Several organizations have made headlines recently with their crusades against SUVs. And one of the most common goals is to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
The organizations point out that some foreign suppliers of our oil support terrorism.
A closer look at the campaigns and their goals, however, yields some ironic results. Let us assume that supporters of the campaigns of Arianna Huffington or "What would Jesus drive?" could wave a magic wand at the transportation industry. All vehicles would be family sedans achieving 30 percent better gas mileage than SUVs and pickup trucks. Would that end terrorism?
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans consumed approximately 33.2 billion gallons of oil for on-highway use in 2001. In the "What would Jesus drive?" world, that would decline by about 10 billion gallons.
That is a substantial improvement, but we must remember that the United States also consumes approximately 25 billion gallons of oil each year for other uses. This brings the grand total of oil consumption down from about 58 billion gallons to about 48 billion gallons annually.
With that demand, the United States would still rely heavily on foreign supplies. And you can bet that al Queda would continue to operate.
But would al Queda operate solely because people continue to consume oil? It's not likely. In fact, the claim that SUV buyers support terrorism holds no more weight than a claim that all people who drink city water do the same. Maybe an incognito member of al Queda works for your city's water treatment facility. A thorough examination would find that almost every action we take supports terrorism.
Or maybe that guy you bought peanuts from yesterday sends a portion of his earnings to a suicide bomber's family in Israel. Does that mean you're going to stop drinking water or eating peanuts? No. Those things, just like driving SUVs, are standards of living that we have come to enjoy.
By giving up our standard of living or limiting our choices, we Americans only add fuel to the fire. After all, isn't that the goal of terrorism to begin with?