Saturday, December 15, 2007

Red Light, Green Light

You're driving along and you see a traffic light ahead that's turning yellow. What does the prudent driver do at that point? That driver takes his/her foot off the gas pedal in preparation for braking. Then the prudent driver begins to apply the brakes as gradually as possible.

Now there are also drivers who don't take their foot off the gas and power their way right up to the light. They're the ones who really have to throw the brakes on hard and they don't always get stopped in time.

I think most of us would agree that the prudent driver has the best approach. It's cautious, it saves wear on the brakes and lowers gas consumption. It's also the most comfortable, safest approach.

Look at it this way. The prudent driver sees the yellow warning light ahead and heeds it. That driver puts a hard cap on his/her fossil fuel consumption and begins introducing gentle measures to control the problem that lies ahead. The driver, the passengers in the car, all the other cars around, everyone wins.

The guy who powers his way right up to the light and then throws his brakes on hard at the last moment loses. He's burned up fuel he didn't need to waste getting to that light and put some very hard wear on his brakes and tires. He's put himself and his passengers through what most would consider a jarring, emergency stop. And, in the process, he's left himself, his passengers and everyone around him utterly vulnerable to the unexpected - an icy patch on the road, for example. But there's the positive side to it too - the guy did get to the red light first.

In terms of global warming, the light has turned yellow. We've been warned. We've been told that we either stop soon or we're going to have an awful accident. So what would be the prudent thing to do? The first step would be to put a hard cap on our carbon emissons. That takes the foot off the gas pedal. Then, having achieved that Herculean chore, we would look to cutting those emissions, applying the brakes, as gently as possible while ensuring we get stopped before we go through that red light.

Then there's the Bush/Cheney/Harper/Baird approach. They sort of agree the light looks yellow but they want to discuss what that means and, above all else, they don't want to take their foot off the gas pedal. They figure they won't worry about braking. After all, somebody else will be at the wheel before their car reaches the light, let that loser slam on the brakes. Right now it's party time. Hand me another Bud will ya?

I don't want to go along for this ride and I sure don't want one of these drunken lunatics at the wheel.

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