Commentary by Jill Miller, Conservation Organizer for the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program, St. Louis chapter
Global warming is a man-made climate crisis driven by our modern addiction to oil and coal. Burning fossil fuels releases heat-trapping gases into our atmosphere, altering the climate that sustains every living thing on Earth. But as the Kyoto Treaty to curb global warming took effect on February 16, 2005 without U.S. participation, the Bush administration continued to ignore sound science and do nothing.
The Bush administrationís lack of leadership is truly unfortunate, because solutions to earthís climate crisis can be just as good for our economy as for the environment. A key step is for automakers to start building automobiles using available technology to improve gas mileage. Consumers would pay less for foreign oil at the gas pump and have more money to spend elsewhere. Instead of contributing heavily to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and unhealthy air pollution, cars, light trucks and SUVs would play a significant role in the solution.
Thereís already one SUV doing just that, and luckily for us, itís built in Missouri. The Ford Escape Hybrid features an efficient gasoline engine with an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery that never needs to be plugged in. It averages 33 miles per gallon instead of the wasteful 12 to 20 mpg that most SUVs get. This means the Escape emits only a fraction of the greenhouse gas pollution as a regular vehicle.
Built in Kansas City, Fordís hybrid supports well-paying union jobs. The plant has stepped up production in response to strong consumer demand, but thereís still a waiting list to buy the first and only American-made hybrid. Automakers should take note; consumers should be able to choose a fuel-sipping version of any kind of vehicle they like. Who wouldnít want to spend less on gasoline and know that our air and atmosphere are cleaner because of it?
The Escape hybrid proves that burying our heads in the sand only prevents us from seeing opportunities to create good jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and improve the environment. While waiting for our leaders to see the light, letís at least have more hybrids.