Enough with the gloom and doom over peak oil and climate change you say. You want an empowering story of change? Alright here’s an example of a personal adjustment I’ve made in my own life in an attempt to address both the above events because after all, the basic answer to both peak oil and climate change is roughly the same. Stop using fossil fuels; or at least cut way back on using them. But that’s so hard everyone says. It can’t be done. Nonsense. Or as Tom Athanasiou recently said, Change is necessary and because it is necessary it is possible.
I decided 2007 would be the year I got rid of my car. Not completely, but I’ve known for some time that driving a car keeps me dependent on the oil economy and pollutes this planet. I’ve known I needed to cut back on my automotive oil addiction. But it wasn’t until 2007 that I got serious about making change. Here are the numbers for the year so far.
At the beginning of the year I was driving 52 miles a day to work in a larger city nearby, and roughly 40 miles on the weekend.
300 miles a week. 15,600 miles a year.
Then I convinced my employer to let me adopt a 4 day work week.
248 miles a week. 12,896 miles a year. A 17% reduction.
Then I found a new job closer to home, and convinced my new employer to let me keep my 4 day work week.
120 miles a week. 6,240 miles a year. A 60% reduction.
Then I got a bike and started biking to work which further reduced my time in the car.
25 miles a week. 1,300 miles a year.
A total reduction of 91% a year! Now in addition to spending considerably less time in a metal box driving over asphalt I getting more exercise, and spending thousands of dollars less per year on auto related expenses, not to mention gas. I should add that these miles reflect my daily car usage. I have driven to the beach for vacation and to visit my parents a few towns away on occasion. I have also taken a train to Washington D.C. for a conference- there is more still to do in changing my habits, but I think a 91% reduction in daily driving is pretty great.
What made such a change possible? My mindset. I don’t live in an overly bike friendly town. I don’t have professional experience that companies are clamoring for. I’m a fairly ordinary guy who just wanted to change. And I did and you can too. It is the idea that we can’t change that is holding us back. That is all that stands between us and a reasonable response to peak oil and climate change.
“i used to fantasize about living in a healthier place, one where i could ride my bike, for example. then, one day, i started riding my bike. now, without having fled or escaped to anywhere, i live in a place where i can ride my bike.”