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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Are you addicted to fossil fuels?

By Clayton Norlen

It wasn’t until a slippery road and a broken tie rod on my car that I was able to recognize what I was: a fossil fuel addict.

I always thought I had my problem under control. I only filled my car up every couple weeks, my car got 30-plus miles to the gallon and I minimized my time on the road by taking TRAX whenever possible. I wasn’t one of those strung-out gas addicts driving an SUV, spending hundreds of dollars a month to run errands. It was a recreational thing. I was only lying to myself, though; it wasn’t until I was forced to quit cold turkey that I could see my problem for what it was.

Most of us, especially in the city, drive out of convenience. Public transportation is everywhere, but who is going to opt to take the bus when he or she can hop in the car and do things on his or her own schedule? I didn’t until I was forced to? and if that isn’t an obvious sign of addiction then you are just lying to yourself. Hell, in 2006, President George W. Bush-the biggest oil junky of them all-even admitted that America has a problem.

It isn’t a physical addiction. I doubt it is even a mental one. An addiction to fossil fuel is an addiction to convenience. When you drive in your car, you’re on your own schedule. As one of my housemates put it, “In a car, if you are a minute late leaving you are a minute late to work. If you take TRAX and are a minute late, then you are 20 minutes late to work.” I know all too well how big of a drag this can be, because as my supervisors can attest, I’ve been a minute late for TRAX more than once.

But no one ever said making Utah’s, America’s or even the world’s air cleaner would be easy. If you have any desire to curb global warming or just keep Utah’s air clean for more than a week, it all has to start with personal sacrifice.

While riding TRAX, I interviewed Andy Dixon, a graduate student in biochemistry at the U. His wife uses their car, so he takes the bus from his home in Murray to the U campus, and estimates the ride is about 23 minutes.

“With the inversion and pollution during the winter, if we all used (public transportation), it would cut it down,” Dixon said.

Simple as that is, this is the only way we are going get clean air without having to wait for the next storm to offer us a reprieve.

The National Resource Defense Council in a fact sheet titled, “Treating America’s Oil Addiction: A Clean, Renewable Path to Energy Security,” said, “It’s a simple formula: The more oil we save, the less we have to buy. And the less we have to buy, the less exposed we are to the volatile global oil market, the less we contribute to global warming and the less hard-earned money we send to politically unstable and hostile countries.”

U students can ride every form of public transportation for FREE with the UTA card they are given with their UCard. Unlike a car, which is a constant drain on your bank account, public transportation doesn’t cost you anything more than a little planning and punctuality. If your diet has consisted of Ramen Noodles and fast food for longer than you care to admit, maybe a 20-minute bus ride won’t sound so bad anymore.

At, you can even have your computer figure out your bus schedule for you. All you have to do is enter your starting address and where you want to end up. After that, it is as simple as following directions-which, as college students, I would hope you are all capable of.

As hard as it is to admit, the only reason the majority of students at the U don’t take full advantage of public transportation is that it is a hell of a lot more convenient to take your own car. But to avoid traffic, parking tickets, gas stations, oil changes and Utah drivers, public transportation sounds like a blessing.

Consider this an intervention. You do have an addiction to the convenience fossil fuels offer and you’re not only spending ungodly amounts of money to fuel this addiction, but you are endangering the environment we are all forced to share. The first step is recognizing you have a problem; after that, you can figure out how to fix it.

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