Be conservative; don’t buy gas guzzlers

Imagine yourself driving down a quiet highway. Maybe you’re coming back to TCU, maybe you’re going to visit family or maybe you’re going to a Dairy Queen out in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, nothing beats a country-style hamburger followed by an equally delicious brownie earthquake.So, you are enjoying your serene drive through the wide-open spaces of rural Texas, when all of a sudden, things go terribly wrong.

The sun disappears. The ground begins to shake. A horrible ringing echoes throughout the countryside. It’s time to put your head between your legs and kiss your butt goodbye, right?

Wrong. It’s not Armageddon; it’s just a massive Hummer. And while their mere presence might not signal the end of the world, their collective force could bring it about.

All exorbitantly large vehicles, not just Hummers, are a danger to society.

Let’s start with the depletion of fossil fuels, which are non-renewable resources. The dinosaurs died a long time ago. Unless you believe a secret society of mole people exist within the center of the earth for the sole purpose of genetically engineering stegosauruses and harvesting the fruit of their bones, it’s time to face the facts: conservation is sorely needed.

But do we get it?

No! A 2005 Lincoln Navigator gets 13 MPG/city. The 2006 Ford Expedition gets an appallingly low 19 MPG/highway, and that’s with two-wheel drive. What’s worse, General Motors won’t even divulge the fuel economy of the 2007 Hummer H2 on their Web site, listing it as “not applicable.” I think someone has a little secret they don’t want revealed.

What practical purposes do most of these vehicles serve besides being cash cows for the oil industry? The Hummer was made for and used by the military before it was mass produced for civilians. I don’t know about you, but I’m not really worried about the Iraqi Republican Guard ambushing me in the grocery store parking lot. I’ll just have to take my chances.

At least you can have the small consolation of feeling like G.I. Joe or Jane while driving around in your Hummer. The vehicle that defies all logic is the now discontinued Ford Excursion. I can just imagine that fateful brainstorming session: “Hey guys! Let’s make a massive SUV that can hold 14,325 people, get 10 miles per gallon and steal the soul of all who glance upon its massive exterior!”

Congratulations, Ford. You succeeded.

Last, but certainly not least, is the way the operators of these huge, metal juggernauts act on the road. Darwin’s law doesn’t really work on the streets. It’s not “survival of the fittest” but rather “survival of the biggest.”

Not even the most defensive of drivers can save themselves from being run off the road by a merging SUV. It’s pretty much the equivalent of Shaquille O’Neal kicking a Hot Wheels car at full strength, except people actually die.

For whatever reason one decides to drive an enormous vehicle, be it style or practicality, security or insecurity, masochism or sadism, there’s a more practical vehicle out there. Sure, no one’s going to rush out and trade in their Escalade for a hybrid, but keep an open mind during your next trip to the car dealership.

Do Mother Nature and your fellow man a favor: think small.

David Hall is a freshman news-editorial journalism major from Kingwood. His column appears every Wednesday.