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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

SUVs: Monsters Really Do Exist

As human effects upon the environment lead us on a course for disaster, most Americans remain oblivious to our impact upon the planet. The key example is that of Sport Utility Vehicles, aka SUVs. 20 years ago, only 2% of new vehicles sold were SUVs. Today, 25% of all new vehicles sold are SUVs. This massive increase in SUV popularity has come despite revelations regarding the ozone layer and rising gas prices. Although the danger to our environment has increased in the past 20 years, you sure wouldn't know it by gauging SUV sales.

SUVs are killers that need to be outlawed. Here are the reasons why:

1. SUVs are allowed, by law, to pollute more than normal cars.

Under federal law, the average fuel efficiency of passenger cars needs to be around 27.5 mpg. The average fuel efficiency for SUVs, however, need only be 20.7 mpg. Worse, this is only an average and SUVs are counted along with light trucks. Ergo, it's perfectly fine to have an SUV get 8 mpg as long as your auto company makes another light truck with an offsetting high mpg (ex, 30 mpg.)

The problem goes beyond global warming. According to suv.org, Sport utility vehicles can spew (by law) 30 percent more carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons and 75 percent more nitrogen oxides than passenger cars.

2. Giant SUVs, such as the Ford Excursion, have no fuel efficiency restrictions.

Perhaps most chilling is that the worst SUV polluters -- those that weigh over 8500 pounds -- are entirely exempt from fuel efficiency standards. These enormous gaz guzzlers are allowed to get 1mpg, if the auto makers want, and current federal law does nothing about it.

Ford is taking advantage of the lax federal standards because it's cheaper to build a gas guzzler than an efficient vehicle. The horrific Ford Excursion gets a measly 3.7 mpg in the city.

3. The American practice of driving SUVs instead of cars is a main cause of global warming.

Cars, trucks and SUVs are the source of 20% of U.S. C02 emissions. suv.org gives a clear example as to why driving an SUV instead of a car makes a big difference:

Today a car that gets approximately 27.5 mpg, like a Volkswagen New Beetle, will emit 54 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of gasoline over its lifetime. An SUV that gets 14 mpg, like a Lincoln Navigator, will emit over 100 tons of CO2 over its lifetime.

If people would stop driving cars that get 14mpg, we would prevent millions of tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. The average fuel economy fell to 24 mpg in 2000; this was the lowest level in 20 years despite 2 decades of technological advancement. The cause? Increased SUV ownership.

4. Driving SUVs supports terrorism.

When you drive an SUV, you use more gas. When you use more gas, those who sell the gas reap increased profits. Many of the countries earning oil profits, such as Saudi Arabia, help support terrorism. Saudi Arabia was the principal financial backer of the Taliban for 5 years according to the right-wing Cato institute. The Taliban protected and supported Osama bin Laden. We all know that bin Laden's Al Qaeda network launched the 9/11 attacks upon America that killed over 3,000 people. Undoubtely, Saudi Arabia's level of financial commitment to the Taliban was based upon available cash resources. Americans eager to fuel up their SUVs increased the profits to Saudi Arabia and the Saudis passed those profits onto the Taliban.

Some will say that if driving SUVs supports terrorism, then so does driving any cars at all. On some level, that's true. But on the other hand, it's not realistic to expect Americans to stop driving all cars right away. It is realistic, however, to expect Americans to limit the amount of funds we give to groups that support terrorism. This can easily be done by switching from an SUV to a passenger car.

A while back, the Bush administration claimed that buying drugs helps support terrorism. That statement is mostly false. Only buying drugs that originate from international sources could possibily support terrorism. Most common drugs, such as marijuana, are grown exclusively in North America because the costs of transporting them across the ocean simply outweigh the benefits. Some drugs, such as opium and heroin, can originate in countries that support terrorism. This makes up a small minority of drugs that support terrorism. Gasoline, on the other hand, primarily comes from countries that support terrorism.

5. SUVs will probably kill you in an accident if you aren't driving one.

Before I debunk the bogus claim that SUVs are safer for the occupants of the SUV, let's make it clear that SUVs create huge dangers for those of us smart enough not to drive an SUV. More specifically, it's not the weight of the SUV but rather the raised design that contributes to deaths. The US Government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted research that concluded that 2000 people would still be alive today if they had been hit by a heavy car weighing the same amount as an SUV as opposed to being hit by an SUV. SUVs are twice as likely to kill in a crash than a heavy car of the same weight.

If you think the benefits of driving an SUV are worth 2,000 lives, you are a sick minded individual without a sniff of humanity.

6. SUVs are not safer for the occupants of the SUV.

The one myth about SUVs that continues to persist is that owning an SUV provides safety for your family. My own brother just bought an SUV based upon this premise. The idea is that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. You might as well not let your own family die, after all. A new study shows that premise is false.

State Farm Insurance and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a study that proves that SUVs are no safer than conventional cars. Increased risk of rollover fatalities negates any advantage from increased weight. So when you buy an SUV, you aren't helping save yourself -- you are just helping kill others and increase the chance that global warming will cause a catastrophe.


So what can we do? For starters, stop buying SUVs. They are among the least fuel efficient vehicles on the market and they result in an massive increase in auto fatalities. Even if you own an efficient SUV (and there are few on the market), there is no way to eliminate the problem of the increase in auto fatalities.

Buy the most fuel efficient car that you can. Drive it as little as possible. Spread the word about SUVs. And never quit just because you think one person can't make a difference.


1. Don't own an SUV.

2. Drive as little as possible.

3. Buy the most fuel efficient car possible.

4. Email President Bush and tell him to pressure Congress to increase fuel efficiency.

5. Tell your friends to read this article here on the War on Corporate Evil.

Comments on ""


Blogger Tran said ... (4:16 PM) : 

Excellent article my friend. I think the only thing you didn't mention is that most SUV drivers aren't driving them for sports, aren't hauling anything (utility), and aren't climbing any mountains... perhaps they should have invested in a mini-van instead if they were looking to cart around their family safely.


Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (10:58 AM) : 

Good point Tran and thanks for the comment. I should have mentioned that in my research I also discovered that only 2% of SUVs get taken off-road.


Blogger Tran said ... (9:36 AM) : 

I have to say that such a low number surprises me. I honestly would have expected at least 10-15% of these moving mountains to be used offroad.


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