If you think that the little we can do is insignificant – you would be wrong.
I’m sitting at one of those speed awareness courses run by our UK police people to chastise errant speedy drivers like myself, and I am looking out of the window, and there is this girl next to me and she too is looking out of the window. And my mind is starting to wander. It’s not that I’ve had a bad day – but I am increasingly tired of the doomsayers telling me that my new hybrid motor car, actually costs more in fossil fuels to make the thing – than my lifetime of electric driving savings can generate.
None of us can escape the heavy marketing of motor cars, the new generation of electric vehicles, from an increasing number of vendors, that promise literally the earth, to justify their enormous financial investments to date.
It is a message that does not fall in deaf ears. As humans, across the planet, we remain in love with our automobiles. And so we play around at the edges. Nobody takes seriously that we will, actually “stop” using our cars, – we just want to feel better about it. Global warming is simply a Guilt Trip. To be frank, like our Governments the world over in hock to the energy companies and our own lifestyle dependence on cheap energy – we will do what it takes in lip service to making the world a greener and more ecological place, as long as it does not impact on our own little journeys to the shops.
Which is why in the UK current government plans for 2020, the building of extra roads, is high up on the list.
It is also why none of us want to face up to the inconvenient truths – that indeed, sure, we can truly save money and precious energy resources by having a shiny new electric vehicle, when compared with the prehistoric gas guzzlers of yesteryear. Except that, when we put this in perspective – we are avoiding looking at the reality of the whole issue, and that the real benefits to our planet, are negligible,
And yet… all of us “do” want to do something. Whatever nuance and discussion and preferred solution might exist – we all know that there is a global warming problem. The question is – what can we as individuals do, that actually can work?
The answer might not be as far away as you think, and goes back to my speeding course and those moments that every student will appreciate when suddenly, the lecturer says something, the girl next to you nudges you – and the light switches on. And the answer goes something like this…
If you accept that driving, whether for work or socially – has changed for ever; that nice little pootles 100 miles, or 300 miles to see a friend etc – are a distant dream because there is just too much traffic and too much traffic calming and maintenance, and too much stress – then can you accept that your own driving habits must also change now?
Because if you do – and please stay with me on this one – then you will absolutely “get” the next few paragraphs.
Because the temptation in the hassled-fuelled world we now inhabit on our roads, is to accelerate and go quicker than we should, because the impression by going faster, is that we get to wherever we want to go, quicker.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to my good lecturers from the Highways people in the UK – a journey of 300 miles taken at 80mph, will save you approximately 13 minutes, when compared to doing the same journey at the legal limit of 70mph. It will also cost you around 25% more in fuel cost (ref. The Money Advice website)
The 13 minutes that you save will be taken up by having to stop to refuel, and you will simply get to your next speed restricted stretch of road hardly any earlier at all. Worse, you will have spent more money on extra fuel than you need by quite a stretch.
But what is most significant is that – and this is where everyone on my little Course started to wake up, eyes wide; apparently, if everybody just accepted the smart speeding signs, and drove within the speed limits, kept their cruise control on the legal speed for the conditions etc… the savings in CO2 that we would make collectively, would equal the aims and aspirations of the entire UK.
The thing is, just now – we have been looking in the wrong direction. We have been adapting our response to suit our lifestyle.
But our lifestyle, has changed, and will not come back. The numbers that have hit us today are compelling, and the options are easy to introduce – and the benefits significant. Driving a bit quick at the wrong time, does not cut it any more, in an area that hurts us most, our wallet.