Wed, 31 May 2000

SUVs: The American Obsession with Gluttony

This past weekend was Memorial Day Weekend. I had the distinct "pleasure" of sharing the road with thousands of my fellow human being all on their way up north to the promised land. Never mind the fact that since people refuse to take advantage of public transportation that there is no train to take. I wish to discuss the disgusting gluttony to be observed on American roads.

The invention and successful marketing of the Silly, Unweildy Vehicle (SUV) demonstrates the perfection of an American attitude toward waste and excess. I cannot even estimate how many parents I have encountered who, after overreproducing, decide that they must drive a Ford Monstrosity, Dodge Behemoth, or Chevy Abomination because such a vehicle is absolutely essential to the modern family. All of this can be summed up in the American Glutton's Motto: "I want it. Therefore, I must have it." Forget economy. Forget sustainability. Burn it all up! We'll figure something else out once the fuel and environment are gone.

Is it any wonder that the rise in demand for fuel-inefficient vehicles corresponds to a significant hike in fuel prices? That's okay though because the economy is doing just great. We can afford it right now, and right now is all that matters! And don't give us any of that environmental crap, either. As long as we are able to continue to ignore the problem, everything will be fine.

I would be less concerned if the vehicles in question were actually being put to their intended uses. I am constantly dismayed, however, to see these gas hogs barreling down the highay carrying not a full family and camping gear but a single driver with no cargo. I see emissions from a disgracefully inefficient engine, emissions which do not need to adhere to federal emissions guidelines for smaller vehicles, generated for the sake of transporting nothing more than the driver to his or her destination.

In a few decades, when all of the fuel is gone, these SUVs will be rotting scrap heaps, silent testemonies to American excess. The junkyards will be full because noone will be able or willing to afford to maintain and drive more vehicle than they actually need. Let us hope for a better future where we don't concern ourselves with rollovers from inordinately hight centers of gravity or fatal crashes caused by careless drivers who feel overly safe in their coffins of steel. Let us hope that the future brings us trains run by experienced professional engineers and buses run by professional drivers who worry about little because the roads are clear of wasteful and redundant individual vehicles. Let us hope for a future where new friendships are forged daily because the communal isolation of the personal vehicle has been replaced with the socially conscious efficiency of public transportation. Let us hope that people will come to their senses before it is too late for all life on Earth.


Alan Wescoat