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Manu Sharma

I think it's just a reflection of the larger trend of greater environmental awareness and climate change that people are turning a little introspective. I wouldn't necessarily call it a detour from viewing automakers or big oil as the bad guys.

Jim Beyer

Instead of a helmet rule, it's called a GAS TAX. That's the only thing that will really change consumer behavior.

I applaud John Dingell for forcing Congress to clarify the costs of raising the MPG standards for automobiles.

It's far easier for a politician to support higher MPG standards for cars than it is for him/her to support higher gas taxes, or worse yet, a carbon tax. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Phil Thedrill

"...the cleanest vehicle is the one that is never bought, and the next cleanest is one that is never driven."

Hmmm... that sounds just like UN Agenda21 propaganda.

Anyone who actually knows anything about clean fuels know that electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles are ABSOLUTELY clean provided the electricity or hydrogen comes from a solar source.

richie swenson

"We need to ask or compel vehicle manufacturers to make more efficient and cleaner vehicles."

The manufacturers are only going to respond to the ultimate vote: what the consumer buys. We can say we want high fuel economy or low emissions or this or that 'til the cows come home, but even today the bottom line is most consumers still leave the showroom in new full-size 4x4 pickups or SUVs. That tells you how sincere consumers are, and how much industry leaders should invest in what comes out of consumer's mouths.

I believe manufacturers don't have objections to CAFE mpg requirements per se, as they have had the knowledge and ability to make vehicles that exceed those standards for decades. Their problem is one of being forced to make CAFE-compliant vehicles that sit unsold and unwanted on dealer lots while the consumer dollar chases product with entirely different focii: performance and pretentiousness.

"And we need to ask or compel drivers to consume less vehicle miles." "Ask"- LOL! How about "Just Say No"? Nothing less than compulsion will effect change. Really, the consumer is a much shallower, simpler creature than we care to admit. Issues, no matter how important or pressing, do not enter the typical consumers' conscience unless or until they have immediate and significant personal effect. Fantasy captivates people in a way reality rarely does, so we are up against American Idol and pro sports as we try to gain attention for this cause.

"American consumers seem to be coming around to the realization that their individual vehicle choices are collectively irrational." Really? Truck/SUV sales don't reflect that. Hybrid sales (even though I don't believe they are the best solution) offer a glimmer of hope, if for no other reason than they're viewed as trendy and it is fashionable to hop on the bandwagon.

Funny how, sprinkled throughout your piece, it is revealed that basically consumers want others to conserve so that they can continue with their conspicuously consumptive ways. Is it any wonder change occurs at such a glacial pace (if at all)?

As you can surmise, I've concluded that the only way to raise consciousness and really effect change (action instead of just talk) is for energy costs to displace near and dear things in consumer's budgets.

Lars Christian

It seems to me that our growing need to put in those vehicle miles reflects something much more positive in society than is generally realized. We drive because we need to develop and maintain an increasingly complex web of interpersonal connections. It is the same dynamic that is driving the growing complexity of the web, and it should come as no surprise to see it reflected in the real world as well. The problem is simple; we move one and a half tons of plastic and steel around with us as we connect with the world.
The solution? Make the cars smaller and, even more importantly, let traffic be coordinated by the most powerful tool we have yet developed for governing movement---the computer. (want to discuss it? E-mail at sila332@gmail.com) Lars Christian

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