority of the system which governs 5 percent of the world's population. If Americans make the wrong choice they should pray that the other 95 percent forgive them their avarice.

Roman Kupchinsky is a journalist in Washington, D.C. He can be contacted at [email protected]