A few simple baby steps to begin solving the “energy crisis"

A few simple baby steps to begin solving the “energy crisis"
© David Burton 2008

Smart car Photo

     While our political leaders pontificate on the “energy crisis”, but fail to take a meaningful approach to solving the problem, there are many ways in which the problem can begin to be addressed. One such step in the right direction was taken by the school district in Clara City, Minnesota which “announced plans to cancel all Monday classes and go to a four-day school week next year to save money.” ( Ref. 1)

     What would be the impact if a large segment of U.S. businesses, schools and public agencies followed suit and worked four 10-hour days instead of the current five 8-hour days ? 20% of fuel consumption devoted to commuting to work would be eliminated. 20% of the time spent in driving to and from work would be gone and 20% of the wear and tear on automobiles caused by commuting to and from work would be eliminated. Why not try such a plan?

     What would be the impact of a nationwide upgrading of our traffic controls such that traffic lights would largely be synchronized to eliminate unnecessary waiting at stop lights? Such a step would eliminate much of the gasoline wasted in urban driving, reduce travel times and cut down on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. No great technological breakthrough is needed to make this happen, just the will to take one baby step by computerizing traffic controls throughout the country. Do we and our elected officials have the will to initiate this process?

     Do all those lights in our major cities have to burn all night long? Why not turn off all advertising lights after, say, 11 PM? Why not turn off all unnecessary lights in businesses and offices at some reasonable hour instead of leaving them on most of the night?

     How about eliminating all toll roads and compensating for the loss of toll revenues by an increase in gasoline taxes? Such a step would eliminate the need to stop and pay tolls and it would get rid of the lines at toll booths during peak travel periods. The costs of toll taking would be eliminated. This action would be better than cost neutral, since one element of cost would be eliminated (the cost of toll collection). Net revenues would remain the same, i.e., tolls collected less cost of toll collection would be exactly equal to the revenue raised though the increase in the gasoline taxes. But, fuel would be saved and driving time reduced.

     Maybe we can’t readily get our political leaders to buckle down and make all the really hard choices to ultimately put us on the road to energy independence, but they and we should be willing and able to take a few simple baby steps to begin the process of solving our “energy crisis".

  1. Independent Study, Forbes, Other Comments, Page 24, June 20, 2008.
  30 June 2008 {Article 46; Govt_10}    
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