The Mix

Belated anti-hybrid hype

What's the deal with marriage and isn't there a cheaper way for us to use less gas?
Evan pretty much said what I was going to say about the homophobes who are somehow obsessed from keeping gays from getting married. (I'm not married, so I don't know, but my question to the married people out there: is it really that particularly special a thing that heterosexuals have to keep gays from doing it? And if it's related to love, isn't it still true that if you "give it away, you end up having more?") So instead, I'll just ask about something that's been bothering me ever since the Fourth of July.

I went with friends and my small child to the Alameda Fourth of July parade, which is your basic small town parade with veterans and saxaphones and old cars and waving elected officials and, sadly, not very many costumes. After waving our anti-war flags at the NRA and various other contigents, we got to the progressive section of the parade, where the Women in Pink and Impeach Bush bus were strolling by, followed by about twenty middle-to-upper-class folks driving by in their hybrids, all with signs that proudly stated their gas mileage. "I get fifty miles per gallon!" One sign said, to our slightly lackluster cheers.

I thought of my own car, over 10 years old, that probably doesn't get even half that. And I'm pregnant and transporting a small child a large distance, so biking isn't an option. Because of where I work, sadly, neither is public transportation.

But isn't it still environmentally better than going out and buying a new fancy hybrid, even if, hypothetically, I could afford one? The Washington Post recently asked if it was "moral" to drive a gas-guzzling vehicle. But if it's an old one, and the whole family fits, isn't it more moral than getting some corporate job, if you even can land one, to be able to make more money to buy an expensive new hybrid? And shouldn't changes in fuel emissions be a national priority, not a personal consumer choice, since we all have to breathe the air and put on the extra sunscreen? And does all the cheering for hybrids actually lessen the imperative to get all cars to use alternative fuels or have some kind of converters?

I'm not against hybrids. My mom has one and, because she can use the car pool lane by herself now, is much more likely to be on time to babysit. But is my mom in her new hybrid really saving more gas than an old jalopy filled with five people? And if so, isn't the situation dire enough that we should declare a moratorium on all non-hybrid driving and let everyone trade in their old cars for new ones, free of charge. Or, if it's clogged roads that are a big part of the problem and the whole car-trade thing is just too far-fetched, I'd be fine if my medium-sized city just got some decent affordable public transportation.
Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.
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