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John Petro

What You Can Do About the Disaster in the Gulf

The idea of thousands of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico every day is unsettling, to say the least. The footage is even worse— perhaps even bad enough for those toting “Drill, baby, drill” placards to rethink their stance on energy policy.

But apart from relying on Superman to swoop in and plug up the oil spill with a giant boulder, what can we actually do about it?

Quite a bit, actually, but it requires a serious examination of where we choose to live and how we get to and from our daily destinations. By living closer to where we live, shop, and go to school, and by replacing some of our car trips with transit, walking, or biking, Americans can significantly reduce the amount of oil and gasoline we consume. And the less oil and gasoline we consume the less likely we will have more oil-related disasters in the future.

For example, if the average American used as much gasoline as the average resident of New York City, the nation would cut its gasoline consumption by nearly two-thirds, from 138 billion gallons a year to 46 billion gallons a year.

Of course, not everyone wants to live in New York City, but the lesson remains: by making more trips by public transit and by living in communities where it is possible to walk to the store or school, we will use and need far less oil.

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Posted at 5:00 PM, May 21, 2010 in Urban Affairs
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