Put on the brakes and take action, by Tawni Ferrarini and Pam Torreano Aimone

Gentlemen, ladies, teens, start your engines and seize a modicum of control over rising gasoline prices. You can put on the brakes by taking personal action that will relieve concerns created by ever-escalating prices at the pump.
The Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy says that the United States is the world’s largest consumer and net importer of gasoline. Past abundance has lead to present shortages. The time has arrived to Gear-up—Act— Save! Upper Peninsula (G-A-S UP). We must change course, not only in our beautiful Upper Peninsula, but all across the country. Decisions of today carry heavy consequences for future generations.
Let’s take a minute to delve a little deeper into this high-octane topic. All of America is weary and leery as we watch energy prices escalate and listen to politicians postulate. Profit-maximizing oil companies want to drill for dollars in Alaska with minimal concern for environmental impact. Ethanol is available and has been for years, but carmakers and oil producers have ignored this option. Why? Profits, you say.
Of course, this is the logical response; but wait a minute. Did anyone place a gun to your head and force you to purchase the car you drive and the gas you buy? No, this did not occur; gasoline shortage warnings went unheeded and producers responded to consumer demand. As a result, we must think deeply about our role in the current crisis and what can be done personally to alter the U.S. energy consumption landscape.
Pursue information on ways to save and see what a difference a change makes. Visit the State of Michigan’s Web site at www.michigan.gov/documents/gasconservation_87283_7_87625_7.html on how to conserve gasoline by sharing rides, driving less and bicycling. Take a vacation from your current driving, entertainment sitting and TV habits. Research your options and broadcast them to others.
Conserve gas and manage this crisis. Help others do the same. Invite people to leave their gas worries at the roadside and realize there are many opportunities to make positive differences in the midst of this oil crisis.
Armed with the information and understanding that the choices of today impact tomorrow, act with others in a manner that makes a difference on a personal, family, community and state basis. When the time comes to purchase that new automobile, consider making the decision to go green. Also consider the little realized fact that Michigan is one of nine states in the nation with an obesity prevalence rate of twenty-five percent or more. Turn this into an opportunity to save at the pump.
Whether or not this fact personally applies to you, it’s just a good idea to get off your duff and do something to raise your metabolism and shed extra pounds. Rather than driving, bike to work, skateboard to school or walk to the grocery store. Rather than cruising the countryside, hike the local trails and go for a swim in one of the many inviting lakes in the U.P. You get the drift. Conserve gas and get healthy.
Michigan Steps Up! (www.michigan.gove/surgeongeneral) offers excellent resources on devising a personal plan to reach daily and weekly health goals. Lose weight, expend personal (not oil-produced) energy and save as that “couch potato” car sits and sits and sits.
Use less of everything: cash, gasoline, food…you get the picture. Keep an eye out for specials offered by hotels, amusements parks and the entire recreation industry. A free tank of gas in exchange for reservations is becoming more and more commonplace. Carpool discounts are being offered, but you have to take the time to search out the savings. The price of gas is changing the way America thinks and these positive changes begin with you.
Gasoline prices are elevated because consumer demand is soaring and U.S. oil production has fallen. Consequently, the U.S. Energy Department reports that oil prices are twenty-three percent higher than one year ago.
This is the result of basic economics: a strong, growing demand for oil is outpacing a limited supply. This fact is obvious to everyone involved with oil production: producer, retailer and politician. These folks realize consumers have not yet been grounded by high-energy costs. This is evidenced by the steady growth in United States consumer demand for oil, and oil products and by-products.
It is a time when our nation is truly driven to satisfaction and a rise in the price of gasoline is not only anticipated, but accepted. Added to global unrest that produces a fear of interrupted oil supplies, the result is steady increases. These price hikes come in the form of pennies-a-day in the hope that consumers won’t notice the hit. Like topping off your tank, when do we, as consumers, admit that we have consumed too much?
More than a few decades ago, Burger King bellowed, “…have it your way.” Well, we now have it our way and we’re paying for it. Critics claim that America’s unfiltered fascination with gas guzzling behemoths goes unmatched.
The stats show that we may be revved up about the issue but we continue to soar past the price obstacle in the road and our national role as the motherhouse of gasoline consumption goes unchallenged.
—Tawni Ferrarini, Associate Professor of Economics at NMU and Pam Torreano Aimone, Former Editor of Woman Speak, Quincy (Illinois)

Gas prices cramping your style? Take the Greenway
Marquette is proud to be a Cool City. One of the characteristics of a cool city is walk-ability and bike-ability.
In 2005, Marquette’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Group conducted a survey to receive input for the Recreation Master Plan.
The parks and recreation facilities most important to respondents were paved walking and biking trails and natural hiking and biking trails.
Marquette has made dramatic efforts to increase biking and walking by expanding and linking the paved biking and walking paths. Many call these paths Marquette’s best kept secret, for although the trails are a true gem, they are not a well publicized one.
In an effort to bridge the information gap, Northern Options Energy Center has created GreenWays trail maps. The GreenWays maps will highlight the non-motorized trail systems throughout the city.
The maps will be posted at six locations along the bike path and will be available as a free brochure. The maps will serve as a permanent guide for the city’s trail systems and even include the winter sidewalk snowplow routes.
Through the GreenWays project Northern Options hopes to help visitors and local residents make healthy choices for transportation. Northern Options has been collaborating on this project with other local organizations interested in health and biking, including the Marquette County Health Department, the Cool Cities Committee, the Marquette Parks and Recreation Department, Marquette Country Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Marquette Downtown Development Authority, Marquette Chamber of Commerce, Noquemenon Trail Network and others.
Marquette’s best kept secret is about to go public. Get out there and ride.
This project is funded in part by the State of Michigan Energy Office. For details, call 226-1136.
—Northern Options release

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