Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The many shoulders on which we stand 2

In this (somewhat) weekly column, I want to highlight the fact that what we're doing here is by no means a completely original act: we stand on the shoulders of giants. And sometimes pirates. Sometimes, we also stand on the shoulders of normal people, but not if we can at all help it.

This week: the people who have made vegetable oil road trips before us.

We're not the first attempt at a cross-country trip on vegetable oil. Far from it.

The begs the question: why do it?

We are doing this because it still needs doing. This country is still addicted to oil. Most people have no idea that it's possible to run a car on something other than petroleum. We're still harming our environment and sending money to tyrants when we could be growing our own fuel. This isn't a road trip, it's a pilgrimage. We're doing this to expose as many people to a simple, viral idea: you could be driving on waste vegetable oil instead of petroleum. Just by driving down the road, we are illustrating the possibility that anyone else can.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you know of a trip I'm neglecting to mention (it must have a homepage on the web), please leave a comment below.

First up are the busses:

The Big Green Bus

An ongoing student project where students from Dartmouth take an annual road trip in a veggie powered (green) schoolbus.
"We are a group of Dartmouth students committed to promoting the use of sustainable energy through education and example. On a school bus converted to run on used vegetable oil, we are traveling around the country fostering awareness about current global energy issues and creating dialogue about tangible solutions to those problems."
Project BioBus
A 2004 trip where 12 Middlebury College students visited 21 cities in 90 days to spread biofuel awareness in a converted school bus.

A group of artists and musicians touring around the country in (gasp) an old school bus. They will be traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast along a Northern Route this spring (if you draw their tour on the same map as our tour, you get a cool ring around America).

"BioTour seeks to build and invigorate a broad grassroots sustainable energy movement within the United States. BioTour will encourage Americans to exert political pressure for wider implementation of existing sustainable energy technologies and the push for the development of new technologies. The BioTour project will directly reach thousands and indirectly reach millions of people with crucial information on global climate change, the dangers of fossil fuels, how to use sustainable energy in their everyday lives, and how to become part of a movement to end American dependence on fossil fuels.

BioTour will bring people together for exploration and celebration."

And now, the Mercedes Benz Tours, more personal, more risky, more lonely.

Improbability Drive 2005
Chronicles the current head of the National VegOil Board's trip across America to purchase a Benz in California, and drive it back to the East Coast in one piece, alone. It's a pretty cool story (and a sweet looking Benz).

The Ultimate Ball Park Tour
This guy drove around the country in a lime green Benz and toured baseball stadiums. Unfortunately, the story seems to end about halfway through. Does anyone out there know what happened? Did he give up? Did the car die?

...and of course there are celebrities in the act too...
Neil Young's Vegetable oil powered tour busses

Willie Nelson's personal brand of Biodiesel

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