On a hot summer day, my 22-year-old daughter paused from reading the local paper. She proclaimed that rising oil prices were good for America.
How so? I asked. Here is her explanation.
1. Pointing out that obesity has become a national epidemic, she, a full-time nursing student, noted that people are driving less, and getting more exercise by walking and riding bikes.
2. High gas prices and the slump in SUV sales have prompted automakers to produce more hybrids and develop all-electric cars. That's better for consumers in the long run and it helps the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Another good reason, she said, is that finally renewable energy is getting a chance. People are investing in wind and solar. Clean energy is the way to go for our future.
As much as Americans grimace when they fill up their cars, we should recognize the silver lining of the pocketbook pain.
My daughter and I discussed seven other benefits.
4. People are increasingly carpooling, using mass transit, and batching their drive-around errands together. This ultimately will give people more time in their lives to do other activities. Who really enjoys bumper-to-bumper freeway driving?
5. Some states are considering four-day workweeks, such as Utah recently enacted for its government employees. This would take millions of commuter cars off the road. Who dislikes three-day weekends?
6. Drivers are speeding less, no pedal to the metal through the intersections. That not only saves gas; it also saves lives. In the first five months of this year, deaths from car crashes dropped 9 percent from last year.
7. As we gradually wean ourselves from fossil fuels, this means fewer oil spills, less air pollution, and less harm to the environment.
8. By developing and distributing clean energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, biomass and synthetic fuels, we help the environment by offering clean, non-toxic energy to consumers.
9. As petroleum becomes a fossil fuel of the past, we eliminate the prospect of war over oil, and our nation truly becomes more energy secure. Good news: Based on 2008 projections by the Energy Information Administration, the United States is on track to import 100 billion barrels less oil through 2050, due to greater efficiency, conservation, and alternative energy. This equates to 10 times as much oil than what is projected to be recovered from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
10. We don't need to drill for oil in sensitive areas, such as the extraordinary Arctic Refuge, because we have better energy choices. Should we rip open America's greatest wildlife refuge so the oil companies can make another billion in profits for a few months' supply of oil? Choices, ingenuity and change are part of any civilization. The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones. The horse and buggy days didn't end because we ran out of horses. The Fossil Fuel Age will likely end because of our innovation, advancement of more efficient technology, development of clean energy sources and America's can-do spirit through leadership.
Win-win situation for America
My daughter and I vote for clean energy sooner versus later because it's a win-win vision for America. With strong leaders and collective integrity, the United States can position itself as it did when President Kennedy vowed to land a man on the moon in just 10 years.
Our country can, and should, become the world leader in renewable energy.
Our country can, and should, be the first to mass-produce all-electric cars, just as we were the first to walk on the moon.
Our new president should lead us in that direction.