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Keep 4WD Alive! << Back

Ray Barker says, “I will give up driving my 4WD when any of the following happens: 

1. WHEN business executives, government officials, politicians, celebrities and members of ‘royal’ families stop flying (by jet aircraft) to have meetings and idle chatter in other countries. Does the President of the USA really have to travel half-way around the world (with a full entourage of assistants, reporters, security people and armored vehicles) just to have a few hours of talks with the Australian prime minister? Do business people really need to have face-to-face discussions with their clients, customers or suppliers? Haven’t any of these people heard of video-conferencing? In many cases, this type of international travel is simply a tax-deductible perk and/or a reward for ‘achievement’ in business. 

2. WHEN the sale of ‘mega-yachts’ is banned. If my 4WD is considered (by some uninformed souls) to be ‘anti-social’, what could be said about the thriving, but little publicized, world of mega-yachts - and I don’t mean yachts with sails! Consider this: the world’s largest mega-yacht is ‘Rising Sun’, a gargantuan owned by Larry Ellison of Oracle. This monster is 452’ long and is powered by four 20-cylinder, 12,000hp engines. Not far behind is the 414’ ‘Octopus’ belonging to Microsoft’s Paul Allen. Either of these ‘boats’ would cost millions a year to operate and use tens of thousands of gallons of fuel in the process. And, like most of these sea-going palaces, their main purpose in life seems to be socializing in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Even the 100th largest mega-yacht is not exactly tiny. This craft is reported to be Gary Comer’s 151’ ‘Turmoil’, which is pushed along by just a pair of 820hp Caterpillar engines. By the way, the social standing of the mega-yachts mentioned above will only be temporary. I read lately that even larger ones are under construction; and there is a long waiting list of orders.

3. WHEN millions of people around the world stop watching the F1 motor racing circus. Or, as it is known in some circles: ‘slot cars for big boys’. Why are SUV-owners subjected to constant “gas-guzzler” remarks from green groups and the press, when top-level motor racing is one of the most-manic users of fossil fuels? Could it be that anything to do with F1 makes great news and, therefore, attracts plenty of advertisers? There seem to be plenty of motoring writers prepared to ridicule people who drive 4WD vehicles, yet those same writers often to go into spasms of excitement when reporting that a Ferrari beat a Williams by 1.2 seconds.  According to official F1 sources, each of the eight official teams travels 160,000kms (100,000miles) during each season. They use dozens of articulated trucks and support vehicles, and regularly fly everything by cargo plane when races are held outside of Europe. It is reported that (on average) each F1 team burns up, during testing and racing, over 53,000 gallons of fuel per season. That’s enough to keep me and my 4WD happy for the next fifty years!

 4. WHEN the construction of huge mansions is banned. The amount of energy consumed in building a palatial house is enormous. And it is not unusual for a home of this type to be occupied by just two people. In the city where I live, a multi-storey waterfront mansion is being built for, reportedly, a cost of $30 million. To this astonishing figure you need to add the on-going operational costs of air-conditioning, heating, cleaning and maintenance; plus the running of obligatory trinkets like the motor cruiser, yacht and speedboat waiting at the jetty out the front, the exotic motor vehicles in the garage, and the private jet at a nearby airport. In this particular case, the owner (a divorced male) claims he will be the only permanent resident. Naturally, the print journos and the on-air commentators love talking about this extravagant type of lifestyle. But, you are not likely to hear them mention the associated energy consumption. No, that sort of criticism is reserved for the family heading off on holidays in their SUV. 

5. WHEN people stop traveling to sporting events, concerts, theaters and art galleries etc. Even if they travel by public transport (collectively) a great amount of energy is consumed. The narks of the anti-SUV groups are quick to be critical of 4WD owners using their vehicles for recreational purposes, yet it is apparently quite Ok for hundreds of thousands of people to burn up some of the world’s oil reserves – just to see a bunch of athletes kick a bag of air around a grass field! 

6. WHEN the governments of every country come to their senses and order their defense forces to lay down their arms. Consider this: (a) When the US Army deploys, 70% of its total tonnage is fuel. (b) The US Department of Defense (DOD) consumes more oil than any other government body in the world. 144 million barrels a year, or 395,000 barrels a day! (c) Between August 10, 1990 and May 31, 1991 Central Command’s Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations consumed 1.8 billion gallons of fuel. (d) In Iraq, the US Army burns up around 1,900,000 gallons of gasoline a day (and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight). (e) The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense said “Because DOD’s consumption of oil represents the highest priority of all uses, there will be no fundamental limits to DOD’s fuel supply for many, many decades.” 


The chance that any of the above will happen is zero. Living in today’s world requires the consumption of some type of energy. Even a gentle activity, like visiting an art exhibition, or going to the theater, (usually) requires the burning of fossil fuels. And, despite the protests of the anti-whatever groups, we cannot live in a modern society without consuming large amounts of energy. Retreating to a back-country block - to grow your own vegetables and run some chickens and a cow - does little to save the planet. No matter how hard you try, at some stage you will still need the services that can only be provided by an energy-consuming community. 

A few years ago, I read an interesting editorial. It suggested that there were no true environmentalists; just pretenders. Because a true environmentalist would have dressed in bio-degradable clothes, walked to an area where carnivorous animals live, and slashed his/her wrists with a sharp stick.

Happy trails.

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