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Petroleum americanus

I have recently read that we as Americans have been given the distinction of setting forth an entire new hapless genus out of the human race; Homo sapiens petroleum americanus. As a nation we have given birth to and perpetuated over the last century a monolithic culture and economy solidly based in oil that has dismantled our public transit system, eroded the fabric of our communities and established subdivisions on pristine wetlands, forests and farmlands with such a disregard that we then name these character-less communities exactly what we destroyed to create them.
Our current fuel consumption is producing 45% of the planets greenhouse gases. According to the U.S. Government’s official energy statistics from 1980-2004 we consume almost twice as much carbon based fuel as China, the number two consumer and three times as mush as Russia the number three consumer.
With oil at its peak, we are all beginning to feel the dire consequences that entail complete dependence on petroleum. With the barrel of crude oil just below a hundred dollars and prices at the pump projected to be $4 a gallon by summer what does the future beholds for us all? As petroleum americanus advances into the 21st century will we leave this hapless stereotype behind and redefine ourselves not by fate but by rising to the challenge presented to us all? Or will you go out and put a down payment on a new SUV with your tax rebate check to stimulate the economy?
There is a solution that is neither left or right, conservative or liberal, red or blue – it’s the bicycle; as the quintessential metaphor and principle for acting locally and thinking globally. It is but one example of a decision on how we choose to travel that when acted upon by us all, will define our time as a society. This is not about my utopian dream but rather an attempt to demonstrate that some of the answers to the most challenging global issues we face can be solved by considering our most basic decisions we each make everyday.
I have decided to make these decisions for myself, and I hope that through policies such as complete streets, our city can demonstrate its willingness to afford all of us the opportunity to make these decisions more easily if we so choose.

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