Sunday, September 09, 2007

Curing the Oil Addiction - Converting to CARTA (Charleston Area Regional Transit Authority)

September 8, 2007 - The Cosmopolitan Charlestonian has long appreciated the adrenal experience of hugging a bend at 60mph, the aesthetically pleasing curves of an aerodynamic body and the control of all-wheel drive. Driving is a passion, and the feeling of it is continuously reinforced by the commercialized message surrounding each and every automobile ad. This is, in fact, a controversial issue because we have made the experience of driving, as well as what we drive, a part of our identity as Americans. The driving experience was sought by The Cosmopolitan Charlestonian, thus a new Jaguar X-type entered our lives as we chose a lease option for a five year period. Our term is now up. Today we turned in the car. We then ran for our lives as we crossed Savannah Highway to the number 30 CARTA bus line back home to Downtown Charleston.

The decision to convert to CARTA's public transportation system is huge for us being a one-car household in the first place. Yes, we have always been concerned with things like global warming and peak oil theory. After a lot of discussion, research, financial analysis and philosophical consideration we have come to the conclusion that our convenience and social status is not worth the progressive global catastrophic failure unfolding as a result of our oil consumption.

The Cosmopolitan Charlestonian began to examine at whose expense our personal convenience is made possible. We began asking ourselves the tough questions several months ago as our decision date neared. Is a convenient commute worth contributing to the starvation of an African whose land and clean water have been polluted by rusting pipelines sorely maintained by Shell Oil? Is the convenience worth overlooking the deteriorating conditions in BP's Alaskan pipelines, left to rust and corrode for miles before being shut down to make normal maintenance repairs? We pondered our right to simplify our lives by complicating an other's, be it man or animal, and gravely considered the Mother who has sacrificed her son to fight in the first energy wars of our time while the incompetent leaders of this country spin democracy and freedom into webs of deceit. We wondered how to have a voice during this critical moment in history when our American voices are being largely ignored. And last, we wonder what value can be placed on our convenience in a world faced with frightening global warming scenarios. Ultimately, for us, there is no resolve in continuing to maintain a lifestyle that contributes to so much suffering.

We've watched the boycotts against "big oil" run their course on the Internet every time gas prices spiked. These attempts to make a statement, or otherwise, put oil companies in their rightful place have been a bad joke and grossly misguided. One day of lost revenue can be pretty easily worked out on their balance sheets. Besides, the futures market sets the price, not the oil company. You might as well be angry at capitalism itself.

The Cosmopolitan Charlestonian believes it's time for personal action. Why must we wait for a dysfunctional government to tell us what to do? We are of reasonable intelligence and our Mommas taught us the difference between right and wrong. We've installed flourescent lighting in every fixture, and for the last two Spring/Summer seasons we challenged ourselves to make it past June 1st without running our A/C. Sure, we were slightly cranky near the end due to the Southern heat, but both seasons proved a success as we exceeded our goal by two weeks; still it just hasn't seemed to be enough.

Choosing to cure our personal oil addiction may be a tremendous challenge, but we're going to try anyway. Mr. Cheney, we don't mind compromising our lifestyle and will no longer allow you and your regime to manufacture our consent to the mass consumption of finite resources. We've traded in a Jaguar for a bus pass as we evaluate our personal moral dilemma and the true, and sometimes hidden cost of maintaining the American Dream.

Stick with us as we share our experiences utilizing our public transportation system in an attempt to make a positive change for ourselves and hopefully a few others.


Bitsy Parker said...

Hey, it looks like we are doing the same thing at the same time! Just found your blog and I too gave up my car to see how life would feel. I've got little children and a busy and social life; so, I didn't think it would work, but it has!

We should compare notes.

Visit my site ( and read what life without a car is like in Austin, Texas. Sounds very similar to Charleston!

Harry Brinson & Stacey Barrington said...

Visited your site. Excellent! We do seem to share some of the challenges, i.e. bus not coming on time. We totally ditched our car, though. There's no going back now. We're really trying to make it work. Will continue to watch and possibly even link to your entries. Good luck!

chucker said...

So it's almost a year later. Still using CARTA?

Why not get a Prius and have the best of both worlds?

Hoping you'll post an update. Thanks.

Harry Brinson & Stacey Barrington said...

Yes, Chucker, still using CARTA. There are certainly some inconveniences, but it's all well worth it.

The update is this: we're still riding CARTA while we listen to everyone else scream about gas prices. Don't know what we'd be doing had we not given up our car considering we let go of a huge expense, that is now eaten up by inflation. Thankfully, we stopped paying at the pump around $2.50. Prices have nearly doubled since. If we still had a car and were pumping four bucks a gallong into it, we'd probably be living on credit cards. And, we all know how dangerous that would be in this economy.

Thanks for your interst. Keep visiting...we're working on some interesting things for the future.

Harry and Stacey