Tuesday, October 7, 2008
GREASY RIDER by Greg Melville
Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Take two men, a 1985 Mercedes diesel station wagon, a grease car conversion kit, and the first cross country automobile trip made by H. Nelson Jackson as inspiration, mix it all together and you have a funny, informative, and thought provoking look at the future energy independence of our nation.
One of the things I liked most about this book is that it did not preach any one environmental doctrine. There is never one answer to a problem as complex as the one facing our environment today. This book takes a good hard look at our attitudes and how they work to move us forward or hold as back in the “fossil fuel age”. Not only does it give us a very humorous look at two men on a cross country trip and what it takes for them to make it without relying on anything but used fry oil. It also gives us a beautiful snapshot of out vast country and the way one answer in one region most likely is not the answer in another.
It looks at different philosophies from a place of inquiry. Finding the merits of each idea and trying to find a common ground and complete understanding of what a particular environmental philosophy is trying to really say.
The book switches back and forth from the actual road trip memoir to specific tasks designed to learn more about different ways to become more energy efficient. I liked this on the level that everything in the book was very interesting to read. On another level however I sometimes found this distracting and seemed to slow down my reading progress. Overall the information throughout was great. At the end of the book a comprehensive list of sources is offered to learn more about what was discussed in the book.
I would suggest this book to anyone, period. We must make changes in the way we live. We can no longer live with the illusion that life can continue as it presently does at the rate that we are consuming our natural resources. The best thing about this book is that it puts many ideas into perspective and how all of the little pieces fit together. I hope readers will embrace this book for everything that it offers. The more we as citizens of the earth explore what is going on around us the better the outcome for all of us.