Monday, April 20, 2009

What Moves You?

The amount of energy that is required to operate a bicycle is 100 watts, about the same as powering one light bulb. The average amount to operate a car is about 100,000 watts, or 1,000 light bulbs. Something that we all need to start asking ourselves when we step into a car is whether we really need to use that much energy for most of our travels? There are without a doubt lots of trips that a car makes the most sense to travel in, on a rainy day I always appreciate a ride to school. Anyone who unconditionally refuses to ride in cars is out of touch with reality, but I think these people would be very hard to find. On the reverse, the people who refuse to ride in anything but a car are much more common but just as equally out of touch with reality.

The uncomfortable truth is that the world cannot afford to have everyone using 100,000 watts of energy to travel to the grocery store. It is mathematically impossible for everyone to create this amount of energy with petroleum and have this lifestyle last. There is obviously not enough petroleum. Lewis and Clark prides itself on being part of the global community. A crucial part of any community is responsibility to people throughout our community. Our overconsumption of fossil fuels today is not only leading to climate change, but also makes it more difficult for developing countries to develop.

Our demand for petroleum raises the prices of oil worldwide, limiting the availability of its usage to the poorest countries. Not to mention all the political problems this resource create. If we really consider ourselves to be part of a global community we need to think about this before the next time we drive our cars somewhere. What are the true costs of our dependence on petroleum?

Bicycling is not the only answer to our transportation crisis but it can make up a big part of the solution. They are cheap, available to most people, don't require much energy to operate, good for your health, fun...

We need to start thinking about what are the reasons that we depend on cars that require so much energy to operate. How and why did we create a society in which everyone has to own a car? Who benefits from this society and who loses out? And most importantly we need to start acting.

We need to start demonstrating in our own individual lives that a society that doesn't require the energy of 1,000 light bulbs to move around is not only possible but is preferable. A more sustainable transportation network is only going to happen if people decide to make it happen. There is no better place in America to plug into this new society than in Portland. Check out and or just get on a bike.

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