A Love of the Road

Posted on September 23rd, 2011

I love to drive.

Growing up in farm country, driving was synonymous with freedom and independence.  It still is. When miles separate home from school, work, and the grocery store; driving a car is nearly essential in areas that are under-served by public transportation.  We live in a car culture, and I confess to being a big fan of the automobile.  I’ve always appreciated the art and engineering that goes into building cars.  That admiration is surpassed only by love of what cars can do for you.  They can connect you to friends and family.  They allow you to make a living, whether that means driving to an office to work or using a vehicle to produce or deliver a needed commodity.  The iconic family vacation-the great American road trip would be nothing without the automobile.

It was the road trip (many of them, actually) and seeing the sights across this vast country that inspired me to seek a profession preserving the environment and the economic vitality of the individual communities that make America great.  It didn’t take much education about the source of our automotive fuel for guilt to set in.  Actually, fear hit first.  The realization that we are running out of oil and that fuel prices are guaranteed to rise gnawed at me.  I feared that I would soon be unable to afford those long road trips to visit our National Parks or even short trips to work or to Grandma’s house.

The problem is even worse than those self-centered fears.  Without liquid fuels, our entire system of commerce breaks down, our food production system breaks down, our food distribution breaks down.  Public safety, emergency response, and national security all break down without adequate supplies of liquid fuel.  So, yes, fear and guilt are the appropriate response if you drive and continue to burn fossil fuels.  Economic and social collapse is a certainty if we remain reliant on an energy source which is soon to be extinct in the possession of free and democratic nations.   Not only does irresponsible consumption of fossil fuels hasten our economic and social collapse at the hands of OPEC, but every gram of carbon emitted by burning fossil fuels contributes to the greenhouse effect and the threat of global climate change.

I understand that the scale of this problem and lack of solutions at hand cause most people to remain in denial.  You are not alone in ignoring that gnawing guilt in the back of your mind.  It hurts to pay $3 per gallon for fuel, but not as much as it hurts to go without. So, we suppress our better judgment and keep burning fossil fuels.

There is another alternative.

Most of my work in lifecycle analysis quantifies the benefits of biodiesel in terms of reduced greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, resource protection, job creation, and economic growth. Right now, I’d like to talk about benefits that can’t be quantified.  I propose that using biodiesel replaces guilt and fear with pride and hope. We can bring back the love of driving and pair it with support for domestic, renewable fuel. Conservation and the use of renewable fuel may be the two most important things you can do to preserve the vitality of this country, to protect the environment, and ensure quality of life for future generations.

Try a gallon of biodiesel in your tank and a biodiesel bumper sticker on your car or truck.  Your support means a lot.  It should feel different knowing that the money you spend on domestic fuel is circulating in your community instead of paying for imports.  You should feel confident that your exhaust is causing less pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.  Be an example, and love it.
Don Scott
Director of Sustainability, National Biodiesel Board


  1. Ramoan Lee says:

    I’ve read that algae can be used to make a few different products including an unleaded gas and a biodiesel additive to reduce petroleum consumption.

  2. Beth says:

    What a fantastic blog! Biodiesel clearly has many benefits, and it is great to learn about how using biodiesel will help improve lives.

    I’m looking forward to future posts.

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