Monday, April 20, 2009

Jet Packs and Tang

After JFK said we would make it “to the moon within this decade,” (and we did) the Space Race permeated every facet of American culture. Television shows like Lost In Space and Star Trek gave us an inaccurate, but optimistic look at what we could do after taking “one small step for man.”

America was fascinated with anything about space, the stars, and life on other planets. Astronauts were treated like rock stars. Every space launch was covered with reporters and viewers holding their breath as that long tube blasted upward higher and higher with a loud, deafening roar and explosive fireball into space.

Back then, when people and experts talked about the “future,” we were all supposed to be wearing unitards, food would be reduced to a tablet and we would go everywhere in air cars (like George Jetson) or by jet pack.

And we would be free from the smelly, dirty viscous fossil fuels that we had to dig out of the ground. We would look upward to the skies and find a new source of energy.

Sadly, that day and that dream haven’t come to fruition. We don’t dress in unitards (thank goodness) or take pills for nourishment, but we have white-knuckled a technology that really hasn’t changed since Karl Benz received a patent for a two-stroke gasoline engine in 1879.

Sure, certain car producers have made hybrids. But for the most part, the dreams of clean, renewable energy hasn’t been realized and people finger point and make excuses as to why we can’t seem to drive something that’s not dependent on 87 or 91 grades unleaded gasoline.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon wants to implement EV Car charging stations at ballparks, malls and city garages. He also announced this week that he wants to see the city fleet as go with electric cars as soon as it's feasible.

Good luck.

Here’s the dirty little oily secret that people don’t want to talk about: our dependency on oil and gasoline is not about the car or the fuel; it’s about behavior.

Inventors, politicians, soothsayers and talk show hosts alike can say, scream, and demand until they are red in the face about getting off oil dependence, or going green, but until there is a seismic shift and conscientiously alter their behavior to make going green a habit, then all the talk and good intentions are for nothing.

We all need to look upward again, be inspired, alter our behavior, or else we still be stuck back in the 60’s talking about wearing unitards and wishing we had jet packs.

And when was the last time you had a glass of Tang? They don’t even drink that stuff on the Space Shuttle.

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