Is this trip really necessary?

AutoblogGreen is about keeping a self-selected group of auto enthusiasts informed about the latest advances in green auto technologies. We are the early adopters, the best-informed among our friends, the trend setters. But, in the great scheme of things, we are too few. In the great battle (and that is what it is) for the remaining petroleum resources in the world, we are small change. What is needed is a much larger group of people who think it is important to be green now, and to self-ration fuel now.

For example, a Hummer uses about 1,000 gallons to drive 12,000 miles. That is enough to give three Priuses (or similar) 12,000 miles of travel each. Even if you can afford the gasoline at the likely price of $4 a gallon in 2008 ($4,000) the fuel is gone and the CO2 generated.

What can the great American public do with its existing fleet of vehicles to save fuel? We can drive a little less. Combine trips. Save up some fuel for the special trip to Aunt Bessie, by cutting down trips elsewhere. Does it sound like an energy diet? It is.

Un-American you say? Not so, dear reader. The tale of the tape, according the U.S. DOE Energy Information Administration, is that we have done it all before. Using numbers rounded to the nearest 100 miles, the average US car was driven 10,000 miles in 1970. In 1980, during the Iran Hostage Crisis, it was down to 8,800 - a 12 percent decrease. In 1990, we were up to 10,500 miles and in 2000 we were at 12,000 miles. In 2004, the number was 12,500. It might be 13,000 for 2007.

Cutting U.S. average miles 12 percent would mean cutting back . . . to about 11,500 miles - still a substantial distance. But we need 200 million drivers to think "Is this trip really necessary?" before they turn the ignition key. Doing so would mean an unexpected fuel glut for several months causing lower prices at the pump and easing pressure on our rapidly weakening dollar.

It will take more than a decade to substantially replace the U.S. auto fleet with the technology you read about on AutoblogGreen. While that is going on, we have to cope with our current energy situation. Let's keep the Happy in Happy Thanksgiving.

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