Transportation Choices and Global Implications

Two different approaches - both from Toyota!

Toyota Prius

Toyota Land Cruiser

I have had the "TERRORISM PREVENTION VEHICLE" message on my Prius since October 2002. It took some guts to put it there but I have no regrets. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response. People regularily pass me and give me a thumbs up. On 3 occasions people have taken the time to leave me an admiring note when the car was parked.

The idea is that if we could reduce our use of oil, reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, we would not 'need' to be so aggressive in the world to defend "our interests". It is our aggressive actions in the world that piss people off not our wealth or our freedoms. In my view terrorists are extremists who are really pissed off at us. SO pissed off that they take desperate measures to express themselves.

So let's not piss them off any more!

Driving more efficient cars is one way to do this. More efficient means hybrid, yes, but also SMALLER. I understand that different people have different needs in a vehicle but I really really don't understand why so many people "need" such huge gigantic humongous gluttonous SUVs.

Ralph Nader has said that the biggest source of oil in the world is in Detroit. It's true. If American car manufacturers could improve their average fuel efficiency by just a few miles per gallon we would save SO SO much more oil! One can't blame the manufacturers (they make what people want and what sells) or the government entirely. It is US.

My 2001 Prius is a great car. And the 2004 Prius is an even better car! It won the Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year! In addition to being efficient and clean the Prius is roomy and fast. Usually when doing something ecological or green or environmental you have to make some kind of sacrifice. Do without. Make do with less. Not so with the Prius.

Yay Toyota!

I wonder how many of the Toyota monster SUVs (like the Land Cruiser) are driven in Japan or Europe. I presume most are made for the U.S. market to compete with the Escalade, Hummer, Tahoe, Suburban, Expedition, ...

Note that I have two American flags on my the back of my car. I am a patriot. The concept is that if there is a SUV driver behind me AND they are intelligent enough to understand the implication of my provocative political message they might consider RAMMING me. But with the flags there they would pause and not do so. So the flags are my protection.

On the topic of SUV drivers and their reaction to my message ... a recent (March 2005) interaction on the road makes for a good story. I was in San Jose driving along Stevens Creek Boulevard where there are all kinds of auto dealerships. Alongside of me came a Chevrolet Avalanche:

(Photos courtesy of the Chevy Avalanche Fan Club. Also see the dealer site for all kinds of specifications and details.)

The Avalanche was black and very clean - it did not at all look like it was used as a work vehicle. Inside was a man in his 50's. He caught my attention and motioned for me to roll down my window (how do we explain to kids the etymology of the the verb 'roll down'? :)). I didn't know what he was going to say but I was not afraid and so with a smile I did roll down the window. This conversation took place:

He asked:How do you pronounce the name of your car?
I said:It is "pre us".
He said:Oh... I thought it was "pious".
At which point he rolled his window back up and drove on. I tried to catch his attention and have a little further interaction but he was not interested. I was chuckling. His quip was rather clever. Yes, my message is rather self-righteous - implying rather directly that *I* am doing my part to prevent terrorism and that SUV drivers are actually driving "Terrorism Causation Vehicles". I have heard of other bumper stickers that say "SUV = WWIII" and "Draft SUV Drivers First". I would not put those messages on my car (yet). They are not just provocative and self-righteous they are inflammatory and likely counter-productive. The "Terrorism Prevention Vehicle" message is more subtle and thoughtful.

As I said, it did take some guts to put the message on my car. I vacillated for several weeks. I finally concluded that "If George Bush can order a preemptive bombing and occupation of a sovereign nation that has not shown any aggression outside of its own borders for over 10 years and whose population is 50% children, then I can put a sign on my car with a provocative message".

Dave Lippman (see is an activist progressive song writer and performer in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Peter Seeger. Listen to his commentary and song on the topic of Mr. Bush and SUVs. Right on!

A final favorite quote from Ovid:

Add a little to a little and you will have a big pile.