Sean Kirst is a writer for the Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse.¬† He covers a wide variety of topics, from local issues to the war in Iraq.¬† Today’s column tackles the lack of unity over the current energy crisis.¬† He contrasts this to the first energy crisis in the 1970′s, where even a battered Nixon was able to convince people to lower speed limits, purchase no more than 10 gallons of gas, and to (gasp!) try to go without one day a week.
Neither John McCain, nor Barack Obama has stepped up and acted as a true leader.¬† McCain wants to drill everywhere and Obama wants to go after those evil oil companies.¬† Both should be working together to reduce demand and increase funding of public transportation.
Here’s a snippet of his article.¬† Please go and read the rest.¬† (You might try here too – links at Syracuse.com tend not to last too long.)
For years, John Mahoney was a top congressional aide in Washington to James Hanley, Democrat of Syracuse. Mahoney was there in 1973, when Arab nations within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries – better known as OPEC – announced an oil embargo against nations that had supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War.
The result was a gas shortage. Prices shot up. A Republican president, Richard Nixon, called for shared national sacrifice in conserving gas. Nixon’s administration was unraveling over the Watergate scandal, and plenty of Americans were appalled by allegations of stonewalling in the Oval Office.
Those same Americans understood the need to cut back.
“By 1973, there was a new kind of ethic, and I think people began to realize there was more to life than protesting and that we really had to get about our business,” Mahoney said. “We still had a sense of shared national community.”
That serves as a stark counterpoint to the vacuum of national leadership today. Logic would dictate that conserving gas is the first step toward confronting high costs. But you don’t hear sustained calls for immediate and minimal changes in driving behavior, at least not on any forceful level, from the White House or from the major presidential candidates.
You don’t hear them because those calls might cause voters to recoil – even though sacrifice and common sense could make a difference. In Geddes, Steve Balogh writes about green issues on his “Balogh Blog,” at http://baloghblog.blogspot.com. For the past month or so, he has been involved in a simple experiment with his Subaru Forester.
He drives more slowly. He coasts to a stop at red lights and stop signs, rather than accelerating and braking hard. He observes actual speed limits on the interstates, and he does not join the countless thousands who blast along in the high 70s or 80s. He tries to avoid crossing the 2000 threshold on his RPM dial, whenever he revs the engine.
The results have been dramatic, said Balogh, a physical therapist working toward a master’s degree in environmental science. Since his experiment began, he figures he’s using 20 percent less gas.
“The biggest difference between now and (the 1970s) is inconvenience and high cost vs. real shortages,” Balogh said. “When it will really hit the fan is when you pull up and (gasoline’s) not there. The shortages will be the real wakeup call; that’s when it will mean all of us working together to solve a problem.”
I thank Sean for taking on this issue and including me in the discussion.
[image from here]