Monday, April 26th, 2004 marks the one year anniversary of my arrest and confinement by Sacramento County Sheriff officers to the Sacramento County Mental Health Crisis Center because I was standing on a corner at a busy intersection protesting the war on Iraq and my fellow citizens mindless consumption of petroleum.
It has also been one year since I established the Drive 55 Conservation Project which states:
“Climate change, global warfare over diminishing resources and declining quality of life are the driving forces that motivate us to seek solutions to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.
Recognizing that stopping the use of fossil fuels suddenly is impractical and impossible, we adopt the “Convergence” philosophy as expressed by Aubrey Myer of the Global Commons Institute ( http://www.gci.org.uk/) and seek to reduce our consumption gradually, but to begin immediately.
Conservation is an attitude and approach to life that we are trying to cultivate and nourish with the Drive 55 Conservation Project. The crisis is real and requires our immediate intervention.
The goal of Drive55.org is to reduce petroleum usage by 20% to 50%.
How can this be achieved? By convincing drivers to slow down and obey existing speed limits, never driving over 55 MPH (88km). This will save lives, reduce insurance rates, reduce pollution and improve the overall quality of our lives.
Let’s be willing to learn about the issues and take personal responsibility for the part each of us plays in this petroleum-dependent culture. We must each do all we can to use less — otherwise we continue to fund the petroleum warlords every time we pay to fill our gas tanks up with their products.”
During the past year there have been 13,721 unique visitors to www.drive55.org, of these 50 have signed the following pledge:
“Recognizing our contribution to unhealthy air, water, neighborhoods, a sustainable future and world peace, we do hereby pledge to obey posted speed limits and never to exceed 55 MPH to conserve fuel, reduce pollution and make our lives safer. We urge our state & federal representatives to enact legislation to restore the 55 MPH maximum speed limit and mandate law enforcement agencies to enforce existing speed limits.”
Of these 50, perhaps 10 are false names with negative comments, so that leaves about 40 out of 13,721 that are willing to make that small sacrifice, the rest are so completely addicted that they actually get angry at the proposal to reduce or moderate their consumption.
During the past year I made a genuine effort to negotiate for proper training of Sheriff officers and County employees regarding civil rights, with the only result being ignored by every government official in a position to do something. I have been forced to seek justice in Federal Civil Court with a 20 million dollar lawsuit against the parties that had a role in my illegal arrest and confinement. Each day I see most of my brethren still mindlessly consuming as if we were not at war with the entire world over it. This includes the so-called environmental groups as they hold rallies and meetings with government officials using the same inefficient means of jet air travel and lavish “meetings” and “conferences” in posh hotels & resorts. It is like one alcoholic telling another to reduce his consumption, all the while sharing the same bottle and drinking just as much.
Now that I have broken my own addiction to petroleum I find myself alienated from almost everyone. The entire economy is entangled in the daily consumption of petroleum in vast quantities. If I am to have an equal position, I must be willing to join the daily commute.
Today I ride my bicycle for most local errands, I will not fly in a jet airplane, choosing AMTRAK or Greyhound instead for longer trips, and often I share the public transit system with the lowest class of citizen, those too poor and uneducated to fund their own private transportation. 99% of the folks riding public transit only do so because they have no choice. Wealthy people with plenty of time refuse to use public transit. Often I will board a crowded bus and start telling folks they are patriots for riding the bus, and most of the time my comments are met with sneers & jeers – these people could care less – they are just trying to get to work, and would cheerfully take up the private transportation habit if they could.
Every year more people walking or riding a bike are killed by private cars and trucks than died in the WTC tragedy on 9/11/01 (over 4000 vs. less than 3000) – of these murders, over 10% of them are children on their way to and from school. Where is the outrage? These are innocent, defenseless people walking or riding a bike! They don’t have a chance against tons of steel racing around with no regard for anyone else. Try it yourself, talk a walk on the nearest roadway and see if you don’t come home frightened out of your wits! Hop on a bike and peddle it to just 20 MPH, hold that speed and then tell me it doesn’t take vastly more energy than it would to peddle along at 5 or 10 MPH!
The next time you decide to fly on a jet airplane, learn how much petroleum will be consumed and how much pollution will result from burning the vast quantity of untaxed, unregulated, bunker grade fuel jets use. Ask yourself why an industry that has been around for over 50 years still needs BILLIONS of dollars in government subsidies EVERY YEAR to stay in business. How can it be that it costs less to buy a ticket on a jet than it does on a train, keeping in mind that trains are the most efficient way to move weight, while jets are the LEAST efficient?
Well, anyway, I have made all these comments before, and many are archived on my various websites. I just felt compelled to do something in recognition of this one year anniversary of those two things: the founding of the Drive 55 Conservation Project and my illegal arrest and confinement for protesting by Sacramento County authorities.
Does anyone care? What will it take to convince you to change your lifestyle voluntarily? Would FEMA showing up with gas masks convince you? How about restoration of the military draft? Maybe safe water only sold by the gallon (oops, it already is!) Friends and family killed and maimed? Would worldwide contempt for our war making to secure more petroleum have any influence on your decisions?
What will it take for YOU to “Just Say No” to the petroleum industry?
Please visit www.drive55.org to learn more and Take the Pledge! Also see www.fuelandfiber.com for information on energy choices and www.hempusflag.com for political information.
I am swimming upstream in every facet, but I simply must. I hope you decide to join me, as there is strength in numbers. I know because we are now outnumbered 13,721 to 40.
April 26th, 2004