What is Your SUV Doing to the World

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on SUVs and the war on terrorism from the people at Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars.

Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars
Quick Facts and Talking Points
Alarming Facts (and) Why We Need a Hybrid Car Campaign
Myths and Realities about SUVS
Californians May Give Up Their True Love, S.U.V.'s

Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars

"The idea for this project came to me while watching -- for the umpteenth time -- one of those outrageous drug war ads the Bush administration has flooded the airwaves with. You know, the ones that try and link using drugs to financing terrorism. Instead of shaking my head in disgust and reaching for the Mute button like I usually do when I see these ads, I decided to channel my indignation. Why not turn the tables and adopt the same tactics the administration was using in the drug war to point out the much more credible link between driving SUVs and our national security? Thus began our campaign to create a series of TV ads designed to win the hearts and minds -- and change the driving habits -- of American consumers by asking them to connect the dots and think about the effect energy wastefulness is having not just on the environment, but on our foreign policy.

"The amazing response we've received has enabled us to produce a pair of top-of-the-line ads, which are currently in post-production. Now we need your help to get them on the air. Any amount, no matter how small, will make a difference. Thank you for your support -- and be sure to continue checking out the site for the latest on our anti-SUV campaign." Arianna Huffington

Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars (AFEC) is a nonprofit group dedicated to decreasing America's reliance on foreign oil. AFEC was co-founded by columnist Arianna Huffington, film producer Lawrence Bender, environmental activist Laurie David, and movie and TV agent Ari Emanuel.

Their goal is to mount a citizens' ad campaign aimed at getting people to stop driving SUVs and other gas-guzzling vehicles -- and jolting our leaders into taking action. Currently they are producing ads parodying the drugs-equal-terror ads the Bush administration is running. Lawrence Bender, producer of "Pulp Fiction" and "Good Will Hunting," and director Scott Burns, co-creator of the "Got Milk?" ad campaign, have agreed to donate their services to make these ads a reality through A Band Apart, Bender's production company.
Take action at: action.thedetroitproject.com/action/index.asp?step=2&item=1436

Quick Facts and Talking Points

SUVs consume over 6 miles per gallon more than a family station wagon. No small difference when you consider that an improvement of just 3 mpg in autos nationwide would save 1 million barrels of oil per day. (AH column 11-14-01)

In Iraq, oil money has kept Saddam's repressive regime afloat even in the midst of tough UN sanctions. According to a report just released by the CIA, Saddam has been spending his oil money on conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction, while starving and torturing his own people. (AH 10-21-02)

Iraq, Iran and Libya -- hardly friendly countries -- account for 10 percent of all the world's oil. Saudi Arabia, the homeland of bin Laden, contributes 11 percent. (Chicago Tribune 11-11-01)

In Saudi Arabia, our second largest foreign supplier of oil, the money you spend at the pump over here pays for a feudal monarchy that gorges itself on excess while bankrolling terrorist mischief abroad with its support of suicide bombers. (AH 10-21-02)

The Energy Department reported last year U.S. cars and light trucks consumed 10 percent of the annual global oil production, or about 8 million barrels of 77 million produced each day. (Chicago Sun-Times 3-20-02)

Among other things, the auto industry has been able to avoid some of the rules simply by making the vehicles bigger. If you make an SUV big enough, it qualifies for lenient air pollution rules, and if you make it really large, like the larger Suburbans or the Hummers or the Ford Excursions, they're exempt from fuel economy standards entirely. (Salon 10-24-02)

If SUVs and mini-vans were required to meet the same standards as cars, this would cut total U.S. oil use by 1 million barrels a day by 2010, says the Union of Concerned Scientists. (Chicago Tribune 11-11-01)

Average fuel economy for all models of SUVs, vans and pickups is about 18 miles to the gallon, with some, like the Dodge Durango, getting 12 m.p.g. in city driving and 17 on the highway. (Chicago Tribune 11-11-01)

EPA estimates a 3 mpg increase in average fuel economy industrywide would save $25 billion a year in fuel costs and reduce 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. (Newsday 10-10-01)

Beyond contributing to waste and pollution, the rise of gas guzzlers could be seen as a national security issue. The EPA reported that an improvement of just 3 mpg overall would save 1-million barrels of oil per day. Considering that the United States imports 740,000 barrels of oil per day from Iraq, a modest improvement in fuel economy would free the country from its dependence on a hostile state. (St. Petersburg Times 10-6-01)

If cars got an average of 45 MPG (with light trucks getting 34 MPG), oil demand would diminish by about 2 million barrels a day, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. (Salon.com 9-27-01)

The figures are so bad that EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham are coming stunningly close to saying that fuel efficiency is a patriotic duty. Abraham said, "Reducing our nation's dependence on imported oil is crucial to our national energy security, now more than ever before." (Boston Globe 10-12-01)
Source: thedetroitproject.com/readmore/talkingpoints.htm

Alarming Facts (and) Why We Need a Hybrid Car Campaign

1. Global warming is here, NOW.

2. America’s oil dependence endangers our national security.

3. America’s oil dependence threatens our environmenal security.

4. We consume a quarter of the worlds total oil product.

5. America has only 3% of its proven oil reserves.

6. At the root of our heavy reliance on oil imports is the inefficiency of cars.

7. Cars are responsible for 25 percent of the heat trapping gases produced.

8. The U.S. consumes 8 billion barrels of oil a year, much of which goes to fueling our vehicles.

9. Average mileage of our new cars and trucks is at its lowest level in 20 years.

10. Technology already exists to change this.

11. About 50 MILLION new cars roll off the assembly line each year.

12. The life span of each new car is now over twenty years.

13. There are already over 20 MILLION suv’s on the nations roads.

14. Suv’s spew up to SIX TIMES as much smog - causing pollution per mile as cars.

15. The Global auto fleet is now at 600 MILLION cars.

16. The number of vehicles in use around the world is expected to double in the next 20 years.

17. An automobile engine produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide for every gallon of gas it burns, or about 1 pound per mile.

18. A hybrid car produces less than one half pound of CO2 per mile.

19. Suv’s have no fuel economy standards because they are considered trucks.

20. Fleet-wide fuel economy is decreasing because of the growing popularity of suv’s.

21. One way to reduce our dependence on oil is to have our cars go further on each gallon of gas.

22. Improving fuel economy alone could save more oil than we import from the Persian Gulf.

23. Unchecked, global warming will have severe impacts during the lifetime of today’s teens.

24. 65% of all known oil reserves lie beneath Persian Gulf States.

25. Hybrid cars get double the mileage of todays cars.

26. Last year Americans used more than 120 billion gallons of gasoline - costing $186 billion.

27. Over the past 30 years Americans have sent more than a trillion dollars to oil producing countries.

28. Over 1.5 million gallons of oil were spilled into U.S. waters in 2000 alone.

29. Suv’s are featured regularly on MTV and VH1 shows and videos.

30. Hybrid cars are never featured on MTV and VH1.

31. According to marketers at GM and Ford attitudes about cars and music are formed in the teen years.

32. The average suv gets 8-15 mpg.

33. The average hybrid gets 51 mpg.

Source: Natural Resources Defense Council. From the book, High and Mighty: SUVs: The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and how They Got That Way, by Keith Bradsher. Copyright © 2002. Reprinted by arrangement with PublicAffairs, a member of the Perseus Books Group. thedetroitproject.com/readmore/nrdc_facts.htm Also check out Global Warming Kids Site

Myths and Realities about SUVS

Myth: SUVs are safer than cars.

Reality: SUVs are no safer than cars for their occupants, and pose much greater dangers for other road users. SUV occupants die slightly more often than car occupants in crashes. The occupant death rate in crashes per million SUVs on the road is 6 percent higher than the death rate per million cars. The occupant death rate for the largest SUVs, which tend to be driven by middle-aged families, is 8 percent higher than the occupant death rate for minivans and upper-midsize cars like the Ford Taurus and Toyota Camry, which are typically driven by similar families. SUV occupants are much more likely than car occupants to die in a rollover, which accounts for about 1,000 more deaths a year than if the same people had been in cars. In collisions with other vehicles, however, SUVs are nearly three times as likely as cars to kill other drivers, inflicting another 1,000 unnecessary deaths a year among motorists who would have survived if hit instead by cars of the same weight. SUVs also contribute much more than cars to air pollution, causing up to 1,000 extra deaths a year among people with respiratory ailments.

Myth: SUVs are good choices for young drivers.

Reality: Parents who care about their children should not let them drive SUVs. Compared to older drivers, teens' involvement in multi-vehicle crashes is above average. But their involvement in single-vehicle crashes is far above average, presumably because of their inexperience. SUVs are the worst vehicles to be driving for anyone concerned about single-vehicle crashes. They have limited crumple zones, providing less protection than a car in an impact with a solid roadside object like a bridge abutment. Worse, SUVs are several times more likely to roll over than a car. Rollovers are the main cause of paralysis in crashes and paralysis can be an especially heavy burden for a young person to bear. Parents should also discourage their children from riding in SUVs driven by other young people. Not only are SUVs unsafe, but insurance industry statistics show the risk of a fatal crash increases swiftly the more occupants there are in a vehicle driven by a teen, probably because inexperienced drivers are more easily distracted. Young people should drive mid-sized or full-sized sedans, which are unlikely to flip over, provide ample crumple zones and do not pose nearly the risk of an SUV to other motorists.

Myth: Rollovers happen to people who drive recklessly but are of little concern for responsible drivers.

Reality: While inexperienced drivers are more likely to flip vehicles than experienced drivers, rollovers can happen to anyone. Federal research, accepted by the auto industry, shows that 92 percent of all rollovers begin when a vehicle is "tripped." This can occur when the vehicle strikes a curb, guardrail or another, lower-riding vehicle. Tripping can also occur when the wheels on one side of the vehicle pass over a high-friction surface, like the mud or gravel of a soft road shoulder. While reckless drivers are more likely to trip their vehicles, any motorist can wind up in an emergency situation, such as swerving to avoid a pedestrian, in which tripping is a risk.

Myth: If a drunk driver starts drifting across the centerline toward you, you are better off in an SUV than in a car.

Reality: On a narrow, crowded or slippery road with no shoulder, it may not be possible to swerve out of the drunk's path. But drunken driving tends to be particularly a problem at night, when roads are less congested. You have a better chance of maneuvering out of a drunk's path in an agile car than in a tall, lumbering SUV, and you are less likely to roll over in a car than in an SUV if you swerve across the shoulder. If you are in a collision, an SUV will typically provide more protection than a car if it stays upright because of its greater weight and because its height may allow it to override bumpers and crush the softer passenger compartment of the drunk's vehicle. But SUVs are more likely to roll over in multi-vehicle collisions as well as single-vehicle crashes.

Myth: Vehicles with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive have more effective brakes than two-wheel-drive vehicles.

Reality: All-wheel drive or four-wheel drive simply means that the engine is supplying power to turn all four wheels. These systems help a vehicle accelerate. But this has nothing to do with braking effectiveness. Indeed, all vehicles have brakes on all four wheels. Taller, heavier vehicles, including most SUVs, are harder to stop than shorter, lighter vehicles, including most cars. Because SUVs are less likely to slip while accelerating on wet or icy surfaces, their drivers are easily lulled into forgetting that they cannot stop any better than nearby cars. The most important factor in braking and steering is the surface area of contact that the tires have against the road. Many SUV tires actually have less contact with paved roads than car tires because they have deep, macho-looking grooves that are designed to let them sink deep into mud or snow to harder ground below.

Myth: SUVs must be safe vehicles because the overall rate of traffic deaths per 100 million miles driven in the United States has inched down during the last decade even as SUV sales have soared.

Reality: The SUV problem has snuck up on America because the percentage of all registered vehicles in the nation that are SUVs has been rising by less than a percentage point a year. Drunk driving has plunged, seat-belt use has soared and air bags have become widespread over the last decade, three changes that should have produced big improvements in American traffic safety. Yet the deadliness of the nation's roads has barely changed. Nearly 42,000 Americans still die on the nation's roads each year and 3 million are injured, making traffic accidents one of the nation's biggest public health problems.

Myth: Riding up high improves visibility and allows the driver to anticipate trouble ahead.

Reality: Like sitting on a thick phone directory at a theater, driving a tall vehicle does improve a motorist's view, but at the expense of those driving behind. Drivers of tall vehicles are able to avoid some crashes by seeing dangerous situations in advance. But they also increase their odds of rolling over, with all the risks of death or paralysis that this implies. Tall vehicles are no safer than short vehicles while putting others in danger.

Myth: The safety problems of SUVs are "growing pains" that will diminish as safer models come on the market in the next few years.

Reality: Small steps are being taken, like installing hollow steel bars below the front bumpers of SUVs to reduce the danger they pose to lower-riding cars. But even the newest SUVs are likely to prove less stable than cars and more dangerous to other road users. The biggest problems still lie ahead. The majority of the SUVs on the road today, including three-quarters of the full-sized SUVs, were built in the last five years and are still being driven mainly by middle-aged families. As these vehicles age, their mechanical parts will begin to deteriorate and they will become more affordable for young drivers and for drunks, who tend to choose inexpensive vehicles. At the same time, the proportion of vehicles on the road that are SUVs is set to nearly double in the next decade or so. SUVs make up only 10 percent of registered vehicles now, but this is likely to catch up eventually with the 17 percent of new vehicle sales that are SUVs.

Myth: Only an SUV can provide the room that families with children need.

Reality: Mid-sized and large cars provide the same seating room as mid-sized SUVs. The trunks of the larger cars often have just as much floor space for groceries, although they are not as tall as the cargo areas of SUVs. Minivans, which are built like tall cars, offer seating for seven as well as tall cargo areas. Very few families need the slightly greater interior space offered by the very largest SUVs.

Myth: SUV air pollution does not matter because they are less dirty than the cars of a generation ago.

Reality: Big SUVs are allowed to emit up to 1.1 grams per mile of smog-causing nitrogen oxides, which is less than the 3 to 4 grams a mile from cars of the early 1960s but still a lot worse than today's cars, which are only allowed to emit up to 0.2 grams per mile. The air quality in most American cities has been improving, but further improvements require constant effort. Before leaving office in 2001, President Clinton issued regulations requiring that cars and SUVs emit no more than 0.07 grams per mile by 2009, a rule that ought not to be relaxed.

Myth (version 1): The rise of SUVs is a principal cause of global warming.

Myth (version 2): SUVs are unimportant to global warming.

Reality: The truth lies somewhere in between. Most scientists say that human activity is helping to tip the balance of nature toward a warming of the Earth's climate, the so-called greenhouse effect, but the extent of the human contribution is uncertain. Automobiles emit 19.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, a global-warming gas, for each gallon of gasoline they burn, as carbon from the gasoline is combined with oxygen from the air passing through the grille. SUVs, with their gas-guzzling ways, account for less than 1 percent of all human emissions of global-warming gases. But SUVs are nevertheless an especially wasteful contributor to global warming. Switching from a mid-sized car to a large SUV for a year consumes as much energy as leaving a refrigerator door open for six years. Americans' attachment to their SUVs has helped make it very hard for presidents to commit the United States to steep reductions in total emissions of global-warming gases, and this has crippled inter-national efforts to address global warming.

Myth: SUVs need to have primitive, gas-guzzling engines to pro-vide the necessary power for towing large objects.

Reality: Automakers' lobbyists have used this argument for years to fight tougher fuel-economy rules, but many of their own engineers disagree. Many SUV engines still have just two valves for each cylinder, an antiquated, gas-guzzling design often defended by lobbyists as necessary for providing extra power. But with careful design of the combustion chamber, engines with four valves for each cylinder can be very effective for towing. "You can take a four-valve engine and soup it up at the low end," said Tanvir Ahmad, GM's engine director. Some of the newest SUVs on the market have four-valve engines, including the full-sized Toyota Sequoia and GM's mid-sized Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and Oldsmobile Bravada. Using four valves instead of two not only produces an immediate improvement in fuel economy but allows the introduction of further technologies that are just emerging from laboratories and save even more gasoline, like variable valve timing. The problem is that designing new combustion chambers is very expensive. Compared to two-valve engines, four-valve engines also have more parts, making them slightly more costly to manufacture. Automakers have been reluctant to invest the money in switching existing SUV models to four-valve designs. "I don't think there is any conversion to four-valve that is cheap," Ahmad said.

Myth: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Reality: For the truly self-centered person who cares nothing about hurting other people in crashes, obscuring other drivers' views of the road, making smog worse and contributing to global warming, this might seem a viable option. But such drivers need to be aware that they are not improving their own safety, and must endure the aggravation of driving a vehicle that is harder to drive and harder to park than a car.

Editor's addition: 

Myth: The bigger the tires, the bigger the penis.

Reality: Buying the big tires is an attempt to make up for a lack in other important masculine areas.

Source: From the book, High and Mighty: SUVs: The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and how They Got That Way, by Keith Bradsher. Copyright © 2002. Reprinted by arrangement with PublicAffairs, a member of the Perseus Books Group. All rights reserved. thedetroitproject.com/readmore/myths.htm

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