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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Tragic metaphor

Imagine an art movie that includes this scene:

A woman (known to the audience as a former Miss America), driving a sports utility vehicle, accidentally collides with and kills a German bicyclist at an intersection of two city streets.

Would you think that the writer/director was a little over the top?

Well, I probably would, even though I really dislike SUVs.

Americans, as the world knows, have access to very cheap gas and drive huge gas-guzzling SUVs (even in cities and suburbs).

Germans, by contrast, pay high gas taxes on the fuel for their cars and generally do not drive SUVs.

In global terms, as I've noted before, George W. Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto process, even as Germany has taken a lead role in fighting global warming.

In any case, this past weekend, the accident I described as hypothetical actually happened in Louisville, Kentucky. Former Miss America Heather French Henry (she's married to the state's Lt. Governor) said that the sun was in her eyes and so she did not see the German biker.

I might point out that Heather French Henry is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and may have had trouble seeing while driving her huge SUV -- sun in her eyes or not. The news stories point out that the biker was not wearing a helmut and apparently was crossing the street against the light, while Henry was making a turn with a protected arrow.

Thus, no charges are going to be filed. It was simply a terrible accident.

If gas cost between $3-4 per gallon, Americans would drive many fewer SUVs and could think about committing to Kyoto. There was an interesting article last week in the Christian Science Monitor explaining how a bunch of states are moving forward on this issue without Washington.

I hope they succeed.

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