Sunday, September 04, 2005

Aspirin for your pain at the pump

A couple of weeks ago, a friend forwarded an email calling for a boycott of gas stations. It was meant as a protest of fuel prices, and that was even before Hurricane Katrina knocked the New Orleans refineries out of service and drove prices even higher. At the time, all I could think to say was that any boycott, to be successful, would have to include restraint from using gasoline as well as from buying it.

Then I came across a column by the always savvy Floyd Norris, with this ironic headline: Conservation? It's such a 70's idea . Norris, in the Sept. 2 New York Times, points out,
"The nature of energy demand is that it is slow to react to price changes. In the short term, a person cannot stop driving to work. Longer term, that person can get a car with better fuel efficiency or move closer to the job ... But to the extent that this is a short-term problem, it needs short-term solutions."

I hope you'll get a chance to read the whole column, but here's the bottom line:
We should drive slower, when we must drive at all, should cool our homes less until cold weather comes, and this winter, set the thermostat low and rely on dressing warm to stay in the comfort zone. This kind of personal action did make a difference while Jimmy Carter was president, and it can again.

Here's the Norris column.

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