As Recession hits home… Students need alternative modes of transportation to, from school

Ben Buysse/Opinion Editor
Whether you consider yourself to be a liberal, a conservative or indifferent, you probably recognize that the earth and our economy are going downhill. Both problems are affected by how we use our money. In these dangerous times, I believe people need to look at the facts about our ever-changing world and try to help out.

One way you can do your part for Mother Earth and Uncle Sam is to try a new way of getting to and from school. Perhaps instead of driving to school every day you could carpool with a friend, or, if you live close enough, you could bike.

I recently started going to Cedar Falls High School, and before here I attended Columbus High School in Waterloo. I was living in Cedar Falls at that time, which meant riding my bike was out of the question, but carpooling might have been possible.
I understand why many of you won’t want to make these fairly significant sacrifices. Who wants to wake up even earlier than they already do? No one, I assure you. But, the consequences of not recognizing and taking these problems seriously could cause severe penalties in the future.

With the fairly large economic crisis last week, it is clear that our economy is not in ideal condition. Thanks to the help of the Federal Reserve an even greater problem was avoided, but it serves as a reminder that our ways of living are going to need to change in the future.

I don’t believe that anyone could look at our current economic status and say that we are not in trouble. Corporations and banks have been going bankrupt left and right. It is time for us to think about reducing our spending on things that are not only expensive, but are bad for our environment as well.

The reality of global climate change is becoming an ever-growing problem as we spend our money on gas we could probably do without. I drive a truck that gets about 15 mpg on a good day; needless to say I am not without guilt on this matter. I realize I spend about as much as many of you on gas, but I have started to realize more and more that we all, myself included, need to change our habits.

The gas we put in our vehicles becomes a poison to our environment and those around us. Sadly, there simply is not a wide supply of any other type of fuel that will actually help our environment. The best thing we can do is to drive less.
For those that believe using ethanol is better for the environment and your bank account, I have some bad news. Ethanol won’t help because of its poor energy output; it takes more energy to produce ethanol than gasoline, and a tank of E85 will only yield 71 percent of the energy a regular tank of gasoline would. Ethanol’s reduced price does not make up for this wasted energy.

If you absolutely cannot bike or carpool to school, there is one other thing you can do. Filling up your tank with pure gasoline instead of ethanol would be better for the environment as well as your gas mileage.

Recently the city of Cedar Falls has considered adopting bike lanes on some of the major streets. If this happens it would leave us even less of an excuse to drive when we don’t live very far away from our destination. If this plan goes forward and we do begin to see bike lanes being drawn out on the streets, we should consider it a sign that it is time to change our ways. In other parts of the country and the world, bikers outnumber the drivers. It will probably never be an ideology that everyone in Cedar Falls will embrace, but that shouldn’t stop us, the hope of the future, from trying to change things.

There was a study done in 2005 by the EPA and DOE that said the average American family with two drivers spends $4,132 on gas per year. In 2005 gas prices were between $2.25 and $2.50 per gallon. I look at these numbers with complete awe. Gasoline prices were above $3.90 here in Cedar Falls not very long ago. That would mean that using $3.90 per gallon, the average family with two drivers would have spent $6,445 on gas this year.

For those of you who can’t carpool or ride your bike to school, there is still one option — the bus. I know, the bus may not sound like a very good option, but in reality it would help both the environment and your wallet. In large cities bus transportation can be a very effective method of public transportation. The school buses here at C.F. could pick up many people and reduce the gas being used by a great deal.

Another gas saving option for after the school day and on weekends is the local bus system. This summer, for merely 75 cents, I would hop aboard one of the many pick-up spots throughout Cedar Falls and be in downtown Waterloo in half an hour. Not only am I saving money, these transit systems also greatly reduce the need for cars or unnecessary driving.

Every generation has great hurdles that they must overcome, and whether they fail or succeed in jumping these hurdles will determine how the future generations will live. Perhaps our hurdles will be the economy and our environment; perhaps we will stop global warming and prevent the next great depression. For the sake of the future, I hope we can do both.

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