Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our Friend Miranda

We don't always want to talk about boring politics and what manufacturers and the government isn't doing - so we thought we'd mention our friend Miranda, over at the Accidental EcoManiac

Introducing her blog she writes: "I never wanted to become an EcoManiac. I was busy living the good life, complete with retail therapy and long-haul flights. In fact, when I moved back to London in 1999, I thought our home would be just perfect if we added a patio heater and outdoor hot tub. Who knew I was an accomplice in the murder of the planet?"

She writes lots of great articles and provides links to new 'green' stuff, including 'hot wheels'.

Miranda's written us this Top Hole entry all about 4x4s: "The 4x4 phenomenon (in the US and now in the UK and worldwide) is a triumph of advertising and cultural persuasion over common sense. For a while, MPG was the buzzword and it seemed cars were getting smaller and more efficient (and cheaper). Of course that’s not great news for car manufacturers – or the oil companies – so they started supersizing cars (and their advertising budgets)."

"I remember the first time I heard someone describe a 4x4 as 'sexy' (maybe 1981, soon after Reagan was elected, but when the ‘oil crisis’ of the 70s was still fresh in the mind.) I was shocked - at that time small sport scars were the height of cool (and midlife crises). I suppose 4x4s hint of a sporty, outdoorsy lifestyle (though instead of surfboards or camping gear, most 4x4s carry nothing more thrilling than the weekly shop)."

"Throughout the 90s and 00s, cars plumped up. At first they looked a bit OTT, but as the years passed and more people bought them, the behemoths didn’t look quite so odd. And celebrities' star power rubbed off and helped make 4x4s 'cool'. The ‘safety’ argument helped salve any misgivings and made people feel proud of their choice – and happy to defend it. Of course 4x4 are not so great for other road users or us pedestrians, but hey, there aren’t that many pedestrians in America anyway."

"Big cars got another boost when the IRS tax system (US) had a loophole for some SUVs allowing a deduction of up to $25,000 for for vehicles between 6-14,000 pounds. Buy a bigger car and get a 'rebate'? Who could resist that? Not many: most people in the US - even teenagers - drive gigantic cars. But now many families are finding it too expensive to fill up their 'gas guzzler' in order to travel to work, school or the shops, and the 4x4 craze doesn't seem quite so clever."

"Unfortunately the UK public has also indulged in bigger and heavier cars. The advertising seems irresistible. A 4x4 glides through the Nevada desert on an empty highway. Another climbs a cliff - what a thrilling adventure! What if ads had to show the grim reality – a frustrated UK driver trying to manoeuvre a 4x4 on a narrow road in an English village (or even in London), or trying to squeeze its giant girth into a standard car park space."

"I just can’t see why many people need a car like this (especially not in London). If your self-esteem needs a boost, do some volunteering or try to become a better person. Driving a big car doesn’t make you a big man (or woman)."

Cheers, Miranda