Our best interests?

by Barbara Lind

cozy family portrait: he, she and it. A flowery-script title, “Love Endures.” An enticing subtitle, “Blazer, Explorer and Grand Cherokee owners feel affection for their SUVs despite problems.”

    An oil company PR piece? No - an article in a recent issue of the Southern California Auto Club's Westways magazine! Oh - perhaps a crafty lead-in for much needed education on conservation? Unfortunately not.

    The article starts: “Southern Californians love their SUVs - results of our second Owner Survey demonstrate the surprising depth of that affection.” The article ends with, “for most of the owners, the benefits of their SUVs outweighs their disadvantages.” These conclusions are bolstered by mollifying statistics showing that over 60% of SUV owners would buy the same again. In between are blithe quotes from SUV owners regarding SUV highs (fun, comfort, appearance, size) and lows (fuel economy, rough ride, braking ability).

    Fuel economy warranted brief mention, offset somewhat by a separate article on how to get better gas mileage with improved driving habits. However, if column-inches indicate relative importance, then feeling good and being one-of-the-crowd in your SUV is three times as important as efforts to save on gas.

    The irresponsibility of this pro-SUV article is striking, considering prevailing petroleum issues: waning supplies, increasing prices, funding terrorists, sparking wars. We want to encourage conservation - not consumption - at a time like this. Consumer education is what's needed, not encouragement of status quo gas-guzzling. Doesn't the Auto Club represent drivers (and our Country's) best interests?

    If you would like an answer to this question, send a letter to Auto Club of Southern California, Thomas McKernan Jr, President, PO Box 25001, Santa Ana, CA 92799. Or if you just want to lodge an opinion on the Westways article, email westwaysaaa-calif.com.

    Barbara Lind is a local San Diego environmental activist. You can email her at BSLindhome.com.